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Originally posted by jeff_in_sf at 2006-9-2 09:45
Actually "jest" and "in jest" is used more for utterances that you're not serious about. Here, our smiling Sr Zhao, while obviously commenting in a humorous way on the situation, is making a fairly accurate assessment of the situation—it's not quite a jest in the way the word is typically used, although it could be used like that.
It's hard (for me, anyway) to tell if Dr Zhao is amused by the lengths the moms will go to benefit their kids or expressing mild disapproval in a humorous way. (I just assume, or hope, that the mothers in the article are just a short time away from giving birth in any case.)
"These would-be moms wouldn't mind getting sliced just to have their babies start the race against time right from the womb," a smiling Dr. Zhao said in jest.
please note the satiric effects when these idiomatic expressions "宁可挨一刀", "还在娘胎里", and "与时间的赛跑" are put together. the first two, ie, "挨一刀" and "在娘胎里" are more obvious.
here, "挨一刀" separately means "get sliced" and it effects a stark contrast with the main message "letting a race against time started" when being put together. the doc seemed to say that these women considered the surgery no more serious than a few scraches on skins.
"在娘胎里", together with "挨一刀", sets a sarcastic tone for the sentence, comparing "before born" to "from the womb". "与时间的赛跑" implies a sport, racing against time, that has started right now before the baby is born.