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American talk slippier than you might think

美国人说话也绕弯

中文 英文 双语 2010-09-17    来源:GLOBALTIMES.CN      阅读数:221922
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导读:中国人奉行东方文明的中庸之道,而美国人深受西方文明独立、自我、自由的意识熏陶,所以中国人说话一定比美国人更委婉(roundabout)吗?
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美国人说话也绕弯
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美国人说话也绕弯

It is commonly believed among many Chinese that Westerners who take "yes" and "no" by their face meanings are more straightforward than Chinese.
中国人通常认为,西方人面对 “是”和“否”的回答时,往往比中国人更加直接。

The perception contains some value. Normally Westerners don’t have to adopt Chinese tactics like sweeping the floor or constantly checking the clock to indicate to a guest that it’s time to leave. They don’t have to hesitate in saying "no" when they are not able to, or don’t want to, offer help to a friend in need. There is no embarrassment attached to this behavior.
这种观点的确有些道理。西方人不会像中国人那样,采取扫地或不停看时间的方式,暗示 “逐客令”的下达。在西方,朋友需要帮助时,如果自己无能为力或不愿相助,可以毫不犹豫地说“不”,这不会造成尴尬局面的产生。

But it is too simple to conclude that Westerners are more direct speakers than the Chinese.
但是,下定论说西方人比中国人说话更直白,那就太简单了。

There are many occasions when the way Westerners express themselves make Chinese look more straightforward and honest.
在许多场合,他们的表述反而显得我们中国人更直率诚实。

When I was a fresh international student, the director of our program once asked students in an e-mail what we thought about a new adjunct professor. I simply said "She seems to know a lot but doesn’t know how to teach." And the director replied with "Thank you for being candid."
在我还是一个国际新生的时候,课程的主任有一次让学生在电子邮件中发表自己对新来兼职教授的看法。我只是简略地写道:“她看似学识渊博,但却不知如何教学生。”而主任回复我:“多谢你的坦诚。”

Only years later when I better understood the new culture, I realized why I had gone too far. If that question were asked now, the reply would have three paragraphs devoted to the qualities of the professor before the last line came out - "There are some gaps in her teaching methodology." Still tough, but at least it wouldn’t be considered rude.?
几年以后,在对这个崭新文化有更深刻的了解之后,我才意识到当时自己做得有多过火。如果现在再问我相同的问题,我一定先写三段赞扬她优点的话,最后再写一句:“她的教学方法有点难以接受。”虽然仍带尖刻,至少看上去不那么粗鲁了。

Indeed, the introverted social norms and the deeply-rooted "face issue" make honest speaking risky in China, Americans have their own reasons to distort words. This results partly from suffocating political correctness. It also results from several generations of people who have been told they have done well even when they have failed. It may not be unfair to suggest that many Americans are oversensitive and obsessed with a perfect self image.
确实,在中国,内敛的社交氛围以及根深蒂固的“面子”观念使得说实话者要承担很大的风险,而在美国,说话绕弯,也有他们的原因,可能是严格的政治正确性迫使他们委婉用词,也可能是来源于多年来的传统——对失败者都不吝惜赞美之词。所以,认为美国人过分敏感与极端自负的观点,都有失公道。

So, the next time you hear about the inscrutable and indirect Chinese, it would be worth challenging the source and pointing out that the cultural comparisons are much more complex.?But maybe you should do it in a roundabout way, to be polite?
因此,当以后再听到表示中文深奥晦涩的论调时,你可以对此辩驳一番,并指出文化的比较是很复杂的。但是,出于礼貌,你可能要采用更委婉的方式论述自己的想法,不是吗?

21英语网站版权说明  (Translator & Editor: 21英语Sylvie AND Lily)


辞海拾贝
Slippy圆滑的 Tactic方法,手段,策略
Straightforward坦率的,率直的 Adjunct professor兼职教授,非全职教授
Methodology方法,方法论 Introverted内向的,含蓄的
Suffocating令人窒息的,严格的 Inscrutable深不可测的
Roundabout委婉的,迂回的 



 


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