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文学作品汉译:On Learning Foreign Languages

2014-10-22    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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文学作品汉译:Max Forrester Eastman-On Learning Foreign Languages

文学作品汉译:M.伊斯特曼作品《On Learning Foreign Languages》

On Learning Foreign Languages

Max Forrester Eastman

After spending a couple of weeks talking to Americans in Moscow, and listening through a wall to the life of the Russians. I decided to learn the language. I did not want to collect bits of second-hand information. I did not want information. I wanted the feeling of life under a proletarian dictatorship, and there was only one way to get it. I had been puttering along with my grammar and with Lermontov and Pushkin, reading at them in the same dreadful way that we used to read at Horace and Virgil. That was not learning anything.

I have my own system for learning foreign languages, which is based upon a profound knowledge of the human heart, and which I will here with some reservations impart to the reader. The first thing to do is to go to the capital of the country where the language is spoken, and buy a grammar, two little red dictionaries, and a railroad ticket. The railroad ticket should take you as far away from the capital as possible, clear out of the sound of your own language, and preferable to a summer resort. The reason for this is that you are going to have a good time, and you need company.

On the train, on the way to your summer resort, you have some hard work to do. It is the only work called for by my system, and it has to be done thoroughly. You have to learn the name in the language under consideration for “noun,” “adjective,” “verb,” “participle,” “conjunction,” “pronoun,” and “preposition.” And if you do not know in your own language just what these wonders are, you have to find out. And then you have to learn to say, “What does that mean?” and “What is the word for this?”, and a few handy remarks like “Do you speak English?”, “Do you speak French?”, “Do you speak German?”, “Do you speak Italian?”, “It’s too bad.”, and “Let’s take a walk.”

With that equipment you go into the dining-room of the principal hotel in your summer resort, and pick out your teacher. You may do this quite boldly, if you have equipped yourself as I direct, for you have a power to ensnare that teacher which reaches beyond the charms of your personality. Moreover, it is advisable to have an eye to her physical beauties, for you are going to spend a good deal of time gazing on them in comparative silence.

After dinner you may go and lean up against a pillar, or the railing of a little foot-bridge in the garden, or somewhere—I need not be too specific about this—and when she comes by, you will say in your poor broken tongue and with a forlorn expression, “Mademoiselle, do you speak English?” When she says “No,” you will heave a sigh and say, “Do you speak German?” At a second “No,” your expression will become disconsolate, and you will say, “Do you speak French?” At a third “No” you show real consternation, and offer to speak Italian, or Bohemian, or Chinese, or what you will. If God is with you, she will decline all these offers, and you will find that she is at once seriously distressed over your plight, and in a somewhat humbled condition as to her own talents. You will find, if I am not mistaken, that you are already taking a walk with her, and you may assume that her next statement is, “Too bad you haven’t a Russian dictionary,” or something to that effect. At the sound of these words—-no matter how bad they sound—you will produce your two little red books, and hand her the one marked “Russian-English”.

Here the work, properly so called, comes to an end. She will be very curious to see what the words in your language look like, and she will examine the little red book and pretty soon point to a word, probably the word “hot”, or something equally uninteresting under ordinary circumstances. Under these circumstances it acquires the charm of an incantation. It begins to open just by something less than the shadow of a hair’s breadth the gate of a possible romance. You both know that that gate will be a long, long time in opening. And you both know, if you have reached years of some discretion, that when it is once wide open, the romance is gone. For there is no such thing as romance—it is only the expectation of itself.

And so, in a gentle fever of delight, you look up the word for “too” in your dictionary, and you say, “Too hot?”

It is one of the signs of our human kinship, and a blessing we never pause to appreciate, that in all languages, however the words may change, the vocal inflections have substantially the same meaning: You do not have to learn how to melodize a question in Russian, or a doubt, or a suspicion, or a declaration, or a declaration, or a caress. If you did, this industrious romance would probably run on the rocks in the first three minutes.

To your question, “Too hot?”, she will no doubt answer rapidly and at some length, forgetting your limitations. Perhaps she will say, “Not if we could find a shady tree to sit under.”

She will be a little shocked at your inability to grasp this simple proposition. A flicker of impatient contempt will cross her face. She has forgotten about your magnanimous offer to speak English, French, German, Italian or Bohemian. She has forgotten that there are any such languages. She just primitively and quite naturally feels that a person who can’t talk is a fool. And here you must bring forward the second part of your equipment. But use it gently. Use it sparingly, for it is possible the experience may be too bitter, and her pride not strong enough to hold her to the task.

You may, I trust, have been able to isolate one word in that insane rush of syllables that came out of her mouth. Look for it in your dictionary, and while you are looking, murmur somewhat abstractedly, “Is that a preposition or a participle?”

You will see that look of contempt upon her features give place to a flush and a catching of breath, and your companion will wrinkle her brows, and lean over your shoulder to watch you find the word in your dictionary, and her hair will brush your cheek helpfully, and her voice be all gentle sympathy as she says, “Why, now, let’s see, that must be—there it is! You understand?”

