Snails in the park

The rainy season has come, and the snails have once again colonized the park.


Being nocturnal creatures they only come out after dark. They hide under the shades of leaves in daytime, when there are more predators.

The night, however, isn’t safer. In dim light, crossing path with their primate neighbors at sluggish speed is suicidal, and the consequences are often rather messy.

There are so many of them that, in some places, I have to tip-toe my way through.

Where did they come from? Did the wind carry the eggs to the park? Have they been living nearby before the place is built?

I remember reading about a fictional experiment in which someone dug a pool and filled it with water. The pool was not in any way connected to any waterbody. Yet, some time later, fishes started growing in the pool! The explanation he gave was somewhere along the lines of “Life will find its way”, which is what Jeff Goldblum’s character said in The Jurassic Park.

It’s tragic that sometimes, like those crushed snails, life finds its way to death.






昨午梁錦濠先指陳振聰「馬後炮」,傳譯員將此翻譯作「comment in hindsight」,資深大律師張健利先「出手」,認為是「retrospective comment」,此時法官林文瀚亦加入「戰團」,提出混入拉丁字首、意為「事後合理化」的ex post facto rationalization更見適合,一下子法庭變成語文切磋場地。

豈料,梁再指入獄一事「米已成飯」,傳譯員譯為「rice fully cooked」時,全場外籍人士一臉疑團,但其他人就捧腹大笑,歇後語盡顯文化差異。由英國來港的御用大律師Ian Mill雖未能意會,似乎亦感受到氣氛,即使出英式俚語,問梁錦濠「Don’t you think Tony Chan led you up the garden path?」,意指陳誤導他。

但梁錦濠的港式「笑話」並未就此完結,他指再次相信陳振聰辦保釋的心情,猶如「生仔姑娘醉酒佬」,今次在場人士對此話何解知者寥寥,法官即向Ian Mill表明愛莫能助:「In this case I can’t help you.」林官幽默再次引來笑聲,傳譯員亦只能從梁口中領略真正意思,原來是指「唔要又要」,對事件感後悔,但又要做。

其實我倒覺得「comment in hindsight」譯得比「retrospective comment」好一點。Hindsight起碼能夠帶出「後知後覺」的意味,而retrospective好像純綷交代時間上的關係。至於法官的譯法,我覺得較接近「自圓其說」的意思。不過,那句「馬後炮」到底是指「後知後覺」,還是「自圓其說」,抑或另有所指,還是要看上文下理才能了解。


至於「rice fully cooked」就太直譯了,不懂中文的人聽了肯定一頭霧水,或許是傳譯員在電光火石間想不出對策吧。我第一時間想到的是「irreversible」。「What is done cannot be undone」應該也可以。

Annoying but frequently used oxymorons

1. Brief details (variants: detailed summary, concise elaboration):

This is a thorough summary of the reasons why expressions like these should be deleted on sight.

If they are brief, they are not details.

2. Accelerating slowdown:

For example: “China’s economic slowdown is accelerating” or “CPI inflation slowed down at an accelerating pace in the first six months of…” It wouldn’t surprise me if sentences like these start appearing in future: “The car’s acceleration in deceleration decelerated when it went from 100 mph to 90, 50, 45 and then 44.”

It is clearer to say “the slowdown is intensifying”.

3. Negative growth:

This garbage term is favored by corporations as a pathetic attempt to masquerade losses. Investors are not stupid (I mean, not THAT stupid). “Negative growth” doesn’t sound any way better than “decrease”, and is grossly overused. It’s about as clever as a bald man saying he has reverse hair growth. I bet he also wants to age negatively.

Use expressions like these with caution (read: avoid). The word “oxymoron” ends with “moron” for good reason.