越光米

某連鎖超市的壽司櫃枱,有以下廣告:

中文:為了帶出壽司最佳口感,本專櫃轉用較佳質量之越光米

英文:In order to enhance the best taste of Sushi, our counter has used the highest quality of Yue-Guang Rice

英文翻譯文句不通,自不必說。這次要談的,是「越光米」的譯法。

凡翻譯之前,都必須先了解原文的用途,和要達到的效果。這則廣告,無疑是標榜該店採用優質日本米種,用日本米製作日本菜,以「和味」作招徠也。

既然如此,「越光米」應該以其日語原文的拼音翻譯,即koshihikari rice。譯成普通話拼音yue-guang,有何「和味」可言?

一般老外食客,未必懂得甚麼是koshihikari rice,不過見到yue-guang,肯定不會聯想到日本米。換言之,宣傳效果盡失。

除非,該店的「越光米」不是正式日本越光米種,不便稱為koshihikari。

超市職員並非賣字之人,不應苛求其語文水平。英文寫得不好,尚情有可原。可是把「越光米」譯成yue-guang,卻反映其common sense不足。這,才是最大問題。

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Episodic dream

Have you ever had dreams which are connected like episodes in a mini-series?

Yesterday, during my afternoon nap, I dreamed of myself being kidnapped in a shopping mall. Turned out my takers were a crime syndicate which kidnap women and sell them for prostitution. I wasn’t cross-dressing in the dream, nor do I have any secret desire to do so in real life, if that’s what you’re thinking. The reason for my involvement was not explained at all. In fact, by the time of writing, these are all I remember about the dream.

The story continued during my slumber last night. This time, me and another male captive managed to escape. How we did this was forgotten, but eventually we were rescued by a police squad conducting a massive raid on the kidnappers’ HQ. Next thing I knew, I was in the police van with several officers. The higher-ranking one, a petit woman resembling a particularly sinister-looking person I knew in university, aroused suspicion about her real identity by mispronouncing “prostitute”. We were then taken back to the same mall to “reconstruct” our capture. Suddenly my “co-captive” pushed me to the floor, saying he saw someone’s head shot to pieces by sniper fire. We hid behind the sofa of a Pacific Coffee outlet, when a not-so-bright waitress came and asked if we want anything. With great exasperation, we convinced her to leave us alone before her action exposes us. Then we moved behind a folding screen. The screen had little square holes on it, so it wasn’t the perfect concealment. Hearing ominous footsteps of someone approaching, I peeked out of the small holes, and the dream ended in a cliffhanger.

It was as intense as watching an episode of 24, and was probably why I woke up this morning with a splitting headache.

Is she gone, or is she mine?

The first time I heard Bee Gees’ First of May, four lines of the lyrics left a strong impression:

The apple tree that grew for you and me,
I watched the apples falling one by one.
And as I recall the moment of them all,
the day I kissed your cheek and you were gone.

I immediately pictured a scene in which a girl (because the singer was male), who’s been struggling against some terminal illness for many years, finally passes away in her lover’s embrace after one last goodbye kiss. I found “apples falling one by one” a strong hint of death.

But recently I heard another version of the lyrics. Only one word is changed but the story implied becomes very different:

The apple tree that grew for you and me,
I watched the apples falling one by one.
And as I recall the moment of them all,
the day I kissed your cheek and you were mine.

This is a much happier story, now that the lovers are finally together. Still, a darker interpretation is possible: the departure of the girl seals their relationship forever in time and, in that sense, she is truly (and forever) his. Nevertheless, this joyous interpretation is at odds with the rest of the sad lyrics which suggest they once had a happy time, but it’s all over now. Perhaps the girl didn’t die but left with another man, as hinted by the line “Someone else moved in from far away”. But it’s also possible that “someone else” refers to Death himself.

What I want to know most is which version is the original. Note that this song was released in the 1960s, when there was no central source of lyrics which everyone could refer to (i.e. the internet). It’s possible that misheard lyrics were circulated and popularised. But how could anyone confuse “gone” with “mine”, since they don’t sound similar at all? Maybe this someone subconsciously found the story too depressing and, despite having heard “gone”, remembered “mine”.

Update: An attempt to find the canonical version raised more questions than answered. I watched through several youtube footages of Bee Gee’s performance of the song and most are of the “gone” version. Note that the song was later featured in the 1971 film “Melody” and the version used in the film was also “gone”. In one movie forum, however, a poster said “mine” was the Bee Gees version and “gone” was the Sarah Brightman version.

But more interestingly, during the search I came across many more different interpretations. “The day I kissed your cheek and you were gone” can simply mean a girl running away after being kissed, perhaps out of modesty or embarassment, but not a rejection. In other words, a sweet scene of innocent puppy love. I don’t know why I had instinctively jumped to the darker interpretation of death. Also, Barry Gibb, one of the Bee Gees, had said “first of May” was the birthday of their dog Barnaby, and the song was written in its honour. Please also read t’s view from the rhyming perspective in the comments section.

Seeing and observing

The desire to travel to some faraway countries is growing in me faster than my body fat ratio. The route I have in mind is Prague – Vienna – Salzburg & Hallstatt – Munich.

