又中又英——A Cantankerous Old Sod

  Last week, after Britain’s Prince Philip died aged 99, media organizations interviewed British people for their views of him. One view I heard was “he doesn’t take fools lightly”. The actual idiom should be “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”. I have used this expression as a reporter when I interviewed people for their views of well-known Hong Kong people. If you “don’t suffer fools gladly” it means you refuse to tolerate or be patient with people you regard as idiots or unintelligent. Prince Philip had a reputation for being blunt and plain-speaking. He sometimes said things considered racist and told jokes regarded as politically incorrect.

  Later in life, he admitted some things he had said made people see him as “a cantankerous old sod”. The word “blunt” has several meanings but used this way it means saying what you think without being polite or caring about other people’s feelings. The word “plain-speaking” means saying what you think in a clear and honest way even if it offends other people. The word “cantankerous” means bad-tempered and always arguing or complaining. The word “sod” has several meanings but used this way as a rude British slang it means an unpleasant and obnoxious (irritating, horrible) person. When Prince Philip said some people considered him “a cantankerous old sod”, he meant some people felt he was an old, bad-tempered, argumentative, and obnoxious person.

  Many people may not know Prince Philip was born in Greece into Greek and Danish royal families. His family was exiled when he was 18 months old. After being educated in France, he joined the British Royal Navy when he was 18 and met Elizabeth, who was a 13-year-old princess. They fell in love. Just before their engagement in 1947 he became a naturalized British citizen. He was 26 and Elizabeth was 21 when they married. He remained a loyal consort throughout their marriage. The word “consort” has several meanings with different pronunciations. Used this way it means the husband or wife of a reigning queen or king.

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  上星期,英國菲臘親王過世,享年九十九歲,傳媒機構訪問了英國人對於他的看法。其中一個我聽到的看法是“he doesn't take fools lightly”。其實原本的成語該是“doesn't suffer fools gladly”,我當記者訪問人們對於香港一些名人的看法時,也曾用過這個習語。若你“don't suffer fools gladly”,意即你拒絕容忍或遷就那些你認為是白癡或愚蠢的人。菲臘親王出了名相當坦率(blunt)和直言不諱(plain-speaking),他有時甚至會說了些被認為是種族歧視的話,以及一些被視為政治不正確的笑話。

  在晚年的時候,他承認他說過的一些話會令人把他看成是“a cantankerous old sod”。Blunt一字有不同的意思,但在這裏是指你直話直說,而不是很有禮或顧及別人的感受。“Plain-speaking”是指你清楚而誠實地說出心中所想,即使那會冒犯其他人。Cantankerous是指臭脾氣、常常唱反調或抱怨的;sod有幾個意思,在這裏是作粗鄙的英式俚語使用,意即令人不快和討厭(obnoxious)的人。當菲臘親王說,一些人把他看成是“a cantankerous old sod”時,他的意思是一些人認為他是個老邁、臭脾氣、愛爭吵又討厭(obnoxious)的人。

  許多人或許不知道,菲臘親王生於希臘,出身希臘與丹麥皇室家族。他十八個月大時,家人就要流亡他國。他十八歲在法國接受過教育後,就加入了英國皇家海軍,並邂逅了當時只是十三歲的公主伊利沙伯。他們墮入了愛河。一九四七年他們訂婚前,他歸化成為英國公民。他們結婚的時候,他是二十六歲,伊利沙伯則為二十一歲。在他們多年的婚姻裏,他一直是一位皇夫(consort)。Consort有幾個意思,不同的意思發音也相異;在這裏它是指在位統治的女皇或國皇的配偶。

中譯:七刻

Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


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