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By the book

[ 2009-07-13 13:42]     字号 [] [] []  
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By the book

Nancy Matos

Reader Question: “She is one of the most by the book people I ever know.”

Could you explain “by the book”?

My comments: A person who goes "by the book" is someone who obeys the rules. People who do things by the book are often perceived as being rigid and unimaginative, which isn’t always a fair assessment. On one hand, people should do things by the book and follow guidelines handed out. If society was crawling with people who didn’t do things by the book, it would be chaos. On the other hand, at times the outcome wouldn’t be exactly dire if one didn’t do things “by the book”.

For example, major cities in China are notorious for pedestrians and drivers who don’t observe the rules of the road. An article in the June 5 edition of China Daily discussed an antiquated method being employed in Jiangsu province to keep unruly pedestrians at bay who disobey the red light at crosswalks—a rope held across by a traffic warden to prevent them from crossing. In this case, pedestrians who don’t wait for the light to turn green before proceeding to cross the road are not doing things by the book. But if the road is clear and there are clearly no cars coming, what is the harm in crossing? It’s scenarios like this one that make you question if going by the book really is necessary in everyday life. However, if we lived in a world where people didn’t do things by the book at all times, it would be anarchy.

On a lighter note, in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” Act I, Scene V, an enamored Juliet is quite content that Romeo follows the rules…in the kissing department:

Romeo: “Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take. Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.”

Juliet: “Then have my lips the sin that they have took.”

Romeo: “Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged! Give me my sin again.”

Juliet: “You kiss by the book.”


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About the author:

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.