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Stories Behind Popular Sayings
2018.11.23
Sleep tight
Some surveys found that Hong Kong teenagers may not be sleeping long and well enough. Many of them sleep less than seven hours every night and do not “sleep tight”.  The expression “sleep tight” means sleep deeply and well. It first appeared in a diary written by Susan Bradford Eppes, an American writer, in 1866.  “Goodbye little Diary. ‘Sleep tight and wake bright,’ for I will need you when I return.”  Why do people use the word “tight”, which normally means firmly and securely, to describe the quality of their sleep? There are two popular stories behind this saying.  The first one goes back to the early 19th century when people slept on rope-beds. Nowadays, the mattress is put on sturdy wooden boards or metal springs. However, in the past, the mattress was put on bed frames made of ropes. People needed to tighten the ropes regularly to prevent the mattress from sagging.  The second origin is related to a popular bedside nursery rhyme. The first two lines are: “Good night, sleep tight,  Don’t let the bedbugs bite, …”  However, both stories have been rejected by scholars. While rope-beds were invented many years before the first appearance of “sleep tight”(睡個好覺), the nursery rhyme was created in the late 19th century.  Instead, scholars suggested that the word “tight” in the expression means “soundly” and “well”. This usage can be traced back to the Shakespearean time in the 17th century.  A quality sleep keeps us healthy both physically and mentally. Let’s go to bed early and, most important of all, sleep tight.   
kjy05a-20121104
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English Around the World
2012.11.04
Telephone calls
Nowadays, telephone ("phone" informally) is one of the most common appliances in households and businesses. Speaking over the phone is as important as talking to people face to face. Therefore, when you phone ("call" in American English and "ring" in informal British English) someone, you need to follow some rules of etiquette. For example, if you phone your friend, Timmy, what should you say? You should say, "Hello, may I speak with Timmy?" If Timmy is not around, his Mum might ask your name. Then you should identify yourself by saying, "This is Molly." If you dial the wrong number, it is rude to hang up the phone right away. You should say, "I am sorry to disturb you." When you close a telephone conversation, don't forget to say "Goodbye".  In modern times, telephones are so indispensable that a lot of us have a landline telephone at home or at work, and a mobile phone (or "mobile" informally in British English) while travelling. In the USA, mobile phones are called "cellular phones", or in short "cell phones" or "cellphones". With the rapid advancement of technology, the demand for smartphones, which include digital cameras, video cameras and internet access, has become greater than that for mobile phones.  While mobile devices are getting more and more popular, it is not surprising that public telephones have become less and less common. In the past, we could easily find a telephone box ("phone booths" in American English) to phone our parents when we needed to get home late. Nowadays, if unfortunately we forget to bring our mobile phones with us when going out, it is quite inconvenient to look for a public telephone. Glossary Etiquette:禮節 Dial:撥 Landline telephone:固網電話 Smartphones:智能電話 Telephone box:公共電話亭