English 中文网 漫画网 爱新闻iNews 翻译论坛
当前位置: Language Tips> 译通四海> Columnist 专栏作家> Zhang Xin

Let the chips fall

[ 2010-02-09 12:59]     字号 [] [] []  
免费订阅30天China Daily双语新闻手机报:移动用户编辑短信CD至106580009009

Let the chips fall

Reader question:

In the story about Stephon Marbury playing in China (Marbury returns to basketball, joins Brave Dragons, AP, February 6, 2010), the former NBA star said of his future in basketball: “I’m going to let the chips fall where they may.” What does that mean?

My comments:

He means to say he’s focused on the jobs at hand, which is to help his new team win and to promote his brand of basketball shoes in China, and not worried about whether he’ll ever be able to return to the NBA.

In other words, he’s not worried about the consequences of his crossing the big pond to play “in a parched, polluted city in China”, and for negligible money – US$100,000, negligible at any rate by the former max-money player’s one time high standard. Instead, he’s going to allow the future to unfold however it may.

“Let the chips fall where they may” is an American idiom which was probably developed from wood logging. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, this phrase dates back to the late 1800s. In those days, trailblazers going west presumably had a lot of wood to chop along the way.

And when you chop wood, chips (small pieces) are going to fall hither and thither, that is, everywhere. To allow chips to fall where they may is, hence, to focus on the main task and not be distracted by trivial details or petty consequences. In other words, you’re not going to stop chopping just because chips are flying left, right and center.

The VOA (Voice of America, the United States Government-sponsored propaganda radio) Special English program Words and Their Stories once gave the following example while explaining the word “chip”:

The word chip can also be used in a threatening way to someone who is suspected of wrongdoing. An investigator may say, “We’re going to let the chips fall where they may.” This means the investigation is going to be complete and honest. It is also a warning that no one will be protected from being found guilty.

Cause and effect – Let the chips fall.

Because they will.

Here are two more recent media examples:

1. The latest in a series of somewhat bizarre off-the-cuff remarks by Premier McKeeva Bush was made when he called in to a local radio talk show – apparently during a trip to Florida – and suggested that Cayman residents should not talk to the foreign media about Tuesday’s earthquake, so as not to provide publicity detrimental to our tourism industry.

We really have to wonder what kind of strange parallel universe Mr Bush is living in if he believes that such a suggestion is ever likely to be effective or appropriate...

Reader Comments:

Daniel Gless:

Suppressing the news is like trying to suppress the sunrise or the waves in the sea. It is impossible. Mr Bush sounds like a certain Mr Bush we used to have. Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans didn’t happen until the various news agencies were on the ground reporting the total devastation. Even then the Office of Emergency Management denied the emergency situation. But it did exist! The earthquake happened, it did exist. To deny or suppress that fact only makes one look very foolish. Mr Bush would do well for his people to let the news be the news; let the chips fall where they may and accept the thing the rest of us call reality.

- Editorial: The futility of trying to suppress the facts, CaymanNetNews.com, January 22, 2010.

2. The health care backdrop has given the White House a strong incentive to strike a defiant posture, at least rhetorically, in response to what would be an undeniable embarrassment for the president and his party.

There won’t be any grand proclamation that “the era of Big Government is over” — the words President Bill Clinton uttered after Republicans won the Congress in the 1990s and he was forced to trim a once-ambitious agenda.

“The response will not be to do incremental things and try to salvage a few seats in the fall,” a presidential adviser said. “The best political route also happens to be the boldest rhetorical route, which is to go out and fight and let the chips fall where they may. We can say, ‘At least we fought for these things, and the Republicans said no.’”

Whatever words Obama chooses, however, will have trouble masking the substantive reality: A Massachusetts embarrassment would strongly increase the pressure Obama was already facing to retreat or slow down the “big bang” agenda he laid out a year ago.

- President Obama plans combative turn, Politico.com, January 18, 2010.



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.


Divine ambrosia

At a premium

Achilles heel

Overplay his hand?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)