20130908

回應天下文化的胡言,兼論 ‘if not’

上星期有幾個不友善的留言,都是留在我批評洪蘭的兩篇文章之下的,這兩篇已是兩個月前的舊文,留言令我覺得有點不尋常。兩三天後收到台灣《蘋果日報》記者的電郵,告訴我出版《快思慢想》的天下文化回應了各方對洪蘭翻譯的批評:他們已經請編輯部的總監和編輯群詳細檢查,認定洪譯「正確性沒問題」,只是洪蘭不是「逐字翻譯」,而是把書先「消化」之後再寫出來,所以逐句去對會有一點不一樣。

記者要求電話訪問我,想知道我對天下文化的說法有甚麼意見,我回覆說訪問是不必了,但還是寫了一段簡短的回應:

說洪蘭的翻譯「正確性沒問題」,肯定是不對的,只是出版社敷衍塞责的講法。翻譯當然不一定要逐字翻譯,有時可以因應兩種語言的根本分別而較有彈性地翻譯。洪蘭的是劣譯,不是因為「逐句去對會有一點不一樣」,而是因為她的譯文不少是跟原文的意思完全不同。我寫了兩篇文章批評洪蘭的翻譯,第二篇裏的例子更明顯是譯錯了意思(例如將 ‘effectively blind’ 譯作「暫時性的失明」),可惜早前《自由時報》的報道沒有引用這些例子,否則洪蘭及天下文化便百詞莫辯。

我回了電郵後的翌日,台灣《蘋果日報》的報道便出了,不但包括了上述天下文化的回應,還說天下文化同意視個案退書,但只能換書不能退費。不認錯,卻又肯退書,怪哉!報道最後說至截稿前無法聯繫上我,其實我已第一時間回覆他們;記者後來給我電郵致歉,希望我諒解他們時間緊迫。

沒有報道我的回應,我不介意,只是可惜兩份報章的報道都沒有引用洪蘭劣譯的最佳例子,不能令讀者單看報道便知道洪譯之離譜。兩篇報道都用了 ‘could solve it, with paper and pencil, if not without’ 的洪譯為例子,並附上我的翻譯(「即使不能心算,用紙筆當可計出答案」)。有些台灣的網上討論認為我也譯錯,上文提到的不友善留言也是這樣批評我。雖然我認為這句的意思很簡單,但既然有人質疑,我不妨稍為解釋。

有人根據字典,說 ‘if not’‘perhaps’ 的意思,因此, ‘if not without’  應譯作「也許能心算」,而非「即使不能心算」(註)。‘if not’ 在某些語境的確可以譯作「也許」、「或者」、「可能」、「說不定」等,以強調可能性,例如:

(1)  Mr. Parker is one of the best teachers, if not the best, at our school.

然而,在另一些語境,雖然仍然是 ‘perhaps’ 的意思,但要強調的是懷疑或不肯定,那麼,‘if not’ 就應該譯作「即使 不」、「就算 不」、或「要是 不」,例如:

(2)  The report has turned out to be misleading, if not outright false.

Kahneman 那句 ‘could solve it, with paper and pencil, if not without’ 裏的 ‘with paper and pencil’ 表達了肯定,因此,對比的 ‘if not without (paper and pencil)’ 應是表達不肯定,譯作「即使不」譯作「也許」較為妥當。

(其實,在另一些語境, ‘if not’ 會是 ‘though not’ ‘but not’ 的意思,但在這裏不談了。)


(註)有讀者留言指出不用紙筆不等於心算,我同意,因為用計算機也是不用紙筆(但算不算是計數呢?),可是,既然是不肯定不用紙筆也能計出答案(if not without),那個「不用紙筆」方法應該比用紙筆難,除了心算,會是甚麼方法呢?

23 則留言:

  1. "{could solve it, with paper and pencil}, [if not without]" 的意思是 :

    "[if] {could} [not] {solve it} [without] {paper and pencil}, {could solve it} {with paper and pencil}"

    Please notice my using of the "{}" and "[]" to help other readers to locate the original words.

    Thus I agree that your "「即使不能心算,用紙筆當可計出答案」" is a very good interpretation.


