Michael Chugani 褚簡寧 - “one-trick pony”|又中又英

A person's ability to speak a language can get rusty if that person doesn't speak it for a long time. That happened to me when I lived in Washington DC for seven years. I seldom spoke Cantonese. When I returned to Hong Kong in the 1990s, I had to brush up on my Cantonese. After the 1997 reunification, I went to Seattle where I lived for about five years. My Cantonese became rusty again. When I returned to Hong Kong I had to brush up on my Cantonese again. I have now been back in the US for a year and feel I am losing my edge again in speaking Cantonese.

The word“rusty”has several meanings but if you say your Cantonese is getting rusty, it means it is not as good as before because you have not used it for a long time. To brush up on something means to improve your knowledge of something because you have partly forgotten it. If you are losing your edge on something it means you are not as good at doing something as before. If you are good at playing the piano or speaking English but don't use your skills for a long time you will lose your edge. After returning to Hong Kong from Seattle I brushed up on my Cantonese and was eventually even able to co-host TV shows in Cantonese.

Now that I am back in the US I have heard many English expressions that I had forgotten while in Hong Kong. One such expression I recently heard is“one-trick pony”. A pony, as I have explained recently, is a small type of horse. A one-trick pony is someone or something that is good at doing only one particular thing. If a magician is only good at doing one particular magic trick, you can say the magician is a one-trick pony. If your dog only understands one thing, such as when you ask it to sit down, then your dog is a one-trick pony.








如果一個人長時間沒有說一種語言,那人說該語言的能力就會衰退(rusty)。這就發生過在我身上,是我住在華盛頓特區七年之後,那時我很少說廣東話。當我於一九九○年代回香港時,我需要多加練習(brush up on)我的廣東話。一九九七回歸以後,我去了西雅圖,在那兒住了五年,我的廣東話又生疏(rusty)了,回港的時候我又要再複習(brush up on)廣東話。現在我回到美國已經一年了,感覺自己的廣東話又再變鈍(losing my edge)了。

Rusty有幾個意思,但若你說你的廣東話開始rusty、「生鏽」了,那即是指因為你已很久沒有說廣東話,而不再像從前般流利。To brush up on something是指要去重溫、改進你在某事上的知識又或語言能力,因為你有部份已經忘記了。若你正在losing your edge on something,即是你失去了某些優勢,做某事沒從前那麼好了。若你擅長彈鋼琴又或能操流利英語,卻長時間沒有彈奏或說英語,那你這些技能就會變鈍(lose your edge)。我從西雅圖回港後,便好好重練了(brushed up on)我的廣東話,以至我最終還能跟人一起主持一個粵語的電視節目。

現在我回到了美國,聽到許多我在香港已經忘掉了的英文習語。其中一個我最近聽到的習語是“one-trick pony”。正如我從前解釋過的,a pony就是矮種小馬。A one-trick pony就是「僅有一招」的人或事物,即一個人只有一個專長,或一樣事物僅有單一用途。若一位魔術師單單擅長表演一個特定的魔術,你便可以說那魔術師是只有一個把戲的小馬——a one-trick pony。若你的狗只能聽懂一個指令,例如叫牠坐下,那你的狗也是a one-trick pony。
中譯:七刻
Michael Chugani褚簡寧

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