Mon, Feb 05, 2018 - Page 9 News List

USING IDIOMS
活用成語

A super blue blood moon behind a mountain is seen from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, on Jan. 31.
上月三十一日之超級紅色藍月,攝於挪威隆雅市的斯瓦巴群島。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

Chinese practice

千載難逢

(qian1 zai3 nan2 feng2)

extremely rare

月圓大約是每個月都有一次,所以過去用「once in a moon」來表示一個月一次,意指偶爾發生的事。

月亮顯然不是藍色的,「blue moon」一詞在中世紀的英格蘭似乎意指荒繆或不可能。例如一五二八年,在當時宗教改革的背景下,奇切斯特主教威廉‧巴洛對天主教神職人員的批評:「Yf they saye the mone is belewe, we must beleve that it is true.」(如果他們說月亮是藍色的,我們就必須相信這是真的。)因此在當時,片語「once in a blue moon」其實是表示不可能。

在美國,《緬因州農民曆》自一八九一年起將月亮的圓缺變化列出。在典型的有十二個滿月的一年,每個滿月都有一特定的名字,例如「Harvest Moon」(收穫月,指最接近立秋或秋分的滿月)。由於陽曆月和陰曆月所含的天數不同,有時一年會有十三次滿月。這情況雖不常見,但實際上每三年就有一次。一季有三個月,所以通常有三次滿月,但偶爾會有四次滿月。自一九三二年起,《緬因州農民曆》開始把一季中四次滿月的第三次滿月稱做「blue moon」,或許是受到英文片語「once in a blue moon」的啟發。現今「once in a blue moon」則是意指不常發生的事。

成語「千載難逢」——一千年也很難碰到一次,也是用來形容難得一見,並引申為機會難得的意思。(「載」音「宰」,意為「年」。)此語出自南齊庾杲之(西元四四一~四九一年)的〈臨終上表〉。庾杲之年少時即顯出才華,雖家境不富裕,但他刻苦自學,為官後便漸漸升至高位。後來他生了重病,自知來日無多,便上奏章給皇帝,其中一句寫道:「臣以凡庸,謬徼昌運,獎擢之厚,千載難逢。」(微臣我資質凡庸,不適當地得此好運,受到豐厚的禮遇,這種機會是一千年都很難遇到的。)

「千載難逢」的變體後來也出現在唐代文學家韓愈(西元七六八~八二四年)的《潮州刺史謝上表》。韓愈因得罪小人,被唐憲宗貶至環境險惡的潮州,途中女兒夭折。雖遭種種磨難,抵潮州後,韓愈仍寫了《潮州刺史謝上表》向皇帝請罪。韓愈為唐宋八大家之一,在文中他讚美憲宗的偉業以及大唐盛世,他寫道:「當此之際,所謂千載一時不可逢之嘉會」(當今為千年來難得的盛世),並說皇上的功德若能被記錄下來,將可比《尚書》和《詩經》中記載的古代賢君,進而感嘆自己貶謫在外、身體漸衰,沒有機會盡心力寫下皇上的偉業。

(台北時報林俐凱譯)

有人認為人工智慧是對人類的威脅,也有人認為這是千載難逢的大好機會。

(Some say that artificial intelligence is a threat to humankind, while others say it’s an opportunity the like of which we rarely come across.)

英文練習

once in a blue moon

The full moon occurs roughly once a month, and the phrase “once in a moon” — once a month — used to refer to an event that occurred only occasionally.

The moon is demonstrably not blue. In Medieval England the concept of a “blue moon” seems to have referred to an absurdity, or an impossibility. For example, in 1528, William Barlow, the Bishop of Chichester, who at the time, against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, had reason to be critical of the Catholic clergy, wrote, “Yf they saye the mone is belewe, we must beleve that it is true” (If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true). At the time, then, the phrase “once in a blue moon” would essentially have meant never.

In the US, since 1891, the Maine Farmer’s Almanac had listed the phases of the full moon. In a typical 12-full moon year, each full moon was given a specific name, such as Harvest Moon (which was the one nearest the start of fall or the autumnal equinox). Due to the difference in the length of the calendar month and the lunar month, some years have 13 full moons. These, while infrequent, would actually happen once every three years. From 1932, the almanac began referring to the third full moon in a season with four full moons as the Blue Moon, possibly inspired by the English phrase “once in a blue moon.” The phrase now means something that happens infrequently.

The Chinese idiom 千載難逢 — literally, a once-in-a-millenium occurrence — refers to something extremely rare, and originates from a letter the Southern Qi Dynasty official Yu Gaozhi (441–491) submitted to the emperor to announce the end of his service when he, having fallen ill, knew his days were numbered. Yu had shown exceptional academic aptitude from a very young age, and had achieved success despite not having a wealthy background. After entering government service, he had gradually worked his way up to a senior position. Now, aware of his failing health, he presented the letter, in which he wrote 臣以凡庸,謬徼昌運,獎擢之厚,千載難逢: “Your humble servant is of limited talents, and is unworthy of the good fortune to have been accorded such generous treatment; the opportunity I have been given is the kind one could not expect in 1,000 years.”

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