Thursday, May 31, 2007

Declined -- (2)

     It was embarrassing, but I was also angry because my credit line was very high. Just when I was thinking if I should call my credit card company or something, my gf stepped in and said, “It could be those two transactions are too close and your credit card company has some kind of security measure to block it. I’ll pay it with my card.”
     Well, with all the credit card fraud going on lately, it makes sense that my credit card company would enforce this kind of measure, but not when I’m buying stuff! The whole event wasn’t very pleasant, but the clerk didn’t give me any hard time, and on top of it, my gf paid it (I’ll have to pay her back later, of course), so no harm done, I guess.

     As it later turned out, my gf had a similar experience at another store. No wonder she was able to solve it quickly like that (instead of arguing with them). It also explains why the store manager earlier asked me if my credit line was high enough when he was about to void my first transaction. I guess he runs into this kind of dispute quite often and he thinks that the rejection was due to low credit line.

     When we got home and checked my answering machine, I found out my credit card company already left a message and wanted me to call back. I did, followed their automated system, pressed the number to answer “Yes, I recognize the said transaction”, and the block was lifted.

     I can’t say I love this security measure; it works anyway, not on the right person though (which actually makes it bad ). Fortunately, this kind of event should not happen again because I’m a careful buyer and don’t go on shopping sprees…. Wait… I have to put my gf into consideration, well, I’ll just have to bring my other credit card with me next time we’re out.

聖誕樹屋

Christmas Tree Shops,一家不錯的撿便宜店。和building 19比較起來,Christmas Tree Shops店裡頭的擺設就明亮整潔多了。
我第一次看到這家店時以為這是專賣聖誕節日過後的便宜聖誕節用品, 進去一看才知道裏頭賣的東西真的是琳瑯滿目,吃的用的看的穿的甚麼都有,品質的話...是還好,反正便宜嘛,但也未必就沒有好貨。我們一般是隔段時間就去看看有沒有甚麼可以買的(我常常空手出來就是了)。

Declined -- (1)

     "Your credit card is declined," the cashier said it with an "I'm sorry" smile.

*     *     *     *     *     *

     My gf wasn't very happy with her new HP notebook computer. The supposed-to-be-slick design tripped her left and right, and she often complained to me, "The screen went blank again!" (which I later found out she accidentally touched the "suspend" button.)

This morning she saw two great deals on a store ad, and she brought up the same old topic again, so I said to her "How about this. I buy this Toshiba you like. You have it, and I'll use your HP?" I'm just tired of hearing her rants, and I do have a need for a new laptop to replace my old iBook. I do like her HP and I've been doing some comparisons lately, and to be frank, it's really a good deal price-wise and function-wise.

     "Really?" she said it with a big smile on her face. I could almost see twinkles in her eyes.

*     *     *     *     *    *
     When we arrived at the store, there were already three people hovering around the notebook computer section. My gf made her way through them and got a ticket for the computer she desired (she later said it's the last one), gave it to a store associate and he brought back a big box soon after. We brought the computer to the register and I paid it with my credit card.

     On our way out, my gf looked at the store flyer again and she found out the computer came with a free all-in-one printer (after rebate of course).

     "Why do you need another printer? We already have...," I wasn't exactly pleased because we already have three printers sitting around in the house.

     "It's free," she said. Well, I couldn't really argue with that because ink cartridges nowadays often cost more than brand new printers--when they're on sale of course.

     What happened next involved voiding my last credit card transaction and charging everything from scratch again. After the cashier finished scanning all the items and everything, she returned my credit card to me and said “your credit card's declined” with an "I'm sorry" smile.

     “What? How can that be?” it really caught me off guard because it never happened to me before. I was annoyed and upset, but what could I do?

<...to be continued>

House Sold -- (1)

     After a couple counter offers, Mr. L(*1) accepted the buyer's offer, so the only thing left was to sign the contract, but before doing so, he had to complete a list of tasks and requirements set by the buyer:

1. Pass the house inspection
2. Agree to one year of paid pest control
3. Replace roof shingles of a specified part at the front
4. Perform a radon test (paid by buyer, but mitigation, if required, will be paid by seller)

"RADON TEST?! My cousin (also his realtor) didn't tell me that!" Mr. L said to me.


