Wednesday, May 27, 2009

如何問家裡排行?

最近看到的一串: click me
這串也挺有趣的: click me

      之前我在那邊看到的是個印度人在問相關的問題,這次的是哪邊人我不是很確定,查IP的結果是在Iran。看樣子在「多產」家庭的文化裏頭問別人的家裡排行 是很尋常的事,也因此有相對的慣用問法。但是英語系國家...說老實話,我也不知道為什麼他們沒有發展出這種慣用法,也許他們以前有過,畢竟「生很多孩 子」不是只限於某些個文化,以英美來說,以前也是有的,只是以近代來說這確實不是風氣,也許這過去七八十年間的新變化足以讓可能過去曾有的慣用說法消失? 當然我也只是猜測而已。


(其餘的等我有空再擴充)


From "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan
上面的截圖是在第一章"FEATHERS FROM A THOUSAND LI AWAY"裡頭的第四篇"YING-YING ST. CLAIR: The Moon Lady"
這書講的是華裔美國人的故事,而這段描述的是其中一位人物幼年時在中國大陸時的經歷

Saturday, May 23, 2009

找錢文化

      我剛看了這個Blog : 俄國的日常生活二三事 ,裡頭提到那邊的「找錢文化」。美國這邊(至少我碰過的)也是差不多,(小一點的店面)不願意為了賺你那幾塊錢美金而幫你把50元或是百元美金紙鈔找開。 有些便利商店會在收銀台那邊放個標誌--不收20元以上紙鈔。....寫到這,我忽然想起,便利商店我現在已經很少很少去(最近一次大概是幾個月前到 Florida時路邊停下的一間7-11),但是我好像沒有在那家店裡看到這標誌。也許這和信用卡的使用有關,也許是我沒注意到...
      我記得我剛到美國的頭幾年即使是麥當勞也是只收現金。有些小的店還會特別放上個標誌--使用信用卡最低消費XX元(不過最近我看到篇文章,說是信用卡公司 其實禁止這種行為,文章說到碰到這情況時可以去函通知信用卡公司)。現在雖然是可以(更加)普遍使用信用卡,但是還是會碰上不收信用卡的情況。
      有一兩次我得到Boston市區辦事,市區裡頭停車很不方便,所以我都是到市區外圍的一處停車場停車然後搭捷運入城。然後停車場入口的那個老印喔,真是 XXXXX,不停的在那裡碎碎唸,他說他收了我的20元紙鈔,那麼他之後零錢會不夠,要如何找給之後的人?奇怪了,這干我什麼事,你有問題你要跟你的 supervisor反應啊,把氣出在我頭上?!說老實話,能的話我也是會付零錢,但是平常我都是用信用卡,我的口袋裡頭根本是空空的,連個 quarter(25 cents)也沒有,我怎麼生$3.75給你?(應該是這個數目....)幸好之後我沒再去那裡停車,不然的話再受他的鳥氣我就真的要「回敬」外加寫 complaint letter.

Friday, May 22, 2009

介紹AUE

      你學英文的目的是什麼?如果你只是要背各類的文法術語和規則,那麼我這篇Blog不適合你。如果你想要能夠像英語人士那樣很自然純熟的使用「好的」英文,那麼繼續往下讀。
       還要提醒一點的是這篇是針對英文有相當語感程度的人寫的。如果你的程度未到,那麼你還是可以讀,至少可以留作未來的參考。

       新聞群組AUE : alt.usage.english
      Intro A: Welcome to AUE and Guidelines for Posting
      他們自己維護的一個網站: http://alt-usage-english.org (NOTE: 之前有公佈要停止維護網站。看樣子已經停了。有 archive 網站保留下這網站的備份就是: http://web.archive.org 輸入 alt-usage-english.org)

