再见,中文翻译版作品

上次曾提到,我想方设法在amazon.cn上买了一本Kindle中文书,美国汉学家 Porter Bill 的英译汉作品:《禅的行囊》。读完后,我发现amazon.com有英文Kindle原版: Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China, 买下来。

当我读到下面这一段时,发现原来我早先读过的《空谷幽兰》(也是 Porter Bill 的作品)里有些内容没有出现在中文版:

Ming-chieh translated my book on Chinese hermits, Road to Heaven—except, of course, for the parts about politics, the military, and the police, which never made the Chinese edition.

我一直以为文化类的翻译作品不会与原文有太大的出入。我好奇地将此段文字和中文翻译版比较一下,发现即使是这本游记类的作品,中文版和英文版的差别也不小。

英文版原文:

So I called up Ming-yao, and he asked me to meet him for lunch. He said his wife Ming-chieh would be there too. Ming-chieh translated my book on Chinese hermits, Road to Heaven—except, of course, for the parts about politics, the military, and the police, which never made the Chinese edition. Everyone liked her title: K’ungku-yu-lan: “Hidden Orchids of Deserted Valleys.” Strange as it sounds, no one had ever written a book about hermits in China, and the publication of Kungkuyulan had a noticeable impact. In the Sian area, it even resulted in the formation of a hermit association, which sounds ludicrous. But the association has since compiled a record of hut and cave locations in the Chungnan Mountains south of Sian where I conducted my interviews. And it now sends someone around periodically with medicine and food—and even mail.

Of course, that is not necessarily a good thing. The Cultural Revolution was nothing new. Times are good for monks and nuns right now in China, but everything changes. And when bad times come, someone will have to take the blame. Throughout Chinese history, that someone has often included its Buddhist and Taoist clerics: those unproductive slackers living off the sweat of others. Still, most of the hermits I talked to were not greatly affected even during the worst years of those decades everyone in China still wants to forget. The Buddhists and Taoists who felt the heat were the ones living in monasteries and nunneries, not the ones in huts—yet another advantage of seclusion and a low profile.

以下是中文翻译版相应内容:

在电话里,明尧邀我一起吃午饭。他的妻子明洁也会来。明洁是我上一本书的中文版译者,所有人都喜欢她给中译本起的名字:《空谷幽兰》。在此之前,还真没有人写过一本关于中国隐士的书。《空谷幽兰》的出版产生了一些影响:在西安,居然因此形成了一个隐士协会。隐士协会将终南山区的茅篷和洞穴位置登记造册,定期派人到山中分发药品和食物,甚至邮件。

此处翻译版本的简短与中文的精简浓缩、博大精深无任何关系。不知是谁饿了,把作者的原文内容啃掉了一大块,只剩下一根骨头,冷冰冰,硬梆梆。这样的情况在全书中并不偶然。

必须指出,《空谷幽兰》和《禅的行囊》这两本中文翻译版的翻译水平很不错。无奈,再伟大的翻译家也绝非万能。

我以前曾说过,原则上不读活人的中文作品,现在还要加上一条,不读中文翻译版作品。敬鬼神而远之。

学好英语很重要。

再见,中文翻译版作品》上有32条评论

    1. 土木坛子 文章作者

      在一个极度追求金钱却又不讲原则的国度里,我不觉得这些行为奇怪。
      不奢望要求别人如何如何,我只希望自己不是这样子吧。

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        1. 土木坛子 文章作者

          还有你这么一个好人……虽然我对鲁迅这个老愤青保留我自己的看法,但我非常欣赏他的一句名言:我向来是不惮以最坏的恶意来推测中国人的。

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  1. smartsun

    要是能学好才可以啊!不然就算能明白意思,文学性还是打折扣。你在国外,当初是如何学英语的,啃了多少年英语做到阅读英文原著无障碍的。

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    1. 土木坛子 文章作者

      读它,用它写东西,听它,如果能,说它。没有什么比自己亲自参与有效了。刚开始肯定会痛苦的。当然了,我的英语也不是那么好,肯定没有母语的水平。但我不是语言专家,我只用它就可以了。

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        1. 土木坛子 文章作者

          Of course, I removed my IME not just because of this case. It is theoretically unnecessary to have Chinese IME on my office computer. I have it on one of my home computer.

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  2. 河石子

    文学作品最好去读原著,译本读起来肯定没有原著的感觉了,就像红楼梦给翻译成了英文之后再去读,你也一样找不到那种意境。

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  3. Joseph

    学英文的主要目的之一就是绕过翻译直接读原著,恭喜博主,终于想通了。
    BTW,没必要愤怒到把输入法都卸载了吧。

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    1. 土木坛子 文章作者

      My work does not necessarily need Chinese. I removed it not only because of this case. For example, now when I type everything on this computer, I never be disturbed by Ctrl+Space bar anymore. Of course, my home Linux PC still has Chinese IME.

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  4. Sherry

    公平地讲,翻译本来是退而求其次的做法,是为了将某些东西在更广泛的领域和地区里得到推广,让那些因为不通语言而不能获悉某些东西的遗憾尽量少一些。窃以为,尤以文化领域的翻译最难获得100%的translation,语言的差别最大的分歧点在文化底蕴上的差别。中文里的一些精妙的用词,转到英文就很难发掘到同等精妙又传神的表达,反之亦然,每一种语言的魅力就在于他们能和本民族的文化深深地纠葛在一起,并相互增加深度广度。学法语的时候,在法语联盟中心的图书馆,有MM就悄声在说:学法语就是为了看懂杜拉斯的《情人》!虽然这种动力到底能支持她多久,但对于原汁原味的追求从来不乏至真至纯的人,对不?

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