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rule of thumb



来源:http://alt-usage-english.org

This term for "a simple principle having wide application but not intended to be strictly accurate" dates from 1692.  A frequently repeated story is that "rule of thumb" comes from an old law regulating wife-beating:  "if a stick were used, it should not be thicker than a man's thumb."  Jesse Sheidlower writes "It seems that in 1782 a well-respected English judge named Francis Buller made a public statement that a man had the right to beat his wife as long as the stick was no thicker than his thumb.  There was a public outcry, with satirical cartoons in newspapers, and the story still appeared in biographies of Buller written almost a century later.  Several legal rulings and books in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries mention the practice as something some people believe is true.  There are also earlier precedents for the supposed right of a man to beat his wife.

该词条意为“广泛应用但不十分精确的简单准则”起始于1692年。常被人们重复的一个说法就是“拇指规则”源于一条古老的限控打老婆的法律:“如果用棍子的话,棍子不可以比男人的拇指粗。”杰西·谢洛尔写道:“好像是在1782年一位名叫弗朗西斯·布勒受人尊敬的英国法官曾公开说男人有权利打老婆,只要棍子不比他的拇指粗就行。”当时在报纸上有过公开的抗议,并配有讽刺漫画。这件事也出现在写于100多年后的布勒传记中。在十八世纪末和十九世纪有好几条法律裁决和一些书籍提到这种做法被一些人认为是正确的。这里还有几个较早的支持男人有打老婆权利的先例。

   "This 'rule' is probably not related to the phrase 'rule of thumb', however.  For one thing, the phrase is [...] attested [earlier ...].  (Of course, it's possible that it was a well-known, but unrecorded, practice before Buller.)  Another problem is that the phrase 'rule of thumb' is never found in connection with the beating practice until the 1970s. Finally, there is no semantic link [... from what was presumably a very specific distinction to the current sense 'rough guideline'].  The precise origin of 'rule of thumb' is not certain, but it seems likely to refer to the thumb as a rough measuring device ('rule' meaning 'ruler' rather than 'regulation'), which is a common practice.  The linkage of the phrase to the wife-beating rule appears to be based on a misinterpretation of a 1976 National Organization of Women report, which mentioned the phrase and the practice but did not imply a connection.  There is more information about this, with citations from relevant sources, at the Urban Legends Archive."

“其实,这里的“规则”很有可能与‘拇指规则’这个短语没有关系。一方面,这个短语被证实[更早……]。(当然,也有可能在布勒之前就是一个众所周知的做法,只是没被记录下来。)另一个问题是短语‘拇指规则’直到二世纪七十年代才被发现与打人的事有关联。最后,没有什么语义上的联系[……从推测出来的显著区别到目前的涵义‘粗略指导原则’]。尽管‘拇指规则’的真正起源还不能确定,但是似乎很可能把拇指当做是一种粗略的测量方法(‘rule’的意思是‘尺子’而不是‘规章’),这是一种普遍的做法。这个短语与打老婆法规的关联的出现是基于对于一份1976年全国妇女组织报告的曲解,该报告谈及这个短语和(打老婆的)做法但是并未暗示二者间有联系。在《都会传奇档案》中还有更多的相关信息,信息引用均有确切的来源。”

   Thumbs were used to measure lots of things (the first joint was roughly one inch long before we started growing bigger, and French pouce means both "inch" and "thumb").  The phrase may also come from ancient brewmasters' dipping their thumb in the brew to test the temperature of a batch; or from a guideline for tailors: "Twice around the thumb is once around the wrist..."

拇指过去被用来测量很多东西(还没长更大的时候,第一个指节大约是一英寸,Franch pouce的意思是“法寸”和“拇指”)。这个短语也可能源于古时的酿酒大师把他们的拇指蘸到酿制的酒中以测试这批酒的温度。或源于裁缝的一种测量方法:“绕拇指两圈等于绕手腕一圈……”

   For a definitive rule of thumb, see the paper "Thumb's rule tested: Visual angle of thumb's width is about 2 deg." by Robert P.O'Shea in Perception, 20, 1991, pp. 415-418.

至于拇指的明确的规则,看看这个论文“拇指规则测试:(伸直一只胳膊并竖起大拇指)拇指宽度对应的视角大约为2°”作者Robert P.O'Shea,《感知》第20期,1991年,415页--418页。

(翻译:大卫)

译者注:大拇指规则 (RULE OF THUMB) 可以理解诚是一种试探法 (heuristics)。大拇指规则字面的理解应该是从经验和实践中总结得出的方法和规则,而不是经过科学实验得出的。古代的时候大家都是用便于计量的单位来计量的,常用脚,手指头什么的。比如想要知道水到底有多热了,古代时没有温度计,就用大拇指浸一下,大叫一声“烫啊”,然后就可以知道水已经很热了。再比如英国国王亨利一世说,从我鼻子到我伸出的手指头就是一码,于是码(yard)就这样确定下来了.

 

 

发布日期:2010-12-26    阅读 2421 次   
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