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Cut corners

刊登日期: 2018.12.07
作者: Grace Tse  

Recently, a government-appointed commission has investigated whether the workers had cut corners at the Hung Hom Station during the construction of the Sha Tin to Central Link ( 沙中線) railway expansion project. 

If you “cut corners”, you do something badly or cheaply. Why are Hong Kong people so concerned about the MTR scandal? The public fear for the safety of the station after news reported that steel bars linking the platform and walls had been cut short. 

What does the word “corners” in the expression refer to? A book, a table or a coat? The saying is actually related to a street corner. One of the earliest examples appeared in 1852 in a letter about hunting hare with hounds written by a British author, Knightley William Horlock. 

“About a hundred and fifty horsemen were … riding at the top of their speed, … some following the hounds, but a greater number … cutting corners, ….” 

The above example illustrates the literal meaning of the expression “cut corners”: When you come to a sharp road corner on a horse or in a car, you go round the corner as closely as possible due to laziness or lack of time. 

The metaphorical meaning of “cut corners” became popular in the 20th century. However, when it first appeared remains uncertain. 

Let’s hope that companies and organisations will shoulder greater responsibilities rather than “cutting corners”(偷工減料), particularly when handling important tasks. If they bypass some steps, they will cause harm to the lives of the public. 

Steel bars 
Street corner 





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