(*1) My landlord, the owner of the house

一代泡沫紅茶之死

"Did you hear? Anna Nicole Smith is dead," 我的roommate特地打電話跟我說。
"Yeah, I just saw it on the net news. I thought it was a joke or something."
稍 後他回來後他提到Anna是"Marilyn Monroe of the 90s". 對於這說法,我的感覺是Marilyn似乎格調高了些,但是我仔細想想,其實我也不是很清楚Marilyn在世時的所有事,也許,她們兩個真的很像吧。


根據我的New Oxford American Dictionary,下列這幾樣相同,可以互換:
bubble tea
pearl tea
boba tea

我的猜測是在美國華人的關係,雖然尚未普及,但是使用頻率已經多到足夠收納到這本字典裡頭(其他的字典,比如The American Heritage, Random House, Merriam-Webster倒是沒有)。至於"bubble tea",我的猜測是在美華人的關係(比如開店用的店名字樣,或者是商品本身就這樣子叫,總之一般老美並不像我們那樣知道「泡沫紅茶」和「珍珠奶茶」的分別。比如對我們來說「泡沫紅茶」也可以是店名/這類商店通稱)

即使是我們自己的中文用法,以我(當時仍在台灣)的經驗來說,我是先知道「珍珠奶茶」,好幾年之後我才聽到/接觸到「波霸奶茶」這說法。剛開始聽到這名稱時我還以為它們的粉圓比平常的珍珠奶茶的粉圓來得大顆(所以才用這名稱來區分)(也許剛開始時真的是這樣?)

如果你只是要在華人之間講的話(即使是在美國),直接講「珍珠奶茶」就好了。如果是要講給(比如)美國人聽,那麼第一步是先確定他知道那是什麼東西。之後的就看情況。比如你在美國待的地方附近有商店在賣,那麼你就直接用那商店定的名稱(至少對方喝了之後如果喜歡,那麼他自行去買的時候不至於在那裡比手畫腳或是雞同鴨講)。



口音

有一陣子我常和位會說中文的朋友聊天。有次他提到他和某個英國來的女性朋友聊天時,也不是故意要模仿她的口音,反正就是說著說著就模仿她的英國口音,後來 她不大高興的說"Are you mocking me?"

我後來發現,我有時會隨著講話的人改變我的口音/發音法,只是平常沒特別去注 意,不過有次我到是注意過了頭結果變成有點在"mocking"對方。那次是在我爸家接到長途電話公司的推銷電話,我爸決定要換他們的長途電話服務,所以 後頭的細節部份由我來和電話公司的人談。那次打來的是會說中文的人,她知道我爸決定要換時告訴我說接下來要轉到她的上級(或是某個較高層級的人)然後由他 確認,幾個電話鈴響後換了個人,他會講中文,但是有個很奇怪的腔,我的第一印象是這人大概是在美國長大的華人,所以會說些中文,但是「外國腔」還是很重, 大概是我過份注意去聽他的口音,結果我在回答問題時居然也是照著他的腔調講話.....,幸好我只是「走音」個兩個字,之後我就趕緊恢復正常,免得他以為 我刻意模仿他的腔調取笑他(mocking him是也~)

A Night Out

     Last night, I had dinner with friends at a restaurant. The restaurant is called Fusion Cuisine because the food there is a fusion of Japanese, Thai, and Chinese. The place is quite modern and chic, and I'm not surprised most of the dishes cost more than ten dollars. I don't know about the sushi (because I don't eat raw fish), but like one of my friends said, "It's more like Americanized Chinese food."

     Maybe so, but I do like my crispy fried yellow noodles with shrimp. I think this dish is Cantonese and authentic, and if it is what I think it is then it doesn't quite make sense that I spent eight bucks for this dish.

     I don't usually go to a Chinese restaurant, especially with a group of people.  At a regular "western restaurant" you get your own dish that has everything in it—a main course and two or three side dishes, but at a Chinese restaurant (or a similar Asian restaurant) a side dish can be a main course, which is usually too much for a single person, or too spicy if eaten without white rice.  So it often comes to this dilemma—should I order my own dish or one that can be shared?

     This time I chose not to say anything; I just went ahead and ordered my own food. The major reason is that those entrée dishes are quite expensive, and I don't want to spend big money on Americanized Chinese food. I could order fried rice but it's such a cliché, so I tried something I didn't have before—the fried yellow noodle thing.

     Still, I must say I enjoyed having my dinner at this restaurant. The decor is very nice, the place is not cramped with tables and seats, and I'm very impressed by their black granite tabletops and floor. The food is quite good, at least according to my friends. I think I'll go back again.

