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名人教英文:To keep on a tight rein 嚴格控制

【明報專訊】Gene: Marvin Lee is about the most successful businessman in this town.

吉恩:馬文.李可算是本市最成功的商人。

Hillary: I don't think many people would argue with that. He's grown his business by 10% a year for the last ten years and there's no sign of that slowing down.

希拉莉:這一點應不會有什麽爭議。過去十年,他的業務每年都增長十分之一,現在也沒有慢下來的迹象。

Gene: I know, but one of my friends is a senior manager under Lee and he gets pretty frustrated at times.

吉恩:對,不過,我有一個朋友在他手下任高級經理,有時會感到不得意。

Hillary: Why's that?

希拉莉:為什麽?

Gene: Well, he says that Lee is a bit of an autocrat and keeps all his senior managers under a tight rein.

吉恩:他說,馬文.李行事頗為獨斷,對各高級經理都管束得很嚴。

Hillary: You mean they all have to do what the big boss says.

希拉莉:你是說,他們都要聽大老闆指揮。

Gene: That's pretty much it. They don't have much opportunity to show their initiative or be creative.

吉恩:可以說是這樣。他們沒有什麽機會主動行事,或推陳出新。

Hillary: Well, I can understand their frustration. On the other hand I've heard he keeps a very tight rein on costs as well. That's one of the reasons why the business is so profitable.

希拉莉:難怪他們不得意。而我聽說馬文.李對成本也嚴格控制,這是他業務利潤豐厚的一個原因。

Gene: That's true, but it might be even more successful if he allowed his subordinates more freedom of action.

吉恩:你說得對,不過,假如他容許下屬多一點自主權,利潤可能更加豐厚。

To keep a tight rein 直譯是「把緊繮繩」,常用以比喻「嚴格控制」,反義詞是to keep a loose/slack rein(放鬆繮繩),即「不嚴格控制」,常和介系詞on連用,例如:(1) Which is the better way of managing your staff, keeping them on a tight rein or a loose rein? (管理職員,是嚴格好,還是寬鬆一點好?)(2) He believes in strict discipline, and always keeps his students on a tight rein(他崇尚紀律,對學生向來都很嚴)。

■作者︰古德明

專研中英文,著有時事評論、英語學習、散文等書籍。

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