覆水難收

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20/03/2016

覆水難收 毛孟靜

覆水難收,重點是指一句已說了出去的話、已做了的一項行為,或是一個已公開了的決定,事後卻又彷彿有點猶豫後悔,但終歸已回不了頭……要表達這個,英文可以是:

1. What’s done cannot be undone. 已做了的,不能還原。例:Let’s stick to our decision. What’s done cannot be undone. 我們就按照決定去做。已經做了的,返不了轉頭。

2. It’s toothpaste out of the tube. 就像牙膏「唧」了出去,不能「唧」回入筒。

例: You can’t take back your promise. It’s like toothpaste out of the tube. 你不可食言。那個承諾,就像已擠了出去的牙膏。

3. You can’t unring a bell. 鐘響了就是響了。(視乎情況,亦有叫人不要「掩耳盜鈴」之意。)

這個講法, 用作比喻the difficulty of forgetting information once it is known, 已知的事,要扮作不知,通常都有難度,因為已經留下記憶;就像明明聽見鐘響,卻裝做沒聽到過一樣。

這句You can’t unring a bell 亦常用於形容法庭的一個情景:法官會不時指導陪審團不必理會這段證供那件證物,但陪審員都已聽過看過了,判決時未知會否完全聽法官的命令。

4. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.你不能把精靈放回入瓶子。

都有印象吧, 這個講法源自西方神話。

Genie 亦會做壞事,於是亦會譯做惡魔。

例:You chose to keep quiet and this is how things now go. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. 你選擇沉默,變相造就眼下情況。惡魔已給放出瓶子,覆水難收了。

5. The die is cast. 骰子已擲。

例: The way the dialogue proceeded, the die was cast and a breakdown was inevitable.看對話如此進行,情勢未能挽回,破裂肯定免不了。

以上的覆水難收英文版,都傾向負面,但如果意思不過是想說大局已定,不必再論好壞,也沒有正負之分;要純粹表達這款中立,英文或就講:

1. Whatever happened, happened. 已發生了的,就是發生了。

例︰ Whatever happened, happened. Let’s try not to get too uptight about it. 都已覆水難收,我們不必太過緊。

2. Water under the bridge 橋下面的水。

例︰ I don’t want to talk about that — it’s all water under the bridge now. 我不想再談這個了,都已像小橋流水,一去不復返。

3. Let bygones be bygones. 讓過去的過去吧。

例︰ We should start anew and let by gones be by gones. 忘記過去,重新開始。

覆水難收,自然亦可帶許多的恨與懊惱,若程度是去到恨錯難返,有頓足的意思,就是:

No point to cry over spilled milk. 對潑瀉了的牛奶,不必哭了。是being upset 難過、後悔over something that has already happened and cannot be changed。留意spilled 串做spilt都得:

Speaking with hindsight, we regret much our action. But then we also know we shouldn’t be crying over spilt milk. 事後看來,我們遺憾所作行動。但我們亦知道,覆水難收,恨錯難返。

 

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