又中又英——Mispronunciations are prevalent in Hong Kong.
2014-01-14
I received an e-mail last week from a Filipina domestic helper who read my column about how Hong Kong people can improve their grammar. As I said last week, there is no quick fix (quick and easy way) to make your grammar better. The best way to improve your grammar is to read, write, listen, and speak in English. But the Filipina domestic helper e-mailed me about pronunciation, not grammar. She told me the Hong Kong people she works for always mispronounce some words and alphabets. She told me the family members always pronounce the alphabet "Z" as "eezed". The correct pronunciation in British English is "zed". Americans pronounce it as "zee". She also said the family she works for pronounces the alphabet "L" as "ello". The correct pronunciation is "el".

        I
often hear Hong Kong people pronounce the alphabet "R" as "allo". The correction pronunciation is "arr". Most Hong Kong people also mispronounce the word "memo" as "meemo". The word memo is short for "memorandum", which means a written message, usually a short one. Such mispronunciations are prevalent in Hong Kong. I am at a loss as to why such mispronunciations are prevalent. Why do Hong Kong people pronounce the alphabet "L" as "ello" even though the "L" sound exists in the Chinese language? For example, the Chief Executive's name, Leung Chun-ying, has an "L" sound. The word "prevalent" means common or widespread. People from the Philippines are called Filipinos but female Filipinos are often called Filipinas. The expression "at a loss" means puzzled or unable to understand.

        When I pointed out such mispronunciations to my friend Tao Kit, he had an interesting answer. He said since English is a universal language, it is acceptable for people from different countries to have their own pronunciations for some English words and their own style of speaking the language. Singaporeans and Malaysians often add "la" at the end of a sentence when they speak. If there is nothing wrong with Americans pronouncing the alphabet "Z" as "zee" instead of "zed", then Hong Kong people should be allowed to pronounce it as "eezed". What do you think?

        * * *

        我上星期收到一位菲籍女傭(Filipina)傳來的電郵,她讀到我最近那篇談及香港人怎樣改善文法的專欄。正如我上星期說過,改善文化是沒有速成(quick fix)的。改善文法的最佳法門,就是讀、寫、聽、說英語。但那菲籍女傭的電郵卻跟我談及發音,而非文法的問題。她跟我說,她打工處的香港人常常將字詞和字母讀錯。她跟我說,那家人常常把字母Z 讀做"eezed",但英式英語的正確發音應為"zed",而美式發音則為"zee"。她又說,那家人把L讀為"ello",但正確發音應為"el"。

        我時時聽到香港人把R讀為"allo",但正確發音是"arr"。許多香港人也把memo 這個字錯讀為"meemo"。Memo是memorandum的簡稱,即是便條、簡訊。這些讀錯的例子在香港很普遍,為何這樣的錯誤讀音會那麼普遍,我實在茫無頭緒(at a loss)。為甚麼香港人會把字母L讀為"ello",尤其是中文堨蝳蚯音?例如特首梁振英的名字奡N有L 音。Prevalent解作普遍或盛行。菲律賓人會被稱為Filipinos,但菲籍女性就通常叫做Filipinas。習語"at a loss"解作很困惑或是難以理解。

        當我跟朋友陶傑指出這樣的錯誤發音,他的回應卻頗有趣。他說,既然英語是國際語言,不同國家的人在某些英文字上有各自的發音和說英語的獨特方式,是可接受的。新加坡人和馬來西亞人說話時,不時在句末加上"la"。美國人把字母Z讀為"zee"而非"zed",也無不妥,那香港人讀成"eezed",也應被容許。你認為呢?

        中譯:七刻

        Michael Chugani 褚簡寧

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