政治与英语
Politics and the English Language
5515字
2021-03-25 12:59
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火星译客

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent, and our language--so the argument runs--must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

大多数为这件事烦恼的人都会承认英语是一种不好的语言,但一般认为我们不能通过有意识的行动来改变它。我们的文明是腐朽的,而我们的语言——这就是论点所在——必须不可避免地参与普遍的崩溃。因此,任何反对滥用语言的斗争都是一种感情用事的古董主义,就像喜欢蜡烛而不是电灯,喜欢汉森出租车而不是飞机。在这背后隐藏着一种半意识的信念,即语言是一种自然生长,而不是我们为自己的目的而塑造的工具。

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. 

现在,很明显,一种语言的衰落最终必然有政治和经济原因:它不仅仅是由于这个或那个作家的不良影响。但是一个结果可以变成一个原因,强化原来的原因,以强化的形式产生同样的效果,等等。一个人可能因为觉得自己是个失败者而喝酒,然后因为喝酒而更加彻底地失败。这和英语中发生的事情完全一样。它变得丑陋和不准确,因为我们的思想是愚蠢的,但我们的语言的邋遢使我们更容易有愚蠢的思想。

The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

关键是这个过程是可逆的。现代英语,特别是书面英语,充满了通过模仿传播的坏习惯,如果愿意冒必要的麻烦,这些坏习惯是可以避免的。如果一个人摆脱了这些习惯,就可以更清晰地思考,而清晰地思考是走向政治复兴的必要的第一步:这样,与糟糕的英语作斗争就不是轻浮的,也不是专业作家唯一关心的问题。我马上就要谈到这个问题,我希望到那时我在这里所说的话的意义会变得更清楚。同时,这里有五个现在习惯性书写的英语样本。

These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad--I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen--but because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly representative samples. I number them so that I can refer back to them when necessary:

这五个段落之所以没有被挑选出来,是因为它们特别糟糕——如果我选择的话,我本可以引用更糟糕的话——但因为它们说明了我们现在所遭受的各种心理恶习。它们略低于平均水平,但是相当有代表性的样本。我给它们编号,以便在必要时可以引用它们:

(1) I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien (sic) to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.

(1) 我真的不确定,弥尔顿曾经看起来和十七世纪的雪莱没什么两样,但他并没有因为一年比一年更痛苦的经历而变得对耶稣会教派的创始人更加陌生,这是不是真的,没有什么能使他容忍。

PROFESSOR HAROLD LASKI (Essay in Freedom of Expression)

哈罗德·拉斯基教授(《言论自由》随笔)

(2) Above all, we cannot play ducks and drakes with a native battery of idioms which prescribes such egregious collocations of vocables as the Basic put up with for tolerate or put at a loss for bewilder.

(2)最重要的是,我们不能对一套地道的习语胡乱使用,这些习语规定了一些令人发指的音节搭配,如基本的“容忍”(put up with)“容忍”(tolerate)或“困惑”(put at a loss)等。

PROFESSOR LANCELOT HOGBEN (Interglossa)

兰斯洛特·霍格本教授

(3) On the one side we have the free personality; by definition it is not neurotic, for it has neither conflict nor dream. Its desires, such as they are, are transparent, for they are just what institutional approval keeps in the forefront of consciousness; another institutional pattern would alter their number and intensity; there is little in them that is natural, irreducible, or culturally dangerous. But on the other side, the social bond itself is nothing but the mutual reflection of these self-secure integrities. Recall the definition of love. Is not this the very picture of a small academic? Where is there a place in this hall of mirrors for either personality or fraternity?

(3)一方面是自由人格;根据定义,它不是神经质,因为它既没有冲突也没有梦想。它的欲望本身是透明的,因为它们正是制度的认同所保持在意识的前沿的东西;另一种制度模式会改变它们的数量和强度;它们中几乎没有什么是自然的、不可减少的,或者在文化上是危险的。但另一方面,社会纽带本身也不过是这些自我保障的完整性的相互反映。回想一下爱的定义。这不正是一个小学者的写照吗?在这个充满镜子的大厅里,哪一个地方可以体现个性或博爱?

