英文真的不說since ancient time(s)的嗎?

2016年7月15日《蘋果日報》

陶傑:〈自古以來說Chinglish〉,2016年7月15日《蘋果日報》

陶傑常常「晒」即自炫自己的英文如何地道了得,這也沒什麼,他目的也不完全在自吹自擂,而是藉此踩「中國人」。「難得」的是,每當他要依靠中國這個「招牌」吃飯時,卻又大讚中國的文化如何好中文如何精深獨特。當然,我們都知道他所踩的「中國」是「哪個」中國。這個也不用深究多說,反正他有這種看事評理的自由。可惜的是,他不時「學藝未精」,卻又懶於查證資料,每每出錯而不自知,令立論難以成立,所謂出醜在眼前,還誇大狂妄,大言不慚,可憐跟他學他者,不死也內傷。近日就有一個例子。

這篇〈自古以來說Chinglish〉(2016年7月15日《蘋果日報》)談since與ancient time,按他說,「英文一用到Since,隨即的問題是Since when?而這個When,不可以指陳虛無縹緲的所謂Ancient time。」

查香港《基本法》,〈序言〉的「香港自古以來就是中國的領土」,英文本確是用「since ancient times」(Hong Kong has been part of the territory of China since ancient times)。我英文差,當然不敢反駁陶傑的說法,但我還懂得上網,看事實如何。谷歌一下,含「since ancient times」的連結多的是,以此作書名篇名的,也可以輕易找到,試列舉幾個如下:

Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times

Solstice a Cause for Celebration Since Ancient Times

A History of Myanmar since Ancient Times Traditions and Transformations

看來這些作者都不是學了幾百年也說不好寫不精英文的中國人;至於這些「since ancient times」是否就是中文的「自古以來」,我也不敢肯定,但既然「英文要講一點清晰,譬如一家老店,是一八六四年開的,招牌上會寫Since1864,這個『一八六四』,就是明確的一年。」這些Chinglish式的書名和篇名,大可丟進垃圾箱了。可能那些作者和編輯追隨的英文老師都是陶傑愛奚落的中國人而不是陶傑,結果連「一個英國倒垃圾清潔工」的頭腦也不如,致有懵然不知而用上了「虛無縹緲的所謂Ancient time(s)」。又抑或是,今時今日的中國實在太強大了,世人連不合陶傑文法和邏輯頭腦的「自古以來」式Chinglish都要學了。唉。

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6 thoughts on “英文真的不說since ancient time(s)的嗎?

  1. “since ancient time" is wrong. “since ancient times" is right. “from time immemorial" or “for thousands of years" would be better. The problem is not grammar, it’s stylistic effect. If the Chinese government wants to communicate to the West public in a way that looks natural, it needs to think about hiring people to do this. Chip Tsao should stick with what he knows.

  2. Let me say this first. In many, many old children story books (since ancient times?) the first phrase is “once upon a time." We can well ask, “What time?" Who says English is so precise or logical. Even today some writers still use “once upon a time." Kids use it a lot.

    Now, let me get to “since ancient times." Don’t just take my words for it, Google it and one can find examples (used in articles written by native speakers) and its synonyms (in thesauruses). We may not use it that often today, but that is English all right. I have see enough of it used by Americans. That is, it isn’t Chinglish. .
    Sometimes we know something that’s from some old days but it’s too long ago and we don’t know or aren’t sure what exactly the time it was (what year, or what period), we need an expression for it. You can still ask “What time?" The answer may be “once upon a time," “since ancient times," “in the old days," or whatnot.

    Once upon a time, I was not. Someday I will be not. And today, I am, but I’m not myself. (Ha ha, very logical.)

    An example: If I say, “Since my father died," it isn’t that exact. One may still ask what time it was. But then I can’t tell the exact time because I can’t remember it, and I may say, “About 5 to 20 years ago." Can one say it is some hyphened-English or not English?

    And the following Chinglish expressions are used in or have become (American) English, especially in spoken English:
    Save face.
    Long time no see.

    P.S. Americans say, “I love America" or “I love my country." We use the word love all right. Maybe the meaning is somewhat different from the corresponding Chinese word. But it isn’t too far apart. We even say “God bless America." (Hmmm, the word God isn’t that logical. The word love isn’t logical either.) “In God We Trust" is printed on each and every bill (paper money).
    Even if we don’t use the phrase love my country but the word patriotic, it doesn’t make it more logical. (May have an illusion that it is.)
    When we give an opinion about what young people should do, maybe we don’t use the word should that often, like they should do this and that, Or we say what we do as grown-ups to shape our kids.

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