首页  | 专栏作家

Such a motor mouth? 话匣子

中国日报网 2024-07-09 14:37


Reader question:

Please explain “motor mouth” in this passage: “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that. I have such a motor mouth – it’s so bad – I’m so sorry.”

My comments:

To have a motor mouth is to have a quick mouth that talks rapidly, non-stop.

Something like that.

A motor is a power unit, such as the engine of a car that propels the car to run forward, fast and furious, i.e. very rapidly.

Hence, a motor mouth is like one’s mouth is equipped with a motor, like a bike equipped with a motor.

A bike equipped with a motor, of course, becomes a motorbike, which runs much faster than an ordinary bicycle.

Hence and therefore, metaphorically speaking, a motor mouth is someone who is a constant or irrepressible talker.

Someone, in other words, who talks too much. And when you talk too much, you are likely to say something inappropriate, something offensive, something that makes people around you uncomfortable, something regrettable.

In our example, the speaker clearly is a victim of his or her own motor tongue. That’s why he or she sounds so apologetic.

Anyways, a motor mouth or motormouth (one word) is someone who talks a lot, constantly and probably in excess.

And here are media examples:

1. ‘Sshh! Listen!’ says Ruby Wax, holding up a forefinger. We are sitting in a meeting room and, sure enough, there is an irritating whirring sound coming from the office next door. I’d prefer to block it out, but simply by noticing it I have, explains Ruby, changed the chemicals in my brain. ‘As soon as you fully focus on one of your senses, your anxiety goes down because your brain can’t be in two places at once. That’s all it is. You’re tricking your body,’ she explains.

Ruby was once famous for her motormouth persona and her excruciating celebrity interviews (I’ll never forget her chatting to Madonna wearing crotchless knickers on her head). But in recent years she has carried out a career volte-face. Having taken a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy and counselling and a master’s in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), the comedian has written a book about neuroscience that’s also an odyssey through her own mind.

Sane New World is an exploration of the make-up of the brain, the chemicals it produces, and how it can be changed for the better using strategies such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), deliberately breaking old habits or keeping a diary of your emotions. It’s a dizzyingly complex subject that Ruby has turned into a very readable book, which is by turns fascinating, funny and moving.

She researched it for a year and a half. ‘Understanding how the human is built is the most interesting thing on the planet,’ she says. ‘I hope people don’t think that this is a celebrity book about me and my fabulous career. That would destroy me.’ The message she wants to spread – especially to the one in four who will experience some kind of mental health problem each year – is that you can literally change your mind.

Brain science is still comparatively in its infancy. For most of the previous century it was assumed that after early childhood, the brain structure remained more or less unchanged. Now scientists have shown that the brain is constantly adapting because of changes in behaviour or environment. What’s more, it is an effect that we can achieve deliberately. Focus on your worries and you’ll develop neural structures of anxiety; but engaging in relaxing activities can rewire your brain for calm.

‘It’s about working-out the brain like a muscle,’ explains Ruby. ‘You’re not stuck with what you were born with. Gloria Gaynor is going to have to change those lyrics, because I’m not who I am. But what rhymes with neuroplasticity?’ she cackles.

- How RUBY WAX regained her sparkle: The comedian on training her brain to beat depression, DailyMail.co.uk, June 2, 2013.

2. They stuffed the news in right at the end of a local news broadcast, leading into a national one, yesterday: “We’ve just learned that it appears that Robin Williams has died” or words to that effect.

It was an eye-blink moment, as if you’ve just heard something that wasn’t quite right, couldn’t be true. No details, just a Joe Friday just-the-facts.

Until the news was confirmed by online news sites and midway through the nightly news, I didn’t quite believe it. Williams was such a motor mouth, such a force of nature. How do you put the shut-up quiet on that?

Death has its ways, as it turns out. Williams had already been gone for a number of hours at that point, found dead in his home in Tiburon, in Marin County outside San Francisco, Calif., apparently a suicide by asphyxiation at the age of 63. Williams was known to suffer from depression – as sometimes the people who make you laugh the hardest do – and to have gone back into rehab. He openly battled alcohol and drug addictions throughout his life, a process which sometimes found its way into his standup comedy routines. (“Cocaine,” he quipped, “is God’s way of telling you you’re making too much money.”)

