查建英《国家公敌》的英语学习笔记

作者: 阮一峰

日期: 2007年8月10日

珠峰培训

上一篇网志中,我转载了查建英发表在《纽约客》上的长篇文章《国家公敌》。当时,我说她的英语水平令人叹服,完全可以同美国主流作家的英语水平媲美。

我精读了原文,下面就是一些笔记。

1.

【英文】Beijing Second Prison is on the outskirts of the city for which it is named, and you can drive past the drab compound without ever noticing it.

【中文】北京市第二监狱位于这个城市的郊区,驱车经过,你很容易忽视这个单调简陋的建筑。

【笔记】compound的意思是“用围墙圈起的建筑物及场地”,中国的大多数单位都是这种样子。注意与complex(单体的综合性建筑物)区分。你可以将两者都称为facility。另外,drab与后面一句的dun是近义词,都表示土褐色。

2.

【英文】Inside the waiting room, adjoining the gate, I stow my purse and cell phone in a locker, present my documents, and wait to be called.

【中文】在紧邻大门的等候室,我把钱包和手机放进带锁的保险箱,然后出示证件,等候被叫到。

【笔记】这句的用词很讲究,注意“adjoining”、“stow”、“present”这三个词,要是我写这句句子,很可能用的是“beside”、“put”和“give”。

3.

【英文】his eyes were rheumy and infected, his hands and face were swollen, and his fingernails were purple, evidently from poor circulation and nutrition.

【中文】他的眼睛得了沙眼和感染,他的手和脸都是浮肿的,指甲是紫色的,明显生活在恶劣的环境之中,严重营养不良。

【笔记】 注意“poor circulation”这个词,circulation通常指“流通、发行”,引申为“正常的生活”,比如in circulation表示“积极参与社交活动”,get back into circulation表示“恢复社交生活”。

4.

【笔记】一些与监狱(prison/jail)有关的词:犯人是prisoner/inmate/convict,牢房是cell/ward,狱卒是jailer/gaoler,监狱长是warden,假释是parole,监/禁是incarceration。

5.

【英文】the officer peered at the head shot of the gloomy foreigner, but didn’t know who he was.

【中文】检查官盯着封面上这个神色阴沉的洋人头像看了半天,却不知道此人是谁。

【笔记】head shot是头像,snapshot是用小照相机拍下的照片,mug shot则是在警察局拍下的大头照。

6.

【英文】The novelist Wang Meng, who was then the Minister of Culture, got out of it by claiming ill health and checking into a hospital himself.

【中文】当时的文化部部长,小说家王蒙,称病住院躲过这一要求。

【英文】He was leaning on a Jetta, smoking a cigarette, when I got out of the prison snack shop.

【中文】我走出监狱小卖部时,他正斜靠在一辆捷达车上抽烟。

【英文】we had got off the expressway and had entered the maw of downtown traffic.

【中文】我们已经下了高速公路陷进市区的车流中。

【笔记】这三句中的got out of 和got off的涵义,都不完全一样,但又差得不多。

7.

【英文】“Good thing you’re still here,” I said as I got into the car, “or I’d have had a long walk to the bus stop.”

【中文】"幸好你还在这儿,"我进车之后对他说:"否则我就得走很远去坐公交车了。"

【笔记】 I’d have had a long walk to the bus stop.这句是虚拟语气。

8.

【英文】Though we were just a forty-minute drive from the city, everywhere you looked there were old factories, low piles of rubble, industrial-waste dumps, half-deserted farm villages on the brink of being bulldozed and “developed.”

【中文】尽管离城不过40分钟的车路,这里到处都是旧工厂、瓦砾堆、工业垃圾、面临拆迁和"发展"的半荒芜的农庄。

【笔记】北京就是这种样子,异常奢华的CBD,异常贫瘠的京郊,少数人像“抽水机”一样掠夺大众的财富。最后一句是点睛之笔,所有这一切都是借用了“发展”的名义。

9.

【英文】This gave me a start.

【中文】我吃了一惊。

【笔记】这句与to my surprise同义,但不可以说to my start。后文中的take aback、I am appalled和she was flabbergasted,都表示震惊的意思。

10.

【英文】“ Most important thing is: get some guns! How can you beat the Communist Party? Only by armed struggle!”

“That’s an interesting idea,” I said, taken aback and trying to hide it. “But then China would be in a war. It would make for bloody chaos.”

“That would be great!” the driver said.

I was appalled. “If that happened, don’t you worry that the biggest victims would be ordinary people?”

“The ordinary people are the biggest victims already!” the driver replied, his face mottled with fury. “You look at this city—at what kind of life the officials and the rich people have, and what kind of shitty life we have.”

