Chinese version of my recent blog post about Chinglish

Translated by Zhang Jie (张洁); 译文:张洁

设想某日《纽约时报》向读者征集最喜爱的金发女郎笑话[1]或者有色人种所做的最滑稽的事。再设想该活动开展后迅速充斥了整个网络空间,任何对性别或种族问题有所兴趣的人都在博客、facebook和微博上热烈讨论着,甚至连从事性别和种族研究的学者们也开始群情激昂地对金发女郎或有色人种的荒谬行径提供种种分析。

当然,这种宣扬性别歧视和种族主义的极端恶劣事件不会发生。我庆幸这种内容不再融入主流文化,同时也呼吁到了为语言的多样性正名的时候。嘲笑他人的语言实无风趣可言。其本质就如同那些低劣的性别歧视或种族主义玩笑一样 — 只不过性别歧视和种族主义如今已不被人接受,但对语言发表一些成见却似乎仍无伤大雅。

《纽约时报》近日刊登了一篇有关中式英语的新闻,一时成为电邮转载率最高的文章。由于这篇文章引起的读者关注度以及在博客空间造成的极大反响,《纽约时报》决定向读者征集有关“千奇百怪的国外标识”的照片,甚至创建了学术博客提供一系列专业分析,阐释“汉英翻译中一些无心之失如何造成了令人捧腹或费解的英语译文。”

取乐于荒诞滑稽和矫揉造作的标识,无可厚非。但是,仅仅因为不符合所谓的母语规范而嘲弄标识上的语言,我不能苟同。

发动全世界人学习英语并灌输给所有英语学习者无法消解的自卑感,对利润丰厚的外语教育产业来说也许意味着无限商机。但我们需清醒地认识到,这是一个完美的剥削陷阱,这也是完全不道德的。

《纽约时报》的这篇文章后紧接着刊登了两则纠正信息,因为该报社没能在第一时间弄清楚一位中国受访者的现任职务以及某个汉英翻译软件的正确拼写。是否只有我看到了一丝讽刺的意味呢?


[1] 金发女郎笑话(blonde joke)是欧美的一种笑话类别,专门嘲弄金发女郎的愚蠢行为。这类笑话的主人公多为女性,僵化了人们对金发女郎的刻板印象,有明显的性别歧视色彩,遭到了广泛的批评。

Author Ingrid Piller

Dr Ingrid Piller is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Ingrid’s research expertise is in the fields of intercultural communication, bilingual education and the sociolinguistics of language learning and multilingualism in the contexts of migration and globalization.

More posts by Ingrid Piller
  • Hongyan

    谢谢张洁做的翻译!

    那天读了英文的原文就颇有些感触。突然记起了在悉尼大学旁听了一门课后曾经思考过的一个问题,就是如何去区分“Chinglish”、”China English”和“Chinese English”。

    去年去看一个朋友的时候,她的同屋,一个澳洲女孩,原来见过几次,彼此映像也还不错,很热情地招呼我,“Long time, no see”。我一听,第一反应就是一愣,然后明白“好久不见”,但我还是以平日的问候方式回以问候。后来我问她为什么用这样的问候语,她说平时都是这样问候好久不见的朋友,没有什么特别的。看来她并不是应为我是中国人才用一句中国人常用的汉语问候语英文直译来问候我的。

    我想《纽约时报》的那名发稿人在写这些关于Chinglish的文章时,应该先思考一下那个令我深思的Chinglish/China English/Chinese English的问题,然后走到美国的多语言多元文化社区去听听那里的人正在使用的英语,多一点实在的职业精神,也许会写出更好具有语言学意识的文章也有助于建立自由民主国度的形象。当然,这样的要求对于《纽约时报》这些天天摆弄文字游戏的发稿人,似乎反而显得我缺乏写作创新性并对报刊新闻的大众迎合心理欠缺了解,尤其是在这样“英语是我们的英语”的国家!