ESSAY ON PSYCHOLOGY in Politics (New York)

政治心理学论文(纽约)

(4) All the "best people" from the gentlemen's clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror of the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoisie to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis.

(4)所有的绅士俱乐部的“最好的人”,所有的疯狂的法西斯船长,一致的共同仇恨社会主义和野蛮的恐怖的群众革命运动的浪潮,转向的挑衅行为,犯规放火,中世纪传说的毒井,合法化自己的无产阶级组织的破坏,激动激动小沙文主义热情代表对抗革命危机的出路。

COMMUNIST PAMPHLET

共产主义的小册子

(5) If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart of Britain may lee sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream--as gentle as any sucking dove. A virile new Britain cannot continue indefinitely to be traduced in the eyes, or rather ears, of the world by the effete languors of Langham Place, brazenly masquerading as "standard English." When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o'clock, better far and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma'am-ish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens.

如果要把一种新的精神注入这个古老的国家,就必须着手进行一项棘手而有争议的改革,那就是使不列颠哥伦比亚变得人性化和活跃起来。在这里,胆怯意味着灵魂的腐烂和萎缩。例如,英国的心脏可能会发出声音,而且有强烈的节奏,但目前英国狮子的吼声就像莎士比亚的《仲夏夜之梦》中底部的吼声一样——温柔得像任何一只吮奶的鸽子。一个阳刚之气十足的新英国不可能继续被朗廷地区的倦怠,厚颜无耻地伪装成“标准英语”,在全世界的眼中,或者更确切地说,在全世界的耳朵里,被诋毁。当九点钟听到英国的声音时,听到aitches诚实地下降,比现在那些无可指责的害羞的少女们的自负的、膨胀的、拘谨的、学校夫人式的拱叫声要好得多。

LETTER IN Tribune

信论坛报

Each of these passages has faults of its own, but quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house. I list below, with notes and examples, various of the tricks by means of which the work of prose-construction is habitually dodged:

每一段都有自己的缺点,但除了可以避免的丑陋外,还有两个共同点。一是图像陈旧,二是缺乏精确性。作者要么有意义而无法表达,要么无意中说了别的话,要么对自己的话是否有意义几乎无动于衷。这种含糊不清和完全无能的混合是现代英语散文,尤其是任何政治写作的最显著特征。一旦某些话题被提出来,具体的东西就变成了抽象的东西,似乎没有人能想到那些不老套的话轮:散文中为表达自己的意思而选择的词越来越少,而越来越多的词组像预制鸡舍的一部分一样拼凑在一起。下面,我用笔记和例子列举了散文创作中惯用的各种技巧:

Dying metaphors. A newly-invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g., iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgels for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, an axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying. Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line is sometimes written tow the line. Another example is the hammer and the anvil, now always used with the implication that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to think what he was saying would be aware of this, and would avoid perverting the original phrase.

死隐喻。一个新发明的隐喻通过唤起一个视觉图像来辅助思维,而另一方面,一个从技术上来说已经“死亡”的隐喻(如铁分辨率)实际上已经恢复为一个普通的词,可以普遍使用而不会失去生气。但在这两个类别之间,有大量陈腐的隐喻,它们已经失去了唤起一切的力量,人们使用它们只是为了省却为自己发明短语的麻烦。例子有:环环相接,拿起棍棒,踮起脚尖,横冲直撞,肩并肩,玩进手中,斧头磨,磨坊磨,混水摸鱼,在日子的命令,阿喀里斯的脚跟,绝唱,温床。其中许多是在不了解其含义的情况下使用的(例如,“裂缝”是什么?),而且不相容的隐喻经常混合在一起,这显然表明作者对他所说的不感兴趣。现在流行的一些隐喻,在使用它们的人甚至都没有意识到这个事实的情况下,已经扭曲了它们的本意。例如,toe the line有时被写成tow the line。另一个例子是锤子和铁砧,现在经常使用的意思是铁砧得到了最坏的。在现实生活中,总是铁砧打碎铁锤,而不是相反:一个停下来思考自己在说什么的作家会意识到这一点,并避免曲解原文。

Operators, or verbal false limbs. These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry. Characteristic phrases are: render inoperative, militate against, prove unacceptable, make contact with, be subjected to, give rise to, give grounds for, having the effect of, play a leading part (role) in, make itself felt, take effect, exhibit a tendency to, serve the purpose of, etc., etc. The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purposes verb as prove, serve, form, play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). 

