Wednesday, December 30, 2009






From: V
To: hugozeng

Sent: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 5:49 PM
Subject: I have something to say.

Dear professor:
“Probably”,“I can't really remember. ”and“I'm not very sure. ”I heard those phrases repeating over and over again by you in just 2 hours. I have learned“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”And now you are teaching your students by telling them something that you can't even be positive of. You don’t think online dictionaries and Wiki were built for nothing, don’t you? Undoubtedly, it’s my job to find the further information of those vocabularies. But I am certain that proving what teacher had said in the class is authoritative is not on my agenda.
By the way, You translated “Stoic” into “逆來順受” which is more like a phrase to describe slavery system. And Abraham Lincoln will disapprove he had freed the people who were “Seemingly indifferent to or unaffected by pleasure or pain; impassive.”

V, a cynical sophomore.

From: hugozeng
To: V
Subject: Re: I have something to say.
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 2009 21:09:00 +0800

Dear V:

Thanks for your comments.

In response to your question about my translation of "stoic," please take a quick look at the following definitions from two well-known monolingual English learner's dictionaries:

(1) someone who does not show their emotions and does not complain when bad things happen to them (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 5th edition, 2009)

(2) a person who is able to suffer pain or trouble without complaining or showing what they are feeling (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 7th edition, 2005)

I don't agree with your interpretation of "逆來順受." According to《重編國語辭典修訂本》(R.O.C. Ministry of Education, retrieved December 29, 2009), this phrase means "以順從的態度接受惡劣環境或不合理待遇," which, if not synonymous with, is semantically close to "stoic." In spite of this, if you find a better alternative, please don't hesitate to let me know.

By the way, if you are looking for absolute answers, I'm afraid you're probably in the wrong class. There may be different answers to the same question, depending on how you approach it. Also, I am human, and I wasn't born omniscient. Sorry again.

You're being critical. And to be honest with you, it hurts. I'd appreciate it if you could do it otherwise.


From: V
To: hugozeng

Sent: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 10:15 PM
Subject: RE: I have something to say.

Dear professor:

Maybe I didn't make my first paragraph clear enough. You introduce vocabularies and you often say you can't really remember or not be sure of the fundamental history information behind them. (This kind of situation happened at least 5 times yesterday. I got tired of counting them.) If you can't remember it, and why did you bring it up to confuse students? Writing down a few lines showed on the online dictionary pages on a scrap you could bring to class couldn't be that hard, right? I do appreciate that the information you provide. But it will be better if you don't provide the information with a few loopholes in it. It makes me start questioning your proficiency and authority.
To make you feel better, I was thrilled when I could read the New York Times articles without looking up for the words like jovial, behemoth and Sword of Damocles. And I am thankful for the whole stoic explanation. I am sorry and I shouldn't have come to the conclusion so fast.



Dear V:

In the first place, some etymologies can be unknown or obscure, some are controversial, and still some others are complex. Not every question deserves a quick and definite answer. The more you know, the humbler you feel.

I'm afraid you appear judgmental and patronizing. To be perfectly blunt, I find you rude, and I don't like it.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009






一進門,我就開始構思新的春聯。還沒幫自己想,腦子裡轉的淨是上海準新娘家的。我想起了〈孔雀東南飛〉的 "君當作磐石,妾當作蒲葦;蒲葦紉如絲,磐石無轉移",嚮往字裡行間透露出的那種傳統堅貞的愛情,於是加以改編,寫下了 "君作磐石妾蒲葦‧蒲葦如絲磐石堅"。至於橫批,我則改編了《詩經‧邶風‧擊鼓》的 "執子之手,與子偕老",濃縮為 "執手偕老"。


想討個吉利,便朝著喜氣洋洋的方向來琢磨。我放棄用典,一下就想出了 "喜迎上海新春暖洋洋‧笑納台北女婿樂陶陶‧兩岸一家親"。傳給伊人和把她視若己出的姑媽,她們都樂得合不攏嘴。