----
("Written" using Vista's speech recognition)

Foreword

     The preparation took a long time before the house was sold, and I still can't believe the deal went through so early and fast--the buyer made the offer within the first week the house was shown. The house wasn't mine but my life was affected by the whole process, so I'm going to write it down because it is so unique and worth remembering.

     I'll be lying if I said I didn't miss living there; after all, eight years of my life were spent there. I tried not to think too much about it, and I thought it wasn't too big a deal, but it really hit me when one day I unconsciously took the familiar turn and found out I was heading to my old habitat.....

That Black Seal

     I just got a call from my brother; he asked me if I still had "that black seal" with me. I asked him "What black seal?"

     So he went on and explained that he got a call from his old co-worker from Taiwan last night. His friend said my brother still owned stocks of the bank he used to work for, and because the bank was acquired by another bank, so the stocks were going to be worthless.

     "What's that to do with my seal?" I asked my brother.

     "Well, because my old company forbids us to buy the stock, so I used your name..."

     "In that case, I can give the seal to you, if I can find it, but your friend can't have it." Well, I trust my brother, but I don't trust his friend (or friends, because I don't know them), so I have to be careful.

     "I know, so I'll go to the broker and stamp it myself."

     "Are you saying you're going back to Taiwan?"

     "Yeah, my stocks are going to be worthless if I don't sell them now."

     Hmm.... I don't know how the stock market works in Taiwan, but if it's anything like the stock market in the US, it's actually a good thing because the stock price usually goes up in my brother's case.

     Anyway, my brother still thinks he is going to loose all the money, so I'll just have to explain to him when he comes over to my place.

     What if he decides to go back to Taiwan after all? Damn, lucky him!



Update: March, 2007

He is now in Taiwan. Double Damn!  As it turns out, the buyer is a private company, so no stocks. No stocks means what my brother said was true--his stocks would be worthless.

"宵夜"英文怎麼說?

假如啦,你人在外國,然後交了個阿豆仔男/女朋友。忽然某個晚上你想吃宵夜,於是你說"Can I have some late night snack?",你的"親愛的"回說"Sure!",於是丟了個chocolate bar 給你。理論上,宵夜的英文確實可以用"late night snack",對於老外來說這和我們的宵夜一樣,但是為什麼你撒嬌了半天卻得到了個巧克力棒??

啊,這要說到文化差異了。阿豆仔嗜甜食,有時在正餐和正餐之間會吃個甜食糖果之類的來充飢,所以如果半夜肚子餓了,拿個餅乾糖果來吃也是很尋常的事。對應於他們的甜 食,我們則偏好"鹹食",而且還要是熱的,所以對我們來說,糖果是糖果,宵夜是宵夜,是兩回事。

另外,又因為"吃"對我們很重要,所以我們特別為這個晚餐之後的飲食發明了個詞 -- "宵夜",但是對老外來說,他們並沒有對應於我們的"宵夜"這個觀念,他們有的只是"另外一餐"或是"另外吃些東西",換句話說也許傍晚六點吃完晚餐兩個小時後的八點又吃了些東西,但是對我們來說我們不會把晚上八點吃的東西稱為宵夜,即使這是晚餐之後吃的一餐。那麼如果吃完晚餐後到了半夜十一點半肚子餓然後吃了些巧克力喝些牛奶呢? 這對他們來說就是相當於我們的"吃宵夜"的行為,只是我們不會把那些巧克力和牛奶稱為宵夜。當然,如果他們有人半夜肚子餓了然後開車去溫娣吃個漢堡餐,這就真的是相當於我們的"吃宵夜",但是他們不會給這另外特別的稱呼,而這時候如果稱之為"late night snack"其實也是奇怪,因為這時候已經是a meal(完整的一餐),不是單純的snack了。

所以在這篇最開頭的情況,如果你不想拿巧克力來當宵夜的話,你最好是對你的阿那答說:"Can we get something to eat?" 這時他或她自然會問你你要吃什麼了。(當然囉,如果你回答chocolate bar那就不關我的事囉)


Taco Bell的廣告。他們自創了"FOURTHMEAL"(把fourth meal拼成一字),還在它們的官方網站上做了字義解釋: 是在dinner和breakfast之間吃的餐點喔。(但是你注意看營業時間的話,根本不是一直開到清晨五/六點,所以那幾乎相當於我們的"宵夜"。因為是他們自創的,所以沒聽過這標語的一般美國人只能從字面上猜意思)

------
(6/7/2015) 今天看到的一則有趣新聞: http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2015/6/6/8740041/des-moines-man-live-tweets-being-trapped-in-a-taco-bell-drive-thru

開頭就是"Be careful when going for FourthMeal, everyone. This is a cautionary tale." (FourthMeal大寫,因為這不是一般說法)
報導最後有用到一般的說法: Hopefully our hero will find the late-night food he seeks.


