雞同鴨講 ── 美國人同我講「kiss my ass」，點算好？│A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
There are myriad ways to express yourself creatively in English. You can spice up your prose using a variety of literary techniques such as connotation, denotation, irony, metaphors, etc.
However, some of the most unpredictably hilarious reactions I ever saw came about when English was somehow lost in translation between different English-speaking cultures. They were the times when phrases related to actions were used.
Let me give you some examples. If you tell someone to “knock themselves out”, it doesn’t literally mean to knock themselves unconscious, it simply means “go for it” or “go crazy”. On the other hand, if you tell somebody to “knock someone else out”, it does however mean to knock that person unconscious, so you’d better keep your ears peeled (basically, listen closely and carefully).
Another interesting expression “kiss my ass” could be confusing to non-native speakers. If you took it literally, you might get your ass kicked instead. It’s in fact a rude expression to tell someone “to get lost”.
Other more action-oriented English expressions that may induce a few chuckles are “kick the bucket”, “pull someone’s leg”, “drag your feet” and “pull your socks up”. Pretty descriptive, don’t you think?
OK let’s examine them one by one. “Kick the bucket” is a euphemistic slang term that means “to die”. It originated from the action of someone standing on a bucket with their head in a noose who would kick the bucket to commit suicide.
There are many theories as to the origin of “pulling someone’s leg”. One slightly more plausible version is pulling at people’s legs to trip them, hence its meaning is to make something up to fool someone.
The idea of “dragging your feet” is much easier to picture and understand. When you drag your feet you tend to move slowly which translates into doing something slowly because you are reluctant to do it.
I find “pull your socks up” a pretty fun phrase to use. Just imagine you look immaculate from head to toe, but then your socks are loose, so you need to pull them up to smarten up. Easy peasy, right?
Chinese has borrowed lots of words and phrases from English and very often they are translated either literally or phonetically. Even in Chinese language itself many of its terms have very literal translations.
For example, gardener in Chinese is “flower king”, computer is “electric brain”, movies are “electric shadows”. How about this super literal translation? “Smash paper machine”. Sounds a bit odd, right? Do you know what it means? Paper shredder.
Meanwhile, metaphorical Chinese phrases are plentiful. How about “show you some colour”? It is definitely not a friendly invitation; it’s a warning, threatening physical violence. It means hurting someone, causing bruises in black and blue, as those are the colours the recipient will be seeing as a result.
For the true Hongkongers, you will agree that the Cantonese phrase “add oil” is ubiquitous. When I first heard it nine years ago, I had no clue what it meant. Now I use it just about every day. For you newcomers, it’s not to be interpreted literally of adding oil to a car but metaphorically speaking it means “adding oil” to a person. Translation: “come on” as you cheer someone on.
You all have done well so far. Add oil! More next week.
分享一些例子吧：如果你叫某人「knock themselves out」，這並非如字面所言，要把某人「擊暈」，而是要他們「去做吧！」、「去試試吧！」，甚至「瘋狂一下吧！」。另一方面，如你叫某人「knock someone else out」，卻確實意味著要把那人打暈、擊倒，所以你的雙耳最好要打醒十二分精神（基本上，就是要仔細及小心地聆聽）。
另一有趣至極的詞組──「kiss my ass」，對英語非母語者，是相當令人困惑的。照字面上演譯的話，反而可能令自己的屁股被踢（ass kicked）呢！其實，它是粗魯地叫人「滾蛋」的意思。
其他以行動為主、會令人發笑的詞組還有「kick the bucket」、「pull someone’s leg」、「drag your feet」及「pull your socks up」。描述非常到位，對吧？
逐一看看：「kick the bucket」是一個委婉地表達「死亡」意思的俚語，它描述一個站在桶（bucket）上的人，頭部繫上繩索，踢開桶氣絕身亡，亦即自殺的行為。而「pulling someone’s leg」的起源則各有說法，其中一個較可信的版本是「拉別人的腿去絆倒他們」，所以這俚語的含意是，編造胡言去欺騙別人。
「Dragging your feet」則較易想像和理解，當你「拖動自己雙腳」時，移動的速度往往十分緩慢，因此這可譯作，由於不情願所以極緩慢地做事。「Pull your socks up」是個運用起來頗有趣的詞組。想像一下，你以一身整潔、俐落的裝扮亮相──突然！你的襪子鬆了，你要做的，就是「把它們拉上來」、繼而抖擻精神。輕而易舉，對吧？
其實，中文向英文「借」了不少字和詞組，大多是根據字面意思或發音而譯。而即使是中文本身，許多字詞亦是照字面翻譯的。例如gardener成了「花王」（flower king）、computer是「電腦」（electric brain），movie是「電影」（electric shadow）。還有這個超級字面直譯：「碎紙機」，如果照字面翻作英文便是「smash paper machine」，很奇怪吧？單憑英文你又猜到是甚麼嗎？所以，碎紙機的正式英文名是「paper shredder」。
與此同時，中文諺語中的隱喻是十分豐富的，知道「show you some colour」是甚麼意思嗎？這不是友善的邀請，而是一個要施暴的威脅和警告。打傷別人時，造成藍藍紫紫的瘀青，就是接受者領受到的「顏色」了。
真．香港人大概會同意，廣東話中的「加油」（add oil）在日常用語中是無處不在的。九年前，第一次聽到這話時，我完全無從得知當中的意思。但現在的我，卻是把「加油」天天掛在嘴邊。如你是廣東話世界的新來者，這句話並非照字面所言，替汽車入油；比喻來說，是替「人」入油。翻譯就是：你為某人打氣高呼「come on」。