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All very well, but

[ 2011-08-26 14:34]     字号 [] [] []  
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All very well, but

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, with “it’s all well to say” in particular: “It’s all well to say that SOMEBODY should do this, but when will we, as individuals, stand up and make ourselves that somebody?”

My comments:

When we say it is all well, we mean obviously that all is well. However, when you see “all well” followed by the word “but”, it means that the opposite is true.

In the above example, it means that talking about something is good, but not good enough. It’s good in that at least people are talking about it, which is better than the alternative, making an issue out of what otherwise would be called a non-event.

By talking about sorting out one’s kitchen garbage in the media, for example, more people will become aware of the importance of better garbage treatment. However, it’s not enough just talking about it. Garbage treatment actually involves one putting plastics and other recyclable stuffs into the rubbish bin with the word “Recycle” marked on it. It sounds simple, right? And it’s not much work either but work it still is. To get it done, you and I need actually doing it, every day. And that is something difficult for people, the consistency to do something at a regular basis.

Other larger, loftier issues, likewise. It’s all very well, for example, for all of us to go on about improving human rights, democracy and the rule of law, but we can talk all day till we’re red in the face and sick in the stomach without any of those things improving at all. Talking about something is something, actually doing something is something else entirely.

Hence the above question: All very well to say that SOMEBODY should do it, but when will we, as individuals, stand up and make ourselves that somebody?

This is in total accordance with the age-old dictum, by the way, that if you want something done, you should better do it yourself.

Anyways, it is all very well to say (do) something, but all is not very well, as a matter of fact, to just say (do) it. That is the basic message to convey with this expression – “all very well, but (not enough)”.

Here are more media examples:

1. Tinyiko Chauke, 43, is no stranger in the battle to protect Zimbabwe’s wildlife population. A game ranger for 18 years, he has arrested poachers and rescued wounded animals from snares, a risk he has learnt to live with.

He has witnessed rhinos multiply in great numbers, but in the past three years, poaching has spiraled out of control. Carcasses, de-horned and peppered with bullets, have become a common sight.

In his first encounter with a heavily armed gang in a rhino sanctuary in Masvingo Province in 2008, he and his colleagues survived a ferocious exchange of gunfire. Ever since, Chauke believes the worst fears of conservationists are about to be realized - part of Africa’s famous Big Five animals is in danger of extinction.

Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, says his department is under-equipped to properly carry out its duties, and has described poaching in the country as “the wanton destruction of wildlife.”

According to latest figures, Zimbabwe has about 400 black rhinos out of a total of 700 rhinos in its game reserves.

Sensing a looming environmental disaster, Zimbabwean authorities have embarked in rhino de-horning, but local conservation groups are doubtful about the effectiveness of the move.

Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), Jonny Rodrigues, said poisoning the horn instead would be the “effective way” to reduce poaching. De-horning alone would be far from the answer as a lot of people have resorted to poaching due to widespread unemployment, he said.

It’s all well to arrest poachers but so long as there is a market for the horn, poachers will always try their luck. By poisoning it, you target the actual market,” Rodrigues, who has spent the better part of his life conserving wildlife in Zimbabwe, told the Zimbabwe Mail.

If a small number were to be poisoned, buyers would never be sure whether they purchased a poisoned one or not. Once they become aware of the danger, demand for it would be eased and in turn illegal rhino hunting activities, he said.

- Rhino Poaching in Zimbabwe - the solution! TheZimbabweMail.com, November 11, 2010.

2. A damning leader in today’s Times questions David Cameron's fitness to govern. In the wake of another opinion poll showing a hung parliament is on the cards, the paper declares:

Clearly David Cameron is not making a convincing case. The central charge against him is that, while he is approachable and likeable, his aims and values as a future prime minister of this country are still unclear. David Cameron has yet to answer a basic question: what does he stand for?

It goes on:

Mr Cameron’s case is not yet persuasive. His speeches are replete with favourable references to charities but precious little about the practical business issue of job creation. He has been fond lately of set-piece speeches of dubious intellectual and strategic wisdom on the iniquity of the big state and health and safety legislation . . . Mr Cameron is, instead, projecting the aura of a man who wants power rather more than he knows what to do with it.

Cameron’s intense anti-statism (in his conference speech he made the absurd claim that “big government” was to blame for the financial crisis) has damaged his party’s credibility. There is something in the Labour line that “those who do not believe in the power of government should not be trusted to form one”.

The Times concludes:

It is all very well to complain about the Labour record but we still await a clear, unambiguous and compelling case for a Conservative government.

It’s a timely reminder that unlike its Wapping cousin the Sun, the Times remains committed, at least in principle, to Labour.

- The Times attacks Cameron, NewStatesman.com, December 8, 2009.



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.


Wearing thin

The hard way

Call their bluff?

Find your feet?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)