又中又英——“the straight and narrow”

  A friend heard an expression on an English language radio station he didn’t understand. The expression was “the straight and narrow”. This expression originated from the Bible. Many people want to be on the straight and narrow but it is not easy. The expression means to behave in a way that is honest and moral. If you keep on the straight and narrow, it means you live an honest and virtuous life. Ordinary people expect politicians and business leaders to keep on the straight and narrow. But many people believe politicians and business leaders are dishonest.

  The expression can be used in many ways. For example, after a bank robber is released from jail, his family may tell him to keep on the straight and narrow and never rob banks again. Or a judge may decide not to jail young people for minor offences on condition they keep on the straight and narrow. The original expression from the Bible describes the path to God’s house. It says the path to destruction is wide. But the path to the house of God is straight and the entry gate is narrow. It is a common belief that being an honest and moral person is much harder than being a bad person.

  Another expression which is similar but not exactly the same is “take the high road” or “take the moral high road”. This means to behave in a moral way, especially when others are not. If your competitor in an election uses fake news to accuse you of lying to voters, you can say you will “take the high road” with an honest election campaign instead of using fake news to attack him. Former First Lady Michelle Obama changed the expression when she said “when they go low, we go high” in July 2016. Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton were candidates to become the US president. Obama meant when Trump’s Republican Party used unfair tactics, the Democratic Party should choose the moral high road.

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  一位朋友從英語電台聽到一個他不很明白的習語,那個習語是“the straight and narrow”。這個習語來自《聖經》。許多人都想on the straight and narrow,但那並不容易。這個習語的意思是走在正道上,坦蕩正直地做人。若你keep on the straight and narrow,意味着你誠實做人且品德高尚。一般人都會期望政客與商界領袖會堅持坦蕩而正直(the straight and narrow),但許多人認為,政客與商界領袖都不很誠實。

  這個習語可以有多種用法,譬如,一個銀行劫匪刑滿出獄後,他的家人會叫他循規蹈矩(the straight and narrow),勿再搶劫銀行了。又或者,一個法官決定不因年輕人所犯的輕微罪行而判囚,條件是他們要走正途(the straight and narrow),不再重犯了。原本這個習語來自《聖經》,形容引到天家的路。它說,引到滅亡的路是寬的,但引到永生的路則是直的,門是窄的。大眾普遍認為,要作坦蕩正直的人,比去做一個壞人要難得多。

  另一個意思相近但不完全一樣的習語就是“take the high road”或“take the moral high road”。它的意思是要以符合道德、正當的手法處事,尤其是當他人並非這樣做時。若你的競選對手用假新聞抹黑你向選民撒謊,你可以說你不會跟他一般見識,而是“take the high road”,用正當的競選活動而非用假新聞反攻。美國前第一夫人米雪‧奧巴馬在二○一六年七月,將這句習語改了一下,說成“when they go low, we go high”。當時共和黨的唐納德‧特朗普與民主黨的希拉莉‧克林頓正在競逐美國總統之位。米雪‧奧巴馬說這話的意思是,當特朗普的共和黨用上不正當的手段時,民主黨應該堅持走合乎道義之正途。中譯:七刻

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Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


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