    看到这篇文章图片里所拍的上海的(中国其它一些城市也许也是用的相同的英文翻译,抱歉,在国内的时候没有特别留意过)“存取款一体机”被翻译成Cash Recycling Machine, 这个翻译给人的直观语言感觉是“钞票再循环利用机器”。对于“存取款一体机”的英文表达,我问了研究所里同办公室的同事,但是他们都不确定这样的机器具体的英文单词应该怎么准确无误地表达。最后我打电话到澳洲Commonwealth Bank的客户服务热线,咨询的问题是“澳洲银行里面用什么样的规范的英文单词来表示客户既可以自动取款又可以自动存款的机器?”客户服务员对我的奇特问题先是给了友好的笑声,然后致以很耐心的回答,告诉我“ATM”,我再次追问“还有没有别的单词表达?”她说“没有了,就是ATM, 并且解释,澳洲大街上的Commonwealth 银行的ATM只能取款,只有部分分行里面才有这种存取款一体机可以存取款”。

    对于“存取款一体机”究竟是”Cash Recycling Machine”还是”ATM”? 出于科学严谨的态度,我想最好还是再打几个电话到澳洲的各大银行取证一下,当然,也许《纽约时报》的这名写稿人会质疑:“嘿,澳洲银行的叫法,算什么!澳洲英语(Australian English)而已!!”看来只有打电话去美国的本土银行咨询了。在美国的朋友也许能够帮上这个忙。

  • chenkan

    I am very grateful to Dr. Piller when I read about this article, because in one respect, finally, some one came out to speak for Chinglish. Long live understanding! Linguistic hegemonism, in many cases, makes those Chinese who can not speak English fluently the silent majority. In another respect, as a Chinese who has been studying English for more than ten years, I am ashamed that up untill today we are still not able to communicate with native English-speakers fluently and naturally. As a scholar studying languages, we are reflecting on English-teaching in China. At the same time, we can not help asking whether it is possible for a native Chinese who has no overseas experience to be bilingual in Chinese and English.

  • Jenny Zhang

    Like many Chinese who spend years toiling at English language learning but still cannot achieve ‘native-like’ standard, I can easily identify and relate to this article. I’m also more than happy to see that more and more Chinese scholars and learners of English start to reflect on hegemonic ideologies attached to ‘Standard English’ and the inferior status ascribed to ‘non-native speakers’ in those ideologies.

    In the context that the English language has evolved into not only a global means of communication in many varieties but more importantly an identity marker for people from all corners of the world, I think there is an urgent need to redefine the term ‘bilingual’ for English speakers. The term shall move away from a definition implying ‘equal competence in two languages’ to a broad definition referring to someone who can function in two languages for the purposes of communication. First of all, even if two languages are simultaneously acquired by someone in an ideal language environment of completely equivalent language resources (which is impossible), it is still unlikely for he/she to achieve ‘equal competence’ in all areas of the two languages, let alone sequential bilinguals. Secondly, in many cases, it is not ‘poor’ English proficiency per se but the negative self-perception caused by the native/non-native dichotomy that silences ‘EFL’ and ‘ESL’ speakers. For a language that has passed into world ownership, Rampton (1990) has argued it is unacceptable and inappropriate to have the ethnic Anglo speaker as a reference point against which all other English should be measured.

    Now let’s come back to the question whether it is possible for a native Chinese who has no overseas experience to be bilingual in Chinese and English. Some people might say no, because they take it for granted that the pedagogical aim of EFL is to interact with ethnic Anglo-American ‘native-speakers’ in English-speaking countries. But I will say ‘yes, yes, yes…’, because ‘overseas experience’ is not a criterion against which ‘Bilingual English Speaker’ should be measured. In an increasingly globalizing world and transnational space, the principal purpose of learning English today is not to interact with speakers of L1 varieties of English but to express our diverse cultures and identities. I believe that a removal of the native/non-native dichotomy will have a positive influence on English language learning and teaching.