不只中国人避名讳,看看这些国家的语言禁忌

编辑:给力英语新闻 更新:2017年1月11日 作者:纽约时报双语新闻(By BRYANT ROUSSEAU)

Maziyar Pahlevan
Maziyar Pahlevan

姻亲也许普遍令人胆怯,但在一些文化中,对他们的遵从上升到了一个全新的高度,至少在语言上是这样。

一种名为回避语言或“婆婆/岳母语言”的做法在地域上分布广泛。它严格规定了如何与配偶的父母说话,或不说话。在这类规则中,儿媳妇承受的限制往往最多。

在非洲、澳大利亚和印度的部分地区,一些社会限制人们在结婚后词语的使用。一些文化甚至完全禁止与公公婆婆或岳父岳母的直接交流。

埃塞俄比亚一些说坎巴塔语的已婚女性会遵守一项名为巴里什沙的规定,这项规定禁止她们使用开头的音节与其公公或婆婆姓名相同的词语。

这项规定可能会给交谈增加困难,但有变通的办法。某些基础词汇是以同义词的形式成对出现的。“一个是正常的词,大家都可以使用,另一个是不得用那个词的女性使用的词,”法国研究机构撒哈拉以南非洲语言与文化(Languages and Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa)的语言学家伊冯娜·特雷伊斯(Yvonne Treis)说。

委婉语是另一个常见的解决办法:如果“公牛”是妻子不能说的禁忌词,她可能会说“犁地的那个东西”。坎巴塔语还有一个和英语中的“叫什么来着”(whatchamacallit)类似的词,可用作名词或动词,在没有其他选择的紧要关头颇为有用。

非洲南部一些语言属于班图语的人也会使用回避语言,包括科萨人和祖鲁人。已婚女性被禁止使用公公的名字和词根相同或发音相似的词。

说班图语的人常常通过从附近其他语言中借用同义词,来避开这种限制。一些语言学家认为,搭嘴音就是这样进入班图语的:通过从大量使用搭嘴音的科萨语中借用词语。

印度的部分地区,儿媳妇不得使用开头的字母和公公婆婆名字相同的词,这要求她使用近义词。

回避语言是澳大利亚很多土著语言的共同特征。这一习俗在部分地区基本上已经消失了,但据耶鲁大学的语言学教授克莱尔·鲍韦恩(Claire Bowern)介绍,在西部沙漠地区和阿纳姆地,该风俗仍广泛流传。

在澳大利亚,回避语言可能更多是一条双向道,它涉及的限制内容适用范围跨越了性别和辈分。在一些土著文化中,男性和岳母不得直接交谈。

“以我的经验,男性和岳母之间的禁忌要比女性和婆婆之间的强很多,”鲍韦恩说。

鲍韦恩还说,就像在非洲和印度一样,澳大利亚的语言中有很多规则,规定了人们在“禁忌亲戚”在场时能使用哪些词。比如,在昆士兰东北部的迪尔巴尔语中,日常用语中表示水的词是“bana”,回避语言中则是“jujama”。

当然,并不是每一样东西都有两个说法,一个回避词通常不得不满足代替很多相关普通词语的需要。在昆士兰最北部的辜古依密舍语中,动词“bali-l”意为去旅行,可代替更具体的词,如走、爬、跛行、用桨划或漂浮,用途多样。

为什么会出现回避语言?一些研究非洲和印度回避语言使用情况的专家认为,它是一种强化儿媳妇劣势地位的方式。在澳大利亚,禁止使用某些词或许是为了降低姻亲乱伦的可能性。

翻译:陈亦亭

Talking to In-laws Can Be Hard. In Some Languages, It’s Impossible.

In-laws may be universally intimidating, but in some cultures, the deference paid them rises to a whole new level, at least linguistically.

A geographically widespread practice known as avoidance speech, or “mother-in-law languages,” imposes strict rules on how one speaks — or doesn’t — to the parents of a spouse, with daughters-in-law typically bearing the brunt of such limits.

In parts of Africa, Australia and India, some societies restrict the words a person can say after marriage. Some cultures have even barred all direct communication with parents-in-law.

Some married women who speak the Kambaata language of Ethiopia follow ballishsha, a rule that forbids them from using words that begin with the same syllable as the name of their father-in-law or mother-in-law.

This rule can complicate a conversation, but there are workarounds. Certain basic words in the vocabulary come in synonymous pairs. “One is the normal term, used by everybody; one is the term used by women who are not allowed to say that word,” said Yvonne Treis, a linguist at a French research institute, Languages and Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Euphemisms are another frequent solution: If the word “ox” is taboo for a wife to say, she may refer to “the one that plows” instead. The Kambaata language also has a word akin to “whatchamacallit” in English, useful in a pinch as either a noun or verb when no other alternative is available.

Avoidance speech is also practiced by speakers of some of the Bantu languages of southern Africa, including Xhosa and Zulu. Married women are forbidden from using their father-in-law’s name, or any word that has the same root or similar sound.

Bantu speakers often get around this restriction by borrowing synonyms from other languages spoken nearby. Some linguists think that is how click consonants found their way into Bantu speech: in words borrowed from Khoisan languages, which use clicks extensively.

In parts of India, a daughter-in-law is not allowed to use words that begin with the same letters as her in-laws’ names, requiring her to use a parallel vocabulary.

Avoidance speech was a common feature of many aboriginal languages in Australia. The custom has largely faded in some areas, but it is still widely practiced in the Western Desert region and Arnhem Land, according to Claire Bowern, a professor of linguistics at Yale.

Avoidance speech can be more of a two-way street in Australia, with restrictions applying across genders and generations. There are aboriginal cultures where a man and his mother-in-law are forbidden to directly address each other.

“In my experience, the taboos between a man and a mother-in-law are a lot stronger than between a woman and her mother-in-law,” Professor Bowern said.

As in Africa and India, there are a number of rules in Australian languages about which words one can say in the presence of “tabooed kin,” Professor Bowern said. For example, in the Dyirbal language, spoken in northeast Queensland, water is “bana” in the everyday language but “jujama” in avoidance speech.

Of course, there isn’t a second word for everything, and one avoidance word often has to suffice for many related ordinary words. In the Guugu Yimithirr tongue, spoken in the far north of Queensland, the verb “bali-l,” meaning to travel, is the all-purpose substitute for more specific words like walk, crawl, limp, paddle or float.

Why did the custom of avoidance speech arise? Some experts on its use in Africa and India see it as a way to reinforce the inferior status of daughters-in-law. In Australia, the prohibitions might have been intended to reduce the chance of sexual relations between in-laws.