至於定居在南京的準岳父岳母,我用名字 "泰元" 作引,把二老和未來的女婿串起來,以泰山的高聳呼應蒼穹的遼闊,以泰水的滋潤呼應大地的富饒:"泰山巖巖泰水澤‧元天浩浩元地博‧迎春納喜"。這幅春聯大氣十足,據聞深得二老歡喜,還要求自己的閨女給我對個對子。


Sunday, December 27, 2009



這本《大過虎年》收錄了 12 大張吉祥的年畫,有門神秦瓊、門神尉遲敬德、五福圖、蹲虎、當朝一品、布老虎、十團花、虎文化圖錄、剪虎百圖、八團花、景陽崗武松打虎、缸魚圖。

我出生於虎尾,成長於虎尾,兒時老家的對面就是虎中 (舊的虎尾高中,現為虎尾科技大學的一部份。新的虎尾高中已與虎尾女中合併,用的是虎女的校址),因此對於「虎」有著一種莫名的親切感。「虎」的文化意象根深枝蔓,給了我們豐富的成語、俗語、典故,翻開 12 大冊的《漢語大詞典》,「虎」這個字頭加上多字副詞條就有滿滿的 10 頁。更令我驚奇的是,虎尾、虎中、虎女這 3 個我生命中的專有名詞,根據《漢語大詞典》的記載,竟也是有典有故的普通名詞:

【虎尾】 比喻危險的境地。《易‧履》:"履虎尾,不咥人,亨。" 《書‧君牙》: "心之憂危,若蹈虎尾,涉於春冰"……
【虎中】 古代射禮用具名。刻木為伏虎形,鑿其背為口,行射禮時納筭籌於其中,用以計數。中,盛算籌之器。《儀禮‧鄉射禮》:"君射……於竟,則虎中、龍旜。"
【虎女】 對女子的美稱。謂女子傑出,有英武之氣。《三國演義》第七三回:"雲長勃然大怒曰:'吾虎女安肯嫁犬子乎!'"


Thursday, December 24, 2009


日前旁聽我英語構詞法的 Stanley 又給我送來了 "束脩",讓我喜出望外。


而 Stanley,他陸續旁聽了我多門課,不只有始有終,兢兢業業,課中課後還提出問題,發表見解,讓我更加確認了老師存在的價值,也多了一種教學相長的喜悅。

這份 2010 年的月曆《南宋冊頁選萃》由台北故宮出版,是 Stanley 專門為我古色古香的不知漢齋所挑選的。多巧,一月份李嵩的〈花籃〉,正好給我上海的新娘來提。


Tuesday, December 22, 2009


今年日間部的英語詞彙學排在晚上的 AB 堂 (6:25~8:10),是個公認 "不好" 的時段,本以為修課人數會大幅滑落,想不到竟也有百人之譜。基於過去的經驗,總有同學修課前認識不清,過了學期中才後悔放棄,因此這幾年網路上的授課大綱都明載提醒,開學第一天我又強調再三,讓有意修課者能清楚課程的目標與課堂的要求,不要在迷糊中就選了我的課。


然而我不願見到的情況還是發生了。英一A 原本有 18 個同學修我的課,期中考就有 10 個缺考,而今年恢復了多年前的期末退修制度,所以這陣子他們都來找我簽名同意。我開學講了七彩光譜的比喻,他們看來已經先分出去了,令人遺憾。

但我一直很好奇,英一B 和英一C 這兩個班都沒有這種現象啊,為什麼英一A有一半以上的修課同學卻選擇中途退出?今天傍晚我趁簽名的機會問了一個當事人,到底是什麼原因。他倒也坦率,說某個外籍老師看到他們在背我教的飲食詞彙,同學問他有沒有用,這位老師說,對想當廚師的人或許有些用,但連他自己有些都不認得 (我可以想見他一貫 cynical 的態度)。聞畢,這位同學有了自己的解讀,加上碰到了一些適應上的問題,於是在開學後沒多久便結伴做了這樣的決定。

我當時的心情只能用 upset 來形容。

這位老師主觀性過強,在有限的資訊下就做出了判斷,給同學暗示了我的英語詞彙學是一門沒什麼用的科目,左右了他們的判斷。我真正在意的不是同學,不是退修這件事,而是這位老師的態度與作法。不管他對我的瞭解有多少,但我一直都不覺得在課堂上質疑其他老師的專業 (研究、教學) 是件厚道的事。


