Those quirky Brits 「離奇古怪的」 英國人

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你有過對不同文化的習俗感到困惑的經歷嗎?在英國,有些異乎尋常的習俗可能會讓來自其它國家的人感到疑惑和驚訝。比如,為什麼在英 國車輛靠左行駛?為什麼英國的水龍頭是 「冰火兩重天」 — 一邊出熱水,一邊出涼水?一旦你瞭解了前因後果,就會發現,這些看似奇怪的現象並非全無道理,本集《隨身英語》介紹它們背後的歷史起源。

Vocabulary: quirks and confusion 詞彙: 離奇和困惑

To an outsider, any culture can seem quirky, confusing, peculiar or just downright bizarre. And the UK’s got a thing or two that raises a few eyebrows. Brits are quite capable of befuddling visitors with their idiosyncrasies. However, understand the why and things might be less perplexing. Here are the reasons for three of Britain’s more puzzling practices.

In a world where 61% of nations drive on the right, the unorthodox Brits drive on the left. Why? “Most people think it goes back to Medieval, maybe even Roman times,” explains Stephen Laing, curator of the British Motor Museum. This unusual behaviour makes sense when you remember that right-handed people wear a sword on their left hip. Travelling on the left allowed you to keep your weapon arm toward your opponent, who would be on your right. This practice persisted until the 18th Century when a law was passed requiring all traffic crossing London Bridge to keep to the left.

Visitors to the UK that have just washed their hands in an old-fashioned sink might be wondering why one tap is solely for hot water, the other exclusively cold. Either can make washing very uncomfortable. So, why this oddity? “It relates to a time when hot and cold water were kept separate to prevent contamination,” Kevin Wellman, chief executive officer of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering says. Drinkable cold water came from a mains supply, but hot water came from attic tanks and was not considered suitable for consumption. So they were kept apart.

Millions of people drink tea worldwide, but the eccentric Brits put milk in theirs. Why? This mystifying practice relates to the quality of china cup used in the 18th Century when tea was first imported. For the majority of Brits, “the cups available couldn’t withstand the heat of the boiling water and would shatter, so milk was added first,” Simon Hill, Tea Buyer at Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate tells the Sun newspaper. This cooled the cup enough to withstand the water. And this practical tweak soon became a national habit.

There’s a method to the madness, they say. As you can see, these quirky Brits have perfectly coherent reasons for left-hand driving, two-tap sinks and tea with milk. But until you comprehend them, they can seem unfathomable. Even if they still seem strange, at least now you’re in the know.

詞彙表

quirky 古怪奇特的
confusing 令人困惑的
peculiar 奇怪的
bizarre 怪誕的
raise (a few) eyebrows 引人驚詫,使人震驚
befuddle 使…感到迷惑
idiosyncrasy 癖好
perplexing 令人費解的
puzzling 令人不解的
unorthodox 非傳統的
unusual 不同尋常的
make sense 說得通
oddity 奇怪現象
eccentric 古怪的
mystifying 讓人感到雲裡霧裡的
there’s a method to the madness 看似瘋狂,實則有理
coherent 條理清晰的
comprehend 領會、理解
unfathomable 高深莫測的
in the know 知情的

測驗與練習

  1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. True or False: Driving on the left links back to ancient British history.

2. What did walking or riding on the left allow a person to do?

3. What is the problem with using an old-fashioned British sink?

4. What would happen to the 18th Century cups when they encountered boiling water?

5. Which word used in the article means ‘to continue to exist’?

  2.  在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. When he arrived at the funeral in a brightly-coloured coat, it certainly ______.

in the know       raised a few eyebrow       there’s a method to the madness       comprehended

2. While not the best player, his ______ style of play made him popular with the fans.

quirky       befuddled       perplexed       oddity

3. Our computer model predicted 99% of the data. The other 1% should be considered an ______.

idiosyncrasy       unorthodox       oddity       eccentric

4. How did I pay £10, give you a £20 and end up with £5? That doesn’t ______.

confuse       puzzle       mystify       make sense

5. Some of the brightest minds in history have also been more than a little ______.

eccentric       idiosyncrasy       peculiarity       comprehensive 

答案

  1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. True or False: Driving on the left links back to ancient British history.
True. “Most people think it goes back to Medieval, maybe even Roman times,” explains Stephen Laing, curator of the British Motor museum.

2. What did walking or riding on the left allow a person to do?
Travelling on the left allowed you to keep your weapon arm towards your opponent, who would be on your right.

3. What is the problem with using an old-fashioned British sink?
One tap is solely for hot water, the other exclusively cold. Either can make washing very uncomfortable.

4. What would happen to the 18th Century cups when they encountered boiling water?They couldn’t withstand the heat of boiling water and would shatter.

5. Which word used in the article means ‘to continue to exist’?
‘Persist’. This practice persisted until the 18th Century when a law was passed requiring all traffic crossing London Bridge to keep to the left.

 2.   不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. When he arrived at the funeral in a brightly-coloured coat, it certainly raised a few eyebrows.

2. While not the best player, his quirky style of play made him popular with the fans.

3. Our computer model predicted 99% of the data. The other 1% should be considered an oddity.

4. How did I pay £10, give you a £20 and end up with £5? That doesn’t make sense.

5. Some of the brightest minds in history have also been more than a little eccentric.

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