      這群組早在WWW發明之前就存在了。參與的人主要是對英文語法有興趣的英文母語人士,而且絕大部分參與的人是60歲以上的退休人士,所以上頭不會有外國小朋友的嘻嘻哈哈亂七八糟文,但是這也不表示裡頭沒有聊天文(他們即使是在打屁他們所寫的內容也是很值得一讀的)。因為參與這群組的人語文素質很高,所以有些寫英文用法書的作者也常去那裡問意見(參考這篇)。另外一個我很常使用的文法網站也有引用AUE那邊的資料(參考最下方貼圖)。
      那邊的人雖然討論的是他們母語,但是「有時候」還是會回答英語學習者的問題,只是要提醒的是他們未必會回答你的問題。就像那邊有的人說的,他們覺得你問的問題有趣,值得回答,那麼他們才會回。如果你問些字典上就可以找到答案的問題,那麼他們是不會搭理你的。還有就是如果你想得到的答案是我們傳統的那種文法術語的回答方式,那麼這群組也不適合你(不過那邊還是有懂得這些術語的人)。總之你可以先試著每天閱讀裡頭的討論串,看看感覺如何。

       我的這篇也可以讀一下: 英文上的問題?

      再來就是要如何去閱讀這群組的討論串。一個方便的方法是透過Google提供的新聞群組介面,只要用一般的web browser就可以了。這界面的缺點是能控制的功能有限,而且很容易看到些Google自己沒過濾掉的廣告貼文:

     Google Groups: http://groups.google.com
     AUE : http://groups.google.com/group/alt.usage.english

      另外一個方法是使用news reader/client。比如Windows作業系統附的Outlook (Express)就有提供這一功能,或是像我用的是Mozilla Thunderbird。使用的方法其實也不難,首先先找個 news server。我以前在用Hinet時他們有提供這服務,現在我就不知道了。Seednet的我前些天上他們網站找了一下,他們現在還有: http://service.seed.net.tw/server.shtml  (-> News 主機: news.seed.net.tw ) 總之如果你不確定的話,先上你的ISP的網站找一下。找到後就用你的news client訂閱 alt.usage.english 不是一定能夠找到就是,像我的ISP就停掉 alt 開頭的所有群組,遇到這情況就只能另外用Google找個有提供news server的公司,有的免費,有的則要付費。

      類似性質的新聞群組其實還有,只是我偏好這個。一個名稱很近似的新聞群組是alt.english.usage,只是那邊人氣較低,所以我不去那邊 (如果你發現人氣低的話,可能你不小心選到這個了)

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下圖是我使用的Thunderbird:

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

初級中學??

我還擔心該不會是用詞的關係還刻意查了一下教育部國語辭典:
初級中學(click me) : 所以確實是我們一般講的"國中"的另一種說法

那麼看看這個:
Yahoo!奇摩字典
grammar school(click me) : 1. (美國)初級中學;(英國)....
(反正我不在英國,就不理後頭的部分了)

然後我們比較看看其它字典是如何解釋"grammar school"(然後只看美式英文的用法)

Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary
1. grammar school(click me)
2. elementary school(click me)

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
1. grammar school(第二點)

大點的字典:
grammar school(click me)
這頁裡頭有Randon House Dictionary及American Heritage Dictionary

眼尖的人應該可以看出差別。
唉,所以說喔....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Open house

