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Tuesday 16-Jan-2018
【香港01】說好英文,母語口音不必刻意磨滅

不知從那一年起,香港人認為,學好英文,第一優先竟然是英語發音要成功模仿所謂牛津腔,或稱Queen's English。

 

真正的「牛津口音」是什麼?只要問當代的英國人,他們一問三不知。英文說得好,口音是最不重要的,因為英文已經成為全球化語言。

 

即使新加坡國父李光耀那一口演說的英文,香港人想像的「牛津腔」,最多只有七成(其實李光耀劍橋畢業),另有兩成是客家腔(因為李光耀是客家人),剩下一成是李光耀做了新加坡總理之後,由他自己塑造的「李光耀腔」(Lee Kuan Yew's Accent)。

 

誰敢說李光耀的英文不好?即使香港的鄧永鏘爵士,我去聽過他三次書展演講,私下曾與他交談,他的英文句法用字無懈可撃,也有英國式幽默,嘲諷他人刺酸刻薄,學到王爾德(Oscar Wilde)的一半功力,但論發音,對不起,得罪鄧爵士在天之靈,我認為他的口語最少還有一成半的廣東口音。

 

講英文要堅持所謂牛津口音,真是過時得可笑。只要問一個基本問題:兩大精英大學,除了牛津還有劍橋。那麼劍橋的教授、講師和大學生,那口英文到底是牛津口音還是劍橋口音?還是劍橋本身沒有口音,由牛津口音建立牛劍一統江湖的霸權,有如香港九龍,住九龍的,也一律是港島人?

 

前英國首相貝理雅一口清脆透明的英文,全國公認是他個人研製而獨創。貝理雅聽不出任何地方腔調,連BBC最標準的廣播英語,也沒有「貝腔」之玲瓏精確。貝理雅創造了自己的一口英語腔調,英國平民沒有因為他做了首相,趨炎附勢爭相模仿。今日貝理雅不幸因為伊拉克戰爭的污點聲名狼藉。他那口英語講得再高尚動聽,似乎也不為英國人原諒。

 

香港學生去英國讀寄宿學校,只需潛移默化,說好英文,不必刻意模仿人家的口音。「說好英文」與「說牛津口音的英文」是兩回事:「好英文」文法正確是基本要求,指語句、用詞、隱喻、典故,有豐富的諧趣。而你可以是半島酒店下午茶的一位經理,只懂得說Which Tea Would You Prefer?Earl Grey Or Breakfast Tea?將這句話的口音練到與安妮公主一樣,但「講多一句」即時舌頭打結。

 

不要誤會,我不是指香港學生不應該擺脫港式口音。當你去到寄宿學校,會發現從前香港Band 1中學的課室那位Miss所說的Physics那個Phy音,不是拖長的Fee,而是短速的Phi。

 

「黃昏」的英文字,發音也不是「伊焚靈」,而是「E-F-ning」。因為香港的小孩先學了「雙數」(Even)這個字,然後Evening就是Even後加ing。對不起,Evening不是這兩組詞彙加起來之簡單,而是「夏娃」(Eve)再加Ning。因此「除夕」叫New Year's Eve而不是叫New Year's「伊芙」。

 

同樣地,Manchester那個重音在Man,而永遠不可以是中間的Chest。Communist的重點在開頭的Com音,而不是中間那一個。Birmingham人人都知道怎樣讀,但十個香港學生,十個都不會讀正確Manchester。

 

這種港式英語,除了口音之外,錯在音調(Intonation)。許多人將口音和音調混為一談。其實能講正確的音調就足夠,口音不必刻意磨滅,正如天生一層黃皮膚,無法、也不應該漂白,雖然我明白,天生的黑頭髮可以隨意染成金黃。

 

即使將頭髮染金黃又有甚麼用?眉毛仍是黑的。我見過東方人染金髮,也沒有忘記眉毛也染金,但很可惜,金髮和金眼眉與那雙黑色的眼珠還是不配搭,觀之十分突兀。

 

因此,即使李光耀和鄧永鏘爵士保留了點自己母語的口音。此一本色,就像他們的黑色瞳孔一樣。

 

中國人可以加高鼻樑,女士可以隆胸,但目前為此,我沒有見過一樣醫學美容能將棕黑瞳孔變成藍色。若英語不是母語,費盡努力講牛津口音,就像想將眼珠的瞳孔變為藍色一樣徒勞。

 

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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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Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.

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