By this time no doubt you will have arrived at a shady tree, and at something far better than understanding, a consciousness of your power. You are in the peculiar position of knowing more than your teacher about the very subject she is going to teach. And if you employ your power with delicacy as I have advised, so that she does not either run away from you in fright as from an intellectual monster, or in a fit of mad pride buy a grammar and learn her own language, you can retain this position of lofty helplessness throughout the duration of the romance. For at every stage of the proceeding your mind will know more about the language than hers; her knowledge is in her tongue.

There are only two forces in this world, love and pride, and upon these two I base my linguistic system. I do not assault you with rules of syntax, with paradigms, with conjugations, declensions, and other things appealing purely to the intellect, and to that weakly. I go straight to the heart. I put you in the position of a child, for whom life itself—that is, love and pride—demands a learning of his language. And I put your wind and the waves and the stars and the sunshine, and all the forces of nature, run to help you when you have made yourself a child. You will read your grammar in the intervals of study. It will rest and relax you from the thrilling excitement of your lessons. You will find its pages colored with the same emotion, but in a milder tone. And if you do not overdo it—-if you do not get all the most passionate words in the language whirling through your brain at a rate fatal to the tissue—I guarantee that inside of two weeks you will have communicated some of the most profound and dangerous thoughts in our soul. Inside of a month you will have said enough in that language to keep you busy regretting in English as it begins to get loose in a foreign language. Those words mean what they say, but they do not mean it seriously. They are play words. They are exercises of agility. They are not yet firmly geared in with the real world, arising out of causes and attached to consequences. They are laughing in space. Prudence would be an affectation. You say wild things and you say them with enormous and sincere enthusiasm—enthusiasm about your ability to say them. It is not only learning a language when you learn it according to my system—it is taking a little breath of the free, superficial and inconsequential life of the gods.


谈谈学习外语

M.伊斯特曼

我在莫斯科呆了几个星期,跟一些美国人谈了谈,又隔墙窥视了一下俄罗斯人的生活,我决定学习俄语。我不想搜集零零星星的二手材料,我并不要信息材料,我要的是在无产阶级专政制度下人们生活的感受。而只有一个办法能够获得这种感受。我早泡上了好多时间学习俄语语法,学习莱蒙托夫和普希金的诗。我读他们的诗就用我以前读贺拉斯和维吉尔的诗时用的方法。那种方法是学不到什么东西的。

我现在有了一套自己学习外语的方法,一套建立在对人的思想感情深刻了解基础上的方法。我想在这里把这种方法介绍给读者,不过稍有保留。第一件要做的事是到说这种语言的国家首都去,再买一本语法书和两本红封面的小辞典,然后再买一张火车票。这张火车票可以让你乘到远离首都的地方,在那里你完全听不到你本族语的声音。最佳的选择是避暑胜地。因为你在那里可以玩得很开心,而且你有需要的伴儿。

在火车上,在去避暑胜地的路上,你得做一些艰苦的工作。它是我的学习方法所要求做的惟一的工作,而且要求你干得一丝不苟。你得学会所学语言中的有关名称,如什么叫“名词”、“形容词”、“副词”、“分词”、“连结词”、“代名词”和“前置词”。要是你还不知道这些东西在你本族语中是什么意思的话,你得想办法搞清楚。然后,你得学会说这样的一些句子:“那是什么意思?”和“这在俄语中怎么说?”以及这样一些常用的话:“你会说英语吗?”,“你会说法语吗?”,“你会说德语吗?”,“你会说意大利语吗?”,“噢,这太糟糕了!”,“咱们一块儿走走好吗?”。

你有了以上的装备,就在避暑胜地找一家大饭店,到餐厅去挑选一名老师。要是你按我上面说的那样装备好了自己,你就可以放着胆子去干,因为你已经具备一种吸引你老师的力量,一种超越你性格魅力的力量。另外,我得提醒你,挑选老师时,还要注意她的外表,要漂亮一些的,因为在你俩一时无话可说而面面相觑时,你的眼睛得瞧着她许久许久呢。

吃过饭,你可以走到餐厅外面,靠在一根门柱上,或者花园里小桥的栏杆上,或者其他什么地方——无需我说得太具体,当她经过你的时候,你得装出满面愁容,哀楚动人,用你刚学的那点语言,嗑磕巴巴地对她说:“小姐,你会说英语吗?”要是她说不会,你便叹口气,接着问:“你会说德语吗?”在听到第二声“不会”时,你脸上的表情要变得很沮丧,紧接着说:“你会说法语吗?”在听到第三声“不会”时,你要显得惊慌失措,再问她会不会说意大利语、波西米亚语、汉语或其他你会说的任何语言。要是你运气好,她碰巧那些语言都不会说,并且你会发现她对你的困境立刻深感不安,同时也对她自己的语言才能感到十分自卑,自惭形秽。要是我没说错的话,此时你已经跟她在一块散步了,而且你可以预料到她的下一句话:“太糟糕了,你没有一本俄语字典。”或者诸如此类的话。在听到这些话时——尽管听起来不那么悦耳,你可以掏出你的两本红封面的小词典,把标有“俄英”的一本递给她。