Sunday, December 20, 2009



耶誕節即將來臨,我想到了一首絕美的經文歌 (motet)。我雖不是教徒,但在純淨的無伴奏 (a cappella) 複音 (polyphonic) 樂聲中,對照著《詩篇》(Psalms) 51 篇的經文,我的心靈,彷彿也得到了洗滌……

Excerpted from Miserere mei, Deus
(Have mercy on me, O God)
Composed by Gregori Allegri (1582 – 1652)
Sung by Westminster Cathedral Choir

Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
(Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness)
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.
(According to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offences.)
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea: et a peccato meo munda me.
(Wash me throughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin.)
Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco: et peccatum meum contra me est semper.
(For I acknowledge my faults: and my sin is ever before me.)
Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci: ut iustificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum iudicaris.
(Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.)
Ecce enim in inquitatibus conceptus sum: et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.
(Behold, I was shapen in wickedness: and in sin hath my mother conceived me.)
Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti: incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.
(But lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.)
Asperges me, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
(Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.)
Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam: et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.
(Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness: that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

姑媽是甲子年生人 ── 從 decade(s) 的爭議談起


What did you say? 莫名其妙,這是什麼菜中文!

如果你的反應跟我當初一樣,那不足為奇,因為我們大多數可能都沒聽過這種說法。不過根據教育部《重編國語辭典修訂本》(網路版,檢索日 2009/12/17) 所載,"生人" 有 4 個定義:①活人。……②人民。……③不認識的人。……④生下來的時候或地方。如:「天津生人」、「甲子年生人」。北京商務印書館出版的《現代漢語詞典》第 5 版 (2005) 也加以呼應,"生人" 意為:① (人) 出生:他 1949 年生人。②不認識的人 (跟 "熟人" 相對):孩子怕見生人。如果你還質疑詞典定義食古不化,信誓旦旦地辯稱這種用法現在不存在,不妨鍵入 "年生人",網路搜尋引擎立即跳出千萬筆的資料,做為活生生的佐證。


近日媒體大篇幅報導一個英文的爭議,甚至還演變成政治問題。馬英九總統接受《華爾街日報》專訪,提到大陸方面對於兩岸統一的期待,端賴未來 "數十年" (decades) 的發展而定。《華爾街日報》將之刊為未來 "十年" (decade),引發國內的軒然大波,總統府澄清是該報記者之誤,馬英九講的乃是複數的 decades。立委蔡同榮召開記者會,當起英文老師,強調 decade 絕對沒有複數的用法,並批評馬英九英文有問題還硬拗撒謊……

我們翻開英語學習詞典的 6 大天王 (牛津、朗文、柯伯、劍橋、麥克米倫、韋氏,依第一版問世的先後排序),除了牛津之外,另 5 本都明明白白給 decade 這個詞標上可數名詞的標記,並以摘自語料庫的例句為佐證。上網一搜,decades 的用法也無所不在。蔡立委的說法明顯站不住腳,而他竟有如此的勇氣大張旗鼓,這樣地信心滿滿,令人費解。

馬英九的 in the next decades "未來數十年" 應該是站得住腳的,否則以《華爾街日報》這樣嚴謹有聲望的媒體,或不至於在審視過後還刊出錯誤的英文。若是報社覺得英文有問題而又必須原文重現的話,理當會在其後加個 sic "原文如此" 以撇清責任才是。

當然,許多人直覺上應該都會認為 in the next decades 有點怪,若能在 decades 前加一個 few 變成 in the next few decades,似乎更順更清楚。柯伯 (2006) 光碟裡有個龐大的語料庫,光是 decade(s) 就收了 340 條例句!而其中有 2 條 next few decades,卻查無 next decades。鍵入複數的 next decades,跳出的卻是 12 條單數 next decade 的例句。我加了雙引號上英文版的 Google 簡單一查,陽春版的 "in the next decades" 竟也有 136 萬筆資料!若以修正版的 "in the next few decades" 去查,則出現了 518 萬筆資料 (檢索日 2009/12/17),為陽春版的近 4 倍之多。由此可證,陽春版、修正版兩者皆可,但加了 few 的修正版看來似乎更為常用。


