雞同鴨講 ── 淨係識用「expensive」嚟形容「昂貴」，你唔悶架咩？│A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
My Hong Kong friends often ask me to give them tips on how to improve their spoken English so that they can speak it with a touch of elegance. My advice is very simple; just remember you can still be elegant and live well even without much money; the prerequisite is to be creative.
Believe me if you are creative with the language, you can be both elegant and eloquent even without an extensive vocabulary. Besides the basic principle of reading, listening and practising all the time, the rule of thumb is: learn the right vocabulary and phrases and try to inject them into everyday use as often as possible.
Another important rule is to learn to think in English. If you can do that you will get into the habit of being natural and once you have managed that, saying things in different ways will come easy because you’ll sound less rigid. One big tip to success is to first arm yourself with synonyms and descriptive phrases.
For example, instead of saying something is expensive, you can say it is “costly” or “pricey” and once you’ve acquainted yourself with some new synonyms, move onto utilising interesting phrases such as it’s going “to cost you an arm and a leg” to describe something that’s exorbitantly expensive. This phrase is one of my personal favourites because it is so descriptive and there are many theories as to its origin. One more widely accepted belief is in the old days painters would charge extra for painting a full-body portrait, which meant more for drawing the arms and legs, hence the idiom.
Another useful phrase to acquire is “to bet your bottom dollar”. Just imagine if you were a gambler who’s willing to gamble away your last dollar, it naturally meant you must have tonnes of confidence in your fateful bet. Hence this phrase means someone is really confident about what they are going to do.
The next popular phrase has an equivalent in Chinese: “born with a silver spoon in your mouth” to describe someone who was born into money and privilege. Another phrase which also has a close relative in Chinese: “tighten your belt” which means to control your expenses since you have little money left. I am not sure why both the Chinese and English versions are so similar; maybe the predicament of having little money to spend is comparable in any culture when you have to depict it visually.
There is one phrase that I love to use quite often to express how wonderful I feel. Therefore I highly recommend you to adapt it in your daily use. Instead of saying “I feel wonderful or feel great today”. How about “I feel like a million dollars”? Wouldn’t anyone want to feel like a million dollars every day? Go ahead, say it and mean it. Take my advice and think in English and use synonyms and colourful phrases to jazz up your conversational English to impress your friends and colleagues. Knock yourself out. See you all next week.
例如，與其老是說「expensive」，你可以以「costly」或「pricey」取而代之。而當你愈來愈熟悉如何運用同義詞，便可「升級」使用一些有趣的短語，譬如以「it’s going『to cost you an arm and a leg』」來形容某物的價格驚人。老實說，這句話是我個人最愛之一，它不但能生動地描述情況，背後亦有許多起源。其中一個比較多人相信的由來是，古時如要畫家畫一幅全身肖像，是要額外收費的。換言之，附了費，畫家便願意多畫一對「arm and leg」。
另一有用的短語是：「to bet your bottom dollar」。想像一下，如果你是一個賭徒，又願意賭下你最後一塊錢，那自然意味著你必須有無窮的信心，去下這致命賭注。因此，這句話形容某人對所做之事極有信心。
而「born with a silver spoon in your mouth」這句相當流行的短語，則與中文的「含住金鎖匙出世」有類似意思，兩者皆形容一些出生於擁有巨富及特權的世家之人。另一與中文有近親關係的是「tighten your belt」，亦即「勒緊褲頭」，代表因為餘錢不多，而要嚴格控制費用。我著實不太理解，為何上述短語的中英版本如此相似，也許一個人面對窮困，在任何文化的視覺描繪上，也具有可比性吧。
有一個短語，是當我表達絕妙心情時極愛使用的。因此，我決定向大家強烈推薦：與其高呼「I feel wonderful or feel great today」，倒不如說「I feel like a million dollars」？試問有誰不想每天活像擁有「一百萬元」？嘗試說來表達自己吧！聽聽我的建議，用英語思考、多使用同義詞和豐富的短語，使自己的英語會話更具生氣，並在你的朋友和同事腦中留下深刻印象吧！Knock yourself out，下周見！