操作者,或言语假肢。这样就省去了挑选合适的动词和名词的麻烦,同时在每个句子里加上额外的音节,使句子看起来对称。有特点的短语有:使无效、阻止、证明不能接受、接触、受到、引起、为理由、有效果、在…中起主导作用、使自己感到、起作用、表现出倾向、为…服务等。基调是省略简单动词。动词不再是像破坏,停止,破坏,修补,杀死这样的单个词,而是变成一个短语,由一个名词或形容词与一些通用目的动词如证明,发球,表演,演奏,渲染构成。此外,在可能的情况下,被动语态优先于主动语态,用名词结构代替动名词(by examination of而不是by examination)。

The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation. Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint of, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved from anti-climax by such resounding commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of account, a development to be expected in the near future, deserving of serious consideration, brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and so on and so forth.

动词的范围通过“-ize”和“变形”进一步缩小,平庸的语句通过“非不构词”表现出深刻的意义。用这样的短语代替简单的连词和介词:关于,考虑到,事实上,通过动态的,鉴于,为了,基于假设;句子的结尾可以避免反高潮,因为有些老生常谈是非常希望的,不能忽略的,在不久的将来可以预料到的发展,值得认真考虑,得到令人满意的结论,如此等等。

Pretentious diction. Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basis, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up simple statements and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments. Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid processes of international politics, while writing that aims at glorifying war usually takes on an archaic color, its characteristic words being: realm, throne, chariot, mailed fist, trident, sword, shield, buckler, banner, jackboot, clarion. Foreign words and expressions such as cul de sac, ancien regime, deus ex machina, mutatis mutandis, status quo, gleichschaltung, weltanschauung, are used to give an air of culture and elegance. Except for the useful abbreviations i.e., e.g., and etc., there is no real need for any of the hundreds of foreign phrases now current in English. 

自命不凡的措辞。象现象、要素、个体(名词)、客观、范畴、有效、虚拟、基础、首要、促进、构成、展示、利用、利用、消除、清算等词,用来修饰简单的陈述,给偏颇的判断以科学公正的气氛。划时代的、史诗的、历史的、难忘的、胜利的、古老的、不可避免的、无情的、真实的等形容词,用来美化国际政治的肮脏进程,而旨在美化战争的文字,通常带有古老的色彩,其特征词是:王国、王位、战车、邮递的拳头、三叉戟、剑,盾,扣,旗帜,长靴,号角。外国词语如萨克、古政权、神前的突变人、现状、世界观等,给人一种文雅的感觉。除了有用的缩略语,例如,等等,现在英语中数百个外来短语中没有任何一个是真正需要的。

Bad writers, and especially scientific, political and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon opposite numbers.1 The jargon peculiar to Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words and phrases translated from Russian, German or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use a Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the -ize formation. It is often easier to make up words of this kind (de-regionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up the English words that will cover one's meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.

糟糕的作家,尤其是科学、政治和社会学作家,几乎总是被拉丁语或希腊语比撒克逊语更宏大的概念所困扰,还有不必要的词,如加速、改进、预测、无关、去关联、秘密,水下的和数以百计的其他人不断地从盎格鲁-撒克逊相反的数字中获得优势。1马克思主义写作中特有的行话(鬣狗、刽子手、食人族、小资产阶级、这些绅士、走狗、奴才、疯狗、白卫兵等)主要由俄语、德语或法语翻译的单词和短语组成;但是创造一个新词的正常方法是使用拉丁语或希腊语的词根和适当的词缀,必要时使用-ize形式。编造这类词(去地域化、不允许、婚外情、非零碎等等)往往比想出能掩盖自己意思的英语单词更容易。结果,总的来说,是增加了邋遢和含糊不清。

1 An interesting illustration of this is the way in which the English flower names which were in use till very recently are being ousted by Greek ones, snap-dragon becoming antirrhinum, forget-me-not becoming myosotis, etc. It is hard to see any practical reason for this change of fashion: it is probably due to an instinctive turning-away from the more homely word and a vague feeling that the Greek word is scientific.

