Man’s “dumb, dirty and smelly” best friend

I’ve always wanted a pig for pet.

Many people shared my fondness for pigs, until they realized I wasn’t talking about food, at which point they screamed, “Ewww… how could you possibly want to get near such a dumb, dirty and disease-ridden creature? What’s wrong with you,” while covering their nose as if I’d turned into an odorous animal myself.

Well, not if you keep them clean. I’m not talking about farm pigs. Unwashed, everything is dirty: cats, dogs, kids. Pigs are not stupid too. They are thought to have intelligence comparable to that of a 3-year old human child. No offence, but a pet pig can be cleaner and is probably smarter than your infant, while being equally lovely.

I bet most people will find their heart warmed when they see the smile of a pig (yes they do smile), except of course these humanoid monsters in South Korea.

It all started with an article I read in Reader’s Digest. It told the story of a pig living with a family in a farm, a pig which “watched TV with the boy while sitting on the couch and gobbling up ice-cream”. I’ve wanted a pet pig ever since.

When the pig died of heart disease (too much ice-cream perhaps?), the boy put it this way: “Its heart was filled with so much love that it bursted.”

That brings me to one important reason that has prevented me from having a pet. You see having a shorter lifespan a pet inevitably dies before we do. I must admit I want to avoid having to confront the sadness and grief that come with its departure.

If its heart explodes, mine is caught in the blast too.

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So you think your English is good?

Nury Vittachi, one of my favorite columnists and humorists, explains why you can never speak a language well if you only learn it from books:

I’m 100% sure similar things will happen to me too if I ever go to a native English speaking country.

And I wonder what never-used expressions are taught by Chinese textbooks in other countries?

A future infrastructure tycoon?

Much has been written about the bizarre English names that some Hong Kong people have chosen, but yesterday I came across a Pizza Hut waiter whose first name almost made the likes of Yuki, Strawberry and Happy seem perfectly normal.

He called himself “Highway”.

And no, his last name wasn’t “Man”.

要衰趁早

以下一段摘自《經濟學人》2008年12月的一篇報導

FAIL fast, fail early” is a management mantra in many industries. Identify the projects that will not pay off quickly, and the costs of failure are capped. Banks have developed their own version of this rule—“fail completely, fail catastrophically”—but one of the earliest victims of the crisis may yet be among the first to recover.

這篇文章探討瑞銀(UBS)如何收拾金融海嘯的殘局。文首的「Fail fast, fail early」是一句格言,意思是及早發現問題,便可以盡快補救,為時未晚。後面說這句話到了那些大銀行裏,卻演變出另一版本:「fail completely, fail catastrophically」(一敗塗地),當然不是真的格言,只是作者在挖苦銀行而已。貪玩的我,忍不住拿這兩句來試譯。

翻譯這兩句話,關鍵在於第二句念起來必須跟第一句接近,以達到結構相似,用意迴異的效果。拙譯如下:

Fail fast, fail early:失敗時尚早,補牢猶未晚。

Fail completely, fail catastrophically:失敗得徹底,下場很悽慘。

翻譯是很勞神,很用腦的,要懂得捉摸字裏行間隱晦的意思、作者的語氣、原文譯文的文化差異,還要考慮譯文的用途、讀者的背景等等。這些主觀感性的思考,電腦是做不來的。可惜現在還有人胡說會查字典就懂得翻譯,又斷言終有一日電腦會完全取代翻譯。真有這麼一天的話,人唯一的優勢-思考能力-也沒有了,恐怕要淪為地球上的廢物了。

福建炒飯

到大嶼山,又經過逸東邨的話,不妨一試好悅茶餐廳的福建炒飯:

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熱騰騰,用料十足,蝦和雞粒都很新鮮,配奶茶一流!可惜份量較小,如果是遠足一整天後,可能要吃兩碟才夠。

揚州沒有揚州炒飯,萄國雞非萄人所創,法式西多不是法菜,據說福建也沒有這種炒飯的。

Dumping ground

The economy is in terrible shape. People in the financial industry are grudgy as deals run dry and investments get wrecked.

I suspect someone has recently been using my company’s washroom as a favorite place for dumping all these negative emotions, in addition to other things that usually get dumped there.

Make sure you’re not about to have, having or right after a meal before you read on…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, you’ve been warned.

