今天無意中「撞進」一個叫《楊鐵樑留言信箱》的網站，原來是曾任香港最高法院首席大法官、亦參選過特首的楊鐵樑爵士教人英文的地方。我好奇看了好些讀者的來信和楊官的回覆，得出兩個可能的結論：(1) 那些回覆不是楊官寫的 (2) 楊官的英文不算好。
1. 讀者問 "novel" 和 "fiction" 的分別，回覆只是簡單地說 "As far as I can tell, novel must be of book length, a fiction can be a novel or just a story" 。
- "Novel" 前面少了 "a"，就當他一時手快打漏了字（他也有好幾次在應該用 "every day" 時打了 "everyday"）。可是，"fiction" 用來指小說時，一般是指小說這個文學類別，是個不可數名詞，前面不能加 "a"（但可以寫 "a work of fiction" 或 "a book of fiction"）。當 "fiction" 前面可以加 "a" 時，一般不是指小說而是指謊言或虛構出來騙人的故事。"Fiction" 當 "novel" 用也可以，例如說 "two fictions" 而不說 "two novels"，但這用法很罕見。
2. 讀者問 "It's me" 對還是 "It's I" 對，回覆斬釘截鐵地說後者才對。
- 根據文法，的確是 "It's I" 才對，但在口語裏幾乎所有人都會說 "It's me" ，反而說 "It's I" 則會令人覺得怪怪的。
3. 讀者問 "have to" 和 "must" 的分別，回覆說 "must – more formal; have to – less formal" 。
- "have to" 和 "must" 的分別，要花很長篇幅才可以講清楚，我只能簡單地說以上的答案是錯的；有興趣的讀者可以參看 Michael Swan 的 Practical English Usage, 2nd edition (OUP 1995), pp.344-345.
4. "E-mail often uses abbreviated or incorrect forms. The prime object of the E-mail is to make the message simple and short, so incorrect grammar and spelling are often used, so long as the meaning is clear."
- 這幾句不但英文有問題，連思路也有問題，好像是說為了把電郵寫得簡短，就要犯文法和拼字錯誤！我會這樣寫："People often use incorrect grammar or abbreviated forms of spelling in emails when they try to keep the message simple and short. This is considered acceptable as long as the meaning of the message is clear."
5. “English names are popular simply because we use English language with foreigners. In Macau, some have Portuguese names. Some people have French names. You may use any name you prefer, but I suppose that you adopt a foreign name which is easy for your foreign friends to pronounce and remember. If, for example, you live in Russia, you'd probably adopt a Russian name.”
- 最明顯的錯誤是 "English language" 前面欠了 "the" （其實用 "English" 便成了）；"suppose" 亦用得不妥。兒子剛走進我的書房，我懶得再花神，便叫他來改寫這幾句，肯定夠地道；他這樣改："English names are common simply because we often use English to communicate with foreigners. In Macau, some of the native Chinese have adopted Portuguese names. Some Chinese even have French names. You may adopt any foreign name you like, but I would advise you to adopt one that would be easy for foreigners to pronounce and remember. For example, if you were living in Russia, you’d most likely adopt a Russian name."