April 09, 2011
Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
Americans use many expressions about fish and fishing. For example, if something sounds fishy, it may not be true. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water when I go to a party and everyone but me is doing the latest dance. When I ask my friend if she likes my new dress, I would like her to say something nice. In other words, I am fishing for a compliment. You might tell someone to fish or cut bait if he repeatedly attempts to do something he is unable to do.
Sometimes a lawyer will ask a witness many questions in an effort to discover the facts of a court case. This is called going on a fishing expedition.
Some expressions involve different kinds of fish. Information that is used to draw attention away from the real facts of a situation is called a red herring. If you want to express a feeling of surprise, you might cry "holy mackerel!" although we do not know why a mackerel is holy.
Once I went to a county fair and tried my luck with a game of chance. It was so easy; it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Then I went on the fastest, highest and most frightening ride: the roller coaster. At the end of the ride, I did not feel so well. A friend said I looked green around the gills.
I grew up in a small town where everybody knew about my life. There were times when I thought I was living in a fishbowl. So I moved to Washington, where things were different.
Now I take the train to work every day during rush hour when many other people travel to their jobs. Sometimes the train is so crowded that we are packed in like sardines. Sardines are tiny fish that lie close to each other in cans.
One man who works in my office is a cold fish. He is unfriendly and does not like to join us at office parties. Another man in my office likes to enjoy alcoholic drinks at parties. In fact, you might say he drinks like a fish. We need to help him stop drinking.
Last week, my sister's car broke down as we were driving to a friend's marriage ceremony. "This is a fine kettle of fish," I said. "Now we will be late."
My sister attends a small college where she is one of the smartest students. She always wants to be a big fish in a small pond. Recently, my sister broke up with her boyfriend. I told her not to worry, she will find another one because there are plenty of other fish in the sea.
This VOA Special English program was written by Shelley Gollust. I'm Faith Lapidus. You can find more WORDS AND THEIR STORIES at voaspecialenglish.com.