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Reflections on a recent Article by 雷競璇

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It is my belief, that the decline in the sense of history among the young is neither a consequence of demolishing this or that artifact, nor a consequence of the want of democracy, but (perhaps) a consequence of a gradual and long-term shift in the way we uphold or not uphold certain values and standards. For the sense of history comes not from the sheer presence of a thing, but from the desire to connect the present with the past, the desire, that is, to see ourselves as inheriting a culture, as being bidden to live up to it.

Two or three decades ago, educated people were expected to write elegant Chinese; writing, they also felt that they were living up to a traditional standard; those (educated or not) who wrote uglily, would not boast of that ugliness (say, as fashionable, or expressive of their idiosyncracies), but feel shameful. When an essay was to be judged, people would readily compare it with a classic; they would make references to tradition, to values which were not, as are today, grounded in this "theory" or that "framework," but nourished by a communal history going back to many generations before.

Permit me to take the Jews and the Japanese as examples. Two ethnic groups both having a very strong sense of history, they do not develop that sense by democracy, nor maintain it that way. It is when the Jews try very hard to ascertain how a certain word in the Torah ought to be interpreted, feeling that they are engaging in a dialogue with rabbis many centuries before them; or when the Japanese endeavor to decipher a certain ritual, or a certain text, endeavor perhaps even to include historical references in their political speeches or commentaries; it is in these moments, that the sense of history is kept alive. Nothing to do with democracy whatsoever.

It is in fact a GROSS ERROR, commonly found among commentators on this Forum, to see everything so intimately connected with democracy; as if democracy would be the solution to most problems besetting HK. No. If one accepts, that the sense of history was in fact quite strong in HK before the eighties, but declined rapidly since the early nineties; then one must at least grant that, that ebb and flow does not correspond in any clear fashion with the rise of democratic sentiments or the building of democratic institutions.

Dissociating democracy and the sense of history is, I take it, the first step to a better diagnosis about why the younger generation, while part of which seems to care about cultural artifacts quite passionately, does not, on the whole, show more than minimal interest in upholding certain values and standards. "To appraise how much sense of history young people nowadays have, we do not interview them how they look upon the clock, or whether they believe that the clock should be demolished or no," I wrote on another occasion. "We instead listen to their conversations in university canteens, on the streets, in private gatherings, in public pronouncements, in the way they relate themselves to the totality of meanings (and not only visible and tangible artifacts) from the past."

I do not think that a genuine sense of history is to be promoted by more theories about culture, more post-colonial discourses, or more attempts at fitting bits of culture into academic categories. It is much more promising, I would say, to try to uphold the standards (first in educated communities, and then in society at large), to let young people simply immerse themselves in the HK before the decline of the sense of history. It is only when writing wrongly or uglily is no longer deemed an act of emancipation, but truly something to be ashamed of; only then, I say, will it be possible to cultivate the desire to see history as relevant.

I shall append below a newspaper article which deals with the same themes I wrote of here in a specific case, namely, the Chinese language. I simply cannot see in what way more democracy could ever prevent the problem from worsening; nor can I understand, why there are so few protests against this very unfortunate development. But fancy that there be really such a protest. Who would be the target thereof? Perhaps chiefly the young people themselves. I cannot avoid the impression, therefore, that while there are indeed areas of social life where young people, like the protesters in the recent Incident, can do quite a bit, if they will so, to revive the sense of history, they are rarely inclined to demand of themselves this way.

To blame colonial rule, capitalism, developmentalism, the Government, the Establishment, and all that, for the decline of the sense of history in HK, seems then simply an easy way out: Nothing need be changed on the part of the young people themselves; for every change must be sought elsewhere. This mode of thinking is, I hasten to add, well sustained by a theoretical discourse, which channels day and night all the energy towards fighting that which it names Power. But the spread of this theoretical discourse is, I gather, yet another cause of the decline in the sense of history. How this might be, I can only explicate on another occasion. But taken thus, then the whole discursive edifice, much invoked in the recent protests, needs probably a very serious re-examination. The much promoted solution (the discursive edifice, I mean) may, at the end, turn out to be part of the problem. Not a small part indeed.

信報財經新聞 雷競璇
2006-12-21 如此中文,讀之頭痛   

二六年十二月十四日《信報》文化版有陳雲君一篇文章,說的是香港由於用母語方法教英文,又用外語方法教中文,弄得社會上充斥中式英文和英式中文。
  
問題可能比陳君說的來得嚴重。我最近讀了中文大學在九月初發出的一份重要文件,發覺裏頭的文句是相當典型的英式中文。文件就教學語言向師生校友徵求意見,如果不是關心此問題,我無法卒讀。這份文件由中大的雙語政策委員會發布,成員馬傑偉教授在報端撰文指出,內容經多位語言學者反覆推敲,但結果如此,我感到很奇怪。
  
讓我舉幾個例子說明一下。文件開首如下:「香港中文大學﹙中大﹚是一所立足香港,面向全中國,在亞太區、在全球追求卓越的研究型綜合大學。本報告書以中大的使命和大學在二十一世紀所面臨的全球化挑戰為出發點,就中大雙語教育作宏觀及長遠的考慮,提出原則性、策略性及前瞻性的建議,以配合香港獨特的語言環境和優勢。」行文窒礙,語句冗贅,看得出是以英文思考中文寫作,或者從英文翻譯過來而又譯得笨拙。茲分析如下。
  
