任睇No.1
  • 29º
  • 84%
  • 2022年7月6日 星期三

又中又英|flogging a dead horse. - Michael Chugani 褚簡寧

People who understand the meaning of idioms don’t normally say them incorrectly. That’s why I was taken aback when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor used a common idiom incorrectly. She said it in such a wrong way that it made me guffaw. If you are taken aback it means you are surprised or shocked. To guffaw means to laugh very loudly, especially when someone says something stupid. During a press conference last week the chief executive said “kill two stones with one bird” when discussing the vaccine pass and Leave Home Safe app. I guffawed because it is impossible to kill stones. They are not alive. My mind imagined the chief executive holding a bird and throwing it at two stones to try to kill them.

The correct idiom is kill two birds with one stone. Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s incorrect use of the idiom made me wonder if she understands what it means. To kill two birds with one stone means to achieve two different things at the same time with a single solution or action. For example, if you go to a doctor’s clinic for a flu shot and a regular body checkup you are killing two birds with one stone. The chief executive said at the press conference that a Legislative Council member had used the idiom and she was repeating it. Did the Legco member also say it wrong or was it only the chief executive who said it wrong? I don’t know.

Animal rights groups now say the idiom, as well as others such as “flogging a dead horse”, are offensive. The group PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says such idioms should be considered as unacceptable as racist words. To flog or beat a dead horse means to waste time or effort on something when there is no chance of success. PETA suggests that instead of saying “kill two birds with one stone” say “feed two birds with one scone”. I think that is very clever!
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那些明白成語真正意思的人,通常都不會用錯成語,因此當特首林鄭月娥錯誤地說出一個很常用的成語時,我相當吃驚(taken aback)。她說的時候錯得令我捧腹大笑(guffaw)。若你是taken aback,即你被嚇一跳、大吃一驚或感到出乎意料。To guffaw即是大聲地笑,尤其是當某人說了一些愚蠢的話時。上星期在一個記者會期間,特首在討論疫苗通行證和安心出行程式之際,說了一句“kill two stones with one bird”。我放聲大笑(guffawed),因為要殺掉石頭是不可能的,它們不是生物,我腦中想像出一個畫面,是特首手持一隻雀,向着兩塊石頭拋擲出去,嘗試要「殺石」。

正確的成語是kill two birds with one stone。林鄭月娥錯誤使用了成語,令我疑惑她到底是否明白成語的真正意思?To kill two birds with one stone即是一石二鳥、一箭雙鵰:只做一件事便達到兩個目的,或單單用一個方案便解決了兩個問題。譬如,若你去一間醫務所便能同時打了流感針又做了例行身體檢查,你便是killing two birds with one stone。特首在記者會說,一個立法會議員用過這個成語,她在複述之,那是立法會議員說錯了,抑或只有特首說錯了?我不知道。

保護動物權益團體現在說,這個成語連同另一些如“flogging a dead horse”的成語,都是具冒犯性的。PETA,即善待動物組織,說這類成語應該像種族歧視字眼般,被視作不能接受的。To flog or beat a dead horse是指白費勁、做徒勞無益之事,就如鞭打一隻死馬要牠奔馳一樣。善待動物組織建議,與其說“kill two birds with one stone”,不如說“feed two birds with one scone”,用一塊鬆餅就能同時餵養兩隻雀鳥——我覺得非常聰明!
中譯:七刻
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧

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