Blog entry by Joanne Chuang
Anyone in the world
Let's face it: it is easy to upset people with words. This is a lesson I feel Asians know far better than Westerners. A big difference between Western and Asian culture is our attitudes towards confrontation. Westerners often take the direct route, speak their mind, seek challenge and direct confrontation. Outgoing President Trump might be the ultimate example of this: he speaks his mind to the point of obnoxiousness - and his followers love him for it. But Asians often know when not to speak, when silence is better (though, arguably, this may just commute solving problems to another time, or not solve them at all). But is there a middle ground? Yes - speaking, but speaking 'tactfully'.
這個字的背景讓我驚訝。我原以為它與“tactics 戰略”一詞的字根相同，這挺合乎邏輯。但我錯了， 它其實來自拉丁語的 “tactus 觸覺”。因此，這個單字意含對他人的感受敏感。
The history of this word surprised me. I thought it came from the same root as the word 'tactics' - that would have been logical. But I was wrong. It comes from latin 'tactus' meaning a sense of touch. So the word has the feeling of being sensitive to the feelings of others.
最近，當選的拜登總統以他的“tact 圓融/老練/機智” 讓我留下深刻印象。他當然可以有話直說，他甚至曾在辯論中請川普“shut up 閉嘴”而聲名大噪，或稱川普為“the worst President in American history 美國史上最糟總統”。川普拒絕退讓承認拜登勝選。拜登本可輕易發動猛烈攻勢、甚至可以祭出法律手段讓川普出局。不過，反之，他一直保持耐性沉著以對，並未用言辭羞辱川普或進一步使他難堪。這點展現極大的成熟度，與川普暴躁、報復心切的個性形成強烈對比。
President Elect Biden has impressed me recently with his 'tact'. He certainly can speak directly, even famously telling Trump to 'shut up' during a debate, or calling him 'the worst President in American history.' Trump has refused to concede the election and recognise Biden has won. Biden could easily have attacked hard, even used legal attacks to force Trump out. But, instead, he has been patient and cool, and not used words to insult Trump or embarrass him further. This shows great maturity, and is in stark contrast to Trump's petulance and vengefulness.
我們可以說一個人有“tact 機智/手段”、或形容他們“tactful 圓滑/得體/委婉 ”或“tactfully 有手段地”。 不過該如何記住這個字呢？簡單！記住這句話：“to act or speak with care - that is tactful! 謹慎行事、小心說話 -就是得體！” 句中 to act 行動 = tact 得體。
We can say a person has 'tact', or is 'tactful' or speaks 'tactfully'. But how to remember this word? Easy! Remember this sentence: "to act or speak with care - that is tactful!" to act = tact.
Have a great week mastering English everyone! And remember to be tactful!