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Unit 5 Text A Speaking Chinese in America翻译,原文和录音

[2018年11月6日] 来源:新视野大学英语Unit 5 编辑:给力英语网   字号 [] [] []  

Speaking Chinese in America


1 Once at a dinner on the Monterey Peninsula California my mother whispered to me confidentially: "Sau-sau (brother's wife) pretends too hard to be a polite recipient! Why bother with such nominal courtesy? In the end she always takes everything."


2 My mother acted like a waixiao an emigrant no longer patient with old taboos and courtesies. To prove her point she reached across the table to offer my elderly aunt from Beijing the last scallop from the garlic seafood dish along with the flank steak and the cucumber salad.


3 Sau-sau frowned. "B'yao zhen b'yao!" she cried patting her substantial stomach. I don't want it really I don't.


4 "Take it! Take it!" my mother scolded in Chinese as predictably as the lunar cycles.


5 "Full I'm already full" Sau-sau muttered weakly eying the scallop.


6 "Ai!" exclaimed my mother. "Nobody wants it. It will only rot!"


7 Sau-sau sighed acting as if she were doing my mother a favor by taking the scrap off the tray and sparing us the trouble of wrapping the leftovers in foil.


8 My mother turned to her brother an experienced Chinese magistrate visiting us for the first time. "In America a Chinese person could starve to death. If you don't breach the old rules of etiquette and say you want it they won't ask you again."


9 My uncle nodded and said he understood fully: Americans take things quickly because they have no time to be polite.


10 I read an article in The New York Times Magazine on changes in New York's little cultural colony of Chinatown where the author mentioned that the interwoven configuration of Chinese language and culture renders its speech indirect and polite. Chinese people are so "discreet and modest" the article started that there aren't even words for "yes" and "no".


11 Why do people keep fabricating these rumors? I thought. They describe us as though we were a tribe of those little dolls sold in Chinatown tourist shops heads moving up and down in contented agreement!


12 As any child of immigrant parents knows there is a special kind of double bind attached to knowing two languages. My parents for example spoke to me in both Chinese and English; I spoke back to them in English.


13 "Amy-ah!" they'd scold me.


14 "What?" I'd answer back.


15 "Do not question us when we call" they'd scold in Chinese. "It's not respectful."


16 "What do you mean?"


17 "Ai! Didn't we just tell you not to question?"


18 If I consider my upbringing carefully I find there was nothing discreet about the Chinese language I grew up with no censorship for the sake of politeness. My parents made everything abundantly clear in their consecutive demands: "Of course you will become a famous aerospace engineer" they prodded. "And yes a concert pianist on the side."


19 It seems that the more forceful proceedings always spilled over into Chinese: "Not that way! You must wash rice so not a single grain is lost."

20 Having listened to both Chinese and English I'm suspicious of comparisons between the two languages as I notice the reciprocal challenges they each present. English speakers say Chinese is extremely difficult because different words can be denoted by very subtle variations in tone. English is often bracketed with the label of inconsistency a language of too many broken rules.


21 Even more dangerous in my view is the temptation to view the gulf between different languages and behavior in translation. To listen to my mother speak English an outside spectator might make the deduction that she has no concept of the temporal differences of past and future or that she is gender blind because she refers to my husband as "she". If one were not careful one might also generalize that all Chinese people take an indirect route to get to the point. It is rather my mother's individual tendency to ornament her language and wander around a bit.


22 I worry that the dominant society may see Chinese people from a limited perspective hedging us in with the stereotype. I worry that the seemingly innocent stereotype may lead to actual intolerance and be part of the reason why there are few Chinese in top management positions or in the main judiciary or political sectors. I worry about the power of language: If one says anything enough times it might become true with or without malicious intent.


23 Could this be why the Chinese friends of my parents' generation are willing to accept the generalization?


24 "Why are you complaining?" one of them said to me. "If people think we are modest and polite let them think that. Wouldn't Americans appreciate such an honorary description?"


25 And I do believe that anyone would take the description as a compliment  at first. But after a while it annoys as if the only things that people heard one say were what had been filtered through the sieve of social niceties: I'm so pleased to meet you. I've heard many wonderful things about you.


26 These remarks are not representative of new ideas honest emotions or considered thought. Like a piece of bread they are only the crust of the interaction or what is said from the polite distance of social contexts: greetings farewells convenient excuses and the like. This generalization therefore is not a true composite of Chinese culture but only a stereotype of our exterior behavior.


27 "So how does one say 'yes' and 'no' in Chinese?" my friends may ask carefully.


28 At this junction I do agree in part with The New York Times Magazine article. There is no one word for "yes" or "no" but not out of necessity to be discreet. If anything I would say the Chinese equivalent of answering "yes" or "no" is specific to what is asked.


29 Ask a Chinese person if he or she has eaten and he or she might say chrle (eaten already) or meiyou (have not).


30 Ask "Have you stopped beating your wife?" and the answer refers directly to the proposition being asserted or denied: stopped already still have not never beat have no wife.