Hallstatt. Image from Wikipedia

I still have fond memories of my week in London last June, but in retrospect I feel I might have rushed a bit. Before the trip I told myself to slow down but once there, I found myself dashing from one attraction to another as the “this museum, check; that monument, check” mentality took over (but then, there was so much to see and do in London). It was my first solo trip so I might have overplanned, even down to the number of hours to spend at each attraction.

In short, I forgot to relax. I saw, but I didn’t really observe.

That’s why for the next trip, if it materialises, I’m going to leave a few blank days on the itinerary to allow some room for serendipity. I can also foresee my itinerary to be less museum-heavy because I want to spend more time out there on the streets, to observe the everyday life of the places I visit. This can be as simple as wandering aimless for a couple of hours, punctuated by brief stops at cafes where I can watch the people come and go, while jotting down my observations when they are still fresh. The point is to really pay attention to little things so that, when I come back, I’ll have more stories to tell beyond what people can already learn from guidebooks.

Dream House

這一篇雖然與睡夢無關,但仍然放在Dream Journal,因為論古怪程度,此白日夢比夜夢有過之而無不及。

大學上德文課時,有一篇功課叫Mein Traumhaus,即My Dream House。但礙於德文水平不足,只能觸及皮毛。現在把當年的構思原原本本寫出來。

先從位置說起。這座dream house,位於大西洋正中的一座島上。為甚麼是大西洋正中?第一,是要有真正的「無敵」海景。第二,是要觀賞連郵輪也可以打翻、比燈塔還高的十級巨浪。不過,整座房屋有像Star Trek裏的force shield罩住,即使巨浪近在眼前,房子也絲毫無損。

當然,這完全沒有考慮技術上是否可行。反正只是想像而已。下同。

外觀方面,我很喜歡中式園林的高低起伏、亭台樓閣、小橋流水,但又想要現代建築的簡單線條和舒適。據我所知,能結合兩家之長的,只有美國建築師Frank Lloyd Wright的Fallingwater:

不過在我的dream house裏,Fallingwater不是隱沒在樹林中,而是「坎」入島內。其實,這個島說是一塊有樹木生長的巨石更貼切。想像一下,Fallingwater與巨石「溶」在一起,只有露台、窗門等部份外露,室內空間則多數鑿空巨石而成,好像整座建築物本來就是巨石的一部份,應該可以得出個梗概。

浴室不在室內。小島「岸」邊的一組頁岩(shale),圍成一個小池,形成天然浴池。裏面的水與海水分隔,有恒溫裝置。在裏面浸浴,感覺就像浮沉於大海。零感來自東坪洲的頁岩景觀:

不過最古怪的部份,在水底。

水底是書房。為何書房要「潛水」?第一,夠靜。第二,可以邊工作邊觀魚。

整個水底部份是個巨大的玻璃球,球的中央便是書房,有樓梯與水上部份連接,不過沒有天花板和牆壁,可直接透過玻璃觀賞水底生態。這部份就像電燈泡,書房就在鎢絲的位置。

在水底要長期靠電燈照明,房間裝有潮汐發電機,有取之不盡的能源。除了主照明外,最特別的,是有一個能夠吸引發光魚類的裝置。只需一按鈕,數以百計的發光魚便會圍在玻璃球四周,如螢火蟲飛舞,增添氣氛。

看到這裹,你也許會問,居於如此isolated的住所,如何上班、購物、交際?不過,倘若有朝一日人類能造出此等建築,則科技定必相當發達,teleporting技術可能己經十分成熟,甚至乎不再需要交通工具。

其實,有海上居所的構想,都是因為小時候看了這則廣告:

Petrichor

Petrichor一詞相當少見,是由希臘文petros(石頭)和ichor(希臘神話中眾神的血液)組成,指雨水落在乾燥泥土上所產生的幽香。

很喜歡雨後的氣味,尤其是在寒冷天,那略帶泥土氣息和草味的清香,伴隨冷風鑽入鼻孔,沁人心脾,精神一振。不知這是否就是petrichor。

別人大多喜歡晴天,但我更好陰天,最好是帶點寒意(10-12度)和毛毛細雨。有人問,這樣陰濕濕的,不難受嗎。不要叫陰濕濕好不好?改叫細雨濛濛,豈非優美得多?

也有喜歡陽光普照的時候,就是在攝影時,不過這純綷是技術原因,與美感無關。就算拍了光線充足的照片,也會用電腦轉成黑白。你說是不是很變態?

的確,有人說這反映我心境陰暗。錯了。

每當天空灰濛濛,天地一片素色,心境便特別平靜。我受不了太多顏色,總覺五彩繽紛太overwhelming。而濕冷天氣則令感官特別敏銳,頭腦也轉得更快。加之地面積水如鏡,照出矇矓幻影,更添美感。孩童時遇見積水,曾以為倒影下另有世界,路過時總小心翼翼,就是怕失足跌入,一去不回。

真係,細細個就唔多正常。

話說回來,「細雨濛濛」也得看甚麼地方。只有在杭州西湖、上海舊街、streets of London、rues de Paris等,還有港大本部大樓的迴廊之間,才有味道。旺角鬧市則千萬不可,因為你不知道落在頭頂的是雨絲,還是樓上冷氣機廁所渠內衣褲的滴水。

其實說了這麼多,全部跟petrichor無關,都是些雜亂的聯想而已。糊糊混混,又湊成一篇。