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Title:Why You Should Learn Chinese 为什么应该学习中文

绚丽绯凡
Topic Poster
绚丽绯凡 10-10-18 17:07

A student practices writing the Chinese character xue, which means to study or to learn

一名学生在练习写中文的“学”字。

Deborah Fallows and her husband, the Atlantic's James Fallows, are no strangers to life in a foreign country. Over the course of their careers they've upped sticks and moved to foreign lands, from Africa to Southeast Asia. But even their many years as expatriates could not have prepared them for what they would experience throughout their three years living in a country as overwhelming and chaotic as China. In her book, Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language, Fallows, who holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from Harvard University, details the struggles and triumphs she had while learning one of the world's most difficult languages. She spoke to TIME about what her study of Mandarin taught her about life in China, the country's dizzying transformation and the value of learning languages.

 

Deborah Fallows和她的丈夫,来自亚特兰大的James Fallows,对于异国的生活并不陌生。他们职业生涯的大部分时间都在海外度过,从非洲到东南亚。但是,即使是这么多年的旅居经历也没有让他们能够准备好迎接他们在势不可挡、嘈杂混乱的中国的三年生活。曾经获得哈佛大学语言博士学位的Fallows女士,在《中国梦想:生活、爱情、语言中的普通话课程》一书中详细描述了她在学习世界上最难的一种语言的过程中所遇到的困难和取得的成就。她在接受时代周刊采访时,讲述了她的中文学习如何让她了解中国的生活、这个国家令人眼花缭乱的变化和学习一门语言的价值。

 

Why did you choose China?

为什么选择中国?

 

It just seemed that there could be no possibly more interesting place in the globe right then than China. It was a no-brainer that this would be a fascinating place to be. We had been through China in the mid-1980s and we knew that if we went back it would be enormously different, but also that the country was at a really special moment in its evolution and development. 

仅仅是看起来世界上没有比中国更有趣的地方了,不用动脑都知道那是一个迷人的目的地。我们在80年代中期到过中国,我们知道现在回到那里肯定会有巨大的变化。这个国家正在经历发展过程中的一个特殊时期。

 

China in the mid-'80s must have been fascinating.
中国在80年代中期一定有令人着迷之处。

Back then China was still coming out of the Cultural Revolution. You knew that this was the beginning of a change, but it was unrecognizable in every way. There was very little in terms of commercial life. The stores were empty, the shelves were bare. Everyone was still dressed in the sort of drab uniform of the Cultural Revolution or just starting to wear these really cheap new Western-style clothes. We had our two little boys with us and everyone wanted to touch their blonde hair, pick them up and take pictures with them.

当时的中国刚刚结束文化大革命。你或许了解那时的中国刚刚开始发生变化,但仅仅是在有限的方面,商业生活没有任何改观。商店里空空如也,货架上乏善可陈。每个人还都穿着文革那种单调的制服,有极个别人会穿廉价的西式服装。我们带着我们的两个儿子,每个人都想摸一摸他们的金黄色头发,想抱一抱他们,或者与他们合影。

 

And what was the China you encountered upon arriving in 2006?
那么你们在2006年看到的中国是什么样子?

 

It bore very little resemblance to anything we had seen before. You had all of the old and all of the new trying to share the same space. We saw a few old buildings nestled in with 80-story high rises. Fast cars on roads that had been practically empty before. For the first couple weeks I felt like I was hyperventilating. Everything was so fast, so big, so sprawling, so foreign.

中国和我们以前所看到的没有一点相似的地方,所有的旧事物和新事物融合在一起。我们看到一些老建筑依偎在80层楼高的摩天大厦旁边,飞驰而过的汽车占满了以前空空如也的街道。刚到这里的几个星期,我感觉到有些喘不过气来。一切都是那么大、那么快、那么张牙舞爪、那么陌生。

 

How did learning the language change your experience of living in China?

学习语言是如何改变你在中国的生活经历的?

At first I thought it was just going to be functional, to help us through everyday life. But after I got to be a little bit better in Mandarin, I realized that this was changing my life entirely. Daily life remained so overwhelming that I felt like the one place where I had a grip on something was the process of studying this language. Learning the language became my way to understand and explain all these things that I was seeing every day. 