剛好看到的: (click me)
找裡頭的"late-night meal"。同樣的情況換到台灣的話,比如我在學生時代我的late-night meal一般是泡麵,我偶而也會到外頭附近的小店或是攤販買些東西吃。

方便蛋餅

不用加麵粉,拿些剩飯剩菜加進去就可以。其實嚴格的說起來,這有點像 omelette, 但是煎的比較久,比較硬些,而且不是對折。

靈 感來自於網路上一篇文章,大致是作者去大陸,她的姥姥用蔬菜,洋蔥,馬鈴薯等等切絲,然後加入打散的蛋。

主材料:
1. 馬鈴薯半個到一個。
2. 蛋兩個。

我手邊有吃沙拉剩下的紅色pepper,所以我預先把pepper切碎,然後用中火爆香,接著 放入切成絲的馬鈴薯翻炒,然後把加入少許鹽巴(我沒有醬油)的蛋汁放下去即可。

有幾個需要注意的地方是,如果你喜歡吃硬一點的(像我一 樣),那麼蛋放下去後稍微煎久一點,這樣要翻面時也比較好翻。要翻面的時候,可以先用鏟子稍微的在蛋餅的下面鏟動一下,確定可以滑動後,準備個盤子,將蛋 餅滑入盤子裡,這時煎黃的一面朝下,有點生的一面朝上,然後,將平底鍋倒扣在盤子上,迅速倒翻,放回爐子上將生的一面煎熟就可以吃了。

天雷地火

    來美國這裡經歷的一件很有趣的事情就是靜電,尤其是晚上關燈後把毛衣脫掉然後劈劈啪啪的小閃光在毛衣上此起彼落,有的時候甚至會照亮房間。當然並不是在美國的每一個角落都有這現象,先決條件是氣候要夠乾燥。

    以前在台灣時常從書上讀到靜電,或是在安裝電腦附件時,說明書都會提醒小心靜電,但是在台灣的偏潮濕的氣候下實在是很難體會到靜電是如何的有"震撼力"。 在我所居住的麻州,因為靠海,所以夏天濕熱,冬天乾冷,所以短暫的夏季過後空氣開始變得乾燥,這時就開始了。早上起來,開水龍頭,碰到水,麻了一下。走到 走道上去調空調器,手碰到控制面板時痛了一下。開車出了門,下車開了車門,關上門手碰到車門邊緣又給電了一下。手不小心碰到別人的手也給電了一下。回到家,晚上要睡覺啦,關了燈脫毛衣,然後就像看煙火似的小火花四處閃落。

    剛到美國時去參加一個教會辦的英文班,和教英文的傳教士聊到這靜電問題,他說,東方女孩似乎很容易碰到靜電問題,因為班上的東方女生常向他抱怨。他說他大概知道原因,根據他的觀察,東方女孩很喜歡走路時鞋子在地上"拖",在馬路上拖是沒什麼,但是到了鋪地毯的室內也這樣拖,摩擦生電的結果可想而知。

最好喝的咖啡是..?

開車時在收音機上聽到的。三月份的Consumer Report雜誌做的一項關於哪家的咖啡最好喝的調查,結果是--麥-當-勞! 居然把星巴客給比下去了。評論說到麥當勞的咖啡實在是各方面都好,星巴客的咖啡則是「苦到滿眼淚水眼睛都張不開,哪還能品嚐?」
至於源自我們東北部這裡的我很喜歡喝的Dunkin' Donuts,評論則是"was inoffensive, but it had no oomph",基本上就是咖啡不是很烈很強,但還不至於像Burger King's的咖啡喝起來像「熱水」。
我在網路上找到關於這的報導: Strange Brew: Where Can You Find The Best Coffe?

文法?用法?

