Michael Chugani 褚簡寧 - To turn on a dime.|又中又英
Hong Kong people who have visited the US will know a dime is a 10-cent coin, a nickel is a five-cent coin, a penny is a one-cent coin, and a quarter is a 25-cent coin because it is one quarter of a dollar. Most advanced economies, including the US, have moved towards becoming cashless societies. A cashless society is a society where most people use credit cards and electronic money transfers to pay for goods and services. The US is, to a large extent, a cashless society but many Americans still use pennies, nickels, and dimes. I once bought a small bag of potato chips in a convenience store and paid with a $5 bill because the cost was 59 cents.

I received several dollar bills and a lot of coins, including pennies, in change. Hong Kong has done away with (stopped using) the 5-cent coin. I think the US should do away with pennies and nickels. Even homeless people don’t want them. This column, however, is not about pennies, nickels, and quarters. It’s about dimes. There are several interesting American expressions using the word “dime” which I will explain. A dime is a small coin, similar in size to a Hong Kong ten-cent coin. To “turn on a dime” is a common American expression. It means to turn or move in a very small space because a dime is very small.

If your car can turn around in a very small space, you can say your car can turn on a dime. Only very small cars can turn on a dime. The other expression is “on someone else’s dime”. This means to do something with someone else’s money. If you go to an expensive steak restaurant with a friend and your friend offers to pay for the whole meal, you can say you had a good steak with wine on your friend’s dime. I love to eat in expensive restaurants on my friends’ dime!

曾經去過美國的香港人,都會知道a dime就是一個一角硬幣,a nickel是五美分硬幣,a penny是一美分硬幣,而a quarter則是二十五美分硬幣,叫作quarter因為它是一元的四分之一。大部份先進的經濟體系,包括美國,已發展成為cashless societies,a cashless society意即該社會中大多數人都用信用卡和電子支付方式去購物和購買服務。美國很大程度上是個無現金社會(cashless society),但仍有許多美國人會用一美分(pennies)、五美分(nickels)和一角(dimes)等硬幣。我就曾經在一間便利店買一包小薯片,價錢是五角九分,我就付了張五元紙幣。

找續後我收到了幾張美元紙幣,以及許多碎銀,包括一美分硬幣(pennies)。香港已經廢除(done away with)用五仙硬幣。我認為美國也應該停用(do away with)那些一美分(pennies)和五美分(nickels)硬幣。就連露宿者也不想要硬幣。不過,這篇文章不是有關一美分(pennies)、五美分(nickels)和二十五美分硬幣(quarters)的,而是關於dimes。我會解釋幾個用到“dime”一字的有趣美式習語。A dime就是一個細小的硬幣,跟香港的一毫硬幣差不多大小。To “turn on a dime”是個很常用的美式習語,意思是在極小的空間內轉彎,因為一個dime是很細小的。

若你的車能在極小的空間內轉彎,你便可以說your car can turn on a dime。只有迷你的車才能在極小的空間內轉彎(turn on a dime)。另一個習語是“on someone else’s dime”,意思是用別人的錢去做事,算在別人的帳上。若你跟朋友去一間非常昂貴的扒房,而你朋友提出為整頓飯埋單,你便可以說on your friend’s dime,你朋友出錢讓你享用了上等的肉扒與美酒。我就愛花朋友的錢(on my friends’ dime)上貴價的餐廳吃飯了!
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