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VOA慢速英语2018--Don't Let Anyone 'Get Your Goat'

时间:2018-07-08 03:20来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]


Now, Words and Their Stories, a program from VOA Learning English.

On this program, we take English expressions and explain where they came from and how to use them.

In all languages, animals often find themselves in the center of many common expressions. English is no different. Today we focus on the goat!

People have been dealing1 with goats for a long time. A website on the history of goats, The Goat Guide, says their story dates back many centuries. It claims that people began using the animals as food over 9,000 years ago!

Goats are nosy2, social animals. They are strong and can live in any number of environments. They can eat almost anything and a lot of it!

Among all domesticated4 animals, goats probably have the most going for them. Milk from goats never costs a lot. And goat milk is easy for the body to digest. Their meat is tasty and can be prepared in different ways. In addition, goat hair is used to make some of the finest and softest clothing money can buy.

With such a long history and so much going for goats, you would think that English has many expressions with the word goat.

But it doesn’t.

We only found two. And one is just a noun: the word goatee.

Now, goats have small, tufts of hair on the lower part of the face. So a goatee is facial hair in about the same part of the chin on a man. It looks a little like the beard on a male goat.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary claims that the word goatee first appeared in 1841. At that time, a goatee only meant hair growing on a man’s chin, much like a goat’s. However, by the 1990s, the word had come to mean any facial hair that is on the chin but not higher up on the cheeks. So it also involved men wearing a mustache. Some would argue -- and people who study men's facial hair do -- that a true goatee is only hair on the chin.

The next goat-related expression is more interesting -- to get someone's goat.

Hearing this expression the first time, you might think it means to steal someone's goat. But that is wrong.

If someone gets your goat, they make you angry.

But why?

That’s a good question. The answer is … we’re not so sure.

A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English says that “to get someone’s goat” may come from the French expression prendre la chevre, which means to take the goat.

Apparently5, one way people could get milk was from a goat. So naturally, taking the animal would anger its owner.

Another explanation has to do with horseracing.

In the 1900s, people who trained horses were said to have put goats near racehorses to keep them calm. Just before the race, the goat was removed. This would, supposedly, make the horse nervous and ready to run.

However, there is no evidence to support this explanation. People who study languages for a living have a name for it -- folk etymology6. Another term for it is an urban legend.

In earlier times, “to get your goat” had another meaning. If something got your goat, it could have made you nervous or worried.

In his book Smoke Bellow7, American writer Jack8 London tells the story of two men crossing a bridge that is very high off the ground. The lead character, Smoke, makes it safely across and shouts a warning back to the other.

"Your turn," he called across. "But just keep a-coming and don't look down. That's what got my goat. Just keep a-coming, that's all. And get a move on. It's almighty9 rotten."

Here, he means looking down made him feel frightened. Americans don’t really use the expression in this way any longer. It is a good example of how the meaning of an expression can change over time.

Let’s talk about some other words that mean the same as "got someone's goat.”

We have already used the word "annoy." Some similar words are aggravate10, bother and bug11. You can also irk and vex12 someone. So, something that gets your goat is irksome or vexing13. And if someone has gotten your goat, you could also say he or she has rubbed you the wrong way.

With all of these expressions, it can be an action that gets your goat or a person who gets your goat.

Let's say you work with someone who doesn't clean up after herself. You can say, she really gets your goat. Or if you want to make it less personal, you can say, "It really gets my goat when she makes a mess at the coffee machine."

Now, if something often gets your goat or rubs you the wrong way, it can become a pet peeve14. Pet peeves15 are those seemingly small things that get on your nerves.

While a person can get your goat or get on your nerves, he or she cannot be called a “pet peeve.” But their actions can!

For example, one pet peeve of mine is when one person takes up two seats on a crowded train, especially if a pregnant woman or older adult needs a seat! Is it a big deal? No. But it gets my goat, nonetheless.

And that brings us to the end of this Words and Their Stories.

So, what gets your goat? What rubs you the wrong way? Do you have any pet peeves? Let us know in the Comments Section!

I’m Bryan Lynn.

And I’m Anna Matteo.

"Something about the way you taste

Makes me wanna clear my throat

There's a message to your movements

That really gets my goat

I looked for sniffy linings16

But you're rotten to the core

I've had just about all I can take

You know I can't take it no more ..."

Words in This Story

domesticate3 – v. to breed or train (an animal) to need and accept the care of human beings : to tame (an animal)

digest – v. to change (food that you have eaten) by a biological process into simpler forms that can be used by the body

tuft a small bunch of feathers, hairs, grass, etc., that grow close together : tufts of grass : A tuft of hair stuck out from under his hat.

folk etymology – n. the transformation17 of words so as to give them an apparent relationship to other better-known or better-understood words

urban legend – n. a story about an unusual event or occurrence that many people believe is true but that is not true

character – n. one of the persons of a drama or novel

aggravate – v. informal : to make (someone) angry : to annoy or bother (someone)

irk – v. to bother or annoy (someone) : irksome – adj.

vex – v. to annoy or worry (someone) : vexing – adj.