引文:

[轉貼]文法?用法?
作 者 : s42065.bbs....... (帶著滿身故事的男人)
標 題: 文法?用法?
時 間:2005/10/08 01:40


常 常有一種感覺
我們學英文總是用文法在解釋或思考應該是怎樣怎樣
但是每次看英文母語人士在解釋我們的英文時
多半是用字詞或句子本身 的意思感覺跟使用習慣去解釋


好像我們都太講究文法
卻很少去弄清楚英文本身的意義跟正確順暢的表達方式
文法研究得很透徹
可 是說出來的還是一堆很癟腳的英文
怎麼看,就是怪


就像我每次寫英文信給客戶
文法單字上就算都沒有問題了
可是拿給從 小以英語為第一語言的老闆看(英文和中文都算他的母語)
他總要改掉許多不滿意的說法
那是語感和語意的問題


就像我們會問: 你吃飽了嗎?
但不太可能問:你吃的很飽了嗎?
(基本上,這例子舉的很爛,我知道)
文法上或意思上是OK的
但我們就是不會 那麼說,而且意思也並不完全一樣


如果刻意撇開文法不去管
能不能學好英文呢?
又該怎麼學才能學到那個精髓呢?

經歷過我們的英文教育的學生比較能體會我轉貼的文中所提的「用文法分析來看懂文章」這句話的含意。什麼是英文好?

一種是「英文好」,可以像「六人行(Friends)」裡的人物那樣對談,可以靈活運用各式的口語。一種是「英文好」,可以讓文學家,英文文學教授點頭稱 讚你的用詞和語法。前者可以不需要深厚的文法基礎,後者則要。

可是呢,越是俚俗性的口語,越是「地區性」,越是不合文法,也越牽涉到當地的文化。有次我和個老美朋友去看部英國的青少年電影,看完後我在想電影裡頭的青 少年講的好多話我都聽不懂,結果我的朋友像是有讀心術似的馬上脫口而出:「厚!那些kids講的slang有好多我都聽不懂」(他是講英語)。這說明了什麼呢?也許你學了很多的「美國的slang」(或是只會說slang),一個可能性是某天人去了倫敦,結果那裡的人不知道你在講什麼。

很簡單的一個例子,在美國的速食店要在店內用餐或是外帶講的是"For here or to-go?",但是你若是在英國的店講"to-go"很有可能那裡的店員會"Huh?"聽不懂你在講什麼。

反過來呢,一些正式場合所使用的英文則是比較「四海通行」,因為大家都是遵循英文文法,在美國學的「嚴謹文法」,即使人到了南非的正式場合裡,聽的或是讀 的人不會皺緊眉毛搞不懂。

現在的問題則是你要的「英文好」是要哪一種?

以我自己的例子來說,一直到一兩年前,我靠的都只是高中時期「記剩下」的英文文法。「啥?」你會問。事實上真的那些就夠我應付美國公司裡頭的各式業務,帶領專案和外加在電話上和人爭論。(我是覺得啦,除開英文系不算,台灣學生文法最強的時候是高中生大學聯考剛考完時)這些年來我增加的是辭彙的應用靈活度和熟悉度。但是我也清楚知道如果我的英文要再上層樓我確實需要再去吸收些英文文法知識。而事實上有這困擾的不是只有像我這種的「外國人」,一般美國人也是一樣, 只要離開學校後,英文程度照樣下降,雖然他們在上「英文課」時老師也會提些文法規則,但是離開學校後他們所保留的就和我們平常使用中文那樣--「我知道這讀起來不順,但是為什麼我不知道」。我的一位老美朋友準備回學校去讀MBA,他是個經理,他說「我知道你們亞洲來的人文法很好,準備起GMAT考試會比我容易多」。當時我想說怎麼可能?不過經過這些年的「靈活和熟悉度」的訓練後以及加上以前高中背過的,確實,現在讀起文法方面的東西容易多了(過去忘的部份多少會稍微再想起來)。

之前在某個新聞網站讀到那位「英文王子」的訪問報導,其中他提到的一段我覺得很有道理, 「(如果你還是高中生)最好還是聽老師的,因為準備的課業那麼多你實在無暇去應付課外的東西」。至少我當時就做不到。光是老師發的英文講義我就背不完了。 升上大學之後呢?

:)

也不需要再多我一張嘴了,我說的不會超出市面上英文學習方面的書裡頭的內容的。只是我要強調的是,當你升上大專院校之後,就不要再像以前高中那樣只把注意力集中在文法書上。我這句話指的是一般人認為的「先把文法學/背好,之後才能把英文學好」,這兩者之間是沒有絕對的先後順序關係的,所以這以後最好把文法書當成是輔助用的工具書(工具書的一個意思是,不要把它當成聖經,以為一定得照它的內容才行),然後開始把注意力轉到實際應用的聽說讀寫上,遇到問題時再回頭去翻文法書特定的章節。

通行40年的托福偏重文法題型已經改了,也許這之後的英文學習形態也會跟著改變吧....