一个有趣的例子是,直到最近还在使用的英国花名被希腊花名所取代,金鱼草变成了金盏花,勿忘我 变成勿忘我 草等等。很难找到这种时尚变化的任何实际原因:这可能是由于本能地背离了传统更朴素的词和一种模糊的感觉,希腊词是科学的。

Meaningless words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.2 Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly even expected to do so by the reader. When one critic writes, "The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality," while another writes, "The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar deadness, the reader accepts this as a simple difference of opinion If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. 

毫无意义的词。在某些类型的写作中,特别是在艺术批评和文学批评中,经常会遇到几乎完全没有意义的大段。像浪漫的,可塑造的,价值,人类的,死亡的,感性的,自然的,活力,在艺术批评中使用的词,严格意义上是没有意义的,因为它们不仅没有指向任何可发现的对象,而且几乎不指望读者这样做。当一位评论家写道,“X先生的作品的显著特点是其生活质量,“而另一个写道,“X先生的工作立即引人注目之处在于它独特的无精打采,读者接受这是一个简单的不同的意见如果黑人和白人卷入这样的词,而不是术语词死和生活,他会看到,语言被用于一种不当的方式。许多政治词汇也同样被滥用。法西斯主义这个词现在没有任何意义,除非它表示“不可取的东西”。“民主”、“社会主义”、“自由”、“爱国”、“现实”、“正义”这几个词,每一个都有不同的含义,而这些含义又不能相互协调。在民主这样一个词的情况下,不仅没有商定的定义,而且试图作出一个定义的努力也遭到各方的反抗。

It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Pétain was a true patriot, The Soviet Press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary bourgeois, equality.

几乎所有人都感觉到,当我们称一个国家为民主的时候,我们就是在称赞它:因此,各种类型制度的捍卫者声称它是一个民主国家,并担心,如果这个词与任何一种含义联系在一起,他们可能不得不停止使用这个词。这类词经常被有意识地、不诚实地使用。也就是说,使用它们的人有他自己的私人定义,但让他的听者认为他指的是完全不同的东西。如Pétain元帅是一个真正的爱国者,苏联的媒体是世界上最自由的,天主教会反对迫害,几乎总是带有欺骗的意图。在大多数情况下或多或少有些不诚实的其他含义的词语是:阶级,极权主义,科学,进步的,反动资产阶级,平等。

2 Example: "Comfort's catholicity of perception and image, strangely Whitmanesque in range, almost the exact opposite in aesthetic compulsion, continues to evoke that trembling atmospheric accumulative hinting at a cruel, an inexorably serene timelessness . . . Wrey Gardiner scores by aiming at simple bullseyes with precision. Only they are not so simple, and through this contented sadness runs more than the surface bittersweet of resignation." (Poetry Quarterly.)

2个例子:“舒适的感知和形象的普遍性,奇怪的惠特曼式的范围,几乎完全相反的审美强制,继续唤起一个残酷的,无情的平静的永恒暗示颤抖的大气累积。雷伊·加德纳通过精确瞄准简单的靶子得分。只是它们不是那么简单,在这种满足的悲伤中,更多的是表面上的苦乐参半。

Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

既然我已经编好了这本关于欺诈和变态的目录,让我再举一个例子,说明它们导致了怎样的写作。这一次,它的本质一定是一个虚构的。我要把一段好英语翻译成最差的现代英语。以下是传道书中一段著名的诗句:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

我回来,在日光之下看见,快跑的人不争竞,强盛的人不争竞,智慧的人不吃饱,聪明的人不富足,能干的人不蒙恩,但他们都有时日和机缘。

Here it is in modern English:

这里是现代英语:

Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

对当代现象的客观考虑迫使人们得出这样的结论:竞争活动的成败并不表现出与先天能力相称的趋势,但必须始终考虑到不可预测的相当一部分因素。

This is a parody, but not a very gross one. Exhibit (3), above, for instance, contains several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that I have not made a full translation. The beginning and ending of the sentence follow the original meaning fairly closely, but in the middle the concrete illustrations--race, battle, bread--dissolve into the vague phrase "success or failure in competitive activities." This had to be so, because no modern writer of the kind I am discussing--no one capable of using phrases like objective consideration of contemporary phenomena"--would ever tabulate his thoughts in that precise and detailed way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness. Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first contains 49 words but only 60 syllables, and all its words are those of everyday life. The second contains 38 words of 90 syllables: 18 of its words are from Latin roots, and one from Greek. The first sentence contains six vivid images, and only one phrase ("time and chance") that could be called vague. The second contains not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its 90 syllables it gives only a shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. 

这是一个拙劣的模仿,但不是很粗俗。例如,上面的例子(3)包含了几个相同类型的英语补丁。可以看出,我并没有完成完整的翻译。这句话的开头和结尾与原文的意思相当接近,但中间的具体说明——种族、战争、面包——化成了模糊的短语“竞争活动中的成功或失败”。这是必然的,因为我正在讨论的这类现代作家——没有人能够使用像客观地考虑当代现象这样的措辞”——会用那样精确而详细的方式将自己的思想列成表格。现代散文的总体趋势是远离具体性。现在更仔细地分析这两个句子。第一个包含49个单词,但只有60个音节,所有的单词都是日常生活中的单词。第二个单词包含了38个单词,有90个音节:其中18个来自拉丁语词根,一个来自希腊语词根。第一句话包含了六个生动的形象,只有一个短语(“时间和机会”)可以被称为模糊。第二个词没有一个新鲜的、引人注目的短语,尽管有90个音节,它只是把第一个词的意思缩短了。

Yet without a doubt it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English. I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.

但毫无疑问,这是第二种在现代英语中越来越流行的句子。我不想夸大其词。这种写作方式还不是普遍的,在写得最差的那一页里,简单的表现随处可见。不过,如果让你或我写几行关于人类命运的不确定性的话,我们可能会更接近我想象的那句话,而不是《传道书》里的那句话。

As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing, is that it is easy. It is easier--even quicker, once you have the habit--to say In my opinion it is a not unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think.

正如我试图说明的那样,现代写作在其最糟糕的情况下,并不是为了意义而挑词,也不是为了使意义更清楚而创造形象。它包括把已经被别人按顺序设置的长条状的单词粘在一起,并通过纯粹的欺骗使结果呈现。这种写作方式的吸引力在于它很容易。在我看来,说“我认为”比说“我认为”更容易——甚至更快,一旦你有了习惯。

 If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences, since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry--when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech--it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. 

如果你使用现成的短语,你不仅不必到处寻找单词,你也不必为句子的节奏操心,因为这些短语一般都是这样排列的,或多或少都是悦耳的。当你匆忙作曲时——例如,当你向速记员听写时,或是在公开演讲时——很自然地会陷入一种自命不凡的拉丁风格。像一个我们应该牢记在心的考虑,或者一个我们大家都会欣然同意的结论这样的标签,将使许多句子免于颠簸。通过使用陈旧的隐喻、明喻和习语,你节省了大量的精力,代价是让你的意思模糊不清,不仅对你的读者,而且对你自己。这就是混合隐喻的意义所在。

The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash--as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot--it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. 

隐喻的唯一目的是唤起一个视觉形象。当这些形象发生冲突时——就像法西斯章鱼唱完它的最后一首歌,长柄长筒靴就被扔进了大熔炉——可以肯定地说,作者不是在看到他所命名的物品的心理形象;换句话说,他并没有真正在思考。再看看我在这篇文章开头给出的例子。

Professor Laski (1) uses five negatives in 53 words. One of these is superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip alien for akin, making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness. Professor Hogben

拉斯基教授在53个单词中使用了5个否定。其中一个是多余的,使整篇文章变得毫无意义,此外,akin还有一个“异类”的错误,进一步变得毫无意义,还有几个本可以避免的笨拙之处,增加了总体的模糊性。Hogben教授

 (2) plays ducks and drakes with a battery which is able to write prescriptions, and, while disapproving of the everyday phrase put up with, is unwilling to look egregious up in the dictionary and see what it means.

