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push the envelope



   "Push the envelope" is now used figuratively to mean "stretch the boundaries".  (The image is not of pushing a mailing envelope across a desk:  those who push this sort of envelope do it from within.  Cf."pressing the limits".)  On its AOL message board, Merriam-Webster Editorial Department writes:  "A sentence we spotted in a 1991 issue of the Wall Street Journal provides a typical example of the use of the phrase [...]:  'Ads...seem to be pushing the envelope of taste
every day.'  'Push the envelope' in this sense is a very recent arrival on the scene, dating only from 1988 according to the evidence in our files.

   "The phrase has its origins in the world of aviation, where 'envelope' has, since at least the late 60s, had the meaning 'a set of performance limits that may not be safely exceeded.' Test pilots are often called on to 'push' a new aircraft's performance envelope by going beyond known safety limits, as in determining just how fast an airplane can be flown.  In 1979 Tom Wolfe's best-seller 'The Right Stuff' vividly described the life of test pilots during the 50s and 60s, and it appears that this book, and the subsequent movie, did much to popularize the notion of pushing the envelope.  [Stuart Leichter reports that the words used in the movie are "pushing the outside of the envelope"; someone should check what they were in the book.]

   "The idea of an envelope as a kind of enclosing boundary is of course not new.  In 1899 Arnold Bennett wrote: 'My desire is to depict the deeper beauty while abiding by the envelope of facts.'"

来源:http://alt-usage-english.org

"Push the envelope"现在用于比喻来指"扩展边界"。(不是指在办公桌上把信封推过去:因为拓展这种envelope的人是从内部做到的。参考pressing the limits[压迫极限]一词。) 在其AOL消息板上,韦氏编辑部写道:"我们发现在1991年出版的《华尔街日报》中的一个句子提供了这个短语用法的典型例子,[...]: ' 广告......似乎每天被推到味觉的极限。在这个意义上讲'Push the envelope'是最近出现的,根据我们文件中的证据,该短语始于1988年。

这短语在航空世界有它的起源,至少在60年代末,“envelope”已经有了“可能不会安全超越的一套性能极限”的意思。试飞员通常被召集来,通过超越已知的安全界限来'push(推动)'新飞机性能极限,如在决定机能飞多快(方面)。1979 年汤姆·沃尔夫的畅销书的《太空先锋》生动地描述在50 年代期间和60年代间试飞员的生活,看起来这本书和后来的电影,在普及拓展极限这个概念方面做了很多。[斯图尔特·赖契特报导称电影中用的词是"pushing the outside of the envelope(拓展到界限以外)";有人应该在书中检查一下它们是什么。]

"Envelpoe作为一种封闭边界的想法当然不是新的。阿诺德·贝内特在1899年写道:'我的欲望是遵守事实界限的同时去刻画更深层的美丽。'"

译者注:
1、Push the envelope原本是个技术性的词汇;指机械或其它设备的性能范围;或者功用极限。而现在日常生活中人际关系的紧张化也可以用这个短语来形容。如:使(愤怒、悲痛等)超越极限。

2、AOL是American On-Line的缩写。美国在线服务(AOL)公司是一家在线信息服务公司,总部设在弗吉尼亚州维也纳。

(翻译:大卫)

 

 

发布日期:2010-12-26    阅读 11916 次   
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