任睇No.1
  • 29º
  • 84%
  • 2022年7月5日 星期二

Michael Chugani 褚簡寧 - “walk and chew gum”|又中又英

Some readers have asked me to explain unusual idioms that are seldom used in Hong Kong but sometimes used in the US. I came across one such idiom while reading a news report about US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent trip to Asia and Europe. The report was in Foreign Policy, an American news magazine. The expression was “walk and chew gum”. Austin said “we are walking and chewing gum” when he spoke to reporters in Thailand. I don’t think I have ever heard any local person use this expression when I lived in Hong Kong. Austin used the expression when referring to his efforts to deter China and to help Ukraine.

To “walk and chew gum” means to do two or more different things at the same time. It is easy to walk and chew gum at the same time. That’s why it is often used to describe stupid people who cannot do two simple things at the same time. If a person cannot boil an egg and talk on his mobile phone at the same time you can say he can’t walk and chew gum. But when Austin used the expression, he meant he had to do two very difficult things at the same time. He had to explain America’s hardened policy towards China to US allies in Asia and also to further unite the West against Russia for invading Ukraine while in Europe.

Historians believe the expression came from the late US President Lyndon Johnson who said the late Gerald Ford, who also later became US President, was so dumb (stupid) that he can't walk and chew gum at the same time. A simple word for “walk and chew gum” is “multitask”. This means to do several things at the same time. The word originated when computers were invented and were able to do several things at the same time. It is now used to describe people doing several things at the same time.
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一些讀者請求我解釋一些不平常的成語,是在香港很少用到,但在美國有時會見人用的。當我讀到一則關於美國國防部部長勞萊‧柯士甸最近到訪亞洲和歐洲的新聞報道時,就遇到一個這樣的成語。該報道刊登於美國新聞雜誌《外交政策》。那個習語是“walk and chew gum”。當柯士甸跟泰國的記者談話時,他道:“we are walking and chewing gum”。我不認為我在香港居住時有聽過任何一個本地人用此習語。當柯士甸說着他在威懾中國以及協助烏克蘭方面所付出的努力時,就用到了這個習語。

To “walk and chew gum”意即同一時間做兩件或以上不同的事情。一邊走路一邊嚼香口膠(walk and chew gum)是輕而易舉的事,因此,它也常被用來形容一些愚蠢的人,不能同時做兩件簡單不過的事情。若一個人不能一邊煮一隻雞蛋一邊講電話,那你便可以說he can’t walk and chew gum——他這都不能一心二用,真是笨得很。但當柯士甸用這個習語時,他的意思卻是同時間去做兩件非常困難的事情。他需要闡明,對於中國對壘美國的亞洲夥伴,美國採取更為強硬的政策,亦要在歐洲進一步團結西方,以對抗俄羅斯入侵烏克蘭。

歷史學家相信,這個習語來自已故美國總統林登‧莊臣,說已故的傑拉爾德‧福特過於愚鈍(dumb)而不能邊走路邊嚼香口膠(can't walk and chew gum),而福特後來亦當上了美國總統。習語“walk and chew gum”用簡單的一個字去說就是“multitask”,即同時處理多項事務。這個字來源於電腦被發明時,它就是能同時間處理多個任務。現在它也用來形容人們能同時做多件事情。
中譯:七刻
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧

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