名人教英文 – 「諗咗一諗,都係唔好」的英文

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26/04/2011

名人教英文 – 「諗咗一諗,都係唔好」的英文 毛孟靜

He is nothing more than a ventriloquist’s dummy,他不過是個腹語專家的木偶。這句話,多用於政治批評,指一個人只會說「主人」要他說的話,媲美我們的流行語「人肉錄音機」。

腹語專家,是可以嘴巴不動但講得出說話的奇人,英文ventriloquist,確是長而難記。常有年輕人問,長而深的生字,怎麼記?

一個方法,是嘗試把字拆開,然後搭上自己熟悉的事物。年少時,我把ventriloquist 分家, ventri + loquist,ventri 像Ventris Road(雲地利道),是我的母校地址; loquist, 跟loquacious(喋喋不休)掛。這麼一來,就易記了。

可是,許多同學在記嘰哩咕嚕的生字之餘,會對看似淺白的英文掉以輕心,結果碰上個個字都識的組詞,有時反而會亂了腦。像這一句:I was going to buy the book but thought better of it。那本書,究竟有沒有買呢?答案是沒有: 「我原要買那本書,但想想還是不要了。」Think better of 什麼東西,是說最後的決定跟原意相反,即如我們的口語: 「諗一諗,都係唔好」。

叫人think better of 一件事,亦即叫人reconsider, 再想一想。You want to quit?Think better of it! 「你要放棄?想清楚!」歇後語就是叫人不要放棄。

同樣會令人疑惑的一句:The deal is expected to fall through。那宗交易,到底估計會還是不會成交?答案是不會。這句話亂人腦的是一個through 字, go through、pass through 都解通過,但要記得fall 是「跌」, 是壞事, fall through 等於fail ( 失敗、「肥佬」) 、collapse(崩潰)。

The deal fell through。那宗交易「散」。

另一例子: We will ask him to come clean.

Come clean,直譯「來得乾淨」?不,查實等於「坦白」,有「和盤托出」的意思。You better come clean,你最好坦白道來。

還有一句:Let him sweat, 「讓他流汗」,意思是「等佢驚」。We won’t do anything yet, let them sweat,我們暫且什麼都不做,讓對方先「一額汗」。

要記這些好似好淺但另有意思的組詞,怎麼記呢?一樣可以串起來,自己構思一個情,串出一個故事:原本有個計劃,想了想,還是不做了,think better of it。不做,是擔心計劃會失敗,會fall through。不成事的話,更會驚得一額汗,會sweat。我們處變不驚——Don’t let them see us sweat。

 

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