Tuesday, December 15, 2009




整場婚禮完全由新人的創意主導,雙方家長隱形,退居為主桌的貴賓。新娘 Flora 星光閃耀,獨自進場;新郎則佇立前方,吹奏長笛,浪漫相迎。中途新人換裝,對唱情歌款款入場,令人一新耳目。本以為接下來逐桌敬酒的橋段即將上演,想不到就在此時,新郎新娘拿起了麥克風,捨棄了傳統的蜻蜓點水,在台上真摯地逐一感謝各桌親友師長。感性的郁彬,講著講著,竟淚光閃閃。我雖是旁觀者,但也為之動容,濕了眼眶。



Thursday, December 10, 2009




Tuesday, December 08, 2009


我常跟學生說 "Be a little different!"。芸芸眾生,相異者幾稀!穿一樣的衣,蹬一樣的鞋,背一樣的包,上一樣的課,迷一樣的人,痴一樣的事,瘋一樣的物。難得有空間可以稍微展現小異,過點不一樣的人生,當盡力把握機會才是,何苦還一窩蜂地奔向熱門,擁抱大同?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost 這首膾炙人口的詩,少時讀來,以為自己都懂了。年歲漸長,經歷了些事,本也無暇、無意多加思考。可在驀然回首之際,突覺心境澄明,絲絲縷縷,對詩中看似簡單的哲理,卻又有了另一層的體會。





Friday, December 04, 2009



我從永和搬到景美已經快 7 年了。離婚近 3 年以來,為了共同照顧大容,我的居住問題顯得有些尷尬。這個學期開學前,醞釀多時的好事已然底定,因此我決定在適當的時機搬回永和。

新居開工在即,7 年前遷出時沒帶走的雜物我本想一了百了,就讓工人當垃圾清掉,但在我媽的提醒催促下還是跑了兩趟。在成捆的信札中,在成堆的照片裡,我竟發現了我國三的一張測驗紙。一看到這張泛黃墨散的 "修訂句子完成測驗",我立刻就停了下來,記憶馬上把我拉回多年前板橋海山國中的 3 年 19 班,那段升高中前煎熬的日子。

我國三才從雲林虎尾的崇德國中轉學到海山,下學期導師就「提拔」我當班長。我們正當 15 歲青澀的年紀,面對著龐大的升學壓力,導師愛之深責之切,經常因同學的表現未達期待而大發脾氣,而我這個班長就要請學藝股長作陪,一起向氣回辦公室的導師道歉安撫。這張 "修訂句子完成測驗" 有 51 條,我一逮著機會就拿此事做文章,竟一共寫了 7 條!還好導師幽默以對,促成了師生間有趣的對話。


6. 男孩子們總喜歡英雄救美。 [師云:有理!但英雄難過美人關!要小心!]
15. 我覺得女孩子應該文雅嫻靜一點,不要太三八。
20. 將來我希望有一個能幹的太太,整天煮好吃的東西給我吃。 [師云:外國人說:「看住你丈夫的胃」,小心你被養胖而走不出去外面「發展」]
35. 要是我有一個女朋友就好了,可是我一直都沒有。 [師云:以前不是有嗎?]
36. 大部分的女孩都很可愛,很令人喜歡。 [師云:你是大眾情人]



Thursday, December 03, 2009



古都的景致配上悠揚的國樂,相得益彰,令人陶醉,不過更令我感動的是裡頭的配樂。我去年 6 月遊北京時初聞此樂,北海公園湖畔的笛聲,悠揚深遠,引我駐足。這次於南京再度邂逅,讓我對樂曲背後所代表的意涵境界嚮往不已。


Tuesday, December 01, 2009





薺菜的英文是 shepherd's-purse "牧羊人的錢包",我品嚐著這一顆顆寶貝的 "錢包",遙想著沐浴在牧羊人的照料之下,口中的餃子,其甘如薺。