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[Report] SENEWS-2007-08-19 Report

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Now the VOA Special English Program words and their stories.

Making choices is necessary but not always easy. Many of our expressions tell about this diffculty. One of these expressions is Harbsen's choice. It often is used to describe a difficult choice, but that is not what it really means. Its real meaning is have no choice at all. The Harbsen in the expression was Thomas Harbsen, Mr. Harbson ownd a stable of horses in Cambridge England. Mr. Harbsen often rented horses to the students at the Cambriege University, but he didn't really trust them to take good care of the horses. So he had a rule that prevented the students from riding his best horses. They could take the horse that was nearest the stable door, or they could not take any horse at all. Thus, a Harbsen's choice ia really no choice.

Another expression for having no real choice is between a rock and a hard place. It is often used to descripe difficult situation with few choice, none of them good. For example, your boss may ask you to work late, but you have plans to go to movie with your girlfriend. If you refused to work, your boss get angry. But if you do not go to the movies with your girfriend, she gets angry. So what do you do, you are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Another expression between the devil and the deep blue sea also give you a choice between two equally dangerous things. Its meanings seems clear. You can choose the devil, and he is burning fires of hail. Or you can choose to drown in the sea. Some word experts say this expression comes from the Days of Wooden Ships. The devil is a word for seam between two pieces of wood along the waterland fo a ship. 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. He was hanging over the site of the ship, working between the devil and teh deep blue sea.

There is still another expression that describe a situation with only bad choices, Being on the horns of a dilemma. 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 impossilbe. When you are on the horns of dilemma, no matter which horn you choose, something bad will happen.

This VOA Special English Program Words and their Stories was written by Mrilyn Rice Christiano. Morris Joys was the narrator. I'm Shirley Griffith.
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