31 What could be clearer?

在美国说中文


有一次,在加州蒙特雷半岛上用餐时,我母亲私下悄悄地对我说:“嫂嫂想做个彬彬有礼的客人,但是装得太厉害了!何必费劲讲究形式上的客套呢?到最后她还是什么都要。”


我母亲行事像个“外侨”,即一个移民国外的侨民,因为她已经不耐烦老一套的禁忌和礼数了。为了证明她刚才的观点,她手伸过桌子,把蒜香海鲜拼盘里的最后一个扇贝,连同牛腩排及黄瓜沙拉一起,递给我从北京来的年长舅妈。


嫂嫂皱起了眉头,“不要,真不要!”她一边大声说一边拍着自己已经吃得很饱的肚子。我不要了,真的不要了。


“拿去吧!拿去吧!”我母亲用中文责备道。预料到她就会这样,就像月亮盈亏周期似的。


“饱了,我已经饱了,”嫂嫂低声嘀咕着,眼睛却瞟着扇贝。


“哎!”我母亲感叹着说,“没人愿意吃,只能让它坏掉了!”


嫂嫂叹了口气,从碟子上拿去了那个扇贝,就好像是帮了我母亲一个大忙,并省去了我们用箔纸将剩菜打包的麻烦似的。


我母亲转头看着她兄长——一位经验丰富的中国地方法官,这是他初次来看我们。她说:“在美国,一个中国人可能会饿死。要是你不打破老一套的礼数说你要吃,他们就不会再问你了。”


我舅舅点点头,说他完全理解:美国人待人接物快速迅捷,因为他们没有时间客气来客气去。


我在《纽约时报杂志》上读到过一篇文章,描述的是纽约市内的中国城这一小块文化聚居地的变迁。作者在文章中提到,中国语言与文化错综交织,使中文十分委婉和客套。中国人是如此“谨慎和谦虚”,文章开头写道,以至于他们都没有词语来表达“是”和“不是”。


我思索着,为什么人们会不断地编造这样的谣言呢?他们把我们描述得就像是唐人街旅游品商店里出售的一批小布娃娃。那些布娃娃的头不停地上下晃动,似乎对一切都心满意足,完全赞同。


生于移民家庭的孩子都清楚,有一种特殊的两难境地与说两种语言的生活联系在一起。比如我父母,他们和我说话时中文和英文都用,但我和他们说话时只用英文。


“艾米啊!”他们会这样责备我。


“怎么啦?”我会回问道。


“我们叫你时,不要对我们反问,”他们会用中文训斥道“这是不礼貌的!”


“你们什么意思?”


“哎!我们不是刚刚说过,叫你不要反问吗?”


仔细想想自己的成长过程,我发现,我从小到大所接触到的中文并不是什么特别谨慎的语言,也不存在出于客气而对所说的话进行仔细检查的现象。我父母向我提一连串的要求时,总是把一切都表述得清清楚楚:“你当然会成为著名的航空工程师,”他们会鼓励我说,“对了,你业余时间还要做音乐会的钢琴师。”

似乎更加强硬的事情总是通过中文倾泻出来:“不能那样!你淘米的时候,必须一粒都不漏。”


由于一直同时听着中英文两种语言,故而我对它们之间的任何对比总是心存怀疑,因为我注意到它们各自都有对方所没有的难点。说英文的人会认为中文极其难,因为中文用非常微妙的声调变化就可以表示不同的词语。而英文则常常被认为缺乏一致性,因为英文具有太多不合规则的用法。


在我看来,更危险的做法是,人们往往倾向于通过翻译来理解不同语言和行为之间的差异。如果一个旁观的外人听我母亲说英语,可能会得出结论,说她对过去和将来这样的时间区别没有概念,或者认为她对人的性别不加区分,因为她提到我丈夫时总是说“她”。如果一个人对此类现象不假思虑,他也许还会概括说,所有中国人都是通过委婉迂回的方式才能说到话题重点的。而实际上喜欢修饰和绕弯子只是我母亲个人的说话风格。


我担心主流社会可能会从一个狭隘的角度、以一种成见看待中国人。我担心这种看似无害的成见实际会导致人们对中国人难以容忍,并成为中国人在高层管理职位或主要的司法及政府部门寥寥无几的部分原因。我担心语言的力量,即如果一个人将一件事说了很多遍,无论其是否有恶意,这件事都会变成事实。


这会不会就是我父母辈的中国朋友愿意接受那些对中国人的简单概括的原因呢?


“你为什么要抱怨呢?”他们中有人问我。“如果人们认为我们谦虚礼让,就让他们那样想好了。难道美国人不喜欢这种赞誉性的话吗?”


我当然相信每个人在一开始都会把这种描述的话当成称赞。但过了一段时间,这种话就会让人恼怒,就好像所听到的只是些经过细微的社交区别过滤后的言辞,诸如“很高兴认识你,我听到许多人都夸奖你”之类的话。


这些话不能表达什么新观点,也不能传达什么真实的情感或深思熟虑的想法。它们就像一片面包,只是人们交往中最表层的东西,或社交场合下出于礼貌而说的一些话:问候、道别、顺口的托词,诸如此类。由此看来,那些对中国人的概括性评价并非是对中国文化成分的真实描述,而仅仅是对我们外在行为的一种成见而已。


“那么中文究竟怎么表达‘是’和‘不是’呢?”我的朋友也许会小心翼翼地问。


在这一点上,我的确在某种程度上同意《纽约时报杂志》的那篇文章。在中文里,没有哪一个字专门用于表达“是”或“不是”,但这并非是因为需要保持谨慎。若的确有什么不同的话,那我会说中文里对应的“是”或“不是”的表达通常是针对所问的具体内容而定的。


如果你问一个中国人是否吃饭了,他(或她)会说“吃了”(已经吃过)或“没有”(没有吃过)。


你若问:“你停止打老婆了吗?”他会直接就所断定或所否认的假设进行回答:已经停止了,还没有,从来不打,没有老婆。


还有什么能比这更明了的呢?