Sunday, September 27, 2015

He is not my uncle

(以前的兩篇舊文,因為主題一樣所以合在一起)

我的 roommate 剛剛和人通完電話,從談話內容聽起來似乎是他爸爸的誰,所以我隨口問:

     Me: "Is he your uncle?"
     He: "No. He is my father's cousin."
     Me: "So he is your uncle."
     He: "No."

然後我想到了之前寫的這篇("He is my fourth uncle", 接在下方),於是我改問他:

     Me: "How do you address him?"
     He: "Jerry." (Not exactly what I want to hear, but it's interesting to know.)
     Me: "Okay, if you want to introduce him to people, how would you call him? Just cousin?"
     He: "In that case I'd introduce him as my second or third cousin."

換句話說呢,是第二還是第三cousin他也不是很清楚
剛好留言機有錄下他們之間開頭的對話:

     "Hello." (聲音蒼老。我roommate說他七八十囉)
     "Who's this?"
     "This is Jerry Xxxxx."
     "Hi, Jerry."
     "I'm calling to see how's your father"
     ....


*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

He Is My Fourth Uncle


      昨晚我的roommate請他的朋友和我到家餐廳吃飯,因為我們幫他搬家,所以在還卡車回來的路上順道到家還算不錯的餐廳吃晚餐。
      他的朋友也是台灣來的。吃飯間他們聊到他的一個"cousin"加入美國陸軍,目前人在伊拉克,然後進而聊到他的這位cousin是誰的兒子。

(R: my roommate
M: his friend)
      M: "He is my mother's brother...."
      R: "You didn't tell me you have an uncle who has a son in Iraq."
      M: "He is my fourth uncle."
      R: "What?"
      M: "My fourth uncle."
      R: "How can that be? Is he like twice removed..."
      M: "Yeah, my fourth uncle."

聽到這時我已經知道這問題出在那裡了,於是我說:
(D: me)
      D: "What he meant was he is her mother's brother. He was the fourth born, among the boys. 'Fourth' refers to his birth order," I tried to explain this to my roommate.
      R: "Oh, so he is your mother's sibling," my roommate said to his friend.
      D: "Yes. It's our way of calling our uncle. His uncle and his mother have the same mother."
      M: "Yeah, he is my fourth uncle." Well, apparently he is still not getting it.

      這種「文化差異」就真的要解釋一下。我roommate的朋友本來要表達的是「四舅」,於是他直接翻成英文,然後變成"fourth uncle",但是英文的"fourth uncle"是另外的意思,不是中文的四舅或是四叔的意思,難怪我roommate被搞混了。

      那麼"fourth uncle"是什麼意思呢?說老實話,我還真的不知道該如何「正確的回答」,因為這太複雜了,最簡單的說,"fourth uncle"對一般美國人來說幾乎是一個八竿子打不著的「遠親」,要解釋這的話請先看在wikipedia上的這個表:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin
      (這是用cousin作例子,但是計算方式(應該?)一樣)

      注意看橘色的"me"右邊的四個綠色框--我的媽媽(或是爸爸)的兄弟是我的uncle(不管叔舅表堂),他的兒子是我的堂兄弟(cousin, or "first cousin"),然後他的兒子,也就是我的姪子(或是外甥),英文上還是"cousin"(正式的排位說法則是first cousin once removed),然後他的兒子,也就是我的...姪孫(??),他還是我的"cousin"(正式的排位說法則是first cousin twice removed)

      有沒有搞混了?所以這種算法我實在頭大,其實不要說我了,連老美自己也是算的七暈八素的。有次我到我roommate的爸爸家幫他們顧家,然後他的兩個親戚拿東西過來,他們看起來像是對父子(*1),然後年紀大的那位先自我介紹:

      老: "I'm XXX's cousin."
      少: "Hi, I'm YYY. I'm XXX's cousin, too."
      老: "I'm XXX's uncle's son, so he is ...uh.... first cousin?"
      少: "Well, if ZZZ is his aunt, and ..."
      老: "Anyway, we are all XXX's cousins."

(*1) 事後我roommate跟我說他們之間也是cousins,本來我以為他們是父子

      說老實話,fourth uncle要怎麼算我不會,因為這中間隔了三代,所以幾乎是...曾曾叔公???

兩三年後,同樣三個人,同樣的「文化差異」再次上演,地點換到我的車裡頭。我的roommate和他的朋友聊天,然後:

(R: my roommate
M: his friend)
      M: "... my second aunt."(我沒注意聽他們兩人之前的對話)
      R: "You mean your second cousin."
      M: "No, she is my aunt." (然後又不知道怎麼解釋的) "We are related."
      R: "No. You are not related if she is your second cousin."

      搞到這裡我知道問題出在哪,於是我插嘴進去:
      Me: "When he said 'second aunt', the 'second' meant her 'birth order' among her siblings. It doesn't mean the same thing as in 'second cousin'"(我對我roommate 解釋。他仍是不大了解這是甚麼意思,然後我想到一般老美沒有這種"老二/老三/四姨/五叔"這樣子的用數目排序來稱呼的觀念,總之又是兩邊一番解釋就是了)(後來M問我那麼他的這個"二表姨"(他媽媽的表妹)該怎麼講,我說我只知道是"cousin")(真要算也我算不出來,不過以美國這邊的習慣來說其實也算是not related)

     傷腦筋...


這是前一陣子我在看本書時發現的。作者Henry Chang是美籍華人,書名是Chinatown Beat(在Amazon上可以讀開頭的幾頁)。書開頭的第2段作者是這樣子寫的:


那個"Uncle Four"很有可能是四叔(看港片的時候很常聽到這類叫法。他們未必真的有親戚關係)。對美國人來說反正也不知道,所以弄個大概的"代稱"也就足以交代了。

另外一個例子則是Amy Tan的The Joy Luck Club:


Number Two和Number Three分別指的是二妹和三妹(線索是"my two little ...",不然的話光看Number Two和Number Three無法猜出到底是指誰)。前頭的那個Amah則是用音譯的方式(專門帶小孩老僕/保姆)寫的。那是他們的家鄉話/家鄉叫法(書裡寫的是Wushi,應該是無錫),我不清楚那是怎樣叫的就是(音調是哪個我不知道)。