又中又英——“if it ain't broke, don't fix it”

  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is an American slang expression that means if something is not broken, or if something is working well, there is no need to repair or replace it. The grammar of the slang expression is incorrect. The slang word “ain’t” means “isn’t”. The word “broke” in the expression means “broken”. But slang expressions don’t always follow grammar rules. The government has repeatedly tried to stop Uber from providing its car services in Hong Kong. Last week the Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung explained he never said Uber’s format doesn’t work. He said he only wanted to make clear that the format violated Hong Kong’s law.

  I want to explain to Yang Wei-hsiung that we need to use the opposite of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to describe the law that prevents Uber from providing car services in Hong Kong. The law “is broke, fix it”. Yang Wei-hsiung said last week the government should not have to change a law to help Uber just because Uber is breaking the law. In most cases I would agree that a law should not be changed to make it legal for people who break that law. It is illegal to smoke in bars. The government should not change the law to make it legal for people to smoke in bars just because some people break the law.

  But in the case of Uber, the law is an ass. The word “ass” used this way is a slang word for donkey. Many people believe donkeys are stubborn and stupid. The expression “the law is an ass”, therefore, means a law that is not working well and should be changed. The famous writer Charles Dickens used this expression in his well-known book Oliver Twist. Laws are not set in stone. The expression “set in stone” means something that is fixed and cannot be changed. When laws are outdated and not working in the interests of society, they should be changed. The law making it illegal for Uber to provide car services is hurting the interests of society.

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  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 這是句美式俚語,意思是如果有些事物沒有破爛,或者某事沒甚不妥,就不需要修理或者替換。這句俚語的文法本身是錯的。俚語「ain’t」解作「isn’t」;「broke」即是「broken」。不過,俚語總是不依文法規則的。政府反覆嘗試阻止Uber在港提供搭乘服務。上星期,創新及科技局局長楊偉雄解釋道,他從未說過Uber的模式不可行;他說他只是想重申,其模式牴觸了香港的法律。

  我想向楊偉雄闡明,我們正正要用上「沒不妥就不用修理」(if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it)的反語,去形容那條妨礙Uber在港提供搭乘服務的法例。楊偉雄上星期說,政府不應單單因為Uber犯了法而修改法例,以協助Uber。在大部份的情況下,我同意法例不應為了遷就那些犯法的人而去修改。在酒吧吸煙是犯法的;政府不應為了讓部份非法在酒吧吸煙的人士變成合法,而去修改相關的法例。

  然而,在Uber的案例中,the law is an ass。「Ass」在這裏是驢的俚語說法,許多人認為驢是固執而蠢鈍的。因此,習語「the law is an ass」是指那法例愚不可及,應該予以修改。著名作家查爾斯.狄更斯在其名著《苦海孤雛》中便有用到這句說話。法律並非set in stone,意即它並非一成不變、不能更改的。當法律過時了,未能為社會的利益效勞時,就應該要修改。判斷Uber提供搭乘服務不合法的那條法例,正在損害着社會的利益。mickchug@gmail.com

中譯:七刻

Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


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