一开始的时候,我认为这仅仅是一个交流的工具,可以让我们的日常生活更顺利。但是当我的普通话越来越进步的时候,我发现语言整个改变了我的生活。日常生活 中的新鲜事物依然不断地涌入,我觉得每一个吸引我主意的生活细节就是一个学习语言的过程。学习语言变成了我理解和解释每天看到的东西的一种方式。

 

Can you give an example of something you learned about China from Mandarin?
你可以举个例子来描述如何通过普通话来了解中国的吗?

 

Their table manners seemed very normal or even excessively polite. You would never think of pouring tea for yourself until you had poured it for everyone else at the table. But there was a kind of contrast between that politeness and what I would see in public — the pushing and shoving on the street, for example. What I noticed from a linguistic point of view was that the appropriate way to say things in Chinese was to be extremely abrupt even to the point of being rude. "Please" and "thank you" is heard very little. If you're in a restaurant and the waiter asks if you'd like some more water, you just say buyao (don't want) — you don't use any of the normal softeners that make our language polite. I asked some of my Chinese friends, and they told me that in China when you insert words which we consider polite, they consider it as inserting a formality between you and your good friends or family members. It actually sets some kind of distance. So, in fact, saying "please" to your child or "thank you" to your best friend is heard as something that is very formal, very icy and like, "What did I do wrong?"

 

他们的餐桌礼仪似乎很常规,甚至有些过于礼貌。在给周围的人倒满茶水之前不要指望给自己倒茶,但是我也看到过公共场合一些与此极为相反的现象,比如街上的推推搡搡。从语言学的角度,我发现在中国恰当的说话方式是极为唐突,甚至是粗鲁的,你很少会听到“请”、“谢谢”。如果你在一家餐厅中,服务员问你是否还要一些水,你直接说“不要”就可以,你不需要用通常那些让语言更加有礼貌的字眼。我询问过一些中国朋友,他们说在中国,如果你在语言中插入一些礼貌用语,会被别人认为你把朋友和家人搞的很生分,这实际上拉大了双方的距离。所以,对你的孩子或最好的朋友说“请”和“谢谢”是过于正式的行为,会显得很冷酷,好像“我做错了什么”。

 

And how did that help you understand the pushing and shoving on the street?
你是如何理解街头的推搡行为的?

 

It helped me understand the pushing to the extent that you think, I also don't understand this. It helps me understand that there is something going on here between behavior and language that I just don't get. It made me want to sort out all the impressions that were going on inside my head. 

你知道,这可以帮助我理解一定程度的推搡,我其实也无法完全理解。我能了解的是,这里的一些行为和语言我还无法完全明了。这让我更加想要把脑子的各种印象分分类。

 

What do you think is important for Americans to understand about China?

你认为美国人最需要理解中国的哪一点?

 

Before we went, I thought this is a massive country of 1.3 billion people and it's like a monolith — one big, unified nation of people who are all moving in the same direction very fast. But after being there on the ground in the country, I learned that it is actually a country of 1.3 billion individuals who are all working in their own personal way to try to make their lives better. The daily life of China is much more like a Chinese fire drill than it is a nation acting in unity. It's important not to be fearful of this country, but rather to learn as much about it. We have less to fear and more to embrace in our relationship with China than we might think.

在出发之前,我想象这是一个有13亿人的巨大的国家,就像一块巨石——庞大、团结的国家,每个人都按相同的方向快速移动。但是当我踏上中国的土地,我发现这个13亿人口的国家每个人都有自己的生活方式,都在努力让自己的生活变得更好。中国的日常生活更像一场消防演习,而不是整齐化一的国家行为。重要的是不要害怕这个国家,而要去尽量多地了解它。我们现在就比以前更加不担心、更加愿意去拥抱与中国的关系。

What about the language? Should more Americans be learning Chinese?

那么语言呢?应当有更多的美国人学习中文吗?


More Americans should be learning any language and more languages, not just one. But certainly for this generation of kids, it would be a really wise choice to start to learn some Mandarin because it will open such a world to them. Not that Mandarin is going to take over the world, but that it will open opportunities to work, to live, to communicate, to understand a country that is going to be so important in our future.

美国人应当更多地学习任何一种语言,不仅仅是中文。但是对于这一代人来说,选择学习一些中文当然是明智的,因为这会为他们打开一个新的世界。并不是说中文将会统治世界,而是说这样做会获得更多的机会,包括工作、生活、交流、理解一个在未来会变得无比重要的国家。

From: Kayla Webley

            http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2019179,00.html