又中又英——Until hell freezes over

  Some religions, particularly the Christian religion which follows the Bible, believe there is a Heaven and Hell. At the end of the world, God will decide who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell, including those who have already died. Heaven is where good people will go and Hell is where bad people go to suffer. Many people think of Hell as a place of intense fire. I thought about Heaven and Hell last week after watching the TV news about the funeral of Daunte Wright. He was a 20-year-old African American shot dead by a policewoman during a traffic stop. The policewoman said she had intended to use her Taser but mistakenly used her gun instead.

  A Taser is a weapon that does not kill but gives people a small electric shock that makes them unable to move for a while. There have been several recent cases of police officers shooting dead African Americans. It has become a big racial issue in the US. During the funeral, a civil rights leader angrily said if African Americans don’t fight for their children, no one else will. He said “We have to fight for our children until hell freezes over”. If you say you will do something “until hell freezes over” it means you will do it forever because it is almost impossible to do.

  The expression is first believed to have appeared in print in 1919 when the American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald used it. The reason why “until hell freezes over” means doing something forever or doing something that is impossible to do is because Hell can never freeze. But Hell can never freeze only if you believe there is a Hell and that it is a place of intense fire. Some people believe Hell is a very cold place where God sends people to suffer although there are some references in the Bible of Hell being like a furnace, which means a container heated to a very high temperature to melt things like metal.

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  一些宗教,尤其是信奉《聖經》的基督教,相信有天堂和地獄。在世界末了之時,神會裁決誰上天堂,誰下地獄,包括那些已死之人。天堂是好人會去的地方,地獄是壞人會去受苦的地方。許多人認為地獄是個燃燒着熊熊烈火之處。上星期,當我看到電視新聞報道丹特‧萊特的喪禮時,就想到了天堂與地獄。他是一個二十歲的非裔美國人,在一次交通截查期間被一名女警員槍殺。那名女警說她本想用她的泰瑟(Taser),卻錯誤拔了手槍射擊。

  A Taser就是電擊槍,會發出少量電流,令被攻擊的人在短時間內不能郁動,但並不致命。近期有好幾宗警員槍殺非裔美國人的案件,演變成美國很大的種族議題。在喪禮上,一名民權領袖憤怒地說,若非裔美國人不為自己的子女抗爭,沒有其他人會為他們爭取的了。他說:「我們必須為我們的子女抗爭,直至地獄結冰為止(until hell freezes over)。」若你說你會做某事“until hell freezes over”,意即你會永遠做這件事,直到天荒地老,因為那是近乎不可能辦到的事。

  人們相信這個習語首先見刊於一九一九年,由美國小說家史考特‧費茲傑羅所用。“Until hell freezes over”解作永遠持續地做某事,或做一樣不可能達成的事,是因為地獄永不可能結冰。但唯有你相信有地獄,而且那是燒着熊熊烈火的地方,那地獄才會永不結冰。一些人相信,地獄是個非常寒冷的地方,神會將人送到那裏受苦,即使《聖經》裏有些篇章提及地獄時,會將之形容為 furnace,就是用非常高的溫度來鑄熔金屬的熔爐或火窰。

中譯:七刻

Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


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