Last week I laughed at something that I read but recoiled from something that I saw. I bought a jar of freshly-ground black sesame paste with no added sugar. The next day I went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner with some friends. The freshly-ground black sesame paste had an information leaflet in English about the paste. It had so many English errors that I laughed out loud. One part said “Who can eating” to inform buyers the paste was suitable for “most of peoples”. It should, of course, be “who can eat” and “most people”. Another part said “twice tea flat spoons a day”. It should be “two teaspoons a day”. I often wonder why companies in Hong Kong and mainland China don’t hire English speakers to write these leaflets.
The word “ground” used this way is the past tense of the verb “grind”, which means to crush something into tiny pieces or into powder. The word “freshly-ground” means something that was freshly crushed into tiny pieces. The information leaflet said freshly-ground black sesame paste is a health food that can control blood pressure, prevent constipation, prevent baldness, and stop hair from turning white. I am not sure how true this is but I will eat it anyway because I like the taste of black sesame. During dinner with friends the next day, I recoiled when the waiter brought the fish dish we ordered. To “recoil” means to move back in horror or disgust.
The fish had been freshly-killed. The middle part of it was sliced into thin pieces and put on a plate with ice. The head was at one end of the plate and the tail at the other. My friends told me it was a fish dish meant to be eaten raw. I recoiled when I saw it because the tail was still moving！ My friends said it was normal. An internet search explained that even dead fish can move because their neurons remain active for a while. Neurons are nerve cells that carry information between the brain and other parts of the body. I was so horrified that I refused to eat the fish.
上星期，我讀到了些東西使我發笑，卻又看到了些東西使我畏縮（recoiled）。我買了一瓶現磨（freshly-ground）和沒有添加糖的黑芝麻醬。翌日我跟一些好友去了一間中國餐廳晚膳。那瓶現磨（freshly-ground）黑芝麻醬附有一張小單張，上面用英文寫了有關那醬的資料，卻有非常多英文錯處，令我捧腹大笑。在闡明適合哪些人食用的段落寫着“Who can eating”，告訴買家那醬是適合“most of peoples”食用的。當然，正確的寫法是“who can eat”和“most people”（大部份人）。另一處寫「一天兩茶匙」的，就寫了“twice tea flat spoons a day”，其實應是“two teaspoons a day”。我常常思忖，為甚麼香港和內地公司都不會聘請講英語的人去寫這些單張。
“Ground”在這裏是動詞 grind的過去式，意思是磨碎某物至粒狀或粉末。“Freshly-ground” 意思是新鮮現磨成細粒的。那張資料單張說現磨（freshly-ground）黑芝麻醬是健康食物，能有效控制血壓、預防便秘、預防禿頭，並能阻止黑髮變白。我不肯定這有多真確，但我怎也會吃的，因為我喜歡黑芝麻的味道。次日，我跟朋友們吃晚飯，當侍應奉上我們叫的那碟魚時，我立時recoiled；to “recoil”的意思是恐懼或厭惡地往後縮。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