Now, it's time for the VOA Learning English program, Words and Their Stories. On this show, we talk about common expressions in American English.
Today, we will talk about the word "line." Line is a simple, four-letter word, but it has many meanings, making a simple word complex.
We will begin with an easy expression – in line. Now, you can simply stand in line at a store, bus stop or at a theater. Not many people like standing in a line. But you can also be in line for something important like a job or a job promotion. Being in line for a better job is something most people would like!
Let's say a friend of yours, Simone, is an accountant. She has a good job and is in line for a promotion at work. Simone doesn't make much money. So, you hope she gets the high-level, better paying position.
But, Simone doesn't feel the same way. She has dreams of becoming a professional singer. She takes voice lessons every night and joins a singing group on the weekends. These activities change her lifestyle. She stays out late at night and comes in late to work. And she often sings at her desk! This behavior puts the likelihood of her promotion on the line.
Something "on the line" is at a critical point or is at risk. Sometimes when using this expression, a person says simply there is a lot on the line or too much on the line, meaning that much can be lost.
But let's get back to Simone.
You begin to feel worried about her double life as a singer. You just don't think it is realistic. You want to tell Simone to fall in line, to follow the rules of her office. You remind your friend that her office has a hard line when it comes to showing up on time for work.
A "hard line" means a severe, uncompromising way of acting. A hard-liner is someone who sticks to some policy or rule. So, her boss is a hard-liner when it comes to showing up for work on time. He also doesn't like the accountants singing in front of the clients.
But Simone doesn't listen. In fact, things get worse. She often leaves town for weeks at a time, touring around the country with her singing group. Now, her job is really on the line.
You walk the line between warning her about landing on the unemployment line and respecting her privacy. The expression "walk the line" has two meanings. One is to hold a position, usually on middle ground, between two very different choices.
The other meaning of walk the line is the one Johnny Cash sings about. In his song, he sings about behaving well with the love of his life.
"I find it very, very easy to be true.
I find myself alone when each day is through.
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you.
Because you're mine, I walk the line."
There is a fine line between wanting to help someone and interfering. A "fine line" means a very small difference.
After thinking about it, you decide to lay it on the line! To lay it on the line means to talk very openly with someone. Often it is something that the person may not want to hear.
So, you pull Simone aside and say privately, "Look. I'm going to lay it on the line for you. You need to take your job more seriously. Your whole career is on the line!" Or something along those lines. "Along those lines" means "something like that."
At first, she seems thankful that you care so much. Then she tells you not to worry. A music producer, she says, offered her singing group a record deal! You don't believe her. You say, "Don't give me that line!" When you give, hand or even feed someone a line, you are not telling that person the truth.
But be careful. "Giving a line" to someone" is much different from giving or getting a line on someone. When you give or get a line on someone or something you have given or gotten information on that person or that thing. For example, if I say "the librarian gave me a line on some great books" it means she gave me some information on some great books.
So, the preposition "on" is very important in this expression. And you didn't use "on" when you talked to Simone. So, she shouts back, "I'm not giving you a line. And how dare you accuse me of lying! You have crossed the line!"
When you "cross the line," you have gone too far in either your comments or in your behavior.
Now, you tell her that watching a friend ruin her career is where you draw the line. That is your limit! This is similar to drawing a line in the sand. Again, it is a point you are not willing to go beyond.
The bottom line is that you care about Simone and are worried about her. Here, the "bottom line" means the most important thing.
After this fight, Simone treats you differently. She doesn't answer your calls and doesn't ride to work with you anymore. When you ask what is wrong, she simply says, "Nothing."
But you can read between the lines. You know there is something wrong even if she won't tell you directly. "Reading between the lines" means you to try to understand something that is not openly communicated.
After thinking about it, you realize that your comments were out of line. They were hurtful and unacceptable. Perhaps down the line she will forgive you. But not right away – maybe sometime in the future.
Simone's silence goes on for months. Then somewhere along the line -- you're not sure when -- she seems to disappear from your life completely. You accept the fact that your friendship with Simone has reached the end of the line. It's the end of the friendship.
Then one day, she drops you a line! She writes you a letter, saying she forgives you. Included with the letter is a package and a set of tickets. Simone sent you her singing group's new CD and two front row seats to their concert!
Now, we are at the end of the line for this Words and Their Stories. Drop us a line and let us know when you thought of this program.
I'm Anna Matteo.
1.be willing to 愿意做某事
There are, of course, questions which she will not be willing to answer.
2.go beyond 超出；超载
Whatever you're talking about, children rapidly tune out if you go beyond them.
3.a set of 一组；一系列；一整套
This section provides a set of guidelines that you can use to help administrate policy for your machine or enterprise.
