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名人教英文:引蛇出洞

【明報專訊】引蛇出洞,網上有直譯做 draw a snake out of its hole,個人覺得改用 tempt 引誘代替 draw 更好,「引」的意思更突出。

另一個講法是 to lure someone out of his lair,是說目標人物原本匿藏,要用上一些策略,去誘使之凸出頭來。

或說,既然擺明是引誘,用 to bait someone 可以嗎?文法上可以,但意思上會令人混淆。因為英文的 to bait 一個人,一般會解作故意激怒對方,也即是 to intentionally annoy, provoke someone,這個用法,主要跟挑釁掛鈎:

Baiting is when someone deliberately acts in a way so as to elicit an angry or emotional response from the person that he is interacting with. Baiting 是指作出挑釁,去誘使正與之溝通的對方作出憤怒或其他強烈的反應。

This is often used between two people where one wants to start an argument and uses baiting in order to do so. Baiting 通常發生於兩人對話間,而其中一人想「撩交嗌」。

‧Ignore him, don't let him bait you. 別理他,他要激怒你跟你吵架罷了。

不用 to bait,英文會說 to smoke out,用煙霧去燻對象出來。

If you smoke out an animal or person that is hiding, you force them to leave the place where they are by filling it with smoke. 用煙熏躲藏着的動物或人,去迫使他們離開藏身處。

這個講法自然多用於比喻:

‧The government will adopt a tougher measure to smoke out tax dodgers. 政府將會用上一項更嚴峻的手段,去找出避稅者。

回說引蛇出洞。中文的蛇,諸如蛇鼠一窩,肯定皆非善類。於是給引出洞的蛇,基本上是指壞人吧。主要目的是要令這些壞人露出真面目:To expose their true colours。

‧I thought he was a decent person, but then he got angry and showed his true colours. 我還以為他是個有教養的人,但他發怒就露出了真面目。

引蛇出洞,有說源自梁實秋的一篇散文 《聾》:「英語形容一個聾子,『聾得像是一根木頭柱子』,『像是一條蛇』……我尚未聾得像一根木頭柱子或一扇門那樣。蛇是聾的,我聽說過,弄蛇者吹起笛子就能引蛇出洞,使之昂首而舞,不是蛇能聽,是牠能感到音波的震動……」。

這番引蛇出洞,是中性的話;但在中國近代史中,卻是反話,有反而把好人打成壞人的意思。

說的是1957年,中國官方為打壓異己,提出「對藝術工作主張百花齊放,對學術工作主張百家爭鳴」,名為「雙百方針」,後世就稱之為引蛇出洞的策略。

想起這四字詞語,是因為這與近月林鄭月娥政府對一場浩瀚的抗爭運動所採取的策略相似:

It's almost like Carrie Lam has this agenda: to bait the protesters, smoke them out and then arrest them all, to help put a lid on Hong Kong's dissent.

就好像林鄭月娥有這麼個議程:激怒抗爭者,引蛇出洞,全部拉之鎖之,令香港異見壽終正寢。

■文︰毛孟靜

電郵:claudiabowring@gmail.com

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