又中又英——
2014-03-20
Hong Kong people and teachers place so much importance on grammar rules that they forget what they are actually learning or teaching. Learning English doesn't mean just memorizing all the grammar rules. It also means learning to speak and write in English. What is the point of knowing all the grammar rules if you still end up speaking and writing poor English? Teachers and students spend a lot of time on grammar but, as we all know, most Hong Kong people cannot even converse in simple, everyday English.

        I
wrote in a recent column that my friend Tao Kit swears "far better than me". Many readers sent e-mails saying it should be "far better than I". That showed Hong Kong people are obsessed with grammar rules. Actually, "better than me" and "better than I" are both considered correct nowadays. When the word "than" is used as a conjunction, it should be "better than I" or "better than I am". If the word "than" is used as a preposition, it can be "better than me". Grammar experts have long argued about whether the word "than" is a conjunction or a preposition. But "better than me" is more common in everyday English than "better than I".

        What I cannot understand is why Hong Kong people are so obsessed with formal grammar when most of them cannot even speak everyday English properly. Most native English speakers would not even notice whether you say "better than me" or "better than I". One reader said Hong Kong teachers would fail students who say "better than me". American teachers wouldn't even care about it. They care more about how students express their ideas and understanding of issues than about whether students say "better than me". The word "everyday" is different from "every day". It means common, ordinary, or happening all the time. To be obsessed with something means to worry or think about it all the time. Young people nowadays are obsessed with how they look and dress. Please stop being so obsessed with grammar rules. Spend more time on improving your everyday English, which means the common or informal English that people speak.

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        港人和香港的老師過份注意文法規則,幾乎都忘了自己其實在學習和教授。學習英語不代表記熟所有文法規則,而是去學習講和寫英文。若你最終只能說和寫爛透的英語,知道所有的文法規則又有何用﹖老師和學生花許多時間在文法上,但我們都知道,大部份香港人連用簡單的日常(everyday)英語交談也不能。

        我在最近的專欄中寫道,我朋友陶傑說粗口"far better than me",許多讀者寫電郵給我,說應該寫成"far better than I"。這反映了香港人真的很沉溺於(obsessed)文法規則。事實上,今時今日"better than me" 和 "better than I"都可算為正確。當than被當作連詞用時,應該是"better than I" 或 "better than I am";要是than作為介詞,就可以說"better than me"。文法專家爭議好久,到底than這個字應該是連詞抑或介詞,但"better than me"在日常(everyday)英語中就比"better than I"更為普遍。

        我不明白的是,為甚麼港人這麼糾纏(obsessed)於正統文法,但大部份人卻又不能說好日常(everyday)英語。大部份以英語為母語的人,不會留意到底你說的是"better than me"抑或"better than I"。一位讀者說,如果學生說"better than me"香港老師會評他不合格。美國老師根本不會理會,他們更關注學生怎樣好好表達自己的想法,和對事情的理解,遠多於學生說的是不是"better than me"。"everyday"不同於"every day",它解作日常、通常或時時發生的。To be obsessed with something即是被某事纏住了,常常擔憂或想起那事。今天的年輕人常常記掛荂]obsessed)自己的外表和衣荂C請大家別在這麼糾纏於(obsessed)文法規則了。花多點時間去改善你的日常(everyday)英語—就是人們最常用或非正式的英語。

        mickchug@gmail.com

        中譯:七刻

        Michael Chugani 褚簡寧

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