方禮倫:香港,我的家鄉 Thinking of Home

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圖片來源:路透社

Hemingway said, “Never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective.”(評 1)

Having left Hong Kong two years ago, I have felt reticent to write publicly about my home, especially given the turbulence of the last year.(評 2)However, with distance comes not only perspective but, perhaps, a degree of objectivity.

Hong Kong has always been much more than a home to me. It is the city that nurtured and shaped five generations of my family.(評 3)It has imbued us with values, not only liberal and international but also traditional and Chinese. It is the setting of our shared memories.

As a child growing up in Hong Kong I would often escape to the hills, from where I could look down on the city. Back then, in the 1980s and early 1990s, the trails were less crowded and it was easy to find oneself completely alone with ones thoughts. In the midst of natures majesty all the troubles of my world fell into proportion.

The physical city is merely a concrete expression of the industry of a people, drawn from all over China and the world.(評 4)Some sought their fortune, but the majority simply survival. And for many, today’s Hong Kongers, a refuge became our home.

Choosing to leave home is never easy. Having this decision forced upon you only makes the heart beat stronger.(評 5)

Every day I now work to understand the changes affecting my home. England is the hill from which I now look on to Hong Kong, the same eyes trained East each morning to the rising sun. It is not what we look at that matters, but what we see.

What I see now is a city deeply divided. The divide no longer represents the long held political divisions in Hong Kong. It has become, by design, far deeper and more entrenched.

It is about how we understand China and what it means to be Chinese. China is both a civilisational state and an ethno-national empire.(評 6)

But which takes precedent?

For one side China and our Chinese identity is defined by a sense of shared civilisation. It is a personal connection we feel through family, community and the culture we engaged with each day. It is national only in so far as the nation can represent that which is local.

For another side China is the state, and to accept the primacy of the state to define both our interests and what it means to be Chinese. Despite being born in reaction to foreign imperialism, the mindset is unmistakably imperial. Sovereignty is the inalienable claim of the state alone. People are subjects.

One Country, as we have been regularly told, takes precedence over Two Systems. This is not only a statement of law, but of an underlying understanding of what Hong Kong is and who Hong Kong people are.

There are few people who genuinely take this understanding to heart. Many who profess to do so are merely being pragmatic. It is the pragmatism that served the Hong Kong elite well when the city was administered by another imperial master. Money and patronage did in time buy membership of the ruling circle. It is ironic but not surprising that today the bastions of Chinese Communist Party support in Hong Kong are those bastions of colonial privilege that are the city’s more exclusive Clubs.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. So I am learning, as I begin to lay roots in foreign soil. Hong Kong too should take strength from these words. It’s a matter of learning to see things as they are, and in doing to find the shoots from which new opportunities arise. Hong Kong is not alone.

陶傑點評

此文開宗講一個在香港出生、混血長大、根植香港,由於社會形勢變遷而須遷移英國,但又因全球化的便利,香港成為國際一變局的焦點;身為在香港長大的年輕人,由倫敦回望,一連串的身世感慨和情感起伏。

關於兩個文化世界之間的主題,不容易表達,但這篇文章結構分明,由淺入深。

1.

  • 開頭先引用美國作家海明威的名句。如此開局,先顯示了作者的學養,但海明威的文字風格以淺白著稱,引此名句,不會被視為拋書包,不著痕跡,與香港很多學者出身或仿學者的人,喜歡東一句西一句往冷僻處引經據典相比,火候剛剛好。

2.

Having left Hong Kong Kong years ago, I have felt reticent to write publicly about my home.

  • 這裡的 reticent 一字用得婉巧:若改用 reluctant,或 unwilling,就膚淺了。自從兩年前離開香港,我一直沒有公開表述我對家鄉的想法。為甚麼?是整理一份思緒,還是香港局勢太動盪、避免情緒化的反應;還是因為其他原因?這個字,將領悟的空間交給讀者。
  • 因為要在時間和空間的距離,先有一份沉澱。因此,作者的意思,是我以下對香港的觀感,是經過冷靜思考和理性分析之後的產物。這一段,因為 reticent 這個字,就有了權威,還有一點氣派。

3.

  • 「香港對於我,遠遠不只家鄉,這個城市養育塑造了吾家五代。」五代人在香港,超過 120 年,不止 1962 年翻山越嶺的逃亡潮,也比 1949 年大陸政權易手時更早。我是真正的香港人,我比誰都有發言權。
  • 英文寫作,擅長話只說三分,最多說七分。Read between the lines,要高水準的讀者投入而互動。

4.

  • The physical city —— 嚴格來說,不只是香港這個城市,在物質上來看如何如何,而是「香港這個城市的色相」,只是來自中國和世界各地營役勤奮的一個大千世界,industry 一語雙關,香港曾經有工業,但此字更指「勤奮」(hardworking)。好的英文,力求選詞正確,用低的成本,表達最多的層次。

5.

Choosing to leave home is not easy. Having this decision forced upon you only makes the heart beat stronger.

  • 作者一口氣用了兩個 Gerund,也就是將動詞當「你」使用。這種手法在英文中常見,華人學生學習英語寫作時,若能及早邁上這一層,功夫也會增進一級。這裡的一對 Gerund 句子開頭,不但富有節奏感,表達的訊息極為強烈,而且加強了心情的沉重,為甚麼?文章到了此處,是一個轉折點,引導讀者看下去。

6.

  • 這一段,觸及「中國」和「中國人」的定義。指出 Civilisational State —— civilisational 這個字,比 civilised 少見。civilised,指「文明」已經充分建設完成的靜止狀態;但 civilisational,則指「文明」的建設和掙扎,還在處於一個過程,公認尚未完全成功。此用字之差異,益見匠心。

好的英文文章,要看細節。作者要表述的心情、立場、角度,全在此等細節中。在非小說(Non-fiction)的論說文中,判斷性(Judgmental)的形容詞盡量少用,太激烈的形容詞更要迴避。但絕對不是指作者沒有立場。

能用淺白的筆觸表達出深度,就是好的文章。

陶傑英文遊花園

香港和台灣,面臨世紀的變局。海外華人居住西方國家,也數目龐大。如何提升英文程度,克服文化隔閡,尤其是許多人所認為因為很明顯的原因而湧現的所謂種族歧視潮流?加強英文能力,在亂世中至關重要。

許多華人都有合理的職業或專業的英文程度,但如何在原有的中學文法訓練基礎之上,探討高層次的英語文化和表達方式,以備融入英語世界主流社會?

本欄介紹評析欣賞英文的寫作細節,分享經驗,尤其當代年輕人一代好的英文文章。希望對各位有用,也歡迎提出不同的評析角度和心得。

※ 此欄文章為作者觀點,不代表本網立場。 ※
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方禮倫(Evan Fowler ) ,本地出生成長、中英交界的香港人,在劍橋和倫敦大學政經學院畢業。現居英國。 英文怎樣能表達得更好?香港的英文教育,著重文法正確、詞彙廣泛。但除了這兩樣,說好的英文、寫好的英文,還要有某種英語的理性與感性思維。 好的英文必清晰、婉約而有教養,與中文寫作文化略有不同。有時借用英文的文化特色,用於中文,可以別具一格。但若有一日移居英語國家,與以英語為母語的當地人溝通,融入主流社會,摸通英文表達藝術的深層結構,會很有用。 方禮倫的英文筆觸細膩,每週五他會以英文與我們見一次面,講述香港和海外華人關心的事情。除了獨特的觀點,其文筆可供英文寫作學習參考。