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Off the bat? 立刻

中国日报网 2018-10-16 13:25


Reader question:

Please explain “off the bat”, as in this sentence: “I’ve been living with the iPhone X for a week, and I’ll say right off the bat: This phone isn’t for everyone.” What bat?

My comments:

Bat refers to the baseball bat or stick batters use to hit the ball with in a baseball game.

Baseball being the national pastime of America, you may infer that “off the bat” is an American idiom.

It is. Originally “off the bat” refers what the batter does after he hits the ball. Literally, right after the ball bounces OFF THE BAT, the batter throws the stick down and runs as fast as he could toward First Base or first base, no capitalizations necessary. There must be no delay because he has to reach first base before one of the opponents gathers the ball and throws it to their man guarding first base. Per the rulebook, if the batter reaches the station before the ball flies in, the batter is safe and he gets to play on. If the ball returns to first base before the batter, however, the latter is out, i.e. out of the game. Killed. Done for.

Killed and done for, temporarily, that is, until the next opportunity arises – for him to step up to the plate again. The pro game of baseball plays 9 innings so everyone has quite a few opportunities to bat and run.

Anyways, “off the bat” means immediately and right away.

Metaphorically, “off the bat” means the same thing, immediately and right away, without the slightest delay.

In our example, the speaker probably wants to stress the point that the IPhone X is not a suitable phone for everybody and so he or she makes a point of spelling it out right away.

In other words, first things first. The speaker feels that if he or she makes the point clear from the very beginning, then there will be no confusion.

Presumably the speaker goes on talking about a whole bunch of pros and cons about the IPhone X, but there must be no confusion about their final analysis – that this smartphone is not for everyone.

All right, no more ado about the Apple phone. Let’s read a few recent media examples and get familiar with the idiom “off the bat”, often in the form of “right off the bat”:

1. Even Kyle Clark admits that he’s been “too scared” to tackle this one.

The single most requested name for our popular “What Do You Say?” segment: Colorado.

We always ask a local - like the mayor, or the head of a historical society. This time, we asked Governor John Hickenlooper. It (sounds like) he pronounces it Colo-ROD-o, but hear it for yourself in our full story about this, posted above.

We knew we needed more than just the governor's opinion on this one, though. To get a different, maybe more scientific explanation, Next spoke to Rich Sandoval, a linguist from Metro State University, who told us there are five pronunciations (...oh no, what have gotten ourselves into?)

Sandoval told us right off the bat that his job isn’t to say which pronunciation is “right” or “wrong.” Instead, he wanted to explain to us why people pronounce the word the way they do.

“There has always been an issue of what it is the right way to say Colorado,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval tells us that there is a difference between the way “locals” say it, versus the “transplants”.

“I found evidence all the way back from the 1800s, around the founding of the state, where it seems like in schools ... you might have been coached, at least as an English speaker, to say ‘Col-Uh-Ray-Doh,’ in fact,” Sandoval tells us. “Instead of ‘Colo-RAD-O,’ the more Spanish sounding version of the word.”

The name of our state has Spanish origins. According to Sandoval, there were movements back then to take Spanish origin words and anglicize them.

Our state was named after the Colorado River, which in Spanish is “Rio Colorado” - meaning “red river”. If you go with that pronunciation, it would be Coh-Loh-Rah-DO.

“And amongst locals who have kind of Spanish language ancestry, going back many generations especially, you might hear another variant which is Coh-Loh-Rad-Oh,” Sandoval said.

This pronunciation is now changing the “CAH” to a “COH”.

Sandoval shares the other pronunciations that you may have never heard before.

“I’m not sure you’ll hear it that much anymore…but you can still hear ‘Col-Uh-Rad-uh,’ which is an older version that used to be more popular,” Sandoval said.

Now, maybe you have been part of this argument with people, and they have tried to use other words with similar spellings to justify how they say it. Sandoval shared with us some arguments people have used.

He tells us that some people say it should be “‘Cah-Loh-Ra-Do’ like ‘Avo-Cah-dO,’ like Tos-Tah-do.’”

Some other people are guilty of a widespread phenomenon called the “foreign A,” which could be another reason for different pronunciations.

“People who fashion themselves as being more educated will put this “ah” sound into words that are barred into the English language to display themselves as being more worldly or more knowledgeable,” Sandoval said.

So, maybe saying Colo-Rad-o instead of Colo-Rod-oh will make you sound more intelligent?

- What do YOU say? How do you pronounce ‘Colorado?’, 9News.com, June 28, 2018.

2. When Marsha Richins started researching materialism in the early 1990s, it was a subject that had mostly been left to philosophers and religious thinkers. In the intervening decades, Richins, a professor of marketing at the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business, and others have contributed a good deal of academic research that backs up some of the wariness people have, for millennia, expressed about the pursuit of worldly things.

One focus of Richins’s research has been how that pursuit begins in childhood, and in particular accelerates in middle school. That’s the time when kids, on average, give the most materialistic responses to the question of what makes them happy. In a paper published last year, Richins described how the social dynamics of middle school can lead children to place more importance on owning and having things. (Movies, TV, the internet, media, advertising, and parents’ own habits, of course, can have similar effects.)

