Making a hash 搞砸

2020.02.04

Reader question:

Please explain "makes a hash" in this sentence: "Do not leave the job to John, who always makes a hash of things."

My comments:

The speaker does not trust John, who, in other words, always makes a mess of things.

Yes, making a hash is synonymous with making a mess or mix-up.

It may help if we understand the word hash from the cooking perspective. Hash potatoes, for example, refers to chopped potatoes, sometimes together with meat chops, boiled or baked till their color turns brown, which is why they're also called hash browns.

Hash rice, for another example, involve more ingredients, such as chopped onion, pepper, beans and whatever else have you.

One thing in common with all hash foods is that all the ingredients are chopped or hashed into tiny bits and mixed up before they're cooked. "Hash", you see, shares the same root with hatchet, which is an ax with a short handle.

Anyways, this idea of chopping things into pieces and mixing them perhaps will help you understand the expression "making a hash of things", meaning making a mixture and a mix-up, perhaps putting the wrong ingredients together.

Hence, making a mess - making a mess by making mistakes and blundering every step of the way.

Which, back to our example, is why the speaker does not want the job put into the hands of John who tends to make mistakes all the time.

Got it?

All right, here are recent media examples of people who make a hash of things in various situations:

1. President Trump left the G7 summit in Canada early, declaring it concluded. It was actually still going on, but for him it was over, because he made a hash of it in record time.

Even before he got on Air Force One, Trump alienated our sister nation by embarking on a bizarre and inexplicable trade war. As he left he lashed out at our allies and partners in Europe — playing all of his greatest hits of imaginary American grievance, from “the United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades” to “the European Union is brutal to the United States.”

Some of this could be excused as the normal wrangling among allies over trade and spending. This is not the first time that the U.S. and its partners have disagreed over important economic matters, and ironing out those disputes is why organizations like the G7 have summits in the first place.

But griping about the unfairness of international life wasn’t enough for the president, who knew he was going to face some angry questions about his impenetrably backward views on trade. So Trump upped the ante by raising the bafflingly dumb and politically ludicrous idea of bringing Russia back into the G7. Then he insulted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter and said he wouldn't sign the final communique.

- Donald Trump invites crisis at G7 by attacking allies, embracing Russia, USAToday.com, June 9, 2018.

2. Roger Federer has lost his opening match of the ATP Finals after being stunned by Dominic Thiem in straight sets.

The 38-year-old succumbed to a 7-5, 7-5 defeat in 100 minutes of play after a close encounter at the 02 Arena.

Thiem came into this match as one of the few players in the game boasting a favourable head-to-head record with Federer, winning four of their six meetings and both matches in 2019.

But Federer prevailed in this fixture at the ATP Finals last year and his stellar indoor record looked as if it would serve him well once again.

...

When finally presented with the match point, Thiem made a hash of it and Federer saw the curtains open once again. He worked hard to find a second break point of the set, but more fine work from Thiem allowed him to keep Federer at an arm's distance.

At the second time of asking, Federer's return landed into the net and Thiem had done it. A rocky start to the tournament for Federer, who now has it all to do to qualify from his group and still has to face Novak Djokovic.

- Roger Federer loses opening ATP Finals match to Dominic Thiem in straight sets, MSN.com, November 10, 2019.

3. Chelsea ruined Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta's home debut as Tammy Abraham's late strike sealed a dramatic 2-1 win after Bernd Leno's horrific blunder turned the tide in a thrilling London derby on Sunday.

Leading through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's early goal at the Emirates Stadium, Arteta was just seven minutes away from securing his first victory in his second game in charge.

But Gunners goalkeeper Leno made a hash of coming to catch a free-kick and Jorginho tapped in to spark a Chelsea fightback that climaxed in Abraham firing home with three minutes left.

After dominating the first half, it was a shocking but familiar collapse from Arsenal, whose lack of steel was the key element in the downfall of Arteta's predecessor Unai Emery.

In their final game of the decade, Arsenal showed just how much work Arteta has to do to steer the Gunners back to respectability in his first managerial role.

After coming from behind to rescue a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth in his first match on Thursday, Arteta would have been encouraged by their bright start - but not the woeful meltdown that leaves Arsenal with only one win in their last 15 games in all competitions.

Arsenal, 12 points adrift of the top four, have lost four consecutive home fixtures in all competitions for the first time in 60 years.

They also suffered three successive top-flight home defeats for the first time since 1977.

While Arteta held his head in despair after Abraham's winner, Frank Lampard's wild celebration showed Chelsea's need for the win after a difficult period of their own.

Fourth placed Chelsea had lost five of their last seven league games, but a second successive away win - following their recent impressive success at Tottenham - moves them four points clear of fifth placed Manchester United.

- Arteta rocked as Chelsea sink Arsenal, AFP, December 29, 2019.

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About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


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