I had seen him in person once, when he was one of the saluters and razzers for the Kennedy Center’s first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor which honored Richard Pryor. Williams – and a host of his peers – four-lettered in characteristic fashion, giving an impression of how a possibly Irish, shocked Kennedy Center usher might have reacted. “Oh my god, they used that word again, and the other ones, too.” It remains a mystery how Williams managed to avoid receiving the Twain award over the years. George Carlin, one of his idols, won it posthumously.

Still, that news flash about Williams’s death was hard to take, hard to shake, and the days news only made things more final. How do you slow down that dust devil of a performing energy? Truth: You don’t.

- Robin Williams: He Left Us Laughing for a Lifetime, by Gary Tischler, GeorgeTowner.com, August 18, 2014.

3. The Drake–versus–Kendrick Lamar rap spat is the stuff of blog-era millennial dreams. The artists have circled each other for more than a decade, slinging subliminal barbs back and forth since 2012. But over the past 12 years, there’s only been one outright name-mentioning slug shot on Lamar’s 2013’s “Control” on which K. Dot fired off the most respectfully threatening barrage against the biggest rappers of the time. Pretty much every rapper he names – J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., and Wale – took being targeted by one of the greatest at the time as an honor. Drake, though? Not so much. “It just wasn’t real to me,” he told Hot 97’s Angie Martinez. “I saw him after that and it was just like love, so it’s like was that real or was that for the people? Those were harsh words, you can’t just say that and see me like, ‘Yeah, man, what’s up,’ pretending like nothing ever happened.”

From then on, the relationship would be up and down. Kendrick would tell DJ Whoo Kid in 2014 that he couldn’t make music with the Canadian anymore because “we come from two different worlds, two different backgrounds,” and that he couldn’t see it “playin’ out as entertaining.” So yes, “Control” provided some insight into how different they were as people. But it didn’t mark the beginning of their feud, as we learned on Kendrick’s recent diss records, the delightfully spiteful “Euphoria” and “6:16 in LA,” where Lamar bombards Drake for becoming a meme, paying for friendships, and being an overall “terrible person.” The most noticeable diss comes from “Euphoria” when Dot goes down a list of all the things he hates about Drake (the way he walks, talks, dresses, along with sneak disses and insert transphobic line here). It’s not only a hilariously petty harangue on Drake’s character – and fashion sense – but a hat tip to the actual start of this beef in the first place: the late rapper DMX.

Despite the DMX drama going down a year earlier, “Control” and its aftermath – which, as Drake told Vibe in 2014, kinda fucked with the rollout of his 2013 album, Nothing Was the Same – may have been the loudest siren initiating the Aubrey and Dot cold war. Drake dropped “The Language” on 2013’s NWTS, which came out the gate with a sub at K. Dot: “I don’t know why they been lyin’ but yo shit is not that inspirin’.” Later in that same verse he spews, “Fuck any nigga that’s talking that shit just to get a reaction …” and later, “I am the kid with the motor mouth / I am the one you should worry ’bout.” On Jay Rock’s “Pay for It,” Lamar fires back, “Been dissectin’ your motormouth, til I break down the engine / This ain’t no warnin’ shot, this a relevant henchmen / See my opponent, then – cease your existence”

The DMX thing speaks to the root of all the mess. These guys at the top of the mountain couldn’t be on more different paths. Drake, if he came from Dot’s world, wouldn’t have survived given his slinky backbone, while Drake believes that K.Dot’s greatness is illegitimate because of how long he takes between albums. One is Abercrombie & Fitch and boat shoes, the other is white tank tops and Nike Cortezes. Neither are really putting it on for real, but it still clashes.

- Kendrick’s Drake-Villain Origin Story Begins With DMX, Vulture.com, May 3, 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)


In so many words? 直截了当地说


Major dust-up? 大吵大闹


The company you keep? 你交往的人


Draw first blood? 先下手为强

中国日报网 英语点津微信
中国日报网 双语小程序