【笔记】某些人总是说,如果发生社会/动/乱的话,吃苦的总是老百姓;又说,和平稳定的环境,对老百姓最有利。但是就像上文中那位司机说的,老百姓才无所谓呢,他们已经是最大的受害者了,生活不可能再差到哪里去了。维持现行的社会秩序,富人和利益集团受益最多。用经济学语言说,在中国,和平稳定的环境是对富人的一种补贴。

11.

【英文】On both sides of Chang’an Avenue, new skyscrapers and giant billboards stood under a murky sky.

【中文】在长安街的两旁,新的高楼大厦和巨型的广告牌屹立在晦暗的天空之下。

【笔记】这句是很漂亮的暗喻(metaphor)。

12.

【英文】He had even taken to carrying around a toothbrush.

【中文】他早就随身携带了一支牙刷。

【笔记】注意,这里使用了take to这个词组,意思是“喜欢,养成习惯”,所以后面跟了carrying这个动名词形式。

13.

【英文】my brother is frozen, with his unchanging, unchangeable vision of what is to be done.

【中文】哥哥已经冰冻了,他的世界观不会改变也不可能改变了。

【笔记】注意unchanging, unchangeable这样的用法。

14.

【笔记】一些政治词汇:subvert,round up, ransack, suppress, purge, crackdown。

15.

【笔记】这篇文章的题目是《Enemy of the State》,表面是指主人公因为反对政府而被判刑,实际上有更深的涵义。这个国家的敌人是谁?我觉得,是理想主义。一个理想主义者就是这个国家的敌人,他无法在这个国家生存。这块土地的使命就是消灭理想主义。

(完)

=======================

附:一些中文常见词汇的英译

青面獠牙 a green-faced, long-toothed monster
排成一队 in single file
有几分 kind of
某某人 so-and-so
体力劳动 manual work
一次性筷子 disposable chopsticks
抄家 ransack
欢送会 going-away party
贫穷落后 poverty and backwardness
政治表现 political record
黑纱 black gauze
乡巴佬 country bumpkin
部门 section
沧桑的 weather-beaten
小卖部 snack shop
工业垃圾 industrial-waste
解雇费 severance pay
游手好闲 goof off
眨眼之间 in the blink of an eye
咬紧牙关 clench one's teeth
风雨飘摇 float in wind and storm
一蹴而就 throw a switch
政治局 politburo
主流报刊 major publication
哀其不幸,怒其不争 sorry for him, and angry at him
名人效应 name-dropping
忠孝不能两全 One must choose between loyalty and filial devotion
自我膨胀 inflated self-regard
振作精神 prop up one's spirit
弱势群体 disadvantaged people
和平崛起 peaceful rising
建设和谐社会 building a harmonious society
不以成败论英雄 Do not judge a hero by victory or defeat
千疮百孔 a hundred holes and a thousand wounds

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留言(9条)

his eyes were rheumy and infected, his hands and face were swollen, and his fingernails were purple, evidently from poor circulation and nutrition.

关于这句话里面的poor circulation,是否应该解释为血液循环系统不良?个人认为这样才是和后面的nutrition形成并列结构,作为对前面症状的解释(fingernails are purple),而且全句都是在描述他的身体状况,翻译成社交生活是不是有点牵强?

引用shydaphne的发言:
关于这句话里面的poor circulation,是否应该解释为血液循环系统不良?个人认为这样才是和后面的nutrition形成并列结构,作为对前面症状的解释(fingernails are purple),而且全句都是在描述他的身体状况,翻译成社交生活是不是有点牵强?

你这么一说,我也觉得应该是指血液循环,我当初怎么就没想到呢……

多谢指出我的这个错误。

Do you think "farewell party" is a little bit better than "go-away party"?

his eyes were rheumy and infected, his hands and face were swollen, and his fingernails were purple, evidently from poor circulation and nutrition

【笔记】 注意“poor circulation”这个词,circulation通常指“流通、发行”,引申为“正常的生活”,比如in circulation表示“积极参与社交活动”,get back into circulation表示“恢复社交生活”。

----------------
你对“poor circulation”理解有误

柯林斯有解释和例句:
Your circulation is the movement of blood through your body.
...cold spots in the fingers caused by poor circulation.

真是个有心人哪!我是第一次读到査建英,此文简洁、清晰、流畅,几乎跟林语堂的英文一样好!

经常在凤凰卫视的锵锵三人行里看到查老师

感觉是个博学、锐智、理性的人,跟宋小军之流的大不一样。

poor circulation
我的理解是“气血循环”

我想请教一下阮先生,第一句中的"for which it is named"放在这里是什么意思啊?小弟不才,请不吝赐教。

引用小哥1900的发言:

第一句中的"for which it is named"放在这里是什么意思啊?

这座监狱就是根据这个城市而命名。

我要发表看法

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