I’ve recently witnessed the following aftermaths of vandalistic acts:

  • Heaps of toilet paper clogging the drainage;
  • Used toilet paper scattered on the floor (yes, USED, with visible brown stain!!!);
  • A pool of urine on the floor, too large to have been caused by unintentionally missed aim;
  • And of course the classic you-know-what floating in the toilet. Either the flush was broken or someone didn’t care to flush. I pushed the button and the flush worked perfectly.

I thought I’d seen the worst until this morning, when I spotted brown smear marks on the rim of a toilet seat (and yes, I had just finished my breakfast).

I have no idea who did them.

Needless to say the janitor wasn’t pleased. I heard him cursing – the grudge infected him, and we know grudge snowballs everytime it gets passed on.

Emotion is just like litter. Dump it wantonly and you end up polluting the very environment you’re in. It’s a vicious cycle.

鬼上身

今期《經濟學人》有一篇講滙豐供股的文章,裏面有以下一段:

… Under the temporary grip of an evil spell in 2003 they bought Household, an American consumer-credit firm that then haemorrhaged losses. On March 2nd they snapped out of it. HSBC’s chairman acknowledged that it was “an acquisition we wish we had not undertaken”, wrote off its cost and promised to run down its book of dodgy loans. Having opened its heart, HSBC felt able to lower its dividend and raise its core tier-one capital ratio to 8.5%, above those of JPMorgan Chase (6.4%) and Santander (7.2%), two more of the Western world’s biggest banks also vying for the title of the safest one.

這裏說,素來以穩健見稱的大笨象,當年決定買Household是「under the temporary grip of an evil spell」,即中了魔咒是也。在廣東話裏,糊裡糊塗、不知怎地做了錯誤的決定,叫作「鬼上身」,傳神之極,想不到英語也有類似講法。開卷有益,又得一寶,以後翻譯可派上用場。

看下去,同段說Household「haemorrhaged losses」(像內出血般虧損),也是神來之筆,比起用到厭的甚麼「sustained heavy/substantial/significant losses」云云,生動得多了!

又,最尾說摩根大通、西班牙Santander銀行與滙豐「vying for the title of the safest one」,即爭做最穩陣的銀行。想當年好境之時,大行爭相拼命借錢、擴張,譏笑穩健的滙豐過份保守,現在反而以安全為尚。輕輕一句,金融危機下市場的慘況不言自明。

百年老牌刊物《經濟學人》的英文水平一流,我等賣字之人多讀有益,有機會再跟大家分享。

觀霧有感

香港這幾天濃霧彌漫,摩天大廈都在霧中「沒頂」。從維港旁遠望,盡是白茫茫的一團,無邊無際,仿如置身天涯海角。

濃霧雖然令交通諸多不便,卻為香港帶來一份難得的美感。

重重雲霧盈繞於高山大廈之間,如同中國山水畫之「留白」。「留白」是甚麼?國畫著重意境,不會甚麼也「畫出腸」,留下一片虛白,意在形外,讓賞畫的人自行想像那後面的風光。要知道想像往往都是美好的。

所謂「眼不見為淨」,香港雜亂擠迫的市容看得叫人心煩,現在都隱沒在霧中,就像把一干雜物都堆到床底下。霧裏觀港,視野雖然受阻,空間感反而大大開闊,正好收洗滌心靈之效。

香港寸金呎土,每點空間都非填滿不可。我們每天上下班要迫車,工作要困在焗促的辦公室,午飯要迫人爭位,回到家也是老少上下擠在數百呎的小單位。各種資訊無孔不入,強佔每一寸感官空間,連坐巴士也不斷有廣告叫你訂購這個、下載那樣。時間表也是排得滿滿的,工作以外還有多少私人時間?最可怕的是心靈無法放鬆,小小年紀便要爭入名校,煩腦如何培養「競爭力」,長大後憂事業、置業、育兒等更不用說了。別說停下來思索人生意義等大哲理,就連讓心靈稍作休息也難有機會。

香港生活之無奈,正在於難有「留白」之餘地。既然如此,難得天公造美,看看霧,讓自己的心舒服一下,也是好的。

後記:香港地鐵的廣播可謂「不留白」的典型。甫進車站,先是叫你不得行乞,然後警告你不准飲食,入閘後提示你月台兩端較容易上車,列車到了要小心空隙,關車門時不要衝門,上了車後要盡量向裏面走,快到站時要緊握扶手,下了車問你有沒有大型行李,有的話要用升降機,下雨天的話還加一句小心地面濕滑。這些nanny nagging本身已經夠煩了,還要每句用三種語言講三次!在地鐵站想有一刻耳根清靜?妄想!