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> 专家点评

No harm, no foul

[ 2010-10-21 15:33]     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

No harm, no foul

Reader's question:  

In his excitement, he deleted all the files, but they were restored later from a backup copy - no harm, no foul.

Could you explain “no harm, no foul”?

My comments:

"No harm, no foul" was originally a cliché in American basketball, descriptive of a situation where a player makes illegal contact with another but only so slightly that referees do not call foul by blowing the whistle on him.

In basketball terminology, as a matter of fact, such inadvertent contact is called "incidental contact". It happens all the time and is usually ignored by referees. Basketball people of course all understand that their sport involves a lot of physical contact and therefore inconsequential contacts should be let go in order to maintain a smooth flow of the game. In other words, nobody likes to hear whistles blowing every five seconds and watch a game proceeding by fits and starts, as if it were an automobile with ignition problems.

Anyways, in the above example, "no harm, no foul" means this:

It's wrong for him to delete all the files but, since this causes no real "harm" (because he restored them later from a backup copy), the incident should be ignored.

In other words, no need to cry "foul" and make a fuss – you know, by reporting to the big boss and having him punished in accordance with company discipline etc and all that sort of tedious nonsense.

Related stories:

Pick up the slack

length and breadth of

get up to speed on something

Borrowed time

On a shoestring

Shake a leg

Sing to a new tune

Truth lies somewhere in the middle

For all intents and purposes

Past praying for

Nay saying

Kick sth.when it's down

Opening credits

Give somebody a piece of your mind

God only knows

Speak of the devil

Hold a candle to

Jump the gun

Be possible if not probable

Go to Zhang Xin's column


About the author:

Zhang Xin 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.