雞同鴨講──如何用英語形容宣誓風波的陰謀論？｜A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
As the Legislative Council oath-taking debacle continues to rock the local political scene with the two localist lawmakers involved being stripped of their lawmaker status, some conspiracy theories have recently emerged to further add fuel to the flames.
One conspiracy theory has tacitly suggested that the two might have been motivated by someone behind the scenes from the pro-establishment camp to stir up instability in Legco so as to allow the government or maybe the central government to step in and interfere with the city’s internal affairs, such as the running of the legislature or worse, to introduce Article 23 if the state of affairs in Hong Kong got to a point deemed to be a risk to national security.
This theory has prompted many to question whether the Legco duo are “human or ghosts”, which is a Cantonese colloquial phrase implying the uncertainty of whether someone is good or bad. I like this expression because it clearly distinguishes between good and evil and raises a degree of uncertainty without drawing any conclusion.
In English, there are plenty of colourful phrases we can use to express similar doubt when describing someone, something or some situations.
First off, let’s look at the positive side of how to describe honesty. If you say some action is done “above board”, that means it’s done in an open, legal and honest manner. On the other hand, “below the belt” means the opposite, describing some behaviour that’s considered unacceptable.
To say someone is “lying through their teeth” is just as insulting as calling them “a barefaced liar”. When someone is lying through their teeth it means they are telling lies outright without any remorse, which is similar to a Chinese saying “lying without blinking”. As you may have guessed, a barefaced liar is equivalent to a shameless liar, which is a pretty harsh personal attack on someone.
Going back to the Legco duo, besides raising the question of whether they are “human or ghost” in Chinese, in proper English we can say they are “in cahoots with someone” in staging the whole Legco oath-taking chaos. That means they have conspired with someone to do something dishonest. The word “cahoot” itself, often used in plural, is an old English word that’s been around for about 200 years, but the phrase itself is of unknown origin.
Two other pretty lively phrases I rather like are “cards on the table” and “cook the books”. For the first phrase, just imagine you are playing a card game and when you put your cards on the table, it almost literally means you show your hand to the opponent.
But if someone is accused of cooking the books, it refers to a fraudulent act to mean they are changing the facts or figures of financial accounts to cover something or most likely to conceal a theft. If they are cooking the books, they had better not be caught red-handed.
Another nice and subtle phrase that I often use is “economical with the truth”. You can use it when you think someone is deliberately not giving you the full picture of something. This phrase is subtle and strong because you are not exactly saying someone is lying but merely hinting that you are unhappy with them being not totally honest or transparent by omitting some important facts or details. This phrase is definitely a useful one to describe what’s happening in our political arena, especially these days. Well, this is the honest truth about dishonesty. That’s all for now, see you all next week.
首先，讓我們看看正面地形容誠實的語句吧。如果你說某人「above board」地做事，代表其態度公開、合法、誠實。另一方面，相反的情況可用「below the belt」來形容，亦即其行為不可接受。
而說某人「lying through their teeth」，其實就像喚他為「a barefaced liar」一樣具有侮辱性。前者的意思是，某人對於所作的謊言毫無悔意，與中文的「講大話唔眨眼」意思相近。至於「 a barefaced liar」，正如你可能已猜到了，是句相當苛刻的人身攻擊。
回到立法會「二人組」身上，除了受到「是人是鬼」這中文問題的質疑外，我們也可以用英文形容他們在整場宣誓風波中「in cahoots with someone」，意思是他們和其他人幹了些不誠實的密謀。「Cahoots」這個字，通常以複數出現，它是個古老的英語單詞，已經存在了大約200年，但整句短語本身源自何處，就無人知曉了。
我也相當喜歡這兩個充滿活力的短語──「cards on the table」和「cook the books」。要明白前者的意思，不妨想像自己正在玩卡牌遊戲，當你把卡牌全放在桌上時，顯然代表你已向對手「攤牌」，毫無保留地坦誠相見。
但當某人被指「cooking the books」時，就代表它正欺騙別人，如編造事實或財政數字，以蓋過某些事實，或最有可能就是隱瞞盜竊。「Cooking the books」的時候，最好就不要被逮個正著呢。
另一個好用又巧妙、我經常使用的短語是「economical with the truth」。當你認為有人故意不告訴你事實的全部時，就是這句話派上用場的時候了。它巧妙又厲害的地方在於，你並非切實地指控某人說謊，只是暗示你因他們不是完全誠實、開誠布公而感到不悅。這句話肯定能應用在當今的政治場域，尤其是最近數天。以上就是有關不誠實的真實情況了，下周再見！