Lester Lee – Chinese/English translator and freelance writer

This blog will host articles and other works authored by me in various fields – poetry, philosophy, science, history, politics, current affairs, music – and anything else which seizes my attention and imagination!

錢錢錢

《語文影》

金錢可談之處甚多。錢的代名詞,有金、金銀、金錢,如拾金不昧,如金銀滿屋。阿堵,六朝人口語,猶言這個,引申為錢的意思,亦稱「阿堵物」。王莽纂漢後,「錢」改稱為「貨泉」或「白水真人」。「孔方」或「孔方兄」是錢的謔稱,昔時銅錢外圓而中有方孔,故名。「臭錢」、「臭銅」、「爛銅」更是錢的貶語。英語money又稱hard cash、pelf、mammon、lucre、dosh、lolly、silver;財富是wealth、richness、affluence、prosperity、fortune、well-lined purse、gold mine、El Dorado、Golconda、pot of gold、purse of Fortunatus。觸手成金Golden touch是好字眼;Midas touch就大不妙。

國富的例子:貫朽栗陳,是漢朝的典故。漢興七十餘年之間,京師之錢累巨萬,貫(穿錢的索子)朽而不可校,太倉之粟陳陳相因,紅腐而不可食。錢流地,指財貨富裕。大有年、五穀豐登,是農業社會饒富的詞語。國富,英語曰a land flowing with milk and honey,今天則有「富裕社會」(affluent society)之說,那是加拿大經濟學家J.K. Galbraith所創的名詞。

富甲天下的人甚多,古代有陶朱公、鄧通(銅山)、董卓(「金塢」)、石崇(以蜡代薪)、何曾(一食萬錢)、五元寶(「富窟」)、王武子(婦乳飲豚)、魚容(象牙造床,鏤金蓮花)。富貴人家金穴銅山、金玉滿堂、鐘鳴鼎食,窮奢極侈。西方神話中的Croesus、Midas、Dives、Plutus均為富豪的象徵,近人則推Rockefeller、Carnegie、Bill Gates等。有興趣知道當代首富排各的可參閱Fortune雜誌。

一個人的錢多得用不完,可形容為made of money或has money to burn。揮霍是splurge,揮金如土是spend money like water。

Money does not grow on trees,錢不易得。If you would know the value of money, try to borrow some,顯見人情冷暖。

富而慳者,拔一毛而利天下而不為,貶稱為「錢愚」或「守財奴」。英語則稱miser、niggard、skinflint、hoarder、money-grubber、Scrooge、penny-pincher、mean old stick、(粗俚)tight-arse等。貪財是money-grubbing,又有 Have eyes bigger than one’s belly的說法。

富本身不是罪惡,富而能仁,何患之有?富而不仁,英文是filthy rich。聚不義之財者古稱「齊物奴」,典出石崇,石崇生於齊地青州,因劫財致富。

有人相信金錢萬能:Money talks.有錢能使鬼推磨。古羅馬詩人Horace說:Omnis enim res, virtus, fama, decus, divina humanaque pulchris divitiis parent (All things are obedient to money)錢可通神。Money makes the mare go。Money governs the world。What will not money do?  《傳道書》上說:A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry:  but money answereth all things,難怪拜金的人那麼多。錢可以買來權勢(Money is power),但買不到真正愛情(約翰‧連儂就說過:money can’t buy me love)。但沒有錢亦難得有愛情:When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window.

錢再多,死時也帶不走。Shrouds have no pockets。留給子孫吧?但富過三代的家族就很罕見。

清高的人稱金錢為萬惡之源,The love of money is the root of all evil。但蕭伯納大唱反調:Lack of money is the root of evil。十七世紀的Thomas Fuller 說:We are all Adam’s children but silk makes the difference。英古諺亦曰:Money is welcome though it come in a dirty cloud.

折衷的說法是少可貧而老不可貧:You can be young without money but you can’t be old without it. (Tennessee Williams)。

諺語中常有矛盾例子。如「錢財如糞土,仁義值千金」。原意是重仁義輕錢財,但千金不是錢財是甚麼?

貧窮景象的成語:室如懸磬、瓦灶繩床、家無澹石、家徒壁立(司馬相如)、捉襟見肘(曾子)、阮囊羞澀(阮藉)、環堵蕭然、一貧如洗、囊空如洗。古人認為「女多家貧」,《後漢書‧陳蕃傳》有「盜不過五女之門」之說。英語的同義詞有poor、penniless、impecunious、penurious、poverty-stricken、badly off、straitened、destitute、unable to make both ends meet、out at elbow、down and out、poor as dirt、poor as Lazarus、poor as Job、poor as Mother Hubbard、poor as a church mouse、to live on a pittance、to eke out a livelihood、to scratch out a living、to live from hand to mouth、to tighten one’s belt。

安貧,曰曲肱之樂(典出《論語》)。

「錢有兩戈,傷壞古今人品」,因財失義的例子很多,Money makes friends enemies。「窮只一穴,埋沒多少英雄」;秦瓊賣馬,千古之後仍令人心酸。

Money makes marriage,窮漢娶妻難,中外一理。拜金娘子願嫁金龜婿,英文叫marry money或marry a millionaire。流行曲詞有曰:Diamonds are a girl’s best friend。

When I give food to the poor they call me a saint.  What I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist.(我向貧民施飯,人譽我為聖賢;我問貧民何以無炊,人稱我為共產黨。)(Helder Camara 1909)

人莫能事二主,上帝、財神之間應知作取捨。富人進天堂,比駱駱進針孔更難。No man can serve two masters…. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon…….  It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to heaven.

有錢要懂得用才好。Money is a good servant but a bad master。少年致富未必是福:The abundance of money ruins youth,又曰:He that gets money before he gets wit,/Will be but a short while master of it.

錢如糞肥,必須散撥開來才好,堆疊起來只會臭氣沖天。Money is like muck, not good except it be spread (Francis Bacon).   Money is like manure….. if you pile it up in one place it stinks like hell (Clint Murchison Jnr)。Galbraith也說:The greater the wealth, the thicker will be the dirt.

錢像性愛,沒有時是縈心之念,有時則懶得想它。Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did.  (James Baldwin US writer)

凡事都有代價,There is no free lunch。但又有一說,人生最美好的東西是免費的。The best things in life are free.

商朝,因商業萌芽而得名。傳統中國人看不起商人,以其重利輕義。商人重利輕別離,女人嫁給商賈常要忍受寂寞。西方對商人沒有偏見。近二十年,國人的觀念變了,士農工兵紛紛下海。其實,中國人愛發財的觀念根深蒂固,孫中山先生就曾感慨系之。

August 18, 2009 - Posted by | Word-watching 語文影

2 Comments »

  1. 金錢是一種方便;是某人的血汗;是某人的罪惡;是好是坏。

    Comment by Anonymous | August 21, 2009 | Reply

  2. quite beneficial stuff, in general I imagine this is worthy of a book mark, thank you

    Comment by here | May 29, 2012 | Reply


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