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英語時態閒談之一
撰文者: Wayne 發表日期: November 15, 2009 – 2:01 pm

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版主今天早上起個大早,到隔壁豆漿店吃燒餅配蛋餅,外加一杯溫豆漿,隨手拿起桌上濺滿豆漿與燒餅渣的中國時報,看到一則消息:

時人時語
2009/11/15

中國時報【本報訊】

“His integrity, loyalty, and hard work exemplified the best tradition of American statecraft. He will be missed.”

— Hillary Rodham Clinton

「他的操守、忠誠和努力,使其成為美國最佳治國之術傳統典範。他將受到世人緬懷。」

前美國在台協會台北辦事處處長李潔明過世,美國國務卿希拉蕊.柯林頓特別發表聲明,推崇他對美國外交的貢獻。

出處:http://news.msn.com.tw/news1484094.aspx

版主邊吃邊想,該寫點評論來討論這篇時人時語的英文。為什麼呢?一是中文翻譯有點小問題,二是英語時態的問題。

translation【 翻譯問題】

根據英文的句法,李潔明的正直 (integrity)、忠誠 (loyalty)、努力 (hard work) 這三者是真正展現/落實「美國治國才略的最佳傳統」。數學公式如下:

integrity + loyalty + hard work = the best tradition of American statecraft

中國時報的翻譯失之偏頗,因為譯者拘泥於英文句型,又想跳脫框架,整個翻譯不幸成了四不像,何不翻成下面的句子?

(忠於英語原文句型)
「李潔明的操守、忠誠和努力展現美國治國之術的最佳典範。他將受到世人緬懷。」

(忠於中文行文規則)
「李潔明剛正不阿、忠心耿耿、努力不懈,乃是美國治國才略的最佳典範,世人將永久緬懷他。」

translation【時態問題】

這是本篇的重點。版主一直強調時態很重要,學習英文時千萬不可輕忽。希拉蕊是用 “exemplified” 來形容李潔明的成就,動詞形式為「過去式」,屬於『蓋棺論定』的用法,千萬不可誤植為「現在式」 。用「現在式」會讓人誤以為李潔明還沒去世,除非是日後歷史學家以現在的眼光跳脫歷史框架來評論李潔明 (相關講解請參照下例)。

撰寫杜甫評論時可用「現在式」:
Traditionally, Chinese literary criticism has placed great emphasis on knowledge of the life of the author when interpreting a work, a practice which Watson attributes to “the close links that traditional Chinese thought posits between art and morality”. Since many of Du Fu’s poems prominently feature morality and history, this practice is particularly important. Another reason, identified by the Chinese historian William Hung, is that Chinese poems are typically extremely concise, omitting circumstantial factors that might be relevant, but which could be reconstructed by an informed contemporary.
(來源) Wikipedia

(說明) 寫杜甫傳則必須用「過去式」:
Du Fu (杜甫, 712-770) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His own greatest ambition was to help his country by becoming a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and the last 15 years of his life were a time of almost constant unrest.
(翻譯)
杜甫 (公元712 年 – 770 年) 乃是著名的唐朝詩人,常與李白並稱為中國最偉大的詩人。他胸懷壯志,矢志考取功名為國效力,可惜卻窮途潦倒,難以溫飽。杜甫的一生風雨飄搖,猶如當時的朝廷,因著安祿山之亂而顛沛流離。杜甫離世前的15年,生活尤其艱辛困頓。

有趣的是,明明是講現在的事情 (時人時語嘛!) 兩句話卻沒有用到任何「現在式」 ,網友不妨用心體會。版主寫過很多關於英文時態的文章,請參見:『英文時態概論』。

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關於這點,版主想起電影《證明我愛你》(Proof) 的兩段對白,都是旁人對女主角與女主角姐姐評論她們父親的用語。

◎ (第一段) – 發瘋的天才父親尚未過世,目前獨居於芝加哥的老家

Professor: How is your father?

Daughter: I don’t know. I haven’t been able to get in touch with him for a week. He’s fine. Last time I talked to him, he was fine. He’s been fine for months now. Nine months.

Professor: He was a great man. (你父親以前很偉大。)

Daughter: He still is. (他還是很偉大。) – 為父親辯駁

◎ (第二段) – 天才父親已經過世,哀悼式結束後於家中舉辦朋友聚會

Physicist: To your old man.  (He was one) hell of a guy. (敬你老爸,他以前是個令人敬佩的傢伙。) – 蓋棺論定
Daughter: Thank you. (謝謝!) – 衷心接受對方對父親的評論
Physicist: Too bad he went nuts. Hell of a guy anyway. (只可惜他瘋了,不過還是令人欽佩。) – 再次蓋棺論定

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