(2) 玩弄能开药方的电池,虽然不赞成日常用语,但不愿意翻阅字典,看看它的意思。

 (3), if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: probably one could work out its intended meaning by reading the whole of the article in which it occurs. 

(3) 如果一个人对它采取一种不公正的态度,那么它就是毫无意义的:也许一个人可以通过阅读它出现的整篇文章来理解它的意图。

In (4), the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink. 

在(4)中,作者或多或少知道他想说什么,但陈腐的词句堆积如山,就像茶叶堵住水槽一样,使他窒息。

In (5), words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning--they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another--but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying. A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you--even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent-and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.

在(5)中,词语和意义几乎分开了。用这种方式写作的人通常有一个普遍的情感含义——他们不喜欢一件事,想表达与另一件事一致——但他们对自己所说的话的细节不感兴趣。一个严谨的作家,在他写的每一句话里,都会问自己至少四个问题:我想说什么?用什么词来表达呢?什么形象或成语会使它更清晰?这张照片够新鲜吗?他可能还会问自己两个问题:我能说得更简短些吗?我说了什么可以避免的丑陋的话吗?但你没有义务费这么大劲。你可以通过简单地打开你的思想,让现成的短语涌进来来逃避它。它们会为你造句,甚至在某种程度上替你思考你的想法,在需要的时候,它们还会发挥重要作用,在一定程度上隐藏你的意思,甚至不让你自己知道。在这一点上,政治和语言的贬低之间的特殊联系变得清晰起来。

In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a "party line." Orthodoxy, of whatever color, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestoes, White Papers and the speeches of under-secretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, home-made turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases--bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder--one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them.

在我们这个时代,政治写作是糟糕的写作,这在很大程度上是正确的。在不真实的地方,通常会发现作者是某种叛逆者,表达他的个人观点,而不是“政党路线”。无论什么颜色的正统,似乎都需要一种无生命的、模仿的风格。当然,在小册子、主要文章、宣言、白皮书和副秘书的演讲中可以找到的政治方言因党而异,但它们都是一样的,因为人们几乎找不到新鲜的、生动的、自制的演讲。当一个手表有些疲惫的攻击平台机械重复熟悉的短语——残忍的暴行,铁鞋跟,血迹斑斑的暴政,自由世界人民同心协力,——一个经常有一种奇怪的感觉,没有看住人,但一些假:一种感觉,突然变得更强的时候光捕获演讲者的眼镜,把他们转化成空白光盘,背后似乎没有眼睛。

 And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance towards turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favorable to political conformity.

这并不完全是幻想。使用这种措辞的演讲者已经把自己变成了一台机器。适当的声音是从他的喉头发出的,但他的大脑并没有像他为自己选择词语时那样参与其中。如果他已经习惯了一遍又一遍地重复他的演讲,他可能几乎没有意识到他在说什么,就像一个人在教堂里回应时一样。这种减少的意识状态,如果不是不可缺少的,无论如何对政治一致性是有利的。

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. 

在我们这个时代,政治演讲和写作在很大程度上是为那些站不住脚的人辩护。英国在印度的统治的延续,俄罗斯大清洗和驱逐,投下原子弹在日本,确实可以防守,但只有论点,对大多数人来说太残酷,和不广场政党公开宣称的目标。因此,政治语言必须主要由委婉语、问问题和完全模糊的语言组成。毫无防御能力的村庄被从空中轰炸,居民被赶到乡下,牲畜被机关枪扫射,茅屋被燃烧弹点燃:这就是所谓的和平。

Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

数以百万计的农民被抢走了他们的农场,并被送到公路上跋涉,他们只能携带:这就是所谓的人口转移或边境整治。人们在没有审判的情况下被监禁多年,或者被射中后颈,或者被送到北极木材营地死于坏血病:这被称为消除不可靠因素。如果一个人想给事物命名,却不想在脑海中勾勒出它们的画面,那么就需要这样的措辞。例如,考虑一些舒适的英国教授为俄罗斯极权主义辩护。他不能直截了当地说,“我相信在你能取得好成绩的时候杀掉你的对手。”因此,他可能会这样说:

While freely conceding that the Soviet régime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

而自由地承认苏维埃政权展品某些特性的人道主义可能倾向于谴责,我们必须,我认为,认为一定缩减的政治反对派的权利是一个过渡时期,不可避免的伴随,俄罗斯人民的艰苦已经呼吁进行充分合理的混凝土领域的成就。

The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were instinctively, to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find--this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify--that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years as a result of dictatorship.

