英译中国现代散文选 | 萧乾 古城

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古城
The Ancient City

初冬的天,灰黯而且低垂,简直把人压得吁不出一口气。前天一场雪还给居民一些明朗,但雪后的景象可不堪了!峭寒的北风将屋檐瓦角的雪屑一起卷到空中,舞过一个圈子以后都极善选择地向路人脖项里钻。街道为恶作剧的阳光弄成泥淖,残雪上面画着片片践踏的痕迹。
It was early winter. The gloomy and low sky made one feel suffocating. A fall of snow a couple of days before had brought to the city dwellers a touch of brightness, but now what an ugly scene reigned! The raw wind sent the snow on the tiles along the eaves whirling in the air in tiny bits and adroitly making its way down the necks of the pedestrians by way of their collars. The streets had become slushy by exposure to the prankish sun, and the thawing snow was dotted with traces of footsteps.

飞机由一个熟悉的方向飞来了,洪大的震响惊动了当地的居民。他们脸上各画着一些恐怖的回忆。爬在车辙中玩着泥球的孩子们也住了手,仰天望着这只奇怪的蜻蜓,像是意识出一些严重。及至蜻蜓为树梢掩住,他们又重新低下头去玩那肮脏的游戏了。
A plane appeared out of the blue from a direction only too familiar to the local inhabitants, roaring to the alarm of everybody, on whose face was written memories of some previous horrors. Kids, who had been crawling about over ruts playing a game of small clay balls, now stopped to look up at the strange dragonfly in the sky, subconsciously feeling that something ominous was going to happen. However, they soon lowered their heads again to bury themselves in the messy game as soon as the dragonfly disappeared from view behind the treetops.

那是一只灰色的铁鸟。对这古城,它不是完全陌生的。大家都知道它还有伙伴们,无数的,随在背后。这只是只探子。它展着笔直的翅膀,掠过苍老的树枝,掠过寂静的瓦房,掠过皇家的御湖,环绕灿烂的琉璃瓦,飞着,飞着。古城如一个臃肿的老人,盘着不能动弹的腿,眼睁睁守着这一切。
That was a grey iron bird by no means a stranger to the ancient city. Everybody knew it was a scout with a multitude of "buddies" right behind it. With its straight wings spread out, it swept past sturdy old trees, quiet tile-roofed dwellings and lakes of imperial gardens, and circled over dazzling glazed tiles. It kept flying and flying. The ancient city, like a clumsy old man sitting there with his numbed legs crossed, looked on helplessly in face of what was taking place before him.

城门低暗的洞口正熙熙攘攘地过着商贾路人,一个个直愣着呆呆的眼睛,“莫谈国事”的唯一社会教育使他们的嘴都严严封闭着。又要有变乱了。他们也不知道是谁和谁,反正腌菜说不上得多备些的。随手还不能忘记为家里的灶王请下几股高线香,为的是保佑一家老少平安。
The dark low archway of the city gate was thronged with tradesmen and pedestrians passing to and fro, each staring blankly ahead. Acting on the public warning "No discussing state affairs", people had learned to keep their mouth closely shut. Yes, trouble seemed to be brewing. But they knew not the trouble was between whom and whom. Maybe they should store up more pickled vegetables just in case, and remember to burn joss sticks before the image of the kitchen god at home so as to get a blessing from heaven on all their folks.

阳光融化了城角的雪,一些残破的疤痕露出来了。那是历史的赐予!历史产生过建筑它的伟人,又差遣捣毁它的霸主。在几番变乱中,它替居民挨过刀砍,受过炮轰。面前它又面临怎样一份命运,没有人晓得。横竖居民是如潮似地向城里灌了。那是极好的晴雨表,另一个征服者又窥伺起这古城的一切。
As the snow began to thaw under the sun, the corners of the city wall revealed scars of war. That was something left on it by history. History had sent great men to build the wall, and history had also sent tyrants to destroy it. Again and again, it had, in time of turmoil, suffered knife-cuts and bombardment for the sake of the common people. Now, nobody could tell what kind of fate was in store. Anyway the local people were surging like a tide into the city for shelter. A perfect barometer it was indeed — another conqueror was eyeing the ancient city greedily.

古城自己仍如一位臃肿的老人,低头微微喘息着,噙着泪守着膝下这群无辜的孩子——
The ancient city, like a clumsy old man bending low and gasping feebly, continued to watch over the group of innocent kids around him, his eyes brimming with tears.

说明

《古城》是著名作家、记者萧乾(1910—1999)写于1932年冬的一篇散文精品。时为日本占领我国东北三省的次年,萧乾身处关内,面临一片国破家亡的凄惨景象,正如他自己所说,“在闷郁中为当时的北平画了这么一幅素描。”文章短小精悍,生动简洁,在景物的描述中饱蕴着作者自己的激情。

注释

①“初冬的天,灰黯而且低垂,简直把人压得吁不出一口气。”译时分成两句,干净妥帖:It was early winter. The gloomy and low sky made one feel suffocating。“把人压得吁不出一口气”意即“使人感到窒息”,故译为made one feel suffocating(或stifling)。

②“一些明朗”意即“少许明朗”,故译为a touch of brightness,其中a touch of作“少量”、“一点”(a very small amount of)解。

③“但雪后的景象可不堪了”意即“但雪后的景象是多么不堪入目啊”,故译为but what an ugly scene reigned,其中用reigned(居支配地位),未用it was,更达旨传神。

④“极善选择地向路人脖项里钻”意即“灵巧地往路人的脖子里钻”,故译为adroitly making its way down the necks of the pedestrians by way of their collars,其中by way of their collars(通过他们的衣领)是译文中的增益成分,原文虽无其词而有其意。

⑤“飞机由一个熟悉的方向飞来了”意为“飞机突然由一个当地居民所熟悉的方向(即东北)飞来了”,故译为A plane appeared out of the blue from a direction only too familiar to the local inhabitants,其中out of the blue是习语,作“突然地”解,是译文中的增益成分,原文虽无其词而有其意。

⑥“那是一只灰色的铁鸟。对这古城,它不是完全陌生的。”英译时把两句合成一句,较为紧凑连贯:That was a gray iron bird by no means a stranger to the ancient city。

⑦“他们也不知道是谁和谁”译为But they knew not the trouble was between whom and whom,其中knew not等于did not know,在否定句中省略助动词do是古体英语,现仍偶见于书面语中,有节约用字、语调顺口等修辞效果。

⑧“反正腌菜说不上得多备些的”意即“也许得多备些腌菜,以防万一”,故译为Maybe they should store up more pickled vegetables just in case,其中just in case或in case是习语,作“以防万一”解,是译文中增益的成分,原文虽无其词而有其意。此句也可译为Maybe they should store up more pickled vegetables to be ready for any possible eventualities。

⑨“它又面临怎样一份命运”译为what kind of fate was in store (for it),其中in store是习语,作“即将发生”解。原文也可译为what kind of fate was awaiting it。

⑩“那是极好的晴雨表”译为A perfect barometer it was indeed...,为倒装句,语气比顺装句It was a perfect barometer indeed强调。

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