      在台灣的房子建商在賣房子時一般的做法(如果我沒有記錯)是先在建地上蓋個樣品屋,之後整個拆掉,然後在原地蓋起大樓。樣品屋因為要拆掉,所以建材是用 (薄)木料,買主在參觀後就可以決定要不要買,至於這些買主在房子蓋好後會不會覺得兩者相差太多我就不知道了。
      美國這邊的話,就我碰過的,一般的做法是先在一大塊規劃好的地上蓋好一小區的房子,然後拿其中的一或幾棟當樣品屋,屋裡頭的擺設是用實際的傢俱,然後買主 看到的就是實際的房屋情形。建商等這一批的房子賣出去(籌得資金)後再繼續在剩餘地上蓋下一批房子,等房子都賣的差不多時就會把原先的"樣品屋"也拿出去 賣。
      幾年前有次我和朋友到Boston灣區一處叫做Marina Bay的地方看新蓋的房子。因為是Open House,去看的人挺多的,所以sales就不陪要看房子的人,讓要看的人跟他們拿張指示圖自行去看。我記得其中幾款樣式的房子剛好在同一排,所以我們 就一間間的順過去看,看到最後一間時我看到門口的deck好像還沒完工似的尚未塗漆,且屋前的地面還沒整平。我當時想說反正是樣品屋,所以也沒想太多就開 了門進去。進去後在大廳看了看,發覺怎麼東一堆西一堆的放了些雜物。我當時的第一個念頭是可能正在裝潢吧,等再往裡頭走了幾步我發現兩旁堆的東西都是些私 人物品而不是擺好看用的傢俱啥的,突然我知道我闖進別人家裡啦!應該是這屋主剛買下這房子,正在搬家,所以大門沒鎖。這時候我的其他朋友也剛好進來,於是 我趕快示意他們出去,然後在外頭跟他們解釋發生了什麼事。


(我和gf在Florida時看一處open house時拍的照片)

Friday, May 1, 2009

A brewing night

(我以前的一篇舊文,稍微經過修改)

      A friend's relatives just came from Taiwan. They, the whole family, four of them, will live here for two to three years, so he is helping them out and driving them to places to do some shopping and find an apartment to stay. My roommate called him up for a chat, learned about this and was invited to his house for a “hot-pot”.  I tagged along.
      How we ended up in a Cambridge brewery(*) is another story; this sort of thing happens a lot. So, we had a nice meal; some of us enjoyed their beer, and I my iced tea (I don't drink). After the meal, we headed out to our cars. It was a Saturday night but barely any people were on the street because of the bitter cold, so it was as if the whole street belonged to us—a gang of seven Asians plus one Caucasian.
      I was leading the way, talking to one of us, and didn't quite notice I was about to walk into a pedestrian. He dodged to one side and I shifted to the other without breaking my conversation, so I didn't notice or overheard anything this guy said after he passed me, but my roommate not far behind me heard his remarks.
      After we said goodbye to each other, my roommate and I got into his car.  He then said with a laugh, “Did you hear what the black guy said?”

      “Who?”
      “The guy you almost ran into.”
      “Oh! Him. No. I didn't hear anything.”
      “He said, ' Whoa! It's the whole Chinese family!'”

      “He did!” I laughed as well, and then he suddenly got alerted and pointed to my direction, “Oh no, that's the guy.” I turned my head to my side of the car and through the car window I saw a black guy approaching, and then he knocked the window.  “Let's see what he wants,” my roommate said.
      So I rolled down the window a bit, and immediately the guy started talking very fast, “Please don't be scared. I'm not a criminal.... I'm raising funds for fighting AIDS... The office is right over that corner,” he pointed to a direction. We looked. It's not like there was a sign for us to see or anything; besides, it was dark. He kept talking without slowing down, “Everybody knows me around here...... I came and immigrated here in '84... I went to law school and should be an attorney by now but didn't pass the bar... I do have a job, so it's not like I do this for a living or anything.... You can also check us out at our website..... If you want you can give me cash, a check...” I did notice he had a folder with some paper in it. It looked like he did have people pledging money for this good deed.
      “What's the address?” My roommate asked. The guy was still rambling about the same thing, and said it was to save his village (in Africa I suppose). My roommate repeated his question again. He finally heard and said, “It's AIDSaction dot org. You wanna do it over the web site? That's good too.” After some thank you and stuff, he left. Were we relieved? Maybe. Maybe there wasn't anything to be relieved from the beginning. At the very least, we could finally go home.

Final Note: I just checked this website. It's legitimate.

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(*) A brewery: Short for microbrewery, also called a brewpub, or pub for short. A microbrewery   “brews” its own beer, is smaller than a regular brewery, and is often combined with a restaurant. This type of “family pub” is quite popular in my area, so we often just call it “a brewery”, or "a pub". The main feature of a brewpub is the huge stainless-steel beer tanks in the restaurant.