雞同鴨講──只看字面絕對不懂的idioms：「fall off the turnip truck」是從貨車掉下的蘿蔔？｜A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
I always enjoy re-watching films that I really like and recently I’ve been watching action thriller Taken 2 over and over again. I remember one scene when one of the leading ladies used the phrase “fall off the turnip truck”. It immediately got me thinking how it would appear in Chinese subtitles for the benefits of the local audience in a cinema.
This American idiom is quite interesting as it has a very obscure meaning. There is no way one can accurately guess what it means simply by looking at the words. If we say someone has fallen off the turnip truck, it means they are naïve or gullible. Quite a clever phrase to use to impress your friends, don’t you think?
There are similar idioms such as “squeeze blood out of a turnip” which is similar to “get blood out of a stone”, both of which mean you cannot get something from someone, especially money, if they don’t have it.
Speaking of falling off a vehicle, a rather humorous idiom that comes to mind is “fall off the back of a lorry”. It’s a typically British way of saying someone has acquired something that’s very likely been stolen or you are trying to sell off some illegitimate, black market stuff. The American equivalent is “off the back of a truck”.
When you say someone “does a runner”, you are saying they leave a place in a rush in order to avoid paying for it or they are trying to run away from a difficult situation.
One very vivid and colourful idiom is “enough to cobble dogs with”. Like the turnip idiom I first mentioned, it’s not easy to guess the underlying meaning at first glance. But if you can just imagine if a cobbler has enough leather to cobble a dog that has four feet, that implies he has more than enough material. Does it make more sense now? It refers to having surplus of anything, so it means there is plenty to go round.
What about the phrase “donkey’s years”? Any clues what it means? This is another British expression to jokingly refer to the considerable length of time one has worked for something with nothing to show for it. For example, you can say “He’s been working as a bank teller for donkey’s years, it’s time for a change.”
If you say someone is “all talk and no trousers”, it’s definitely not a compliment because you are indirectly saying they talk big but don’t actually act on what they say. It may sound a bit indirect and subtle but the underlying message is quite strong and impactful.
Before we go, let’s have a couple more fun idioms. If you say “when pigs fly” it’s a sarcastic way to say something that will never ever happen because pigs don’t fly.
If someone uses the expression, “cat got your tongue” it means you’re at a loss for words; it is mostly used when a person has suddenly become suspiciously silent.
Okay, I am not trying to do a runner, but it’s time to go. See you all next week.
重看深愛的電影，是個令我非常享受的過程。最近我一次又一次翻看了動作驚慄片《救參96小時2》，我還記得有一幕，其中一名女主角說了句「fall off the turnip truck」，我立即聯想到，這句話在中文字幕會被翻譯成甚麼呢？
美式習語（idioms）是很有趣的一回事，它們的意思極其模糊，單看字面，根本沒人能準確猜中內裡含意。例如我們說某人「has fallen off the turnip truck」，意思竟是他們天真或可笑，絕對是句能令人留下深刻印象的巧妙短語吧？
有些習語看來如出一轍，例如「squeeze blood out of a turnip」及「get blood out of a stone」，都代表如果某人身上沒某樣東西，無論如何你亦不能從他身上得到那東西，說的尤其是金錢。
前段談到掉在車上之類的話，讓我想起一個相當滑稽的英式習語「fall off the back of a lorry」，代表某人買入了可能是人家被盜取的東西，或試圖賣掉非法的東西，美式也有「off the back of a truck」的類似說法。
而當你說某人「does a runner」時，意思是他們因為不想付款匆匆離場，或者他們嘗試逃避困境。
以下這個習語非常生動：「enough to cobble dogs with」。就像文首turnip那句，驟看是很難猜到箇中意思的。但試想像，一個補鞋匠的皮革，足以為有四隻腳的狗縫製鞋子，代表他的皮革多到用不完，那麼你想到這句話的意思嗎？就是某些東西太多，造成剩餘了。
「For donkey’s years」又是甚麼意思？想到任何解謎的線索嗎？這又是一個英式習語，開玩笑地指某人為某事工作的一段長時間，而沒有甚麼結果，例如可以說「He’s been working as a bank teller for donkey’s year, it’s time for a change」。
另外，若然你說某人是「all talk and no trousers」，這絕對不是讚美之意！因為你正間接批評他們空口說白話，不務正業，雖然聽起落轉彎抹角，但此話其實甚具影響力，蘊含意思很有力呢。
擱筆前，再來幾句趣味滿滿的習語吧！「When pigs fly」是句充滿諷刺的話，正如豬不會飛，它比喻某些事情亦永遠不會發生。而如果「cat got your tongue」，不但會被咬痛，還會無法說話，背後就是意指某人突然可疑地沉默起來。
嗯，我不是存心要「do a runner」，但今次就寫到這兒吧，下周再見！