I'm Susan Clark with the Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
Young Mr. Smith had an idea for his employer. It was an idea for saving money for the company by increasing prices. At the same time, Smith suggested that the company sell goods of less value.
If his employer liked the idea, Smith might be given more pay. Perhaps he might even get a better job with the company.
Business had been very slow. So Mr. Smith's employer thought a few minutes about the idea. But then she shook her head. "I am sorry, Smith," his employer said. "It just will not wash."
Now, the meaning of these English words should be, "It will not get clean." Yet Smith's idea did not have anything to do with making something clean. So why did his employer say, "It will not wash?"
Most word experts agree that "it will not wash" means it will not work. Eric Partridge wrote that the saying probably developed in Britain in the 1800s. Charlotte Bronte used it in a story published in 1849. She wrote, "That wiln't wash, miss." Miss Bronte seems to have meant that the dyes used to color a piece of clothing were not good. The colors could not be depended on to stay in the material.
In 19th century England, the expression came to mean an undependable statement. It was used mainly to describe an idea. But sometimes it was used about a person.
A critic once said of the poet Robert Browning, "He won't wash." The critic did not mean that the poet was not a clean person. He meant that Browning's poems could not be depended on to last.
Today, we know that judgment was wrong. Robert Browning still is considered a major poet. But very few people remember the man who said Browning would not wash.
Happily for the young employee Smith, his employer wanted him to do well in the company. So the employer "talked turkey" to him. She said, "Your idea would be unfair to our buyers. Think of another way to save money."
A century ago, to talk turkey meant to talk pleasantly. Turkeys in the barnyard were thought to be speaking pleasantly to one another. In recent years, the saying has come to mean an attempt to teach something important.
Word expert Charles Funk tells how he believes this change took place.
He says two men were shooting turkeys together. One of them was a white man. The other was an American Indian. The white man began stating reasons why he should get all the turkeys for himself. But the American Indian stopped him. He told the white man, "Now, I talk turkey to you."
Mr. Smith thought of a better idea after his employer talked turkey to him. He was given an increase in pay. So if your idea "will not wash," try "talking turkey" to yourself and come up with a better idea.
This Words and Their Stories program was written by Jeri Watson. I'm Susan Clark.
1.dye n. 染料；染色
Immerse the cloth in the dye for twenty minutes.
2.undependable adj. 靠不住的，不可靠的；不可信赖的
This man is quite tricky and undependable.
3.shoot vt. 射击，射中；拍摄；发芽；使爆炸；给…注射 vi. 射击；发芽；拍电影
The police had orders to shoot anyone who attacked them.
1.Yet Smith's idea did not have anything to do with making something clean.
have anything to do with 和…有些关系(或没有关系，关系不大，关系很大等)
How could you think that I had anything to do with his murder?
None of you are suggesting that I had anything to do with this?
2.So the employer "talked turkey" to him. She said, "Your idea would be unfair to our buyers. Think of another way to save money."
talk turkey 坦率地说
Tell him you want to talk turkey.
John wanted to talk turkey, but Jane just wanted to joke around.
生意一直都不大好做，所以史密斯的老板考虑了下这个主意，但她摇了摇头，“不好意思，史密斯，这行不通(It just will not wash)”。
现在，这个短语的意思是“这样不会洗干净”。不过史密斯的主意与洗干净一点关系都没有，那么为什么老板用It will not wash这个表达呢？
大多数词汇专家都认为It will not wash意思是“不管用”，埃里克·帕特里奇写道，这个说法可能是19世纪在英国起源的。夏洛蒂·勃朗特在1849年发表的文章中用了这个表达，她写道，“That wiln't wash, 小姐 。”勃朗特似乎意思是染这块布的染料不太好，这些颜色不能在衣料上附着很久 。
一位评论家这么评价罗伯特·布朗宁的诗歌，“He won't wash”。这位评论家并非是说这位诗人不干净，他是说勃朗宁的诗歌不大可能会流传下去 。
一个世纪前，talked turkey意思是愉快地交谈，人们认为谷仓里的火鸡会彼此愉快地交谈。最近几年来，这个说法开始表示谈些重要的事 。
他说两个人一起去打火鸡，其中一个是个白人，另一个是美国印第安人。白人开始讲自己要拿走所有火鸡的理由，但美国印第安人阻止了他 。他告诉白人，“Now, I talk turkey to you” 。