I recently spoke with Richins about this process, as well as the challenges, for parents, of providing counterprogramming to middle school’s codes of behavior. The conversation that follows has been edited for length and clarity.

Joe Pinsker: How does a typical middle schooler learn that materialism can help them navigate everyday life?

Marsha Richins: I think of seventh grade as being the worst age of a person’s life. It’s really a fraught time, and there’s all this insecurity that kids have about Who am I? Do people like me? What kind of person am I? So how do we navigate that? Well, our appearance is one of the things we navigate with. So what does a kid see when they see another kid? They see the expression on their face, they see the body language, the posture, and the clothes they’re wearing. And so a kid who’s not very self-confident in navigating this is going to maybe feel a little more self-confident if they’re wearing the right kind of clothes rather than the wrong kind of clothes. Here we’re learning, right off the bat, that having things can help us define who we are.

Pinsker: Can you talk a bit about what the alternative is to dwelling on physical stuff—the “intangible resources” that kids have for making conversation, like who they are and things they’re good at?

Richins: I have this hypothesis, which I’ve not really been able to test. It seems to me that if a child has certain intangible resources—maybe they play a musical instrument and they’re in the band—they would maybe develop some friendships based around that shared experience. Maybe their parents are saying, “Wow, I’m so proud of you for sticking with band and you’re practicing your trumpet.” This can give a child a sense of who they are beyond just possessions, but that’s an intangible thing. So if kids have more things like athletic skills or activities that they can talk about or form connections with friends over those things, they can feel good about themselves through many different kinds of things. And if you’re lacking other kinds of things—if you’re lacking intangible resources—you might want to fall back on tangible resources.

- Why Kids Want Things, by Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, August 30, 2018.

3. A year ago, Allie Stark, a life coach from San Francisco, struggled over how to handle a crush she’d developed.

Stark was torn up about it because she was already in a committed, monogamous relationship. It wasn’t the crush that bothered her so much; she’s a firm believer that it’s natural to feel attraction to others, even if you’re in the most happy, healthy relationship. Plus, she was certain the crush would eventually blow over. (It did.)

What bothered Stark was the guilt she felt over not telling her boyfriend.

“I had this gnawing feeling inside of my gut that I was being out of alignment with my own integrity,” she told HuffPost. “My body was telling me to be honest about my fleeting feelings toward someone other than my partner, so that we could move through it together.”

Friends suggested Stark keep it to herself, but eventually she told her boyfriend, then wrote about it in a Mind Body Green essay last year.

“My boyfriend gently stared back at my tear-streaked face,” she wrote. “When he spoke, the words that came out of him were those of understanding .... It made sense to him. He got it.”

The couple chatted about boundaries, commitment and attraction, and ultimately the conversation brought them closer together.

“Amid the somewhat taboo and unconventional words that were shared, a valley of deeper intimacy emerged,” she wrote.

Stark’s decision to tell all was partially inspired by radical honesty, a philosophy and book written by Brad Blanton, a psychotherapist who likes to refer to himself as “white trash with a Ph.D.”

At its core, Blanton’s idea is a very simple one: When you’re radically honest with someone, you tell them what you feel, what you’ve done or plan to do and what you really think. Being radically honest means telling the truth all the time and losing that internal filter that tells you to keep certain things ― usually knotty and emotionally complicated things ― to yourself.

The idea is that when you do that, you open yourself up to truly authentic intimacy and relationships.

Once you get into the practice, though, you can’t let yourself slide back into your old (dishonest) ways, Blanton told HuffPost.

“It is important to understand that the title of my book is Radical Honesty, not Liberal Honesty or Sporadical Honesty or Positive Honesty or any other horseshit like that,” he said. (How’s that for radical honesty?)

The ideology is especially relevant to relationships, which Blanton believes are rife with dishonesty.

“Eight-five percent of relationships are pretty much more phony than authentic, half or more of marriages split up, and more than half of those that do stay together suck,” he said.


Radical honesty works for singles, too. Imagine how many people you’d weed out if you told them right off the bat that you don’t want kids or that you have a five-year game plan to move out of the state and settle down.

If you are coupled up, though, take it slow with the honesty. Tell your partner you plan to be more candid moving forward; don’t just let it slip that you hate going to your in-laws for the holidays.
And, lastly, recognize that not every relationship can withstand the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

“The idea of this often scares the hell out of folks, because of the fear of the pain that may be involved or a breakup. And, yes, both of these are possible,” Shadburne said. “But being willing to feel your way through pain together is the cost of admission to real love and intimacy.”
And sometimes radical honesty shows you that you and your partner are better off apart, like it did for Allie Stark.

“We were together three years and lived together for two,” she said. “The reasons for ending our relationship had absolutely nothing to do with the fleeting feelings that I had for this other man, and, really, I think radical honesty is what supported both of us in following our own hearts and moving in the direction that was best for both of us.”

- Radical Honesty ‘Scares The Hell Out Of People,’ But It Could Be Worth Trying, HuffingtonPost.com, October 1, 2018.


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)


Hot take? 脱口而出的意见


Rattled someone's cage 让人恼火


Falling into place 水到渠成


Carry the day? 获胜


Shell shocked? 吓呆了

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