1 dealing NvjzWP     
  • This store has an excellent reputation for fair dealing.该商店因买卖公道而享有极高的声誉。
  • His fair dealing earned our confidence.他的诚实的行为获得我们的信任。
2 nosy wR0zK     
  • Our nosy neighbours are always looking in through our windows.好管闲事的邻居总是从我们的窗口望进来。
  • My landlord is so nosy.He comes by twice a month to inspect my apartment.我的房东很烦人,他每个月都要到我公寓视察两次。
3 domesticate PsnxD     
  • Many thousand years ago people learned how to domesticate animals.数千年以前人们就学会了饲养动物。
  • If you domesticate this raccoon,it will have trouble living in the wild.如果你驯养这只浣熊,它生活在野外将会有困难。
4 domesticated Lu2zBm     
adj.喜欢家庭生活的;(指动物)被驯养了的v.驯化( domesticate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He is thoroughly domesticated and cooks a delicious chicken casserole. 他精于家务,烹制的砂锅炖小鸡非常可口。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The donkey is a domesticated form of the African wild ass. 驴是非洲野驴的一种已驯化的品种。 来自《简明英汉词典》
5 apparently tMmyQ     
  • An apparently blind alley leads suddenly into an open space.山穷水尽,豁然开朗。
  • He was apparently much surprised at the news.他对那个消息显然感到十分惊异。
6 etymology jiMzC     
  • The hippies' etymology is contentious.关于嬉皮士的语源是有争议的。
  • The origin of OK became the Holy Grail of etymology.OK的出典成了词源学梦寐以求的圣杯。
7 bellow dtnzy     
  • The music is so loud that we have to bellow at each other to be heard.音乐的声音实在太大,我们只有彼此大声喊叫才能把话听清。
  • After a while,the bull began to bellow in pain.过了一会儿公牛开始痛苦地吼叫。
8 jack 53Hxp     
  • I am looking for the headphone jack.我正在找寻头戴式耳机插孔。
  • He lifted the car with a jack to change the flat tyre.他用千斤顶把车顶起来换下瘪轮胎。
9 almighty dzhz1h     
  • Those rebels did not really challenge Gods almighty power.这些叛徒没有对上帝的全能力量表示怀疑。
  • It's almighty cold outside.外面冷得要命。
10 aggravate Gxkzb     
  • Threats will only aggravate her.恐吓只能激怒她。
  • He would only aggravate the injury by rubbing it.他揉擦伤口只会使伤势加重。
11 bug 5skzf     
  • There is a bug in the system.系统出了故障。
  • The bird caught a bug on the fly.那鸟在飞行中捉住了一只昆虫。
12 vex TLVze     
  • Everything about her vexed him.有关她的一切都令他困惑。
  • It vexed me to think of others gossiping behind my back.一想到别人在背后说我闲话,我就很恼火。
13 vexing 9331d950e0681c1f12e634b03fd3428b     
adj.使人烦恼的,使人恼火的v.使烦恼( vex的现在分词 );使苦恼;使生气;详细讨论
  • It is vexing to have to wait a long time for him. 长时间地等他真使人厌烦。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • Lately a vexing problem had grown infuriatingly worse. 最近发生了一个讨厌的问题,而且严重到令人发指的地步。 来自辞典例句
14 peeve P3Izk     
  • She was in a peeve over it.她对这很气恼。
  • She was very peeved about being left out.她为被遗漏而恼怒。
15 peeves f84f0b6cdb5c3a5b43185dcd53adbfa9     
n.麻烦的事物,怨恨,触怒( peeve的名词复数 )
  • It peeves me to be ordered out of my own house. 命令我从自己的家中出去,真太气人了。 来自辞典例句
  • Write down two of your pet peeves about home or any other situation. 写下两个你厌烦的家务事或其他的情况。 来自超越目标英语 第3册
16 linings 08af65d71fb90cd42b87d2d9b97c874f     
n.衬里( lining的名词复数 );里子;衬料;组织
  • a pair of leather gloves with fur linings 一双毛皮衬里的皮手套
  • Many of the garments have the customers' name tags sewn into the linings. 这些衣服有很多内衬上缝有顾客的姓名签。 来自辞典例句
17 transformation SnFwO     
  • Going to college brought about a dramatic transformation in her outlook.上大学使她的观念发生了巨大的变化。
  • He was struggling to make the transformation from single man to responsible husband.他正在努力使自己由单身汉变为可靠的丈夫。
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