Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.
Today we talk about an amazing animal and an expression it has given us. The crocodile!
First, why are they amazing?
Well, crocodiles are experts at survival. Scientists say they first appeared 200 million years ago and have outlived the dinosaurs by some 65 million years. One reason they are such good survivors is that they can go for a very long time without eating.
And they are expert hunters! They use their strong jaws to bite their prey and then they swallow their food whole.
Here’s another fun fact about crocodiles: When they lose a tooth they grow one right back. A crocodile can go through 8,000 teeth in one lifetime!
Okay, while these facts are fascinating, they really do not help to explain today’s expression: crocodile tears.
Simply put, “crocodile tears” are fake sadness. You pretend to cry and feel badly for something when in fact … you could not care less. A great word to describe crocodile tears is insincere.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear country-western singer Dale Watson sing his song “Crocodile Tears.”
But why do tears from an ancient, unfeeling reptile mean false sadness?
Well, the expression “crocodile tears” comes from an old myth that crocodiles would shed tears while eating their prey.
Writers on the website Crocodilian.com claim that this myth was in use by the 1200s. A religious worker from that time wrote that if a crocodile found a man by the water, it would kill him if it could. Then the crocodile would cry tears on the man, but then finally – swallow him.
Another myth about crocodile tears suggests the animals are very crafty indeed. Crocodiles, the story goes, would cry tears as a false show of guilt or grief to trick their prey. The prey would come closer and then become dinner.
Of course, we know now that these stories are not true. Scientists explain that crocodiles DO create tears. The fluid helps to clean its eyes. But crocodiles do not cry. Crying is purely emotional and is reserved for us humans.
So, that is the origin of the phrase “crocodile tears.” Now, let’s talk about how and when to use it.
This is a common expression and we use it in any situation. So, I could say it to my best friend as easily as I could to colleagues at work.
But, please note. You do not have to have actual tears flowing down your face to have “crocodile tears.” If you fake sadness or regret by using only words, others can still accuse you of having “crocodile tears.”
One last note about this expression: Sometimes, crocodile tears are worse than insincere. Sometimes they are also hypocritical. Those are the times you are showing sadness but actually in your heart, you are quite happy about the situation.
And that’s all the time we have for Words and Their Stories.
Until next time … I’m Anna Matteo!
1.go through 经历；经受
He was going through a very difficult time.
2.pretend to 假装；假装做
Don't pretend to know when you don't.
3.flow down 向下流；流了下来
Have a drop of tears to flow down slowly!.
鳄鱼是生存专家。科学家说，它们最早出现在2亿年前，比恐龙的寿命长6500万年 。它们是如此优秀的幸存者，其原因在于它们可以长时间不进食 。
简单地说，“鳄鱼的眼泪”是假装悲伤。你假装哭，为某事感到难过，而事实上，你根本对它不在乎 。形容鳄鱼眼泪最好的一个词是不真诚 。
Crocodilian.com网站上的撰稿人称，这个神话用于12世纪。当时一个教士写道，如果鳄鱼在水边发现一个人，它会杀死他 。然后鳄鱼的眼泪会滴落在这个人身上，但最后还是会把他吞下肚 。
另一个关于鳄鱼眼泪的神话表明，鳄鱼确实非常狡猾。这个神话说，鳄鱼哭泣是内疚或悲伤的虚假表现，以此来诱骗猎物 。等猎物靠近后，就变成鳄鱼的晚餐了 。
当然，我们现在知道这些故事不是真的。科学家解释说，鳄鱼确实会流眼泪，流出的液体有助于清洁眼睛 。但是鳄鱼不会哭，哭泣纯粹是情绪化的表现，只有人类这么做 。
关于这个表达的最后一点：有时，鳄鱼的眼泪比不真诚更糟糕。有时它们也很虚伪 。你在这些时候表现出悲伤，但实际在心里，你却很高兴 。