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.

“When the butterfly landed on the petri dish, its wayward flight around the laboratory apparently at an end, it folded up its stained-glass wings—like sails poised for another liberating breeze.”

“Like sails poised for another liberating breeze” alludes to the synthetic sailcloth on wind-driven boats. Like a butterfly wing, it usually is ribbed and sectioned by stitching rather than being of a single piece, with the different sections sometimes being of contrasting colors. It is raised up a mast so that wind can collide with the face of it. The result is that an unanchored boat is pressured to move in the direction of the wind, or in a glancing degree of it.

In employing the phrase as a simile to describe the actions of a butterfly at rest, the writer hopes to accomplish two things: (1) accurately portray the placement of the butterfly’s wings when not in flight; that is, erect and extended, rather than folded away like a bird’s; and (2) convey the exasperation of a researcher who evidently suffered a reversal when the subject of his experimentation unexpectedly took flight. The next sentence in the paper presumably explained that the butterfly was hastily netted, chloroformed and examined. Had the writer / experimenter related the incident less colorfully, the paper would have been rendered less readable / enjoyable.
作者用風帆比喻蝴蝶靜止時的動作,希望達成兩種效果:(1) 正確描繪蝴蝶靜止時翅膀是延展而豎起的,不像鳥類翅膀收折;(2) 傳達實驗對象突然飛起來,讓研究者大吃一驚、怒氣沖沖的模樣。文章接下來應該會描述到研究者匆忙網住蝴蝶、用氯仿將蝴蝶麻醉,並仔細實驗觀察。若非作者或實驗人員描述事件如此生動,文章就不會這麼有趣易懂了。

Posted at 2011-06-30 11:42:08

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