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Those quirky Brits “离奇古怪的” 英国人

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你有过对不同文化的习俗感到困惑的经历吗?在英国,有些异乎寻常的习俗可能会让来自其它国家的人感到疑惑和惊讶。比如,为什么在英国车辆靠左行驶?为什么英国的水龙头是 "冰火两重天" - 一边出热水,一边出凉水?一旦你了解了前因后果,就会发现,这些看似奇怪的现象并非全无道理,本集《随身英语》介绍它们背后的历史起源。

Vocabulary: quirks and confusion 词汇: 离奇和困惑

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.

词汇表

quirky 古怪奇特的

confusing 令人困惑的

peculiar 奇怪的

bizarre 怪诞的

raise (a few) eyebrows 引人惊诧,使人震惊

befuddle 使...感到迷惑

idiosyncrasy 癖好

perplexing 令人费解的

puzzling 令人不解的

unorthodox 非传统的

unusual 不同寻常的

make sense 说得通

oddity 奇怪现象

eccentric 古怪的

mystifying 让人感到云里雾里的

there's a method to the madness 看似疯狂,实则有理

coherent 条理清晰的

comprehend 领会、理解

unfathomable 高深莫测的

in the know 知情的

测验与练习

1. 阅读课文并回答问题。

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. 请在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处。

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. 阅读课文并回答问题。

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. 请在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处。

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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