雞同鴨講──Pardon my French？英語常見的歐洲語言idioms｜A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
Over in Britain, the Brexit saga has picked up momentum again as a major figure involved in the United Kingdom’s exit negotiations from the European Union was sacked for rebelling against the government’s consensus on the matter.
Although the issue has been a highly decisive one in this part of the world, there’s no denying that Europe’s varied and shared culture has been highly influential on Britain’s own culture and its language.
In that spirit, today’s column will explore some popular European idioms that have made its way into the English language.
I’m sure some of you have heard of the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. It’s a way to say that an important project takes time to complete, so it’s often a plea for someone to remain patient. For example, if a couple are renovating their home and one of them comments that it is taking a long time to complete, one could simply retort with that expression.
Interestingly, the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” appears in many different European languages and is subject to linguistic variations; one of the earliest appearances of this adage appeared in German in the 17th century. This is used to describe a child who shares very similar qualities to a parent. If a child demonstrates artistic talent similar to that of one of its parents, then you could use this expression to comment that the child has probably inherited their talent.
If you ever come across something you don’t understand, whether it’s written or heard, then you can say “it’s all Greek to me”. This is thought to originate from a Latin phrase used in the Middle Ages,Graecum est; non legitur (“it is Greek, therefore it cannot be read), as the Greek language and alphabet was falling out of fashion amongst monk scribes.
You’ve probably heard this one, “pardon my French”. If someone lets out a string of profanities, then this an expression that usually follows as a form of apology for their use of obscenities.
How about when people say c’est la vie? Even the most incompetent French speaker (or speaker with non-existent knowledge of the language) knows this expression, as it has a universal relevance no matter your mother tongue. Have things that are out of your control ever happened or been in the way of other things? C’est la vie! That’s life!
Finally, here’s a favourite one of mine, as it’s one of those words and expressions that you can’t summarise in a few words in English, but somehow was condensed into one word by another language: schadenfreude. It’s a German word that has been borrowed by English to describe the feeling of self-satisfaction derived from other people’s misfortunes.
Alright, it isn’t a positive word to use, but let’s admit it: we are all guilty of it! Plus, it’s a word that is exemplar of the fact that sometimes, there are languages other than your own that can capture a feeling in a single word or simply lack an equivalent in your own native tongue.
That’s it for today, au revoir, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen and adiós! Although English is a fascinating language, there is a world of other vernaculars that ought to be appreciated. See you all next week.
的脫歐共識，脫歐聲音在英國再次得勢。在英國談論脫歐，雖然已是個高度決定性的議題，但不能否認是， 歐洲各地不盡相同、卻互相連結的文化， 對英國自身的文化和語言一直有很大影響。本著這精神，今天我們就探討一些已經進入英語語系的歐洲流行習語 吧。首先是「Rome wasn’t built in a day」，相信大家都聽過——重要的事情需要時間來完成， 暗指人們要保持耐性。例如一對夫婦正在裝修家居， 其中一人認為工程需時很長，另一位大可簡單地用這句話反駁。有趣的是，「the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree」的說法，出現在許多歐洲語言， 並受個別語系影響而變化，其中一個最早出現的源頭， 是17世紀的德語。這句話形容與父母非常相似的孩子，譬如說， 一個孩子表現出與父母之一相似的藝術天賦，不妨用這句話來評論， 孩子很可能繼承了他們的天賦。要是你在書面上、或聽到些不明白的東西，可以說「it’s all Greek to me」。這句話被認為是源於中世紀的拉丁片語「Graecum est; non legitur」（希臘語，看不懂是正常的）。然而， 希臘語和其字母在僧侶時代開始，漸漸失去流行性了。你也可能聽過以下這句：「pardon my French」。如果有人說出一連串褻瀆的說話，並在其後道歉， 便可以接上這句話加強歉意。當人們說「C’est la vie」時，又是甚麼意思？即使是法語能力最差的人（ 甚至對法語毫無認識的人），也知道箇中含意吧， 因為其普及性已超越任何語言。大家都試過發生無法控制的事情吧？ C’est la vie！這就是生活！最後，我要介紹我的「最愛」，因為它是不能用英語概括那種單詞、 片語，卻又不知何故被另一種語言結合成一個單詞——「schad enfreude」。這是一個已被英語借用的德語詞，描述從他人 不幸得到滿足的感覺。當然，這個單詞並不積極正面，但承認吧：我們都是罪人！此外， 這是能夠展示事實的詞語。就是有些語言、詞語， 可以準確捕捉一種感覺，也許是因為你的母語缺乏一個等同的詞語。今天先到此為止吧，au revoir、arrierci、auf wiedersehen和adiós！雖然英語十分迷人， 但其他語言亦應該受到讚賞呢。下周見！