What does that mean? 你真的瞭解這個慣用語嗎?

Imagery buries itself in language and takes on new meaning. The transplanted and transformed word or set of words is called a “figure of speech.” For a figure of speech to be effective, however, a writer must first understand the original meaning of the word or phrase. The following sentence contains a common figure of speech. Its original meaning is explained.

“The river gorge cuts so deeply through South China that tourist boat passengers experience vertigo if they let their eyes race to the top of the canyon walls.”

“Race” used as a verb has only one essential meaning: to move rapidly. Cars race around tracks. Children race to the ice cream wagon. Commuters race home at the end of the day. Sometimes the racing is competitive, with one racer trying to cross a finish line before another racer. Sometimes the race is non-competitive and illustrates the generally rapid pace of a moving person or vehicle. In every instance, speed is the essence of the meaning. To race slowly is an oxymoron.

In saying the eyes of the tourists “race” to the top, the writer obviously is not speaking literally. The tourists are not visually racing to see who can spot the top of the wall first, nor have their eyes somehow grown wings to fly up the canyon walls. Rather, their eye (and head) movement suddenly is heavenward. The single word “race” describes this movement. This act of abrupt vertical scanning, with heads thrown back, can unsettle the senses and bring on dizziness.


Posted at 2012-12-14 14:31:37

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