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Monday 01-Jan-2018
【蘋果日報】在香港學英文的局限

去英國讀書拓闊視野,許多香港學生第一件事發現自己在香港,不論每年英文成績多好,來到英國才發現自己是小學生。

 

香港學到的英文是課室英文、字典英文以及文法的背誦英文,而不是活在當下的英文。

 

例如我們在香港讀了許多年書,都知道「男孩」一詞叫做Boy。看許多荷李活電影,知道美國人一開口就稱You Guys-----You Guys的意思,可男可女,意指「你們幾個」、「你們這班友」。

 

英國人不太喜歡說Guy這個字,而Boy也略嫌太正式。在寄宿學校,我們當年第一個學到的字是You Lads,而Lads是英格蘭北部和蘇格蘭一帶Boys的代名詞。當年一位來自約克郡的男教師說這個字,帶有地方口音:He’s a good lad,他這樣誇讚他的狗。有一位同學仔告訴我他以為Lad是Dog的俗稱,後來才搞清楚,老師養的是公狗,誇讚他的小公狗很出色,意思就是He’s a good boy。

 

此外還有Bloke,以及Chap。Bloke這個字比較斯文,Chap在工廠和基層比較常用,兩者都是British English。香港學生去了英國讀寄宿學校,我會勸喻不要一開口就說You guys。

 

還有晚餐,寄宿學校不叫Dinner而是樸實一點的Supper。基督的最後晚餐就是The Last Supper。Supper有宗教意味,而且家底越厚,豪宅越大,家中的女管家叫小王子一樣的男主人的少爺吃飯,也只會說Supper is ready而多於說Dinner。

 

還有Tea,我去到英國才知道,Tea可以指晚飯而不是下午茶。Come at tea time,意思是「黃昏來我家」而不是下午。這些涇渭分明、等級有別有稱呼,由校長、教師、女舍監,以至學校的女清潔工才慢慢適應其中的分別。

 

至於廁所更五花八門,相信大家都熟悉。Toilet這個字是屬於比較低俗的,難以宣之於口。Loo是「滑鐵盧」的縮稱,還有Restroom和Go to the gents. 意指男廁Toilet這個字為何被視為有點粗俗?因為發音響亮,太過張揚。紳士和淑女即使要上洗手間,試想在中國清代一個故宮裡的貴妃是不會對太監說:「我想去茅廁」的,雖然那時確實沒有抽水馬桶。

 

在英國學英文,學出許多不同的文化層次。例如「破產」〔Bankrupt〕,這個字從意大利文轉化而來,叫做Banca Rotta,意思指「斷了的長凳」。不懂意大利文也不要緊,從字面上猜,Banca可以當做銀行,而Rotta可以猜想就是腐爛〔Rot〕的轉音字。

 

因為所謂銀行在七百年前的中世紀是在意大利首先出現的。那時是一個露天市場,銀行的業務就在那裡交易。當一個銀行家負債累累要逃亡,或者被逐出市場,他長期坐著的凳子就要被打斷,以示不要再光顧,否則後果貴客自負。

 

英國五百年來就是一個全球化的大熔爐,兼容並包,不會拒絕外來文化,難怪到了今天牛津大字典不斷擴充,據說收入的最新英文詞就是Dama,則普通話「大媽」的音義。這個字令我想起Madam-----英國本土對於Madam有一點貶斥,Madam是美國用語指高貴的婦女,像Madam蔣介石。英國本身有貴族和上議院,一個貴族的夫人叫做Lady而不稱Madam。

 

凡此種種都融匯在讀書的生活裡,英文的詞彙有豐富的人情世故,令我們學而思考,說英語而了解人生,做人成熟一些,有如一陣春風吹過麥田和花間,催生綻放一大片的麥穗和蓓蕾。

 

 

http://www.facebook.com/ukchitchat

smschan1@gmail.com 

原文:https://hk.news.appledaily.com/local/realtime/article/20180101/57644289

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Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.

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