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Swings and roundabouts

刊登日期: 2019.10.18
作者: Grace Tse  

A recent study on exercise habits of youngsters found that recreational playground equipment rather than newer toys or gadgets make children healthier. How often do you visit a playground? What is your favourite equipment, the slide, swing or roundabout? 

Miss Lau has given us an extension to finish the history project, but she wants us to use more charts and pictures. So, it is swings and roundabouts. 

If you say that a situation is “swings and roundabouts”, you mean that the actions or options do not lead to any gain or loss. 

Scholars suggest that this colloquial phrase was originally used by fairground owners. If they failed to sell the tickets for the swings well, the profit loss could be balanced by selling the tickets for the roundabouts. Thus, the full version of this expression is “to gain on the swings and lose on the roundabouts”. 

A similar version appeared as early as in 1895 in a book entitled “The Parliamentary Debates” published in Britain. 

“As the coster said: ‘What we gain on the swings we lose on the roundabouts.’” 

However, it was Patrick Reginald Chalmers, an Irish writer, who made the modern version popular. In his poem entitled “Roundabouts and Swings” published in 1912, he used swings and roundabouts as metaphors to describe the unstable earnings of a travelling salesman. 

“… What’s lost upon the roundabouts we pulls up on the swings!” 

In real life, have you ever come across any situations of swings and roundabouts (有所得也有所失的情況; 有利也有弊)? 


Glossary
Fairground 
露天遊樂場
Balanced 
抵消
Coster 
叫賣小販
Earnings 
收入
Recreational 
康樂的
Extension 
延期
Situation 
情況
Options 
選擇

 

 

 

 

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