Mon, Jul 02, 2018 - Page 9 News List

USING IDIOMS
活用成語

The yacht Canada (left), crosses tacks with Vencedor on Lake Erie, near Toledo, Ohio, in 1896, in this photo from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club Archives.
帆船加拿大號(左)和勝利者號搶風轉變航向,一八九六年攝於美國俄亥俄州托萊多附近的伊利湖。皇家加拿大帆船俱樂部檔案照。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
照片:維基共享資源

Chinese Practice

改弦更張;改弦易轍

(gai3 xian2 geng1 zhang1; gai3 xian2 yi4 che4)

to change the strings and adjust the tension;

to change the strings and move out of the rut

英文片語「to change tack」(搶風改變航向)常被誤寫作「to change tact」,可能是出於誤解,以為「tact」是「tactic」(策略)的簡稱;況且這片語中的字並非「tact」或其衍生字(例如「tactful」(機智)),並非指以最佳方法處理敏感情勢的策略。這片語正確的寫法是「to change tack」,是一種隱喻的說法,源自有關帆船技術的航海術語。

帆船是由風力所推進的,因此若風是從你背後往前吹(順風)就很好,但若風向是由你目的地的方向往你吹(逆風),就不好了。除非你搶風轉變航向,否則不可能駛入風中。

「tacking」(搶風轉變航向)是指稍微改變航向,以使船與迎面而來的風成一定角度,讓帆仍可捕捉到一部分的風,因此即使在逆風、橫風等無法直接朝目標前進的情況下,仍得以藉由調整帆的方向,捕風迂迴向前。為了再調節航道以便繼續朝目的地前進,就要改變航向──「change tack」(搶風改變航向)──這樣你的前進方向就會是曲折的路線,仰賴一連串交替的加速移動,即「之字形航駛法」(beating)。依你有多少橫向空間而定,改變航向的間隔可能是幾分鐘,或者──假設風向沒有變化──可能是幾天。

有關這種技術的文獻可以追溯到十七世紀,如一六二七年的《白金漢公爵所有活動的日誌》。這段話記錄了一群船隻如何追逐一艘船、那艘船如何被迫逆風而行,因此不得不搶風轉變航向,結果使速度變慢了:

「我們總司令派了一些船來追捕他們,這些船追了整晚和第二天整天,緊緊追在他們後頭,使他們被迫趁夜色把一些壓艙物和貨物丟下船,並張開副帆、以順風的方向航行,他們為了搶風而轉向的時候被我們抄近,他們費了好大的勁才逃走。」

改變航向(to change tack)後來有了隱喻的意義,意為改變其方式,或改變解決問題的方法。以下這段話,是出自倫敦出版的一八一○年十一月號《衛理公會雜誌》,包含了其他航海的隱喻,是一位老水手回顧其一生,描述他是如何意識到自己一直在航向危險,以及他最後如何規劃安全的路線到港:即救贖、死亡和天堂。他寫道:

「我仍活在充滿生氣的土地上,這裡是上帝慈悲的遺跡。自從我開始生命的旅程、在騷亂的浪濤中出航後,這已經是第六十年了。我張滿風帆,第一個目標是順風而行;我的航向絲毫沒有改變,也沒有搶風轉變航向...持續了二十年。」

與「to change tack」意義相近的成語是「改弦易轍」(更換琴弦、移出車轍)和「改弦更張」(換掉舊弦,重裝新弦),在一月二十二日的「活用成語」單元皆有介紹。

(台北時報林俐凱譯)

這項移民政策受到各界嚴厲抨擊,總統被迫改弦易轍,簽署了暫停執行該政策的行政命令。

(After the immigration policy was roundly criticized, the president was forced to change tack and sign an executive order suspending the enforcement of the policy.)

那些法規幾十年都沒有修訂,如不與時俱進、改弦更張,將無法因應社會變遷所產生的諸多新問題。

(Those laws have not been amended in decades. If they are not updated or overhauled they will not be able to address a raft of new problems resulting from social change.)

英文練習

to change tack

The phrase “to change tack” is often mistakenly spoken as “to change tact,” presumably because of the assumption that “tact” is short for “tactic” — it isn’t — or a reference to the word tact (as in tactful) meaning a strategy for taking the optimal approach to a sensitive situation. The correct version is to “change tack,” a metaphor deriving from a nautical term for a sailing technique.

Boats with sails are propelled by the wind. This is fine when the wind is behind you, less so when your destination is in the direction from which the wind is blowing. It is impossible to sail into the wind unless you tack.

Tacking is when you change course slightly to orientate the boat at an angle to the oncoming wind, such that you can still catch part of the wind in your sails, driving the boat both upwind and across the wind at an angle from the most direct route. To readjust your trajectory to continue moving in the direction of your destination, you would then tack the other way — change tack — such that you would be moving forward in a zig-zag route, in a series of alternating tacking moves known as “beating.” Depending on how much lateral space you have, the interval between individual tacks might be every few minutes, or — assuming the wind doesn’t change direction — it might be several days.

There are references to this technique in print going back to the 17th century, as in A Iovrnall [journal] of all the Proceedings of the Duke of Buckingham from 1627. This passage relates how one group of ships gave chase, and their prey — forced to move against the wind — had to tack, and were slowed down as a result:

“My Lord Generall appointed some of his Shippes to chace [chase] them, who pursued them all night and next day, and followed them so close as they were forced in the night to fling ouerboord [overboard] some of their Ballast and their Stuffe, and to put foorth [forth] studding Sailes, and goe right before the winde, hauing [having] lost ground vpon [upon] a tack and at veering, and so not without difficultie [difficulty] escaped vs [us].”

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