现代英文选评注 | Invite 邀舞 John O'Hara


约翰·奥哈拉(John O'Hara,1905 - 1970)生于美国宾州的Pottsville。他是写实派小说家,描写美国各阶层人物,甚为生动。电影《孽海长恨》(Ten North Frederick,Gary Cooper主演),就是根据他的一部得奖的长篇小说改编的。另一部电影《酒绿灯红》(Pal Joey,Frank Sinatra主演),也是根据他的若干篇小说改编的。


本文选自《奥哈拉短篇杰作集》(The Great Short Stories of John O'Hara),是美国中西部的一个大学生写给东部一个女友的一封信,请她来参加舞会。里面略有故事,这里均删去。奥哈拉模仿美国大学生写作的笔调,值得一读;读者可以知道一般美国学生所写的是什么样的英文。再则,也可从里面约略知道美国大学生的生活。

Dear Betty:

I debated within myself a long time whether to call you Betty, not that I didn't call you Betty last summer and you me Harry, but as neither of us kept our promise to write I was not sure whether we should return to the formal basis.

  • 中国人写这封信的时候,往往会在开头加这几个字:“当我提起笔来的时候。”这里没有用这几个字,可是意思已经包含在内了。
  • debated within myself:自己跟自己辩论,决定不了。call you Betty:叫人家的名字,而不称其姓(Miss so-and-so),这是熟朋友间的称呼法。写信的人和其女友已久无往来,也许应该客气一点,不直呼其名。
  • last summer:上一次的夏天;假如是秋季冬季写的,那就是今年夏天;假如是在春季夏季写的,那就是去年的夏天。这里恐怕是去年的夏天。
  • 去年夏天,我们一起玩得很好,那时我叫你Betty,你叫我Harry。我现在提起笔来,决不定是不是应该用客气的称呼,并不是因为过去我们没有好过,而是因为我们疏远已久了。
  • You me Harry仿前面的I didn't call you Betty。
  • kept our promise:我们分手之时,相约常常通信,但是我们都没有守约。
  • the formal basis:形式的(或客气的)基础(或原则)。因为我们疏远已久,我不知道我们应否回复到过去那种客气的来往的情形。

Well, how are you liking it at Smith? I hope better than you did freshman year. Remember I told last summer how you would like it better when you were a sophomore? Personally I did not mind freshman year so much. I made a lot of new acquaintances and friends freshman year and although some of them have not lasted, still some of them have, and now that I am an upperclassman I am satisfied to have my own circle of friends, some of them in the fraternity but some not. I am not narrow about fraternity stuff. Just because a fellow I like happened to go Phi Psi and I went Delt does not mean I have to hate him. That stuff went out years ago. In fact my father was not a Delt. When he was here he was a Tau Phi Alpha. When I came here he told me I could go anything I please. "Any crowd that will have you." he said humorously. I think that is the right attitude and if my son comes here he can go any fraternity he wants, preferably Delt because we have always had a good well-rounded house, not too many athletes and not too many honor students and not too many playboys. Three years ago we won the Heffelberger Cup, emblematic of having the highest scholastic average of any fraternity house on the campus, and last year we had captain of baseball, three Phi Betes, two guys that just missed Phi Bete, chairman of the Junior Prom, and also were runners-up in interfraternity tennis. So you see we have a well-rounded house with varied interests. We also have some wealthy alumni. At all our big football games you ought to see the Lincolns and Cadillacs parked in the driveway. One of the alumni from Lake Forest has a Rolls but he never brings it to the games.

