又中又英——Stodgy

  Many years ago, when I first started this column, I pointed out that businessman and politician James Tien Pei-chun always uses the word “regardless” incorrectly. He says “irregardless” instead of “regardless”. Many English-language experts argue there is no such word, although it is often used in America mostly in spoken, not written, form. Even after I pointed this out to him in person, he continued to say “irregardless”. Old habits die hard. The word “regardless” means “despite”, “anyway”, or “in any case”. Many people go to crowded places without facemasks regardless of the coronavirus. The expression “old habits die hard” means it is difficult for people to stop doing things they have always done, such as smoking or using foul language.

  Today, I want to let Tien Pei-chun know he can now continue to use “irregardless” because, horror of horrors, the Merriam-Webster dictionary has decided “irregardless” is an accurate word. Merriam-Webster said it will include “irregardless” in its dictionary because the word is widely used. It said: “We do not make the English language. We merely record it”. The expression “horror of horrors” is used, often in a humorous way, to say something is horrible, shocking, or bad even though it is not really that bad. It is not really that bad or horrible that Merriam-Webster decided “irregardless” is now a word. But stodgy grammarians feel it is a horror of horrors.

  The word “stodgy” means heavy or unhealthy foods that make you feel uncomfortable after you eat them, such as a lot of meat or fried foods. But it also means being very formal or serious. Grammarians are people who study and write about grammar. They are very stodgy, formal, and serious people who oppose any modern changes to grammar. That’s why they feel it is a horror of horrors that Merriam-Webster decided “irregardless” is a word. I am neither a grammarian nor stodgy. I agree languages should change with the times. I will no longer criticize Tien Pei-chun for saying “irregardless”.

*****

  許多年前,當我開初寫這個專欄的時候,我就指出商人兼政客田北俊常常用錯“regardless”一字——他會說成是“irregardless”而非“regardless”。許多英語專家都會主張並無此字,即使在美國不時會有人用到這個字,主要是口語而非書面的形式上。即使我親自跟他指出過這一點,他仍繼續說着“irregardless”。真是積習難除(old habits die hard)。Regardless意即「儘管」(despite)、「不管怎樣」(anyway)又或「無論如何」(in any case)。不管(regardless of)新冠肺炎疫情如何,許多人仍然不戴口罩的去人多擠逼的地方。習語“old habits die hard”是指「本性難移」,人們很難去戒掉老習慣,例如吸煙又或講粗口。

  今天,我想讓田北俊知道,他現在可以繼續用“irregardless”一字了,因為,驚恐得不能再驚恐(horror of horrors),韋氏字典決定將“irregardless”定為正確的字詞!韋氏字典說,它會將“irregardless”收錄於其字典之內,因為這個字已被廣泛使用。它說:「我們不是去創造英語。我們只不過是去記錄它。」習語“horror of horrors”通常是以幽默的方式,去說某事真是駭人聽聞、驚世駭俗,又或糟得不能再糟——即使那其實不是真的那麼糟糕。韋氏字典決定將“irregardless”視為一個正統的字,不是真的那麼糟糕或恐怖。但老派的(stodgy)語法學家(grammarians)就會認為這改動真是糟得不能再糟(horror of horrors)了。

  Stodgy是指笨重的,又或不易消化、令你吃後肚脹不適的不健康食物,例如很多的肉又或煎炸食物。然而,它也指墨守成規或非常守舊的。Grammarians就是研究文法及就其著書立說的人。他們都是非常stodgy、正規以及嚴肅的人,反對就文法進行任何現代的改動。因此,韋氏字典決定將“irregardless”定為一個正統的字,他們會感到可怕得不能再可怕(horror of horrors)了。我不是語法學家(grammarian),也不會墨守成規(stodgy),我認為語言應該與時並進。我不會再批評田北俊說“irregardless”這個字了。 中譯:七刻

[email protected]

Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


hd