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

中英文差異--簡潔 vs 贅語

(轉貼)
Subject: Re: Why Chinese is so damn hard
From: Donna Richoux
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2006 11:05:11 +0200
Newsgroups: alt.usage.english

引文:
Peacenik <......> wrote:

Chinese expository writing has less emphasis on clear expression of thought and logical structure, and more emphasis on interpretation, euphony, and various concepts being assumed to be understood. It's often hard to know where one idea and another begins due to series of comma splices, chains of cause and effect, and redundancies. Punctuation is often applied haphazardly.


That fits in with some of the English writing we've seen submitted by Chinese participants -- often, long chains of abstract nouns and concepts. On one hand, there can be an utter disregard for English grammar (endings, articles, etc) although I can roughly intuit the meaning by bouncing from word to word, just looking at the roots. On the other extreme, one guy had pretty much mastered the grammatical side -- a feat to be proud of, I'm sure -- but when I tried to point out that good, effective English writing used short, concrete words and active verbs, he seemed quite taken aback. Your remarks imply this was not the custom in Chinese.

--
Best - Donna Richoux

克難肉羹湯

比較不懶的人的台灣菜

克難肉羹湯 mini meatball soup

如果台灣餐館離你住的地方開車要兩天,又你 實在想吃「有肉羹」的湯,那麼方法如下:
(所需的材料在local grocery stores/supermarkets 都可以買的到)

1. 任何一種蔬菜清湯罐頭。我手邊剛好有一罐 PROGRESSO Minestrone
2. 火雞(turkey)絞肉約一磅。推薦用 turkey, 肉質纖維較細,煮熟後較硬,吃起來有點像肉羹,而且比較沒有脂肪,缺點是比較不香。其他的肉類絞肉也可以。
3. 太白粉2或3滿滿大湯匙(我沒有中式湯匙,所以用中式湯匙量的話要少一點)。用麵粉或是吃剩的麵包切成屑代替也可以。
4. 醬油少許,沒有醬油就用鹽巴。
5. 油少許(不加也可以)
6. 洋蔥半只切碎。(因為要加水,所以這是用來增加湯頭代替味精用的)
7. 其他你手邊有的香料。(我手邊有的是 oregano leaves, thyme, parsley flakes,rosemary leaves)

肉羹部分:
把 2,3,4,7拌在一起,要另外加胡椒也可以。

湯部分:
拿一個大鍋,把5 的油放下去加熱,再把6放下去爆香。加水(可多可少,以能夠把肉羹淹滿為原則,多一些水無妨)加蓋等水滾。
水滾之後用湯匙把肉羹大約弄成個小球狀 放入鍋中。等水稍微再度滾起來後把1的蔬菜罐頭放下去。加蓋,水滾後加些鹽巴,確定夠鹹後就可以開動啦。

如果要功夫一點,可以勾點欠(這 不需要我說了吧),加點胡椒,醋之類的。

【刷卡】的英文怎麼說

記得在大學時代我似乎也問過美籍老師這個問題。那時信用卡在台灣才推出沒幾年,有收信用卡的商家也不多,倒是淡水英專路上的屈臣氏有。我只記得在這家屈臣氏排隊付帳時,最怕遇到用信用卡付帳的"貴婦",因為要等櫃員拿出機器,然後把卡片放在機器上"刷"的一下,之後又是簽名什麼的,要等很久。

也許就是因為這樣,台灣當時發展出"刷卡"這個名詞 -- 既是刷卡時刷卡機發出的聲音,也是刷卡的動作,而且又新奇。那麼英文要怎麼說?

其實這在英文上並沒有直接對應的詞。首先,刷卡時發出的"刷"的聲音,西方國家並沒有以此發明出特有的名詞,尤其以近代來說,那種機械式的刷卡機器已經很少在用了,取而代之的是電子式讀卡機,由櫃員或是顧客自己去刷,因為只是劃動卡片,刷的時候也沒發出什麼聲音,所以他們並沒有因此發展出聲音方面的詞。

那麼動作呢?機械式的不說,電子式的確實是要 "swipe" or "slide" -- 手拿著卡由一方 "刷" 到另外一方,但是他們仍然沒有依此發展出以動作為源頭的類似我們的用於整體性的購物和付帳行為的"刷卡"這一說法。為什麼?我不知道。我們把重點放在刷卡的動作,他們則是把重點放在整個程序上,所以英文上是"使用信用卡(付帳)",或"接受信用卡(用此卡付帳)",至於刷不刷,那是店家的事,就不用去提了。