  • Smith即Smith College,是美国东部的一所贵族化女子大学(在麻州)。男孩子是在美国中西部(芝加哥附近)一所大学里读书,看后文便知。like it中的it应该是代替life。
  • 第二句话很简单:我希望你现在应该比你去年(读大一的时候)多喜欢一点Smith的生活。去年夏天我们相聚的时候,你说过你不大喜欢那里的生活,那时我就说过,到你大二(sophomore)的时候,你的好感就会增加了。
  • did not mind:不在乎,不觉其生疏或枯燥。freshman year应该是名词,但作者拿这两个字和last summer一样,当作副词用。第一处是better than you did (like it) freshman year,另一处是made…friends freshman year。some of them:大一所交的朋友,有几个不能保持友谊;有几个现在还是朋友。lasted:持续。
  • upperclassman:高班生。fraternity:兄弟会。兄弟会是美国多数大学生活中很重要的一部分。兄弟会自备宿舍,常常是一座漂亮的小洋房。会员住在里面,吃也在里面。兄弟会的名字大多是用希腊字母起名,希腊字母常常又是一句希腊文格言几个字开头的字母。各兄弟会之间在学业等方面竞争颇烈。
  • narrow:气量狭窄。fraternity stuff:兄弟会“那一套”。气量狭小的人不喜结交本会以外的朋友。
  • Phi Psi:两个希腊字母(i读长音/Ai/),是某一兄弟会。Delt是希腊字母Delta的简称,是另一兄弟会。
  • 我的一个朋友(a fellow I like)恰巧加入了某会,而我入的是Delta会,我并不因此一定就要恨他,我们仍旧可以做朋友。
  • 加入某某会,动词用go:go Phi Psi,went Delt,这是值得注意的。
  • That stuff:兄弟会之间互相仇视的那一套,好多年前就不存在了。
  • my father:美国习俗,父亲读什么大学,儿子也读什么大学;父亲加入某兄弟会,儿子也加入该兄弟会。Delta的会员,简捷了当地称为Delt,Tau Phi Alpha(另一个会)的会员,就是a Tau Phi Alpha。
  • go anything I please:爱加入什么会,就加入什么会。go字的用法见前。
  • 加入兄弟会,也不容易。兄弟会有拒绝申请者入会之权。父亲恐怕我在大学里不受人欢迎,因此幽默地说:哪一家会(Any crowd)要收容你,你就去好了。你不一定要加入我的Tau Phi Alpha的。
  • 我父亲既如此开明,我一旦有了孩子,我也将让他自由选择。最好(preferably)当然还是Delta,因为几十年来(或一百多年来),我们这个会一直人才平均发展。well-rounded:面面都能顾到。house:指宿舍里所住的人。
  • athletes:运动员。honor students:学业成绩卓异的学生。playboys:花花公子。
  • Heffelberger Cup:这个人所捐的银杯。emblematic of:(这只杯子)表示在全校(on the campus)各兄弟会中,我们这一会的会员学业成绩总平均最高。
  • Phi Bete:想是Phi Beta Kappa的简称。Phi Beta Kappa是美国全国各大学间的优秀学生联谊会。大学高班生成绩优异的,得被选入会,会员得金钥匙一枚。金钥匙可以终身佩带,那就是说,在大学里得到好分数,这个荣誉是可以终身保持的。Phi Beta Kappa似乎不备宿舍。因此各兄弟会之间也互相竞争,会员能被选入Phi Beta Kappa,也是该兄弟会的光荣。Phi Beta Kappa是一句希腊格言“哲学指导人生”三个字的起首的字母。
  • two guys(美国俚语):两个“家伙”。just missed:差一点拿到。
  • Prom(美国大学俚语):跳舞会。Junior Prom:大三学生欢送大四学生的盛大跳舞会,通常于暑期大考前举行。chairman:主办这个舞会的主席。
  • runner-up:(运动会的)第二名。复数是runners-up。interfraternity tennis:各兄弟会之间的网球比赛。
  • varied interests:多方面的兴趣。
  • alumni:校友(复数)。男校友单数是alumnus。
  • Lincoln和Cadillac都是美国高级汽车的牌子。parked:停放(汽车)。driveway:汽车道。
  • Rolls即Rolls Royce,是英国高级汽车的牌子,比Lincoln,Cadillac还要华贵,那个人不好意思坐了来看比球。
  • 这个兄弟会会员人才济济,校友中还有阔人。希望这位Betty小姐听见了心动,远道赶来参加舞会。

Well, I guess all this fraternity stuff doesn't mean very much to you, being an Eastern girl, but I just thought I would tell you a few things as I wanted to ask you if you could come out here for Junior Prom, as my guest. I know what you will think, too far. Well, it is pretty far but not if you come by plane. If you flew to Chicago I could meet you there in my car and it is only a pleasant drive from Chicago. We would be here in plenty of time for the tea dance Friday afternoon. (I hope your folks have no objection to flying.)

  • an Eastern girl:东部学校里的小姐。美国东部学校似乎不大注重兄弟会(或姊妹会)。例如哈佛和耶鲁两大学的本科学生,也仿英国牛津、剑桥那样,住在不同的colleges里面,这个college不像中国的College of Arts,College of Science那样,以学科来分;主要的是座宿舍,各college的学生在导师的训导之下,过有益身心的团体生活。
  • what you will think:我知道你有什么推托了——路太远了,怎么好来呢?
  • pretty far:路是很远。(pretty是副词。)但是你若坐飞机来,就不远了。
  • If you flew…:此句为虚拟式。it is:我们到学校去。
  • tea dance:茶舞(非正式的)。your folks:你家里人。

As to where you would stay while here you would stay at the Kappa house (Kappa Kappa Gamma). That is the best sorority on the campus and is just around the corner literally from our house. We and the Kappas have an arrangement that the men the Kappas bring to Prom stay at our house and the women we bring stay at the Kappa house. You would like the Kappas. A lot of them get their clothes in the East and have their own cars. Some of the other sororities call the Kappas a hi-hat crowd but I don't think that is fair. Several times during the year we have joint dances, informals, with the Kappas and you would not want to meet a nicer crowd.

