Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.
Each week, we tell about American expressions and where they come from.
Today we talk about railroads. Railroads were important to the development of the United States. The first U.S. railroads were built in eastern states. Trains later connected the East Coast with the West Coast.
Train and railway expressions worked their way into American English over a century ago. Many of those terms are still being used today.
Railroads changed the look of the United States. They cut through mountains, crossed through wide open prairies and joined together in cities. The railroads made transporting goods easier. They also gave many Americans the chance to move around the country.
Sometimes railroad tracks would not join up in a town but divide it in two. One side of the tracks might be good, while the other side was ‘not-so-good.' If you say someone is from the wrong side of the tracks, it means they are from the bad side of town.
有时候铁轨会把一个城镇一分为二。铁轨的一边发展得很好，而另一边发展得“没那么好”。如果你说一个人from the wrong side of the tracks，意思就是说他来自于城镇不好的那一边。
For the train running down the track there is no right or wrong side. The track is simply the metal structure on which the train runs.
To go off track means to move away from one's intended purpose or goal.
To go off track（脱轨）意思是脱离某人的预期目标。
For example, you could say your career went way off track if you wanted to be a lawyer but became an actor instead. But if you go to law school and complete your studies, your career is back on track. Let's say you finished law school very quickly because you took double the course load. You then could say you fast-tracked your way to becoming a lawyer. In the world of business, it is common to say a project has been fast-tracked or is on a fast track.
例如，如果你是想成为律师但却做了演员，你就可以说，你的职业生涯脱离了正轨（way off track）。但如果你去读法学院并完成学业，你的职业生涯就重回正轨（back on track）。假如你很快读完法学院，因为你承担了双倍的课业负担，你就可以你快速实现（fast-tracked）了你的律师之路。在商业界，经常会说某个项目已经快速跟进（fast-tracked）或者步入了快车道（fast track）。
To stay on track means to pay attention to your goal or purpose. But getting sidetracked is just the opposite. A train that is sidetracked gets sent to a different station or down a different line.
To stay on track意思是要关注你的目标或目的。但是偏离目标（getting sidetracked）正好相反。被转入入支线（sidetracked）的列车会被送到一个不同的车站或进入一条不同的线路。
Talking about train tracks, a rail is a single piece of steel that is part of the larger railway. Some rails are dangerous to touch. In some cities, a third rail provides power to a subway train, usually operating underground; electricity passes through the rail.
The third rail also is an issue which can fuel a heated debate. At a party, religion or politics could be third rail topics. Talking about them could kill your social life!
The third rail（雷区）还指的是会引发激烈争论的某个问题。在聚会上，宗教或政治问题可能就是雷区话题。讨论这些话题会毁掉你的社交生活。
Many Americans say things get derailed when they go off track or away from a goal – or when they simply go wrong. For example, they might say something like this, "My travel plans got derailed by the bad weather."
许多美国人在偏离目标或出错时会说事情偏离轨道（things get derailed）。例如，他们可能会这么说，“我的旅行计划由于天气恶劣未能实现。”
It usually is bad news when something gets derailed. When something goes off the rails, it is always a bad thing. To go off the rails means a person's project or life is a wreck, or -- pardon the expression -- a train wreck.
事情偏离轨道通常是坏消息。当某些事情脱离正轨（go off the rails），这始终是件坏事情。To go off the rails意思是某人的项目或人生是个烂摊子（train wreck），很抱歉用到这个词。
When a train reaches its final stop, we say it has reached the end of the line. If you reach the end of the line you have come to the end of something. Often in old films, this is what the bad guy says just before he kills someone.
当列车到达其最后一站，我们称其到达了终点（end of the line）。到达终点是说到了某件事的最后结局。在老电影中，坏蛋在杀死某人前通常会说，
"It's the end of the line for your buddy boy."
And we have reached the end of the line for this Words and Their Stories. In other words, the show is over.
I'm Anna Matteo.