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 sets of words are called “figures of speech.” For a figure of speech to be effective, however, a writer must first understand the original meaning of the phrase. The following sentence contains a common figure of speech. Its original meaning is explained.

“The laboratory team approached the project as if it were an onion, systematically exploring its multiple facets till their eyes were red with exhaustion.”

Onions are vegetables that are recognizably layered. Each layer lends itself to peeling away to expose another layer underneath. Because the onion cells, when cut, produce a lighter-than-air gas, the peeling off of the layers irritates the eyes. The irritation brings tears, which are produced to wash away the irritation. These two characteristics of most onions—multi-layered composition and irritation of the eyes of anyone handling them—are universally recognized.

In saying scientists approached a project “as if it were an onion,” the writer used a simile to compare the methodical deconstruction of a complex object or compound to the peeling of the vegetable. Layer by layer, the scientists sorted and scrutinized the object or compound and recorded their findings. That they continued their quest till their “eyes were red” is an ancillary allusion to the onion and its capacity to stimulate tear glands in eyes. The laboratory experiment may not actually produce an irritating gas, but hours of squinting through microscopes can produce something similar, eyestrain.
用處理洋蔥(as if it were an onion)比喻處理問題,就是將處理複雜物質及化合物時抽絲剝繭的方法,用剝洋蔥來相比擬,如同科學家對事件的逐層處理、仔細檢視物質與化合物,並記錄研究發現。這裡提及科學家持續探索,直至「眼睛發紅」,同樣指涉洋蔥刺激淚腺的特點。研究室所進行的實驗可能未必真的產生刺激氣體,但對著顯微鏡連續看好幾小時的確會造成類似的結果,使眼睛疲勞。

Posted at 2011-06-16 14:51:57

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