夸张的风格本身就是一种委婉语。大量的拉丁语词汇像软雪一样落在事实上,模糊了轮廓,掩盖了所有的细节。语言清晰的最大敌人是不真诚。当一个人真正的目标和宣称的目标之间有差距时,他会本能地转向冗长的词语和精疲力尽的习语,就像乌贼喷出墨水一样。在我们这个时代,没有“不参与政治”这回事,所有的问题都是政治问题,政治本身就是一堆谎言、逃避、愚蠢、仇恨和精神分裂。当气氛不好的时候,语言一定会受到影响。我应该期待发现——这是一个我没有足够知识来证实的猜测——德语、俄语和意大利语在过去的十年或十五年里都由于独裁而恶化了。

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow. Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with conditions in Germany. The author tells me that he "felt impelled" to write it.

但是如果思想腐蚀语言,语言也会腐蚀思想。错误的用法可以通过传统和模仿传播,甚至在那些应该也确实知道的人中间。我一直在讨论的下流语言在某些方面非常方便。像一个并非毫无道理的假设,留下很多不希望的东西,不会有好的目的,我们应该好好考虑一下,这是一个持续的诱惑,一包阿斯匹林总是在我们的手边。回顾这篇文章,你肯定会发现,我一次又一次地犯了我所反对的那些错误。今天早上我收到了一本有关德国情况的小册子。作者告诉我,他“觉得自己被强迫”去写这本书。

 I open it at random, and here is almost the first sentence that I see: "[The Allies] have an opportunity not only of achieving a radical transformation of Germany's social and political structure in such a way as to avoid a nationalistic reaction in Germany itself, but at the same time of laying the foundations of a cooperative and unified Europe." You see, he "feels impelled" to write--feels, presumably, that he has something new to say--and yet his words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern. This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anesthetizes a portion of one's brain.

我随意打开它,这几乎是我看到的第一句话:“(盟军)不仅有机会实现一个激进的德国社会和政治结构的转换以这样一种方式,避免在德国的民族主义反应本身,但同时奠定基础的合作和统一欧洲。”你看,他“觉得自己被强迫”去写作——大概觉得自己有新东西要说——然而,他的话语,就像骑兵的马响应军号一样,自动地组合成熟悉的沉闷模式。这种现成的短语(奠定基础,实现彻底的转变)对一个人的思想的入侵,只有一个人不断地防范它们,才能防止,而每一个这样的短语都会麻醉一个人大脑的一部分。

I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail. Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority. 

我之前说过,我们语言的堕落可能是可以治愈的。那些否认这一点的人,如果他们真的提出一个论点的话,他们会争辩说,语言仅仅反映了现存的社会状况,我们不能通过任何直接的修补词语和结构来影响语言的发展。就语言的一般语气或精神而言,这可能是对的,但在细节上却不是。愚蠢的词汇和表达经常消失,不是通过任何进化过程,而是由于少数人的有意识行动。

Two recent examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone unturned, which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of fly-blown metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence,3 to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable. But all these are minor points. The defense of the English language implies more than this, and perhaps it is best to start by saying what it does not imply.

最近的两个例子被千方百计地研究,却被一些记者的嘲笑所扼杀。如果有足够多的人对这份工作感兴趣,也可以去掉一长串令人厌恶的比喻;此外,还应该有可能让“非非信息”一笑了之,减少一般句子中拉丁语和希腊语的使用量,淘汰外来语和走马步的科学词汇,并使装腔作势不再流行。但所有这些都是次要问题。为英语辩护的含义不止于此,或许最好从它没有暗示什么开始。

 One can cure oneself of the not un- formation by memorizing this sentence: A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.