  • while here:当你在这儿的时候。would stay(虚拟式):女朋友来不来还没一定。
  • sorority:姊妹会,女学生所组织的。自备宿舍与兄弟会相仿。
  • Kappa Kappa Gamma:三个希腊字母,是某一姊妹会之名。简称Kappa,会员也叫Kappa,复数是Kappas。
  • around the corner:在附近转角处。美国人说话中常说just around the corner,表示“就在附近”。但是有时候言过其实,并不很近的地方也可以说它是just around the corner。
  • literally:照字面直解地,并不言过其实地。说是:just around the corner,我的意思就是“在附近转角处”。
  • arrangement:协定。
  • the women we bring:women这个字在美国大学里用得较广,女生常被称为women。一个人只要不是child(此字不分男女性),总可以说是man或woman。
  • clothes in the East:东部的服饰趣味比较高雅。美国男人的西装也以东部八大学(所谓“长春藤联盟”Ivy League)学生所穿的最为标准。
  • hi-hat:势利眼的。美国近来常有人把high写作hi。crowd:此字不单是“群众”,亦有“团体”之意。本文前文有Any crowd that will have you之句。
  • joint dances:联合舞会(他的兄弟会和她们的姊妹会)。informals想是和dances“同位”,这种舞会是非正式的。
  • nicer:注意它的比较级。该姊妹会的人太好了,你不再想认识“更好”的人了。nice除了“高贵讲究”之外,也有对人和蔼可亲之意。

Well, how's about it? You have plenty of time to think it over and I wish you would let me know the minute you decide. You could be back in Northampton Sunday night I believe. They are trying very hard to get Tommy Dorsey for Prom. It will be announced next week. The program is tea dances Friday afternoon and joint dinner at our house (Kappas and their guests and our guests and we). There be a basketball game that night but we can miss that as it is only a freshman game. There is also a Glee Club concert before Prom and that may be good. Then Prom until four and then breakfast party at the Kappa house. The next day (Saturday) there is nothing special doing till the tea dances when every house has open house and then Buffet supper at the Kappa house. After that the 'varsity basketball game and after the game informal dancing at the gym. It has to be informal as there is a faculty rule that dancing has to end at 12 midnight Saturday night.

  • the minute you decide:一有决定,烦请即刻赐示。
  • Northampton:在麻州,即该女生的Smith College所在地。
  • They:代名词,所指不明(应该是舞会主办人)。文法学家认为是错误的,但这种说法很常听到。
  • Tommy Dorsey:美国极有名的爵士乐队之领队。大学里的Junior Prom是件大事,他们不惜重金聘请有名乐队。至于这个乐队是否能来,下星期宣布。
  • our guests and we:这里有四种人,自己(we)放在最后,这是习惯用法。
  • There be:be字的用法在这里很怪,恐怕不能以语法说明。我们只当它是will be或is可也。miss that:不去看。大一球队,无甚精彩。
  • Glee Club:歌咏团。concert:音乐会。Prom until four:这是主要节目正式舞会,跳到天亮四点。
  • every house:指那些兄弟会、姊妹会。open house:欢迎来宾参加。那个has用得很怪。茶舞恐怕就在各兄弟会跳,Prom是在大地方举行的。Buffet supper:自助餐(非正式的)。
  • 'varsity basketball game:大学篮球比赛。'varsity即university,此字美国大学里很常用。gym:即gymnasium,健身房。健身房是大地方,应该又是个大规模的舞会了,但是这还得是非正式的。原因是学校规则(faculty rule)不让他们跳通宵。12 midnight:午夜十二点。

You would only have to bring one evening dress that is for Prom. If you could stay over Sunday afternoon and evening there is a roadhouse about twenty miles from here that used to be a country club and is very nice. We usually go there Sunday afternoon when we have dates. It is just a pleasant drive and if you have never seen the farming country out here it might prove interesting to an Easterner.

  • would还是虚拟式,因为她来不来还没有决定。only have to:只要。evening dress:正式晚礼服。
  • roadhouse:公路旁的餐厅或酒店,也可能有舞厅设备。
  • country club:乡下总会。那里除了饮食跳舞之外,还可打高尔夫、网球、骑马、游泳等。以前是俱乐部,现在改成酒店了。
  • dates:男女间的相约出游。

Well, I have sketched the Prom week-end for you and I hope it sounds interesting. If you would come it would be the first time one of our crowd has had a girl from so far East, and we would go to town showing you a good time.

So come on and let us show you that all the fun is not at Yale and Princeton and those places. I have a lot of things to talk about in person but that will have to wait.

  • sketched:简略描写。
  • one of our crowd:我们兄弟会里的人。so far East:从东方老远的请一个女朋友跳舞,我们兄弟会中还没有过呢。town:学校之外(城里也可以去玩玩)。
  • Yale and Princeton:东部的贵族化大学,Smith的女生常到那种地方去跳舞的。fun:热闹,有趣。all这样用在英文里是普通的,但是和中国人想法不同。莎士比亚有句:

All that glitters is not gold.此句之意,是“璀璨者非皆黄金”,并不说“凡是发金光的,都不是黄金”。这里的all如放在稍后:fun is not all at Yale and…(并不是只在Yale等等学校里,才有热闹好玩的事),意思较说得通。这里all放在前面,这是英文习惯用法,意思和all放到后面去是一样的。

  • in person:当面(谈),不在信里说。that:那件事(to talk)非得等你来了再说了。