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Bend over backwards? 竭尽全力

中国日报网 2024-04-24 07:18


Reader question:

Please explain “bend over backwards” in this passage:

If you do end up working for this company, do not bend over backwards, and do not break your body for these people.

My comments:

The speaker is giving advice to someone looking for a sweatshop job. Sounds like that.


A sweatshop is a factory that forces employees to work long hours under harsh conditions. In China, sweatshops are called “blood-sweat shops”.

You get the picture.

Is the speaker in our example talking about sweatshops?

Maybe not, but it sounds so, as the speaker tells someone not to break their body for “these people”.

Do not bend over backwards, the speaker says.

Do not overwork yourself, in other words.

Don’t do the impossible.

Bending over backwards, you see, is hard to do. Bending over forward is physically easy, something we’re accustomed to doing. We bend over forward to pick up a pin on the floor, for example.

Bending over backwards, on the other hand, is something only trained gymnasts can do competently. Ordinary folks are not supposed to bend over backwards and summersault, for example. This move is impossible for us. Without training, we run the risk of hurting ourselves severely, to put it mildly.

And, I mean, that is putting it mildly.

So, figuratively speaking, if we bend over backwards to do something, we go to unusual lengths, we make an extra effort, we try something very hard.

And, usually, we bend over backwards in order to help or to please someone.

For example, if you can’t swim but plunge yourself in water to help someone who’s drowning, you’re bending over backwards to in order to help.

In our example, the advice is given that no-one should bend over backwards and break their body to please those sweatshop owners.

Again, I’m using sweatshop liberally. The real situation, hopefully, is not be so bad.

Anyways, you get the picture.

Here are media examples of people who bend over backwards in order to accomplish this and that:

1. Donald Trump transformed the U.S. Supreme Court during his four years as president. Now the 6-3 conservative majority he cemented will confront a handful of cases that may determine whether the Republican can reclaim the White House.

The court is poised to play an outsized role in the 2024 presidential election by hearing disputes over Trump's role in the run-up to a Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol in which his supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.

The politically explosive cases have the potential to once again thrust the country's highest court into the election limelight almost a quarter-century after its fateful 2000 ruling effectively handed the White House to Republican George W. Bush.

“What is extraordinary this year is that the court might have a huge effect before the election, especially in determining whether Donald Trump can be on the ballot and whether the federal criminal prosecution of him can go forward,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Berkeley Law School.

The justices generally avoid public comment on cases or political matters outside of their actual rulings, although the conservative majority has increasingly moved American law to the right, handing conservatives wins on abortion, guns and affirmative action since 2022.

Trump has vowed to appeal a Tuesday ruling by Colorado’s top court disqualifying him from appearing on the state's primary ballot, which if taken up by the justices would be a landmark case in the broader effort to disqualify Trump from state ballots in the Nov. 5 election.

A database of the legal analysis blog Lawfare maintains that Colorado so far is the only state to disqualify Trump from its ballot out of 32 states where Trump’s eligibility has been challenged under Section 3 of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution which bars anyone engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office.

The amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the American Civil War of 1861-1865, and lower-court judges have questioned whether the measure applies to presidential candidates.

Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge, said he doesn’t expect Trump’s appointees to do him any favors this time either, even though the issues are more difficult than the post-election cases.

“Trump’s legal position is far from frivolous,” he said. “Nonetheless, it is likely that justices appointed by Trump will bend over backwards to avoid any appearance of pro-Trump bias.”

- Trump Legal Clashes Reach US Supreme Court as 2024 Election Nears, Reuters, December 31, 2023.

2. I’m running the Boston Marathon because I find my purpose in turning pain into action. In December 2021, my mother was diagnosed with ALS. In a cruel twist of fate, we were told our beautiful, kind mother who taught us so many life lessons, bent over backwards for us, stood up for us and never missed a defining moment in our lives, was dealt an unequivocally fatal, neurological disease.

On November 19th, 2023, my mother lost her battle with ALS. ALS is a critically underfunded disease. It is a progressive and eventually fatal neurodegenerative illness with no known cure or effective treatment. This disease particularly cruel because victims are aware of their fate as they gradually lose the ability to control their muscles, to communicate, and eventually to breathe. I have chosen to run for ALS to raise funds to support research and find a cure for this horrible illness.

I am running the Boston Marathon to honor the memory of a woman whose resilience and grace defined her battle with this cruel disease. I am determined to channel her strength and determination and transform grief into action by making a lasting impact in the fight against ALS.

- Jessica Hajjar is running Boston to honor her late mother, Boston.com, April 4, 2024.

3. It’s a breakup that's lasted almost as long as the relationship that preceded it.

Dubbed ‘the war of the rosés,’ Angelina Jolie has now accused ‘controlling’ ex Brad Pitt, 60, of ‘financially draining her,’ through the protracted legal battle over the winery that’s dogged the couple since their split in 2016.

But while she seeks to claim her ex is ‘bleeding her dry,’ DailyMail.com can reveal that since their ten-year relationship ended in divorce after a two-year marriage, her fortunes have soared.

Far from causing her funds to dwindle, a DailyMail.com investigation reveals that Jolie’s relationship with Pitt has helped enrich her by close to $100 million.

That money has come through loans, child support, gifts and the millions she garnered from the sale of her 50 percent share in the property at the heart of the dispute – Chateau Miraval – ten percent of which was a gift from Pitt.

The couple’s former French home, a stunning 1,200 acre estate and vineyard was worth $60 million when they bought it in 2008. Now, thanks to Pitt’s effort and investment in the business, it’s worth a staggering $164 million.

And, while Jolie, 48, appears to be crying poverty in her latest court filings, sources close to Pitt point out that the Tomb raider star had sufficient funds to sign a recent deal to take over 57 Great Jones Street, a unique Manhattan space once owned by Andy Warhol and previously rented for $60,000 a month.

Says one source familiar with the situation: ‘Angie says Brad is bleeding her dry – but it looks like she wants to bleed him dry.

‘Far from being out to ruin his ex, it looks like Brad has bent over backwards to support Angie and help her out financially in spite of her appearing to be so vindictive,’ the source added.

- Angelina Jolie is accusing Brad Pitt of trying to 'bleed her dry' in their ongoing bitter legal battle - despite him helping enrich his vengeful ex by close to $100million, DailyMail.co.uk, April 17, 2024.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


Unvarnished truth? 未加粉饰的真相


One of a kind? 独一无二


Overarching question? 全局性问题


Weather on steroids? 极端天气


Pick up the pieces 整理残局


Shot across the bow? 警告性的一击

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