雞同鴨講──點形容無法重新宣誓嘅困境？｜A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
Last week’s opening session of the Legislative Council descended into chaos as two newly-elected legislators amended the official oaths during the swearing-in ceremony. In their modified oaths, they pledged allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation” and referred to China as “Chee-na”, a variation of the derogatory Shina used by Japan for China during World War Two.
Their controversial behaviour plunged Legco into chaos, prompting an ongoing debate over whether they should be allowed to retake their oaths and calls to invalidate their legislator status.
When situations arise that aren’t going as planned, it could spell trouble. There are numerous descriptive ways to depict crises such as the one that took place at Legco.
How about “put a spanner in the works”? Just imagine someone throwing a spanner into the gears and pistons of an engine, wouldn’t that destroy the working of the machine? Naturally the phrase was coined for its imagery to mean to cause problems and prevent something from succeeding.
Another image rich phrase is “where the shoe pinches”, which refers to an area that’s a source of problems, likening to the situation where the shoes are too tight that pinch the toes.
“Spiral out of control” is another commonly used phrase to describe a situation that’s getting worse or becoming hard to manage. It can be used to describe either difficulties or costs. For example, you may have heard people say “the costs are spiralling out of control”.
A couple more colourful ones include: “a sticky wicket” and “stir up a hornet’s nest”.
The first one is a metaphor to describe a difficult situation. It originated from the sport of cricket as you could imagine how hard it would be to pitch with a damp wicket as it would not allow the ball to bounce well; this is probably more relevant to Brits as cricket is considered to be one of the quintessential English sports.
The latter should be quite easy to guess because this metaphoric phrase likens hornets to angry people. Just picture a situation where someone has done something to stir trouble or cause a commotion, prompting a bunch of angry people to attack them. Not a pretty sight for sure.
Now, some easy-to-remember terms. First, “a stumbling block” which is used to describe an obstacle ahead blocking you from achieving your goals. What if you’re faced “with a thorny issue”? Something that is thorny is naturally prickly and difficult to handle, so it could be translated literally as something difficult or unpleasant to tackle.
Okay, in case you have become addicted to these colourful phrases, a few more before we go: “tip of the iceberg”, “uphill battle”, “vicious circle”, and “in a tight spot” can all be used to describe being stuck in a difficult situation or a dilemma.
As long as there’s a will, there’s a way. I am sure many of you will manage to wiggle your way out of any difficult circumstances. That’s all for now. See you all next week.
有聽過「to put a spanner in the works」嗎？想像某人把扳手放進發動機的齒輪和活塞中，結果當然會把機器弄壞。由此引申，這句話的意象代表「製造問題及阻止某事成功的手段」。
另一個意象豐富的短語，是形容問題癥結所在的「where the shoe pinches」，好比鞋子太緊，令人腳趾被捏緊的情況。
「Spiral out of control」亦被不少人廣泛使用，它形容事態越趨嚴重，甚至失控。我們描述困境或財政問題時，便可把它派上用場，例如「the costs are spiralling out of control」。
其他生動有趣的短語還有「a sticky wicket」和「stir up a hornet’s nest」。前者比喻身處困境之中，它起源於板球運動中，若然球沾滿了泥濘，落地後的彈跳力將大大下降，要擊中三柱門也就更困難了。板球在英國是相當典型的運動，可想而知，這句話與英國人的關係密切至極。至於後者，意思應該十分易猜，想像當某人招惹麻煩、引起騷動，成為一群憤怒群眾的眾矢之的，情況相當不妙呢。
接下來介紹的，是一些容易記住的短語。先是「a stumbling block」──阻礙你達成目標的障礎；面對「with a thorny issue」時，你又會有何打算呢？「Throny」代表棘手、難以處理的事務，因此這句短語可照字面直譯為處理棘手問題。
要是你開始對這些豐富多彩的短語入迷，我們不妨在擱筆前多討論幾個吧！「Tip of the iceberg」、「uphill battle」、「vicious circle」和「in a tight spot」都可形容處於困境，或是進退兩難的情況。