又中又英|On a wing and a prayer

2023/09/07 00:27:10 網誌分類: 生活
07 Sep

A newspaper commentary I read recently reminded me of an interesting expression. The expression is “on a wing and a prayer”. Most readers will know the meaning of the word “wing”. It can mean a bird’s wing or the wing of a plane. The word “prayer” comes from the word “pray”. People pray in churches, temples, and mosques. But the expression “on a wing and a prayer” has a different meaning. It means doing something in the hope you will succeed but with very little chance of success. You can say you tried running the marathon on a wing and a prayer.

This means you took part in the marathon even though you knew you would not succeed in completing it. I remembered that expression when I read a commentary in which the writer tweaked the expression. To tweak something means to change it slightly. The writer said “on a whinge and a prayer”. To whinge means to complain repeatedly about something in an annoying way. The writer made up this expression by tweaking the expression “on a wing and a prayer”. He used the word “whinge” to describe a long list of complaints by a politician. He used the word “prayer” to mean that the politician hoped the people he was complaining to would listen to his complaints.

Tweaking idioms to produce a different meaning is not easy but can be fun. People who have spare time can try to do it. I will try on a wing and a prayer and will share it with you if I succeed.

最近讀到一份報章的評論,令我想起一個有趣的習語。那個習語是“on a wing and a prayer”。大多讀者也知道“wing”的意思,它可以指雀鳥的翅膀(wing)或是飛機的機翼(wing)。而“prayer”一字則來源自“pray”。人們會在教堂、廟宇和清真寺禱告祈求(pray)。然而,習語“on a wing and a prayer”卻有不同的意思,它是指做某事時希望能成功,卻只有一絲成功的可能。你可以說,you tried running the marathon on a wing and a prayer。

你這樣說的意思是,你參加了馬拉松比賽,即使你深知自己能成功跑完的機會渺茫。我讀到那篇評論時想起了那個習語,但作者將習語稍為改了(tweaked)。To tweak something 是指輕微調整、改動某事物。該作者說“on a whinge and a prayer”。To whinge是指重重複複、絮絮叨叨地抱怨某事。作者將習語“on a wing and a prayer”稍稍扭(tweaking)了一下,改成這個習語。他用“whinge”一字去形容某位政客長篇大論的抱怨。他用“prayer”一字,是想表明那位政客祈望他抱怨的對象會聽取他的怨言。

將成語稍為改動(tweaking),造成另一個意思,這並不容易,但可以很好玩。有餘暇的人可以試試這樣做。我儘管試試,即使難以成功(on a wing and a prayer),若我真的做到,便會分享給你們看看。

Michael Chugani褚簡寧

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