A headline in the Washington Post last week caught my attention. It said: “Ivanka Trump is full of beans”. Ivanka is the daughter of US President Donald Trump. The headline was mocking (teasing, insulting, ridiculing) her because she posted a picture of herself on Twitter holding a can of a well-known brand of beans. She did that to support the owner of the company that produces the beans because the owner had supported her father. But critics said Ivanka, as the president’s daughter and also a White House adviser, should not be promoting private companies. Some newspapers used bean idioms to mock her.
I seldom hear Hong Kong people use the expression “full of beans”. The original meaning is full of energy or enthusiasm. For example, over 600,000 Hong Kong people were full of beans when they voted in an unofficial primary election last weekend to select opposition candidates for September’s Legislative Council elections. But in the US, it is now also an expression that means full of nonsense. For example, some legal experts, including executive councillor Ronny Tong Ka-wah, made clear it is not accurate to say last weekend’s unofficial primary election in itself violated the new national security law. Some government officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, said the primaries may have violated the security law.
Is that full of beans, or full of nonsense? We won’t know until or unless cases reach the courts and judges decide. Beans are full of protein and fiber but I never eat them because they make my stomach bloated. If you have a bloated stomach, it means your stomach feels uncomfortable because it feels it is full of air, food, or liquid. Another bean idiom I seldom hear Hong Kong people use is “hill of beans”. If you say something is a hill of beans, it means it is of very little importance or value. Politicians often say things that are a hill of beans.
上星期，一條《華盛頓郵報》的新聞標題引起我的注意。它寫道：“Ivanka Trump is full of beans”. Ivanka就是美國總統唐納德‧特朗普的女兒伊凡卡。這個標題是在嘲諷（mocking）她，因為她在推特上貼了自己一張相，相中她手持一罐知名牌子的豆類食品。她這樣做是為了支持那間製造豆類食品公司的東主，因為那位東主支持她的父親。然而，批評者說，伊凡卡作為總統的女兒，同時也是白宮的顧問，不應推廣私人企業。一些報章就用上有豆字的成語去嘲笑（mock）她。
我很少聽到香港人用到習語“full of beans”，它的原意是指精神飽滿、精力充沛的。譬如，上一個周末，超過六十萬香港人活力十足（full of beans）的去參與非官方的初選投票，為九月的立法會選舉揀選反對派的候選人。但在美國，這個習語現在也指一派胡言。譬如，一些法律專家，包括行政會議成員湯家驊，已說得很清楚，單單舉行上周末的非官方初選就觸犯了新《國安法》的這些說法，是不準確的。一些官員，包括特首林鄭月娥，就說初選或已違反了《國安法》。
那到底是否 full of beans，或滿口胡言？我們不會知道，直至或除非案件交由法庭及法官審理。豆類蘊含豐富的蛋白質和纖維，但我從來都不會吃，因為它們令我肚脹（bloated）。若你有個bloated stomach，即是指你腸胃很不適，肚脹脹的，肚內有很多空氣、食物或液體。另一個我很少聽到香港人說的豆類成語是“hill of beans”。若你說某事是a hill of beans，即是指它一文不值，或沒有多大價值。政客們就不時說一些毫無價值（a hill of beans）的說話來。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