我们从一个简单的表达开始——in line（排队）。现在，你可以在商店，公交站或者剧场排队 。不是很多人喜欢排队 。但你也可以为了一个重要的事情等待，比如工作或者升职 。等着一份更好的工作会是大多数人都喜欢去做的事情 。
比方说你的一个朋友，西蒙，是一个会计。她工作很好，并且等着升职 。西蒙挣得不多 。所以，你希望她能有一份更高级，更高报酬的工作 。
但西蒙不这么想。她梦想着当一名专业歌手 。她每晚都参加声乐课，还加入了一个周末歌唱团 。这些活动改变了她的生活方式 。她晚出晚归 。她经常在工位唱歌！这种行为使她的升职变得岌岌可危（on the line） 。
"on the line"的意思就是说处于临界点的状态或者说处于危险当中。有的时候，针对这个短语的表达，人们会简单地说“there is a lot on the line” 或者 “there is too much on the line”，意思就是会失去很多东西 。
你开始为她作为一个歌手的双面人生而忧心。你认为这不太现实 。你希望西蒙能回到现实（fall in line），遵守工作制度 。你提醒你朋友上班准时出勤是单位的一条红线（a hard line） 。
“红线”是指一种严肃且强硬的行为方式。强硬派（hard-liner）是指谨遵政策或者规则的人 。所以，对于准时上班方面，她老板态度是强硬的 。老板也不喜欢会计在客户面前唱歌 。
但是西蒙不听。实际上，事情变得更糟了 。她经常连续好几周不在镇上，和她的歌唱团环游全国 。现在，她的工作真得悬了 。
你在警告你朋友临近失业状态和尊重她的个人隐私间徘徊。“walk the line”有两种意思 。一种是处于一种立场，通常是在两种不同的选择之间保持中立 。
“walk the line”的另一种意思就是约翰尼·卡什的歌所唱的那样。在歌里，他表达了热爱生活，好好生活 。
在想要帮助别人和干涉别人的生活这两者之间有一条“fine line（微妙的界线）”，这里“fine line”的意思就是（两者之间）极其细小的差别。
思考一番之后，你决定实话实说（lay it on the line）！“lay it on the line”意思是对某人坦白说。通常是一些这个人不想听的话 。
于是，你把西蒙拉到一边，悄悄说道，“是这样的。我要对你实话实说 。你需要更认真地对待你的工作 。你的职业生涯已经处于危险边缘了 。”或者诸如此类吧 。“Along those lines”意思是“诸如此类吧” 。
起初她看起来很感激你对她的关心，之后她告诉你不用去担心她，她说有一个音乐制作人已经为她的歌唱团提供了一个唱片签约。你不相信她的话，你对她说：“Don't give me that line!（不要骗我！）”当你give（给）、hand（递交）、甚至feed（喂）给某人“a line”时，意思就是你在对那个人撒谎 。
但小心。“give a line（找借口骗人）”和“give/get a line on someone（得到情报）意思是不同的 。”当你得到某人或者某物的情报，你得到了关于这个人或者这个东西的信息 。例如，如果我说“图书管理员给了我一些好书的介绍”，意思是她告诉了我一些好书的信息 。
所以，介词“on”在这个表达里非常重要。当你和西蒙聊天时没有用“on” 。所以她对你喊道，“我没有要找借口 。你怎么可以质疑我！你过分了（cross the line）！”
现在，你告诉她说眼睁睁地看着自己的朋友毁掉自己的职业生涯是“where you draw the line”，意思就是：那是你的极限！它的意思和“划清界限（draw a line in the sand）”的意思相近。再重复一遍，这里“line”的意思就是你不愿去跨越的那个点 。
最重要的（the bottom line）是你关心西蒙，并且为她担心。这里的“bottom line”意思是最重要的事情 。
这次吵架之后，西蒙对你不一样了。她不回你电话，也不和你一起坐车上班了 。当你问她怎么了的时候，她只是说，“没什么 。”
但你明白言外之意（read between the lines）。即使她不直接告诉你，你也知道有问题 。“Reading between the lines”意思是明白没有公开说出来的话 。
想了下之后，你意识到你的话过分（out of line）了。那些话伤人又不可理喻 。也许等过段时间（down the line），她会原谅你的 。但不是现在——也许未来某天 。
西蒙沉寂了数月。然后不知从何时起（somewhere along the line）——你不太确定什么时候了——她似乎从你的生活里彻底消失了 。你接受了你和西蒙的友情走到了尽头（reach the end of the line）的事实 。你们的友情结束了 。
然后有一天，她给你写了封信（drop you a line）！她在信中写道，她原谅了你。除了信，还有一个包裹好一套票 。西蒙寄给了你她歌唱团的新专辑以及他们演唱会的前两排座位！