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Bob’s your uncle.

2010年10月27日 评论已被关闭

‘The native speakers weren’t more intelligent than the foreigners, but they sounded it, and so they were heard’

To be born an Englishman,” Cecil Rhodes supposedly said, “is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” But the old imperialist was wrong. What he should have said was, “To be born an English- speaker…” The global rise of bad English is helping us native speakers rise.
“生为英国人,”相传塞西尔•罗德斯(Cecil Rhodes)曾经说过,“相当于中了人生中第一张彩票。”这位老帝国主义者说错了,他应该说,“生为英语国家的人……”蹩脚的英语在全球盛行,帮助我们这些以英语为母语的人跟着得势。

I first realised our advantage at a conference last year. The speakers came from across northern Europe, but they all gave their talks in English – or a sort of English. Germans, Belgians and French people would stand up and, in monotones and distracting accents, read out speeches that sounded as if they’d been turned into English by computers. Sometimes the organisers begged them to speak their own languages, but they refused. Meanwhile the conference interpreters sat idle in their booths.

Each new speaker lost the audience within a minute. Yet whenever a native English-speaker opened his mouth, the audience listened. The native speakers sounded conversational, and could make jokes, add nuance. They weren’t more intelligent than the foreigners, but they sounded it, and so they were heard. Here, in microcosm, was a nascent international hierarchy: native English- speakers rule.
在去年的一次会议上,我首次意识到了我们的优势。演讲者来自北欧各地,但他们都用英语——或者说“英语的一种”——发言。德国人、比利时人和法国人站起来后,就用平板的语调,朗读仿佛是用机器翻译成英语的演讲稿。他们的口音让人不知所云。主办者有时恳请他们用母语发言,但遭到了他们的拒绝。在此期间,会议的翻译们无所事事地坐在自己的位子上。

每个演讲者都在开口的一分钟内失去了听众。而只要母语是英语的人一开口,人们就会静下来听讲。这些人侃侃而谈,妙语如珠,还不时开个玩笑。他们并不比外国人聪明,只是听上去如此,所以人们会听他们讲话。这不啻微观世界中一个初具雏形的国际等级体系:以英语为母语的人占尽风头。
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分类: 童言无忌, 网海拾贝 标签:

脑袋中的手指头

2009年8月24日 评论已被关闭

我的外甥小明是个聪明可爱的孩子。想起了他的一些旧时趣事:
有次,他正在做数学题,他妈妈看到他在数指头。便告诉他:
“要学会心算,不要数指头”
“好的,妈妈”…“妈妈,我做完啦”
“乖孩子,不用数指头就做出来啦”
小明将我拉到一边,悄悄说:
“老舅,我用脑袋中的手指头算出来啦。我脑袋中有2只手哟!”

分类: 朝花夕拾, 童言无忌 标签: