Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas.

关于翻译这门学问的碎碎念

这两天在看阿摩司·奥兹的《黑匣子》,前面虽然时有云里雾里之感但都凑合着看下去了,看了一半左右出现了一句“你是不是渴望在米晒勒自己的游戏中打击他”才觉得忍不了了……译者钟志清老师不知道beat someone at his own game的意思也没什么,为什么不动手查一下呢?(虽然这个版本据说是从希伯来语直译过来的,但因为我十分怀疑希伯来语里有字面意思一模一样的用法,碰巧核对了英文版以后发现那边写的就是Was it really just because you were dying to beat Michel at his own game,所以推测译者此处是参考了英译本的译法。)



You probably recall the famous statement at the beginning of Anna Karenina, in which Tolstoy, donning there the cloak of a calm village deity and hovering over the void full of benign toleration and loving kindness, declares from on high that all happy families resemble one another, while unhappy families are all unhappy in their own way. With all due respect to Tolstoy I'm telling you that the opposite is true: Unhappy people are mainly plunged in conventional suffering, living out in sterile routine one of five or six threadbare clichés of misery. Whereas happiness is a rare, fine vessel, a sort of Chinese vase, and the few people who have reached it have shaped and formed it line by line over the course of years, each in his own image and likeness, each in his own character, so that no two happinesses are alike. And in the molding of their happiness they have instilled their own suffering and humiliation. Like refining gold from ore. There is happiness in the world, Alec, even if it is more ephemeral than a dream. Indeed in your case it is beyond your reach. As a star is beyond the reach of a mole. Not "the satisfaction of approval," not praise and advancement and conquest and domination, not submission and surrender, but the thrill of fusion. The merging of the I with another. As an oyster enfolds a foreign body and is wounded and turns it into its pearl while the warm water still surrounds and encompasses everything. You have never tasted this fusion, not once in your whole life. When the body is a musical instrument in the hands of the soul. When Other and I strike root in each other and become a single coral. And when the drip of the stalactite slowly feeds the stalagmite until the two of them become one.

换了英文版才发现前头乍看没看出是翻译错了的地方也问题不少。所以说不懂作者在说什么其实不是我理解能力有问题,是“托尔斯泰在那段独白中,给冷静的村神蒙上了一层覆盖物,将笔锋滞留在充满善意忍受和善良的虚空中”本来就跟作者的原话差了十万八千里啊……

说起来我一直很想吐槽很多人喜欢说的“翻译最讲究的不是外语水平,而是中文水平”这话。首页有好些人称赞过钟志清老师翻得优美流畅,我自己对她的中文水平也没什么意见。问题是错的就是错的,再优美流畅也救不了。

喜欢强调对于翻译来说中文水平比外语水平更重要的人往往是太小看外语阅读了。绝大多数翻译(是的,我觉得我可以放这个地图炮)的外语水平都没到能把原文从头到尾完全读通了的程度。不是说文学批评意义上的读通(那本来就是不可能的),就单单说字面程度上的理解,国内我真的没有见过多少翻译能确保每个句子都比较准确的。经常见的错误除了长句复杂句翻得乱七八糟狗屁不通和不认识成语俚语就瞎翻之外,还有见了个常用词就以为“哦,我知道是什么意思嘛”,没想到这个词还有些比较冷僻的用法。

总是有人以为英语学得差不多就行了,生词难词可以查。但看上去简单的东西不一定有那么简单。因为你不知道有这么个句式,所以你看不出门道来就不知道自己应该去查。因为你不知道这个简单词还有别的意思,所以你想不到要去翻字典。不在外语上下苦功到底还是不行的。看都看不懂的东西,还去想要怎么更好地转换成中文,无异于路都走不稳就开始琢磨着怎样跑更快。

不举贾六级这种例子了,就说我自己吧。早几年刚考完GRE的时候觉得自己英语不错了,满分340,考了336,闲着没事就在论坛上加了组,做了一阵子翻译。当时还没改掉好为人师的毛病,还经常给人校对改错。隔了一年之后,我打开我之前翻译的文档一看,发现翻错的地方非常多,非常多……简单粗暴的翻译错误。非常明显的没读懂还自作聪明地以为自己get了。特别羞耻play。想起自己之前还自以为是地去指点别人,恨不得立马销号。

还是没舍得销号,于是我赶快把翻错的地方都改了。再隔了一年之后我又去看,发现错得比之前少,但还是没少到能够不刺激我羞耻心的程度。这还只是同人。简直可怕极了。(没有对同人不敬的意思,但我觉得同人常用的句式和词汇确实是比较简单的。十七世纪的莎剧和一句话四五行的学术论著都啃下来好些了,我没有想到我翻个同人都能出这么多错。显然我之前读那些书其实也没怎么读懂,只是我苏格拉底看得少,不懂得自己什么也不懂而已。)总之为了避免受到持续伤害,后来我再也没翻译过东西,连之前要的授权都坑了。

当然我不是说叫大家都别翻译了,翻译的意义无需多言。我是希望一些人不要太小看了外语。掌握一门语言不是那么简单的事。不要老以为自己看懂了。一篇文章从头到尾能比较顺畅地看下来和细节上不出差错绝对是两个层次的事。看到不太拿得准的句子的时候Google一下总是不会有坏处的。另外《黑匣子》这本书超棒的,相见恨晚。

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    哇…………………自勉…………
  2. Parallel Universe戯作三昧 转载了此文字
    2012年译林再版的那套奥兹收了四五本,观感还不错,只有my Michael一本买了英文版,和中译本...
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