When Is a Choice Not Really a Choice?
2014-01-12 00:30:44

Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.(1)

Making choices is necessary, but not always easy. Many of our expressions tell about this difficulty.(2)

One of these expressions is "Hobson’s choice." It often is used to describe a difficult choice. But that is not what it really means. Its real meaning is to have no choice at all.(3)

The Hobson in the expression was Thomas Hobson. Mr. Hobson owned a stable of horses in Cambridge, England.(4)
在表达式中的 Hobson 是托马斯 · 霍布森。霍布森先生拥有稳定的在剑桥,英国的马。

Mr. Hobson often rented horses to the students at Cambridge University. But, he did not really trust them to take good care of the horses.(5)

So, he had a rule that prevented the students from riding his best horses.(6)

They could take the horse that was nearest the stable door. Or, they could not take any horse at all.(7)

Thus, a Hobson’s choice was really no choice.(8)

Another expression for having no real choice is "between a rock and a hard place." It is often used to describe a difficult situation with few choices -- none of them good.(9)
另一种表达有没有真正的选择是"之间岩石和坚硬的地方"。它通常用于描述一种困难的情况有几个选择 — — 他们都不好。

For example, your boss may ask you to work late. But you have plans to go to a movie with your friends. If you refuse to work, your boss gets angry.(10)

But if you do not go to the movies with your friends, they may get angry. So what do you do? You are "caught between a rock and a hard place."(11)

Another expression -- "between the devil and the deep blue sea" -- also gives you a choice between two equally dangerous things.(12)
另一种表达 — — 之间的"魔鬼和深蓝色的大海"— — 还为您提供了两个同样危险事物之间进行选择。

Its meaning seems clear. You can choose the devil and his burning fires of hell. Or, you can choose to drown in the sea.(13)

Some word experts say the expression comes from the days of wooden ships. The "devil" is a word for a seam between two pieces of wood along the water-line of a ship.(14)

If the seam or crack between the two pieces of wood begins to leak, then a sailor must fix it. The sailor ordered to make the repairs was in a dangerous situation.(15)

He was hanging over the side of the ship, working "between the devil and the deep blue sea."(16)

There is still another expression that describes a situation with only bad choices -- being "on the horns of a dilemma."(17)
那里是仍然另一表达式,描述情况为只有错误的选择 — —"上"角的困境。

The dictionary says a dilemma is a situation in which you must make a decision about two equally balanced choices. When your dilemma has horns, a choice becomes impossible.(18)
字典说一个困境是,你必须做出决定 (约两个同样均衡的选择的情况。当您的困境有角时,选择变得不可能。

When you are "on the horns of a dilemma" no matter which horn you choose, something bad will happen.(19)

This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Marilyn Christiano.(20)
此美国之音特别英语节目的词汇和它们的故事是写的玛丽莲梦露 Christiano。

I’m Christopher Cruise.(21)
我是克里斯托弗 · 巡航。

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