《吾国与吾民》中的汉译英范例

原创 2005年03月01日 17:30:00

因为自己的英文总学不好,以前就自以为中国人很难写出真正“优雅”的英文来。前一阵子读了英文版的《吾国与吾民》,才知道某些中国人的英文散文可以写得像培根、爱默生等西方大师一样好。看来,早年间为林语堂先生争取诺贝尔文学奖的人也不全是出于同林先生的友谊呀。

《吾国与吾民》中翻译了许多中国古代的经典诗文,不知道是否全是林先生自己的译笔,但每一篇差不多都可以作为汉译英的范文供我们学习的。我用中英对照的格式摘抄一篇郑板桥的《范县署中寄舍弟墨第二书》在这里(中文录自中州古籍影印世界书局本的《郑板桥全集》,1992年;英文录自外研社的英文版《吾国与吾民》,2000年):

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吾弟所买宅,严紧密栗,处家最宜。
The house you bought is well-enclosed and indeed suitable for residence,

只是天井太小,见天不大。
only I feel the courtyard is too small, and when you look at the sky, it is not big enough.

愚兄心思旷远,不乐居耳。
With my unfettered nature, I do not like it.

是宅北至鹦鹉桥不过百步,
Only a hundred steps north from this house, there is the Parrot Bridge,

鹦鹉桥至杏花楼不过三十步,
and another thirty steps from the Bridge is the Plum Tower,

其左右颇多隙地。
with vacant spaces all around.

幼时饮酒其旁,
When I was drinking in this Tower in my young days,

见一片荒城,半堤衰柳,断桥流水,破屋丛花,
I used to look out and see the willow banks and the little wooden bridge with decrepit huts and wild flowers against a background of old city walls,

心窃乐之。
and was quite fascinated by it.

若得制钱五十千,
If you could get fifty thousand cash,

便可买地一大陂,他日结茅有在矣。
you could buy a big lot for me to build my cottage there for my later days.

吾意欲筑一土墙院子,
My intention is to build an earthen wall around it,

门内多栽竹树草花。
and plant lots of bamboos and flowers and trees.

用碎砖铺曲径一条,以达二门。
I am going to have a garden path of paved pebbles leading from the gate to the house door.

其内茅屋二间,一间坐客,一间作房,
There will be two rooms, one for the parlor, one for the study,

贮图书史籍笔墨砚瓦酒董茶具其中,
where I can keep books, paintings, brushes, ink-slabs, wine-kettle and tea service,

为良朋好友后生小子论文赋诗之所。
and where I can discuss poetry and literature with some good friends and the younger generation.

其后住家,
Behind this will be the family living rooms,

主屋三间,厨屋二间,奴子屋一间。
with three main rooms, two kitchens and one servants' room.

共八间,俱用竹苫,如此足矣。
Altogether there will be eight rooms, all covered with grass-sheds, and I shall be quite content.

清晨日尚未出,
Early in the morning before sunrise,

望东海一片红霞,
I could look east and see the red glow of the morning clouds,

薄暮斜阳满树。
and at sunset, the sun will shine from behind the trees.

立院中高处,
When one stands upon a high place in the courtyard,

便见烟水平桥。
one can already see the bridge and the clouds and waters in the distance,

家中宴客,
and when giving a party at night,

墙外人亦望见灯火。
one can see the lights of the neighbors outside the wall.

南至汝家百三十步,
This will be only thirty steps to your house on the south,

东至小园仅一水,
and will be separated from the little garden on the east by a small creek.

实为恒便。
So it is quite ideal.

或曰:“此等宅居甚适,只是怕盗贼。”
Some may say "This is indeed very comfortable, only there may be burglars."

不知盗贼亦穷民耳。
They do not know that burglars are also but poor people.

开门延入,
I would open the door and invite them to come in,

商量分惠,
and discuss with them what they may share.

有什么便拿什么去。
Whatever there is, they can take away,

若一无所有,
and if nothing will really suit them,

便王献之青毡,亦可携取质百钱救急也。
they may even take away the great Wang Hsienchih's old carpet to pawn it for a hundred cash.

吾弟当留心此地,
Please my younger brother, bear this in mind,

为狂兄娱老之资。
for this is your stupid brother's provision for spending a happy old age.

不知可能遂愿否。
I wonder whether I may have what I so desire.

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尽管上面的英文译文有少数明显的错误(如“百三十步”,但不知是林先生原文如此还是刊印时引入的舛误),但这样的文字确非寻常的汉译英者所能为之。在这篇文章后面,林先生对文章主旨的点评也非常到位:

This is typical of the sentiment in Chinese literature. This rural ideal of Cheng Panch'iao's is as much based on his poetic feeling of common brotherhood with the poor peasant, which comes natural to a Taoistic soul, as the rural ideal of Tseng Kuofan's is based on the desire for the preservation for the family, and closely connected with the Confucian family system.

另:百花文艺出版社2002年出有林语堂译中英对照的《板桥家书》,想来该有这一篇。但我手边没有,以后可以找来与《吾国与吾民》互校。

 

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