Although English is the common language in countries such as the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, there are some expressions peculiar only to some of these countries. In a previous column I explained the expression "across the ditch" or "over the ditch". This expression is peculiar only to Australians and New Zealanders. The word "peculiar" means unusual or strange but used this way it means belonging to or found only in particular people. The expression "across the ditch" or "over the ditch" belongs to or is used mostly by Australians and New Zealanders. As I explained in a previous column, it refers to the Tasman Sea which separates Australia and New Zealand. When people travel between these two countries, they say they are going "across the ditch".
Last week, someone from Britain living in the US used an expression that is peculiar to Britain. He used it after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced the birth of their second child, a baby girl. When a TV reporter asked the British person living in the US about Prince Harry and Meghan's new baby he said "I would like to invite the parents down for a pint. As we say in England, wetting the baby's head". The expression "a pint" used this way means a pint of beer. The expression "wetting the baby's head" traditionally refers to the Christian baptism when holy water is used to wet the baby's head.
But now the expression "wetting the baby's head" means to celebrate a baby's birth with drinks, especially alcoholic drinks. That's why the British person living in the US said he would like to invite Prince Harry and Meghan for a pint of beer as a way of wetting the baby's head. My research shows some Australians also use this expression but I don't think many Hong Kong people have heard of it. I asked a few friends and they said it meant making a baby's head wet!
雖然，在許多國家如美國、英國、澳洲、紐西蘭和加拿大，英文是共通語言，但有些英文習語是上述國家中的某些國家所獨有的（peculiar）。在上一個專欄中，我解釋過習語 "across the ditch" 或 "over the ditch"，它們是獨特（peculiar）專屬於澳洲人和紐西蘭人的。Peculiar是指古怪的或奇特的，但在這裏則指特定群體所獨有的。主要只有澳洲人和紐西蘭人在用習語 "across the ditch" 或 "over the ditch"，這是專屬於他們的。正如我上次所解釋的，它是指分隔澳洲與紐西蘭的塔斯曼海，當兩個地方的人要橫越這個海去彼方時，他們便會說他們要去「過溝」（across the ditch）。
上星期，某位住在美國的英國人，用了一個英國獨有的（peculiar）習語。之前被稱為薩塞克斯公爵與公爵夫人的哈里王子與梅根，宣佈他們第二胎的小女兒出生，其後那位英國人就用了該習語。當一名電視台記者問那位住在美國的英國人，怎樣看哈里王子與梅根嬰兒出生，他說：「我會邀請那對父母過來喝一pint，正如我們在英格蘭所說的：wetting the baby's head。」習語 "a pint" 在這裏是指一品脫啤酒。習語 "wetting the baby's head" 傳統上是指基督教的嬰兒洗禮，會用聖水沾濕嬰孩的頭。
但時至今日，習語 "wetting the baby's head" 則是指喝上一杯，特別是喝酒，來慶祝嬰孩的出生。因此那位住在美國的英國人說，他會想邀請哈里王子與梅根來喝上一品脫（a pint）啤酒，作為慶祝嬰孩出生（wetting the baby's head）的方式。我翻查資料發現，也有些澳洲人會用這個習語，但我可不認為有多少香港人聽過這個說法。我問過幾個朋友，他們都說這個習語是指弄濕嬰孩的頭！[email protected]
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