Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
Every week at this time we tell the story of words and expressions used in American English. Some of them are old. Some are new. Together, they form the living speech of the American people.
Some popular expressions are a mystery -- no one is sure how they developed.
One of these is the expression “carry a chip on your shoulder.” A person with a chip on his shoulder is a problem for anybody who must deal with him. He seems to be expecting trouble. Sometimes he seems to be saying “I’m not happy about anything, but what are you going to do about it?”
其中一个这样的说法就是：carry a chip on your shoulder（准备随时吵嘴、打架的样子 ）。这种随时准备干仗的人对任何必须要和他打交道的人来说都是个问题。他似乎在等着找麻烦。有时他的样子看上去就像在说，“我就是对什么都不爽，但你又能怎样吧？”
A chip is a small piece of something, like a chip of wood. How did this chip get on a person’s shoulder? Well, experts say the expression appears to have been first used in the United States more than 100 years ago.
One writer believes that the expression might have come from an old saying. The saying warns against striking too high, or a chip might fall into your eye. That could be good advice. If you strike high up on a tree with an axe, the chip of wood that is cut off will fall into your eye. The saying becomes a warning about the dangers of attacking people who are in more important positions than you are.
Later, in the United States, some people would put a real chip on their shoulder as a test. They wanted to start a fight. They would wait for someone to be brave enough to try to hit it off.
|Competitors cut a tree trunk with axes in Munich, Germany.|
The word “chip” appears in a number of special American expressions. Another is “chip off the old block.” This means that a child is exactly like a parent. This expression goes back at least to the early 1600s. The British writer of plays, George Colman, wrote these lines in 1762:
Chip还出现在很多特殊的美国说法中。另一个说法是chip off the old block，意思是酷像父母的小孩子。这个说法至少要追溯到17世纪初。英国剧作家乔治·科尔曼（George Colman）在1762年这样写道：
“You’ll find him his father’s own son, I believe. A chip off the old block, I promise you!”
The word “chip” can also be used in a threatening way to someone who is suspected of wrongdoing. An investigator may say, “We’re going to let the chips fall where they may.” This means the investigation is going to be complete and honest. It is also a warning that no one will be protected from being found guilty.
Chip还可以用来威胁涉嫌不法行为的人。调查人员可能会说，“We’re going to let the chips fall where they may.(我们将采取行动不计后果)。”意思是，调查过程将是全面和诚实的。这也是一个警告，即任何人都不能逃脱法律的制裁。
Chips are often used in card games. They represent money. A poker player may, at any time, decide to leave the game. He will turn in his chips in exchange for money or cash. This lead to another meaning: A person who finished or died was said to have “cashed in his chips,” which is a way of saying it is time for me to finish this program.
Chips（筹码）还常用于纸牌游戏中，它们代表的是钱。扑克牌玩家可能随时会决定离开这个游戏。他会把自己的筹码兑换成现金或支票。这引申出另一个意思。一位完成工作或去世的人会被说成have cashed in his chips（筹码已兑现，引申意思是工作完成或去世了）。用这个说法也能表示，是时候结束这次节目了。
You have been listening to the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
I’m Warren Scheer.