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

Moving in quicksand?

[ 2010-12-10 14:35]     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

Moving in quicksand?Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: The financial world is moving in quicksand.

My comments:

The financial world is moving slowly, hence the economy is stagnant, and perhaps dangerously so.

Likened to a person, the financial world progresses as someone moves in a swamp, struggling with each and every step – if he could move at all.

The “quick” in quicksand is a misnomer. It doesn’t mean fast. The “quick” here means “live” as in the old English expression “the quick and the dead” (all people including the alive and the dead).

And there isn’t much liveliness about a quicksand, of course. Quicksand, technically, is like a swamp, or muddy seashore full of wet, muddy silt.

If you ever find yourself in a swamp you’ll know how it feels to walk on such squishy-squashy surface. The mud sucks your feet in – giving you a sinking feeling. The more you struggle, the greater the pull you seem to feel at the feet.

And people sometimes sink and lose their lives in quicksand.

So, in short, to move in quicksand is to move slowly – not fast – if you can move at all. Or figuratively speaking, to find oneself in quicksand is to be in a difficult position, or a situation of downright danger.

Hence, to say the financial world is moving in quicksand is to suggest that the financial world (the stock market, bank borrowing/lending etc) is slow moving, and that the economy is stagnant, and perhaps even dangerously so – no light at the end of the tunnel detected yet.

Here are two more media examples:

1. Talks for worker concessions at General Motors of Canada dragged on yesterday with some minor progress but no tentative deal.

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said last night that although there were some signs of movement, there would be no deal on big cuts in labour costs at the teetering automaker until at least today.

“We’re still moving in quicksand,” said Lewenza at a downtown hotel.

The union says the federal and Ontario governments and Washington, which are considering billions of dollars in public aid to GM, are trying to impose on workers here concessions similar to those of their U.S. counterparts.

The CAW, which represents more than 7,500 GM workers, has rejected “the cookie-cutter” approach. It is also resisting proposals that would make active employees pay into a pension plan for the first time and make retirees accept significant reductions in benefits to address the fund’s huge deficit.

The two sides and governments have been negotiating since May 11.

- Minor progress as CAW and GM talk concessions, Toronto Star, May 21 2009.

2. The Los Angeles Lakers have lost four straight for the first time since April 2007.

Their latest loss, a 109-99 defeat by the injury-depleted Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, prompted a reporter to ask Kobe Bryant if the Lakers have considered that they aren’t as good as they think they are.

“How do you know how good we think we are? We’re fine,” an obviously annoyed Bryant said. “Are we going to win a three-peat today? Probably not, but the (expletive) is not played today.”


Bryant is concerned about the play of the Lakers’ defense.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” he said. “Houston shot 50 percent tonight ... that’s unacceptable for our defense. We’re slow. We’re slow on rotations. It looks like we’re kind of running in quicksand a little.”

- Rockets hand Lakers fourth straight loss, AP, December 2, 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.


Tongue twister?

'Snap' offensive?

At large?

Off the beam?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)