一个人可以通过记住这句话来治愈自己的不协调:一只不协调的狗在一片不协调的田野上追逐一只不协调的兔子。

To begin with, it has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words and turns of speech, or with the setting-up of a "standard-English" which must never be departed from. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with having what is called a "good prose style." 

首先,它与古语,与挽救过时的词语和说话方式,或与建立一种永不放弃的“标准英语”毫无关系。相反,它特别关注的是把已经失去用处的每一个词或习语都删掉。它与正确的语法和句法无关,只要你把自己的意思说清楚,或者避免美式英语,或者拥有所谓的“好的散文风格”,这些都是无关紧要的。

On the other hand it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one's meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is to surrender them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing, you probably hunt about till you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. 

另一方面,它不涉及虚假的简单性和试图使书面英语口语化。它甚至不意味着在任何情况下都倾向于使用撒克逊语而不是拉丁语,尽管它确实意味着使用最少最短的词来表达自己的意思。最重要的是让意义选择一个词,而不是相反。在散文中,最糟糕的事情就是放弃文字。当你想到一个具体的物体时,你会无言地思考,然后,如果你想描述你一直在想象的东西,你可能会四处寻找,直到你找到与之相吻合的确切的词语。当你想到一些抽象的东西时,你更倾向于从一开始就用词,除非你有意识地努力阻止它,否则现有的方言会冲进来为你做这项工作,代价是模糊甚至改变你的意思。

Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures or sensations. Afterwards one can choose--not simply accept--the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally. But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:

也许最好是尽可能长时间地推迟用词,通过图片或感觉尽可能清楚地表达自己的意思。之后,一个人可以选择——而不是简单地接受——最能表达意思的短语,然后转换话题,决定自己的话对另一个人可能产生的印象。头脑的最后一次努力剔除了所有陈腐或混杂的图像,所有预先准备好的短语,不必要的重复,以及普遍的欺骗和模糊。但是一个人经常会对一个词或一个短语的效果产生怀疑,当本能失灵时,他需要可以依赖的规则。我认为以下规则适用于大多数情况:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(一) 千万不要使用你在印刷品中经常看到的隐喻、明喻或其他修辞格。

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(二)不要用长词代替短词。

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(三)如果有可能删掉一个词,一定要删掉。

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(四)不要在可以使用主动语态的地方使用被动语态。

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(五) 如果你能想到与日常英语相当的词语,千万不要使用外国短语、科学词汇或行话。

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.

(六)打破这些规定,早于说任何野蛮的话。

These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in these five specimens at the beginning of this article.

这些规则听起来很简单,事实上也是如此,但对于那些习惯了现在流行的写作风格的人来说,它们需要深刻的态度转变。一个人可以把它们都保留下来,仍然写不好的英语,但是一个人写不出我在本文开头引用的这五个样本中的那种东西。

I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. 

我在这里并没有考虑语言的文学用途,而只是把语言当作表达思想的工具,而不是用来隐藏或阻止思想。斯图尔特·蔡斯和其他人几乎声称所有抽象的词语都是毫无意义的,并以此为借口,鼓吹一种政治静默主义。既然你不知道什么是法西斯主义,你怎么能和法西斯主义作斗争呢?人们不必接受这种荒谬的说法,但应该认识到,目前的政治混乱与语言的衰败有关,从语言的结尾开始可能会带来一些改善。

If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language-and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists--is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase--some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse--into the dustbin where it belongs.

如果你简化你的英语,你就摆脱了最荒唐的正统。你不会说任何必要的方言,当你说了一个愚蠢的话,它的愚蠢是显而易见的,甚至对你自己也是如此。政治语言的目的是使谎言听起来真实,谋杀听起来体面。所有政党,从保守派到无政府主义者,都是如此。给纯风以坚实的外观。不能改变这一切,但至少可以改变自己的习惯,甚至不时地可以,如果一个人足够大声嘲笑,发送一些破损的和无用的词——长统靴,阿基里斯的脚跟,温床,熔炉,严峻的考验,名副其实的地狱或者其他块口头拒绝——到垃圾箱的属于他们的权利。

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