称之为工作的那部分到此便告结束了。她会非常好奇地看着你所用语言中的那些词是什么样儿。她翻阅了一下那本小红书,很快指到一个字,也许是那个“热”字,或者其他在一般情况下索然无味地字。在这种情况下,该字像咒语一般具有一种魔力。她打开了一个浪漫故事的大门,可能仅仅打开比头发丝还要细的一条缝隙。你和那位小姐都知道要完全打开这扇门要花很多时间。你们俩人也都知道(如果你们已经到了做事很稳重的年龄),门一旦打开,浪漫故事也就结束了。实际上根本不存在什么浪漫故事,无非是一种期望而已。

就这样,你以一种欣喜的心情,在你的词典里查到“太”这个字,并说“太热了?”

这是我们人的共同特点之一,那就是在一切语言里,不管词汇可能发生如何大的变化,声调却具有大体相同的意思。可惜我们对这个特点从未予以足够的注意。你不必学习如何使俄语的问句说得悦耳动听,也不必学习如何表示怀疑、猜疑、陈述或爱意。要是你认真学了,那么费了很大的劲建造的浪漫故事,在开初的三分钟里就会触礁了。

对你提的问题:“太热了?”她一定迅速做出回答,并滔滔不绝地说个没完,完全忘掉你只有那么一丁点儿俄语老底。也许她会说:“要不我们找一个有树阴的地方坐下。”

她对你连这样简单的建议都听不懂感到有点吃惊,脸上会露出一丝不耐烦、甚至轻蔑的神态。她已经忘记了你曾经宽宏大度地提出用英语、法语、德语、意大利语和波西米亚语交谈的建议。她忘记了天下还有这几种语言。她本能地,也是很自然地感到不能跟别人交谈的人一定是傻瓜。这时,你应该启用你装备中的第二部分。不过使用时,要倍加小心,不要随便乱用,因为这是一种很痛苦的经历,也许她的自尊心还不能够承受住压给她的任务。

我相信你已经能够从她嘴中急促发出的一连串的音节中分辨出一个词来。你便到你的字典里去查找这个词,边查,边心不在焉地喃喃自语:“它是前置词,还是分词?”

你会发现她脸上原来的那副轻蔑的神色为羞愧所替代。她倒抽了一口气,蹙起眉头,从你的肩膀上探过头来瞧你查词典。她的一绺头发轻轻地拂着你的脸颊,说话的声音里充满着温馨与同情。她说:“嗯,让我们一起来找那个字。对,就是这个字!你懂吗?”

这个时候,你们无疑已经走到了某一棵大树底下,思想上也达到了远胜于理解的某种事物,即一种对你自己力量的认识。你处于一种特殊的地位,你比你老师对她要教授的那个问题了解得更多。倘若你像我规劝你那样小心翼翼地使用自己的力量,既不把她吓跑掉——像看到一个聪明过人的怪物那样拔腿逃走,又不让她在一阵傲慢的冲动下,立刻去买一本语法书,学习起她自己的语言来。你便能在这个传奇阶段,自始至终地保持孤苦伶仃而又不卑不亢的态度。因为在每一个阶段,你自己心中明白,你的语法知识比她强,而她的舌头比你强得多。

在这个世界上只有两种力量,即爱心和自尊心。我的语言系统正是建立在这两种力量之上。我不用语法规则、词形变化、动词变化、语尾变化以及其它纯粹诉诸于智力但不起多大作用的东西来向你进攻。我直接诉诸于感情。我把你放在一个儿童的位置上。对于儿童,生活本身——爱心和自尊心——要求他学好语言。我把你的老师也放在类似的位置上。你会感到十分惊奇,发现风、浪、星辰、阳光以及自然界的万物都会跑过来帮助你,帮助你这个成为儿童的人。当然,你可以在学习的间隙读你的语法。它会让你得到休息,松弛一下,从紧张热烈的上课中解脱出来。你会发现语法书同样充满感情色彩,只是语气温和些。要是你不做得过火的话,也就是说你没有以旋风般的速度把你所学语言中最富有感情的词汇灌进你脑袋的话(附带说一下,这种高速度对于脑子的机体极其有害),那么我保证你在两周之内就能把灵魂深处最深刻、最危险的思想跟人进行交流。不出一个月,你会用那种语言说许多许多话,乃至使你将对自己用英语抱憾终身。因为当你的舌头能运用自如地说外语时,你的舌头会表现得极端不负责任。那些词是表达那些意思,但是并不当真。它们是游戏文字,用来操练舌头的。它们并不跟真实世界牢牢地联接在一起,由原因产生,又归之结果,因果相关。它们在空间嘲笑。谨慎成了矫揉造作。你乱说一通,放纵不羁,而且戴着巨大和真诚的热情来说——一种对你有能力说话的热情。当你用我的方法来学习外语时,你不仅仅是在学外语,而且是在呼吸一点自由的空气,一点肤浅的毫无意义的神的气息。

(姚乃强 译)



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