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A Little English : Who's the top bird?

【明報專訊】The birds were having a discussion on who was the top bird and there was a lot of twittering and tweeting. Such a deafening din(嘈雜聲)that no one could actually hear what the others were saying.

Finally, it was up to the wise old owl, as usual, to make some sense of the situation.

"Order, order please! One at a time or we will be worse than those people who shout and yell their opinions without ever listening to others."

On hearing her words, the flock became quiet out of respect. The eagle said, "Actually, there's no reason to argue. I'm the king of birds and that's because I'm strong and swift. This penguin here dares to dispute that! Can you imagine?" the eagle scoffed.

With a shake and a waggle, the penguin retorted, "In the air, you could claim to be master. But not in the water! We penguins are speed demons underwater — that's indisputable."

"Ahem," said the small brown duck, "excuse me, I'm only a common duck, but we ducks can fly and swim and dive. Those aren't really such unusual abilities are they?"

"Oh what do you ordinary creatures know about real ability? It's the intensity that matters. Of course many of you can swim and fly and make nests and lay eggs and all that. Does that make you the stuff of champions? We're not concerned with your humdrum everyday sort of ability." Surprisingly, both the eagle and the penguin agreed on this point.

"Really?" inquired the owl with a frown(皺眉). "Please explain in what way your abilities differ from Miss Duck's?"

"Ha, that goes without saying since I am a national symbol and a protected species!" declared the eagle.

"Hey, what about me? I'm a huge star and played the lead in so many movies. How many movies have you seen about an eagle or a duck?" squawked the penguin.

On hearing this, the birds all began to squabble and argue, some agreeing with the eagle and the penguin while others took the duck's side. They created such a great commotion(騷亂)that even the old owl could not pacify them. For all we know, they're probably still at it.

■Some useful words

to disagree: debate, dispute, argue, quarrel, squabble. (Arranged in order from most to least polite)

to describe something ordinary:common, everyday, daily, humdrum.

■Something to discuss

Some terms used nowadays were originally applied to birds, e.g. twitter, tweet. Perhaps they were chosen because the short messages were supposed to be idle chatter — nothing of great importance. But the reality is quite different. Do you feel social media is getting out of control? Think of some cases from your daily life.

■Text: A Lamb

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