綜合以上,"刷卡"的英文並不是單一的,以下列出不同的表達情況:

1. accept / charge / take .... 等等
Do you take Master card?
這是問店家收不收 Master card ,也可以代換成 Visa card, Discover card...等
2. 肢體語言
這是最簡單,也是最明瞭的,尤其遇到櫃員的英語不是很好的時候:
把卡拿在手上,然後說:"Master card?" 店員自然知道該如何做。
3. swipe / slide

關於swipe/slide,有一點大家要先思考的是中文的「刷卡」是什麼意思? 「刷卡」的中文用法是不是只有一種?
根據教育部國語辭典:
刷卡: 以具有磁帶的卡片,於機器上抹過,用以付款、辨識身分、更新資料等。如:「現在許多商店都允許顧客刷卡付帳。」
然後我們再看看swipe的英文字義解釋:
MACMILLAN English-Chinese Dictionary:
swipe: 2. [T] to pass a plastic card through a piece of electronic equipment that reads the information on the card, for example in order to open a door or to pay for something 刷(卡)
兩者乍看之下好像一樣,但是如果注意讀swipe的英文字義解釋的話就可以發現那是專指「那動作(讓讀卡機讀取卡片上的資料)」,"for example"之後的只是舉例這動作的用途。比如例子裡頭提到開門用的門禁卡片,要打開門要「刷卡」(單純的動作而已),但是會不會有人沒事拿著信用卡對門口警衛說「我可不可以刷卡?(指用信用卡買商品付費)」,牛頭不對馬嘴嘛,對不對?但是如果某人沒用過門禁卡片不知道如何開門,那麼這警衛可以邊說邊教他"Just swipe/slide your card here"(用手指那機器或是直接拿他的卡刷一下給他看),這時候就只是很單純的表示"刷卡"這機械式動作(幹嘛呢?就是上頭英英字典提到的for example in order to open a door)。所以swipe並不包含購物上的「整體的消費行為/付費方式」的意思。

而中文的「刷卡」除了表示付費方式之外也可以是很字面的那個「劃卡」動作(這個國語辭典沒有很清楚寫明,但是中文是我們的母語,我們很清楚這中文的用法,所以不需要侷限於國語辭典的解釋)。比如我現在常去的超市有全自動的自助check out(自己掃描貨品,自己結帳)。在我選了使用credit card繳費的選項後,旁邊一個刷卡機器會顯示"Please swipe your card here"(同時也有播放語音)(Note: 他們現在換新的讀卡機上的彩色螢幕則是顯示"Please slide your card here"),這時就是很機械性的把卡片在讀卡機上快速劃動的動作而已(中文可以是「請在此處刷卡」)。但是如果是像前述的國語辭典例句(「現在許多商店都允許顧客刷卡付帳」),這時候用swipe就是根本的錯誤用字,因為意思不同。


所以swipe or slide 只是很字面的意思,沒有中文的"刷卡(*1)"的意思。一個用到這個字的場合是,比如前例,你是收錢的櫃員,然後信用卡是由顧客自己刷的。你遇到一個顧客找不到或是不會用刷卡機器,這時你可以手指刷卡機器,然後解說: "Just slide/swipe it here."

如果哪天你在美國遊玩走進一家店,然後你說:"Can I swipe my credit card?" 你原本要表達的意思是: 我可以刷卡嗎,換句話說,意思是「我可以用信用卡買你們的商品,而且你們也接受信用卡嗎?」,但是老美店員聽了這句話後恐怕會霧煞煞,他會以為你又還沒買東西,沒事把卡拿在手上"劃動"是要幹嘛?所以千萬不要傻呼呼的這樣子說。

(*1)專指商店收費/顧客付費方式,不包含機械性的在 讀卡機上劃動以讓讀卡機讀取卡片上資料的字面意思

4. use (這不是正確的說法)
Can I use Visa card?
(這不是很正確的說法)這是我剛到美國時對店家說的,那時還不知道前頭的說法。店家也知道我在說啥就是了。

英語發音規則

網路上常看到有人問「發音規則」,有的是學了「自然發音法」,然後為了無法寫出正確拼法而苦惱。

剛好我在AUE上看到這串,引來給大家參考(應該還會有人回,有興趣看的可以用google找: google--> groups--> search "alt.usage.english", 然後主題找"Rules for English pronunciation")
簡單的說,即使是英語人士也會有遇到生字然後不知道怎麼唸的情況,這時候就要靠字典了。

Newsgroups: alt.usage.english
"...." :
Q:
From: Chakaba
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 15:01:09 +0200
....