首先,贅辭甚多,如「一所立足香港……的研究型綜合大學」,「一所」此量辭並無必要;「本報告書以中大的使命和大學在……」,「中大」和「大學」重複,可去其一;「以……為出發點」為英式辭藻,說「從……出發」即可,類似情況在文件內此起彼落,不勝枚舉。漢語本來偏重短句,不像英語般將幾個分句串在一起,短句的好處是易讀易明,而且現代漢語源自文言文,淺白之中還是力求簡潔,既節省篇幅,也不浪費讀者時間,這些要求,上述段落以至整份文件看來都沒有顧及。

  求卓越 假大空

    其次,「追求卓越」一辭甚為突兀,是從英文的strive for excellence翻譯而來,屬於陳雲君所說的「趕西洋時髦」,是不成熟的媚俗辭藻。傳統漢語有「自強不息」一辭,用之無損文意,如要文雅一些,可以說「為臻善境,孜孜不倦」,或者「孜孜以求完善」。這當中其實涉及漢語辭彙如何健康發展、新舊用語如何取捨的問題,大學的語言專家未知思考及之否?
  
其三,此段開首三句細讀則覺其可笑。中大為「立足香港,面向全中國,在亞太區、在全球追求卓越的研究型綜合大學」,那麼,中大追求卓越﹙如果勉強用此辭﹚的地域是只在亞太區和全球而不在香港和中國嗎?文件執筆者恐怕並無此心,但文句的表達確有此意,所謂辭不達意,就是如此。
 
這一段最令人不舒服的,還是其中的假大空感覺。同樣是表達自信和自詡,可以有含蓄文雅的寫法,如以以下數句開首:「經過四十多年的努力,中文大學現已成為研究型綜合大學,成績有幸得到各方嘉許。」中國教育歷來講究禮義廉恥,其中作為先行的禮又特別重視謙遜恭讓,大學的文書能夠做到自信自詡而又不失溫厚謙遜,本身就是修養,更容易得到有識者敬重。

綜合上文所言,以較簡潔文辭,暫且不講求謙遜,將以上段落按原句次序重寫如下,以作參照。
「香港中文大學﹙中大﹚為研究型綜合大學,立足香港,面向中國、亞太區以至全球,一直自強不息。本報告書從中大的使命出發,因應二十一世紀全球化的挑戰,配合香港獨特的語言環境和優勢,對雙語教學作宏觀及長遠規劃,提出原則、策略及前瞻性建議。」以上文句,只算通順,談不上典雅,但囿於原文,只能如此。

再舉一些例子。「中大四十多年來一直堅持中英雙語﹙兩文三語﹚的教育方針,雙語教育是中大的特點和優勢,中大雙語教育政策和目標應維持不變。」﹙摘要第2段﹚
用語重複冗贅,可改為:「中英雙語﹙兩文三語﹚教學是中大的特點和優勢,四十多年來一直堅持,這方面的政策和目標應維持不變。」「學生入讀中大須達到本科課程入學規則指定的中英雙語水平,即使有學生經教務會特別考慮而獲豁免入學的語文要求,入讀後仍須達到所需標準,例如修讀指定的語文科目並取得合格成績,方可完成學業。」﹙摘要第11段﹚
    
可改善為:「學生入讀本科課程,中英雙語須達入學規則指定水平,如因特殊情況獲教務會豁免,入讀後須修讀指定語文科目並合格,方能畢業。」
  

  「粵語有深厚的歷史文化資源,與香港本土生活息息相關。」﹙正文第7.5.3段﹚   

「深厚」不能配對「資源」,說「豐富」則可。「本土」可用固有的「本地」一辭,不必標新立異。故改之如下:「粵語根基深厚,源遠流長,與本地生活息息相關。」類似情況還有許多,茲不細論,如果要自討苦吃一讀全文,可從互聯網將之下載﹙www.cuhk.edu.hk/bilingualism/ b5/report. htm﹚。

  言而無文 行之不遠
      
其實中國歷來非常重視文辭,很早就知道「言而無文,行之不遠」的道理。科舉時代進士科最為尊榮,中進士是要能夠寫得好文章,皇帝身邊的一群翰林,主要也是起草辭藻典雅的詔誥,地方官的榜文如果文辭不雅馴,烏紗帽可能不保。特別是遇到重大典禮或者宣布重大事項時,就更加講究,歷史上好幾篇出師檄文,就是著名的代表。流風所及,即使一介武夫蔣中正,遇有重要演講或文告要發表時,必先關照手下文膽好好起草,陳布雷就為蔣執筆寫過不少好文章,抗戰爆發前後的幾篇告國人書,的確也足以傳誦後世,其中好幾句我現在還能夠琅琅上口。
    
我在中文大學讀書時,這樣的風氣還比較濃厚。記得當時李卓敏校長有一位特別助理宋淇先生﹙筆名林以亮﹚,主要處理校長的文書工作,也就是作俗語所謂的「刀手」。我當時參與編輯學生報,宋先生甚為留意也經常閱讀,偶爾還提點我們注意文辭方面的粗疏。身負重任的人物,因為重視文辭而聘用像宋淇這樣的助手,當時是常見之事。
  
八十年代中我留學回到香港後,這樣的風氣好像不再有了。以中文為名的大學,再也不見得怎樣重視對外文書的文辭文彩,行文往往乾巴巴,枯燥無味。高焜校長基本上不能運用中文書寫閱讀,後來醫科出身的李國章當上校長,我也一直懷疑他是否寫得出通順達意的中文,但還未有機會求證,他已高升,主管全香港的教育去了。然後出台了這樣一份行文拙劣的諮詢文件,堂堂以中文命名的大學,中文水平竟然淪落至此,想想也是令人傷心的事。

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