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VOA 慢速英语:这是什么?

所属教程:Words And Their Stories 更新:07-12
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By VOA

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 What is this? If you don't the name of something, just point to it and call it a doohickey, thingamajig, or whatchamacallit. This happens to be a two million year old chopping tool.

11 July, 2015

Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

It has happened to all of us. You want to talk about an object, but you forgot the name of it. Or you never knew the name at all. Maybe you are not even sure there is a word for it.

所有美国人都会有此经历。当你想说一个物体,突然忘了它的名字。或者你根本不知道它的名字。有可能你根本不确定这个物体是否有名字。

For example, that thing that you need to fix your bicycle. Or perhaps it is something you need for your computer. Or that part on your motorcycle that never, ever seems to work.

比如说,一个可以修理自行车的工具,或者修理电脑的工具,或者你的摩托车上的似乎从不运作的部件。

If you don't the name of something, just point to it and call it a doohickey, thingamajig, or whatchamacallit. This happens to be a two million year old chopping tool.What are these things?

如果你不知道某一事物的名称,就指向该物体并说“那玩意儿”,“某某”或者“那叫什么来着”。最后原来这是有两百万年历史的斧子。这些是什么呢?

They are called "doohickies." A doohickey is a word you use when you do not know, or you have forgotten, the real name of an object.

这些叫做“玩意儿”。当你不知道或者忘了某一事物的真实名称时称那物体为“那个玩意儿”。

The MacMillan Dictionary defines doohickey as "something such as a small object or tool that you cannot remember the name of." The American Heritage Dictionary says it is "something, especially a small device or part, whose name is unknown or forgotten."

麦克米伦字典将doohickey定义为“一件你忘记了名字的小物体或者工具”。《美国遗产字典》定义为:某个不知名或者忘记名字的物体,特别是一个小部件或者一小部分。

Language experts say the word first started being used in the United States in the early 1900s. But other experts say they have seen examples of words like these in writings from the middle 1800s.

语言专家称美国最早在二十世纪早期才开始使用该词。但是另一些语言专家表示,他们在十九世纪中期的一些作品里就看到了这类词汇。

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary for Learners of American English gives this example of how native speakers might use doohickey: "I need one of those doohickeys, you know, with the long handle."

《美式英语韦伯字典》上给出了引用doohickey词汇的例证:I need one of those doohickeys, you know, with the long handle."

Merriam-Webster adds that doohickey may be a combination of two other words: "doodad" and "hickey." Strange as it may be, both of these words mean the same as doohickey. The dictionary lists a lot of strange words as synonyms for doohickey. The most common are whatchamacallit, whatnot and whatsit.

韦氏字典补充道doohickey一词可能是doodad 和hickey 两个词的复合词。奇怪的是,这两个词的意思都和doohickey的意思相同。字典上列出了一些和doohickey意义相近的奇怪的词汇。最常见的是whatchamacallit.whatnot.whatsit.

You will probably never see these words in official documents or newspaper reports. But you might hear them in informal American English, when people are talking to each other.

你可能在官方文件中,报纸上和新闻报道中从来没看到过这样的词汇。但是你有可能在美式口语中,当两个人对话时,听到过这样的词汇,

"Hey, what does this doohickey do, anyway?"

“嗨,这个玩意儿是干什么用的”

"Dude, bring me that thingamajig, willya?

“伙计,把那个东西递给我好吗”

"Janine, can you get me one of those whatchamacallits?"

“珍妮,你能帮我弄到这些东西吗”

Most Americans will know what you are talking about if you use one of those words. Just point at the object, use one of these words, and they will bring it to you.

如果你使用这些词汇,大多数美国人还是能够明白你在说什么,只是指着那个物体,嘴里说一个这样的词汇,他们就会把东西递给你。

Doohickey and words like it have their own page on the Wikipedia website. Wikipedia calls them "placeholders." It says words like these are usually nouns and "can be used for people, objects and places."

Doohickey以及这类词汇在维基百科上也有解释。维基百科上称这些词汇为“占位文字”,表示像这类的词汇是常见名词,可以指人,物和地方。

Unofficial studies show Americans are using words like doohickey less than they once did. The decline seems to have started a few years ago. Still, a recent search of Google News showed the word was used in more than 1,000 news articles in just a couple months.

非官方研究显示美国人很少运用像doohickey这类的词汇。似乎在几年前这些词的使用频率就下降了,然而,最近谷歌新闻调查显示在几个月内有上千条新闻运用这些词汇。

One story told about a store where you can buy a cable that connects a thingamajig to a doohickey. Another told about a doohickey for eggs and even a doohickey that connects to a camera.

一则故事中讲到,在卖缆绳的商店里使用这些词汇频率较高。另一个则是在说鸡蛋或者有关照相机部件的物体时会用到这些词汇。

Workers who repair Kawasaki motorcycles use the word doohickey to describe the vehicle's "counter balancing chain adjustment mechanism."

川崎摩托车维修工人使用doohickey来指用来调节链条机制的工具。

You can see a video of them using the word on YouTube.

在YOUTUBE 网站的视频上你可以看到使用这些词汇。

I'm Anna Matteo. This Words and Their Stories was written by Christopher Jones Cruise.

Christopher Jones-Cruise wrote this report in VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

motorcycle – n. a vehicle with two wheels that is powered by a motor and that can carry one or two people

synonym(s) – n. a word that has the same meaning as another word in the same language

handle– n. a part of something that is designed to be held by your hand

informal – adj. not formal, such as having a friendly and relaxed quality

cable– n. a strong rope made of wires that are twisted together

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