The phrase “turn a blind eye”, which is often used to refer to a stubborn rejection to acknowledge (1) a particular reality, dates back to a legendary chapter in the career of the British naval hero Horatio Nelson. During 1801’s Battle of Copenhagen, Nelson’s ships had to fight against a large Danish-Norwegian fleet1. When his more cautious superior officer flagged for him to withdraw (2), the one-eyed Nelson supposedly brought his telescope to his bad eye and cheerfully proclaimed, “I really do not see the signal.” He went on to score (3) a decisive victory. Some historians have since dismissed Nelson’s famous joke as merely a battlefield myth, but the phrase “turn a blind eye” persists to this day.
The phrase “paint the town red” most likely owes its origin to one legendary night of drunkenness. In 1837, the Marquis of Waterford, a known heavy drinker and troublemaker, led a group of friends on a night of drinking through the English town of Melton Mowbray. The party culminated in vandalism after Waterford and his friends knocked flowerpots over, pulled off doorknockers and broke the windows of some of the town’s buildings. To top it all off (4), the group literally painted the doors of several homes and a swan statue with red paint. The marquis and his companions later compensated Melton for the damages, but their drunken escapade is likely the reason that “paint the town red” became synonymous for a wild night out. Still yet another theory suggests the phrase was actually born (5) out of the brothels2 of the American West, and referred to men behaving as though their whole town were a red-light district3.
- 1 Fleet: A large group of ships
- 2 Brothel: a place where prostitutes work
- 3 Redlight district: an area with a concentration of sex-related businesses
1. Link each of the words/expressions below with a word/expression in the column (as numbered in the text). Copy the correct pair of words on your answer sheet. [1 mark]
obtain make worse accept stop, not to go on originate
- (1) acknowledge and … ACCEPT
- (2) withdraw and … STOP, NOT TO GO ON
- (3) score and … OBTAIN
- (4) top it off and … MAKE WORSE
- (5) be born and … ORIGINATE
2.1. Choose the best option. Copy the complete correct option on your answer sheet. [0.75 marks]
- a) Historians have evidence that Nelson did not say “I really cannot see the signal” before the battle.
- b) Nelson defeated the Danish-Norwegian fleet thanks to his more cautious superior officer.
- c) To “turn a blind eye” means to behave as if you did not see or not notice something.
- d) Before the battle, Nelson had already decided not to listen to his superior’s orders.
2.2. Choose the best option. Copy the complete correct option on your answer sheet. [0.75 marks]
- a) The Americans do not accept the British origin of the expression “to paint the town red.”
- b) American West brothels were located in red-light districts and decorated in red tones.
- c) Waterford and his colleagues spoiled private and public property with red paint.
- d) It was not the first time that Waterford and his colleagues vandalized an English town.
3. Complete the sentences using information from the text. Do not reproduce phrases from the text literally, unless this is unavoidable. [2 marks]
- a) The 1st idiom, …
- b) The 2nd idiom, …
- c) Nelson said that …
- d) The doors of several homes …
- FREE ANSWER
4. Complete each gap with one or more adequate words. Do not copy the complete text on your sheet, only letters (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) followed by the word(s) that you find suitable for the gap. [1.5 marks]
There are several tales about the origin of “the third degree,” a saying used for long or arduous interrogations. (a) ONE theory argues that the phrase relates to the various degrees of murder in the criminal code; (b) YET/BUT another theory attributes it to Thomas F. Byrnes, a 19thc. NYC policeman (c) WHO used the joke “Third Degree Byrnes” when describing his inflexible questioning style. In truth, though, (d) THE/THIS saying is most likely derived from the Freemasons, a centuries-old fraternal organization (e) WHOSE members experience rigorous questioning before becoming “third degree” members, (f) OR/THAT IS/I.E., “master masons.”
5. What does “to paint the town red” mean? Justify your answer WITH INFORMATION FROM
THE TEXT BUT USING YOUR OWN WORDS. (25-50 words) [2 marks]
- FREE ANSWER
6. Have you ever “painted your town red”? Justify your answer saying what you did, with whom, when, how, the consequences it had, etc. Please, use your own ideas and your own words.(25-50 words) [2 marks]
- FREE ANSWER