是时候“装死”了 分享到
It’s Time to ’Play Possum’ 2018-10-03120237




Now, it’s time for Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English.
On this program, we talk about words and expressions in American English.And today we will talk about “defense mechanisms.”These are different ways the body reacts to changing conditions to keep it safe.
To learn more about defense mechanisms, let’s turn to the experts – animals!Many of them are experts at avoiding danger to stay alive.When animals are frightened or feel threatened, they take steps to protect themselves.
A monkey runs for the trees.Birds take flight.A turtle sticks its head back into its shell.An armadillo rolls up into a ball.And a skunk releases an unpleasant chemical.
The ostrich, not known for its brainpower, buries its head in the sand as if nothing else can see the rest of its huge body.In American English, we also hide our heads in the sand to avoid something unpleasant.
But another animal, the opossum, does something even more unusual.It stops moving and pretends to be dead.
An opossum is a somewhat small animal with a long pointed snout.Most have a white face and grayish body.
Opossums were one of the first wild animals encountered by white settlers in the English colony of Virginia.The name “opossum” entered the English language in the early 17th century.It means “white dog” in the Native American Powhatan, or Algonquian, language.Many people drop the first “o” in the name, and use the term "possum" instead.
A possum plays dead to trick other animals or the person hunting it.The possum hopes that its hunter is not interested in a dead possum, only a live one.Faking death suggests: “Nothing to eat here.Just a dead possum.You can go on your way.”
An opossum playing dead can be, in a way, great theater.If the animal world gave awards for acting, the opossum might win the award for ‘Best Death Scene.’
在某种程度上,负鼠表演死亡可能会是一场很棒的戏剧。如果为动物世界颁发表演奖,负鼠可能会因 “最佳死亡场景”而获奖。
However, before we give that acting award, science may want to weigh in.
Scientists explain that opossums are not acting at all.They can’t help it!Playing dead is an involuntary reaction to a threat.It is simply the animal’s way to protect itself against danger.When it feels threatened, its body plays dead.
But why let a few scientific facts change a good expression.We haven’t!The fact that possums are not playing or acting at all has not changed the way we use the expression “playing possum.”And you can use this expression in many different situations.
但为什么要让一些科学事实改变一个好的表达呢?我们才不会!负鼠根本没有表演或假装这一事实并没有改变我们使用“playing possum”这个表达的方式。你可以在很多不同的情况下使用这个表达。
For example, we play possum when we lie to avoid something unpleasant.
例如,当我们为了避免不愉快的事情而撒谎时,我们就在“play possum”。
Let’s say you have a big test at school, but you did not prepare for it.You may pretend to be sick and stay home.Or you may want to avoid a difficult project at work.So, you call in sick.Both are examples of playing possum to avoid work or responsibility.
English has a great word that we can also use – feign.When you feign an illness, you are pretending to be sick.If you feign interest, you are pretending to be interested in something.
英语中有一个很棒的词,那就是feign,我们也可以用它。当你feign an illness时,你就是在假装生病。如果你feign interest,你就是在假装对某事感兴趣。
We also use the expression “play possum” when feigning ignorance.In other words, we pretend not to know something so that we seem in the dark.Again, this is a good way to avoid responsibility.
当我们假装不知道的时候,我们也会用“play possum”这个表达。换句话说,我们假装不知道一些事情,所以我们似乎一无所知。此外,这是一个逃避责任的好方法。
Or we can simply play possum when we want to hide away and avoid other people.
We have another expression for this form of playing possum.If I lay low, I don’t respond to email; I don’t answer my phone; I don’t even open my door.I am avoiding the world.Singer Alan Jackson does the same thing in this song, “Just Playing Possum.”
我们还有play possum这种形式的另一种表达。如果我躲起来了,我不会回邮件;我不会接电话;我甚至不开门。我在逃避这个世界。歌手艾伦·杰克逊在《就逃避吧》这首歌中唱出了同样的事情。
Now, sometimes “playing possum” is the same as burying your head in the sand.But sometimes it is not.So, they are not interchangeable all the time.
现在,有时候“playing possum”的意思就和“burying your head in the sand”的意思一样。但有时并非如此。所以,它们不是一直都可以互换的。
Like our friend the ostrich, when you bury your head in the sand, you are avoiding a bad reality -- something you wish were different.You are not trying to lie or deceive anyone but yourself.
It’s a way of tuning out life’s unpleasant situations.If the daily news upsets you, you may choose to bury your head in the sand and not tune in to any news programs.
Another thing to note, we use “burying your head in the sand” for both serious and lighthearted issues.But we usually use “playing possum” in a lighthearted way.
另外需要注意的是,在严肃和轻松的话题上,我们都可以用“burying your head in the sand”。但我们通常把“playing possum”用在一种轻松的方式中。
I mean, you have to agree, it does sound much nicer than lying.
And that’s Words and Their Stories.I’m Anna Matteo.