Melody
Melodic

Hear
heard

Break
Bread

What are the rules for being able to pronunce any word in English?
....
A1:
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 14:06:14 +0000
From: Derek Turner

...

Sorry, there are none. Try Welsh if you want consistency and rules.

A2:
From: the Omrud
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 14:10:50 GMT

....

I'm afraid there are no rules.  There are patterns and there are conventions, but even native speakers have to guess at the pronunciation of a new word.
A3:
From: "Steve MacGregor"
Date: 10 Dec 2006 06:53:49 -0800

.....

Only one simple rule:  get a good dictionary, and look up the words to see how they're pronounced.  Be careful of words pronounced differently but spelled the same.
A4:
From: Donna Richoux
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 16:50:28 +0100

....

The rule is, be born to English-speaking parents and live with them for twelve to eighteen years. We don't expect even native children to try to learn this spelling system until they have listened to spoken English for seven years on average.

We pronounce words the way we hear them pronounced, not the way we see them written on paper. No one ever pretended that English spelling was designed to allow foreigners to pronounce the language correctly.

So, if there's any hope, it is to increase the amount of English you hear, preferably spoken by native speakers: movies, TV, music, voice recordings, and real people. *After* that, work on reading and spelling.

However, there are always a few patterns that the desperate adult student can find that the native speaker learned unconsciously. There are some other combinations like "melody - melodic" such as "history - historic" but exactly how many combinations there are like this, I couldn't say.

Check out some of the sites on
  http://www.alt-usage-english.org/intro_b.shtml
  Intro B: Useful Web Sites for AUE Participants
  - Learning English as a Foreign Language
  - Audio Archives & Phonetics

穿好衣服的魚

[quote]
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online
dress (verb)
.....
5 MEAT/FISH:   [tran.] to clean and prepare meat or fish so that it is ready to cook or eat//  --dressed crab//
[/quote]

什麼是"dressed whole fish"?我第一次看到這說法是在這邊的中文報紙上讀到的,寫這篇短文的女士說她第一次在超市看到這標示時還在想說「什麼是穿好衣服的魚」?

那篇短文我讀過就算。一直到很久一段時間後我也在超市看到這標示才想到那篇文章。為什麼是「很久一段時間後」呢?因為我不喜歡吃海鮮,我自己單身一人的時候 從沒在超市買過海產類的食物,所以超市的海鮮部門我一向都是直接走過,從沒停留下來「讀標籤」。後來是因為女友愛吃魚,然後經常吵著要吃魚,怎麼辦呢?輪到我去買菜時只好硬著頭皮去買魚囉,當然在魚櫃裡瞄來瞄去時也看到這"dressed whole fish"的標示,意思是這「整隻魚」(不是切好的魚片)已經去鱗、去頭、去內臟,處理好了,買回去後直接下鍋煮即可。

不過我倒是沒看到"dressed crab"的標示....

我也不知道念得對不對

正在看新聞,報導的是吃辣椒對治癌有幫助,因為裡頭的一個成份capsaicin(這時主播突然加了句"I have no idea if I say it right")可以殺癌細胞但是卻不會傷害正常細胞。

這倒是我第一次聽到新聞播報人員說"我不知道這字念得對不對"。

我哥的一個鄰居是退役飛官,以前美軍駐軍在台灣時有在高雄待過一陣子。有次我哥跟他抱怨說英文真難,尤其是拼字變化真多,他說呢,他自己也是覺得英文拼字真的很麻煩。

本來我以為他是安慰我哥的,現在聽這主播這樣子講,看樣子,還真是難啊... :-(



今天又聽到一個, 我以為我聽錯了還問了gf, 她說新聞播報人員真的是唸了這個字 -- drunkening

內容是一個被抓到超"高" 速的人, 120+ miles以上, 除了高速之外"he's also been charged with drunkening and reckless driving".


我最近常聽一個廣播,這是志願者念報章雜誌給老年人或是眼盲的人聽的,因為是念的人是"一般人",所以常會遇到需要念不認識的字的情況,特別是一些醫藥化學類的用字,長長一串,偏偏日常又沒有在用。比如一個我正在聽的,因為念的文章是屬於醫藥類的,所以一堆這類用字,而播報的這位女士常常得在那裡一個音節一個音節的試讀,念到最後還不忘幽一下默自己, 接著說"I'm not sure I got them."