Equal parts
文章来源: 文章作者: 发布时间:2009-04-07 00:49 字体: [ ]  进入论坛

Reader question:

What does this sentence – He was equal parts friends, mentor1 and confidant – mean? What is "equal parts"?

My comments:

The sentence means that he was a friend of yours. He was also a mentor from whom you get advice and guidance. At the same time, he was a confidant, someone you trust and confide2 in (tell him things you don't tell others).

"Equal parts" points to the fact that he was those things at once.

You can better understand "equal parts" this way. Say, you want to divide a piece of cake into three parts for three children. To avoid squabbles over who gets a bigger (or smaller) slice of the cake (I'm more like talking about my generation than the current lot, but then again we didn't have anything but pancakes to fight for during my childhood in the 1970s. In the 70s, brothers - and sisters, too - often fought for food. Seldom do you see siblings3 fight for food nowadays. One, there aren't any siblings to begin with as families often have only one child to feed and fend4 for. Two, there's usually more than enough food to go around anyway. A toddler today is more likely to fight a parents-led obesity5 war, as a matter of fact), you divide the cake into three equal parts. That is to say you (are skilled enough to) cut it into three pieces which are the same in bigness.

Metaphorically6 speaking, if you are equal parts happy and sad, you have what is called a mixed feeling. If you, say, see your child off for college, you're very happy (and equal parts relieved I'm sure) that the child is grown up and going away (at last). But at the same time you are very sad at the parting, because you're worried whether the child would be able to fend for himself/herself alone, whether he's able to maintain personal hygiene7 all the time or something like that – as a parent, you'll always find something, mostly trivial and uninspiring to the child, to worry about.

Equal parts, in short, means equally this, that and the other, at the same time and with no particular emphasis on each part.

Now, let's see "equal parts" in action via media examples.

1. A headline:

Seattle Tattoo8 Expo is equal parts pain, beauty.

- topix.com, August 10, 2008.

2. Two years ago this week, a neighbor stopped me on our block and pulled out a piece of paper, on which was printed a quotation9:

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."

The quotation came from Bart Giamatti, the only person to serve both as commissioner10 of Major League Baseball and as president of Yale University. Giamatti, a scholar of Renaissance11 literature, was equal parts Yale man and baseball fan. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Yale, taught at Yale for nearly 15 years, served as the Master of Ezra Stiles and became the youngest president in University history in 1978, at age 40. In 1986 he left Yale to pursue his other passion, becoming president of the National League. Three years later, he was appointed commissioner of baseball. But he served only 154 days as commissioner — a heart attack killed him in the summer of 1989, at age 51.

- You may not feel it right now, but spring is in the air, Yale Daily News, February 21, 2008.

3. Rannva Kunoy's paintings, here showing in a UK gallery for the first time, are equal parts presence and absence, half abstraction half suggested figuration, but even what seems concrete in them is as ungraspable as a vanishing deja-vu ('if there are ghosts in these paintings - of a face, of a sun, of some trembling cosmic placenta - they belong not to the past, but to a future that will never quite arrive', Morton writes).

- 'Handsome Young Doctor' at Cubitt, London, July 17, 2007, saatchi-gallery.co.uk.


1 mentor s78z0     
  • He fed on the great ideas of his mentor.他以他导师的伟大思想为支撑。
  • He had mentored scores of younger doctors.他指导过许多更年轻的医生。
2 confide WYbyd     
  • I would never readily confide in anybody.我从不轻易向人吐露秘密。
  • He is going to confide the secrets of his heart to us.他将向我们吐露他心里的秘密。
3 siblings 709961e45d6808c7c9131573b3a8874b     
n.兄弟,姐妹( sibling的名词复数 )
  • A triplet sleeps amongst its two siblings. 一个三胞胎睡在其两个同胞之间。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • She has no way of tracking the donor or her half-siblings down. 她没办法找到那个捐精者或她的兄弟姐妹。 来自时文部分
4 fend N78yA     
  • I've had to fend for myself since I was 14.我从十四岁时起就不得不照料自己。
  • He raised his arm up to fend branches from his eyes.他举手将树枝从他眼前挡开。
5 obesity Dv1ya     
  • One effect of overeating may be obesity.吃得过多能导致肥胖。
  • Sugar and fat can more easily lead to obesity than some other foods.糖和脂肪比其他食物更容易导致肥胖。
6 metaphorically metaphorically     
adv. 用比喻地
  • It is context and convention that determine whether a term will be interpreted literally or metaphorically. 对一个词的理解是按字面意思还是隐喻的意思要视乎上下文和习惯。
  • Metaphorically it implied a sort of admirable energy. 从比喻来讲,它含有一种令人赞许的能量的意思。
7 hygiene Kchzr     
n.健康法,卫生学 (a.hygienic)
  • Their course of study includes elementary hygiene and medical theory.他们的课程包括基础卫生学和医疗知识。
  • He's going to give us a lecture on public hygiene.他要给我们作关于公共卫生方面的报告。
8 tattoo LIDzk     
  • I've decided to get my tattoo removed.我已经决定去掉我身上的纹身。
  • He had a tattoo on the back of his hand.他手背上刺有花纹。
9 quotation 7S6xV     
  • He finished his speech with a quotation from Shakespeare.他讲话结束时引用了莎士比亚的语录。
  • The quotation is omitted here.此处引文从略。
10 commissioner gq3zX     
  • The commissioner has issued a warrant for her arrest.专员发出了对她的逮捕令。
  • He was tapped for police commissioner.他被任命为警务处长。
11 renaissance PBdzl     
  • The Renaissance was an epoch of unparalleled cultural achievement.文艺复兴是一个文化上取得空前成就的时代。
  • The theme of the conference is renaissance Europe.大会的主题是文艺复兴时期的欧洲。