又中又英
又中又英
又中又英

Small beer

2021/04/20 04:13:14 網誌分類: 生活
20 Apr
          Many Hong Kong people may not know the meaning of "small beer". A Western commentator used it last week when he described the current frosty relations between the US and Russia. He said frosty relations is "small beer" compared to the Cold War between the US-led West and the former Soviet Union. The British expression "small beer" means something or someone that is not important when compared to something or someone else. Even if you have US$10 billion, you are small beer compared to business tycoon Li Ka-shing who has over US$34 billion. A tycoon is a very rich and powerful person. Similar words are "magnate" or "mogul".

          Li Ka-shing is small beer compared to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who has US$180 billion. Most Hong Kong people will know the meaning of "small potatoes". It is the American version of "small beer". The word "frosty", when describing the weather, means very cold with a thin covering of ice. But when describing a person's behaviour, it means cold and unfriendly. The expression "frosty relations" therefore means very unfriendly relations. The US and China now have frosty relations. When the commentator said today's frosty relationship between the US and Russia is small beer compared to the Cold War, he meant the Cold War between the US-led West and the former Soviet Union was far more dangerous and important than the frosty relations today between the US and Russia.

          During the Cold War, both sides lived in fear of a nuclear war. But today, although both sides still fear a nuclear war, they know it will end in mutual assured destruction, which means both sides will be destroyed. The Cantonese expression "laam chow" became popular during the 2019 protests. The protesters used the expression "if we burn, you burn with us" from the Hunger Games movies to say if you destroy us, we will destroy you too. They turned this expression into "laam chow". There is no exact English equivalent of "laam chow" but mutual (both sides) destruction is the closest.

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          許多香港人或許不知道“small beer”的意思。一位西方時評人上星期形容現時美國與俄羅斯之間冷淡的關係(frosty relations)時,就用到了這個詞語。他說,相對於從前以美國為首的西方與前蘇聯的冷戰,現時的冷淡關係(frosty relations)可謂是“small beer”。英式習語“small beer”是指一些人或事,相對於其他的人或事來說,實在微不足道。即使你有一百億美元,但要跟擁有逾三百四十億美元身家的商業巨頭(tycoon)李嘉誠比較,仍然算不了甚麼(small beer)。A tycoon就是非常有錢和有影響力的大亨,類近的字有“magnate”或“mogul”。

          然而,若要跟擁有一千八百億美元的亞馬遜老闆貝索斯相比,李嘉誠也算不了甚麼(small beer)。大部份香港人也知道“small potatoes”的意思,它是指小人物,是“small beer”的美式說法。Frosty用來形容天氣時,是指結霜的嚴寒;但當形容一個人的行為時,則指其冷若冰霜、不友善的。因此習語“frosty relations”即指非常不友好的關係。美國和中國現在也有着結霜的關係(frosty relations)。當那位時評人說,相對於冷戰時期,今天美國跟俄羅斯的冷淡關係(frosty relationship)真是無足輕重(small beer),他的意思是,對比今天美俄之間的冷淡關係(frosty relations),以美國為首的西方跟前蘇聯之間的冷戰,實在要來得危險和重要得多。

          冷戰期間,雙方都活在核戰的驚恐之中;反觀今天,即使雙方都害怕有核戰,他們都知道,一旦爆發核戰,結局只會是「相互保證毁滅」(mutual assured destruction),即同歸於盡,兩邊都會被摧毁。廣東話習語「攬炒」(“laam chow”)在二○一九年示威期間開始流行起來,示威者會用上《飢餓遊戲》電影系列中的一句“if we burn, you burn with us”,去宣告若你要毁滅我,我也會毁滅你。他們將這句說話換成「攬炒」(“laam chow”)一語。「攬炒」(“laam chow”)並沒有完全相對應的英文詞彙,但相互、共同的(mutual)毁滅,意思應該最近似。[email protected]

        中譯:七刻

        Michael Chugani 褚簡寧

        
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