    { BTW, what would have happened if the ancient bible interpreters used the same translation approach as Ms 洪蘭?! }

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  2. Just to remind other readers that "effectively blind" in Cantonese could be translated into something like "直情係盲嘅". Whether "直情係盲嘅" is equivalent to "暫時性的失明", you will be the judge.

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    1. 對,就是「直情係盲嘅」(或「直頭係盲嘅」)!

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  3. ‘could solve it, with paper and pencil, if not without’ 這樣的句子不用如此長篇大論解釋吧? 只是一個極常見常用的英語句型, 任何一個曾接觸英語文化的人都會知道其意思就是「即使不能心算,用紙筆當可計出答案」

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    1. 的確是常用句型,可惜台灣那邊有些人認為不簡單。

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  4. 出版社這樣的回應,在台灣是屬於極為普遍的現象,涉及到的問題,應非語文能力不足,而是"權力問題",許多人都知道王蘭丈夫在台灣的社會地位,倘若出版社承認錯誤,無非是他們結下樑子,間接的又會被"他們的好友"給封殺,比如運用人際關係,禁止該出版社的書籍刊登廣告,或是不能在書局販售之類的手段。

    期待他們會承認自己的錯誤,是不可能的事情。

    「人要勇於承認自己的錯誤。」這句話在台灣,不是用來警惕自己用的,而是用來約束他人。

    這類的毫無公義可言的事情,只要將主詞更換,在台灣都能適用,當然引言中的文句,即便是更換成其他名言佳句也是十分適用。

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    1. //期待他們會承認自己的錯誤,是不可能的事情//

      - 也許如此,但批評還是需要的。

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    2. //- 也許如此,但批評還是需要的。//
      認同,但缺乏自省能力的人,即便旁人已指出錯誤,仍舊不願承認過錯,還會有救嗎w

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  5. 對教授治學嚴謹深表佩服!

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    1. 不敢當,只是有點執著而已。

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  6. Reality bites呀,特別是靠扯功跟形象撈錢的人,拆她台子,是要她命吧。

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    1. 不拆,就是縱容了。

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    2. 在王蘭女士眼中,不拆,就是寬容她了。女人渴望男人了解她和接受她。

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    3. 洪蘭,不是王蘭。

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  7. 关于if not的讲解,为何没有附送上权威字典或者语法书上的说明呢,这样会更有说服力一些

    我查词典得到的解法和你相同,甚至离洪兰更远;oxford dic of eng 2nd 说等价于perhaps even。wordnet 3.0说 perhaps;indicating ossibility of being more remarkable

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    1. //为何没有附送上权威字典或者语法书上的说明呢//

      -是懶惰喇!讀者如認為我講得不對,可以引權威字典或辭書來指正。

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  8. 台灣出版社這樣的回應,在台灣是屬於極為普遍的現象,涉及到的問題,應非語文能力不足,而是"權力問題",也是"面子問題"。I am a Hongkonger living and working in Taiwan for more than 35 years. In the eyes of Taiwanese, especially the elderly, if you make me lose face, you are destroying me, 而我也絕對不會放過你。 Conversely, if you give me face, negotation and even cooperation between you and me will be possible, if not feasible. Mad Dog Legistor Raymond Wong citicizes some open-minded HK government officials as "勇於認錯,死不改過". The "face obsession syndrome" among Taiwanese are much worse than Hongkongers. The former is notorious for "死不認錯", let alone any chance that they are willing to right the wrong they committed. Yes, Hongkong tourists traveling in Taiwan always find that the Taiwanese locals look friendly (有人情味). In my opinion, honesty and straigtforward manners are good virtues of Hongkongers; by contrast, the underlying cause of Taiwanese being friendly to strangers is the consensus to reciprocate face (面子互惠), whereas the inevitable side effects of being friendly people include corruption, cunningness, and cost-inefficiency in communication. For all these reasons, in the eyes of Taiwanese, it is very rude and impolite (the Taiwanese euphemistic expression for "giving me no face" (唔卑面我)) for the US-based Professor Wong to crictize the Taipei-based Professor Wang in a straightforward manner. In the eyes of Taiwanese, this is not an issue of good or bad translation, but an issue of making me lose face (唔卑面我). According to my "Taiwanese" experience, the US-based Professor Wong would have done a better job, if months ago Professor Wong phoned 王蘭 to praise her in nice encouraging words and send her his own correct translation, asking 王蘭 to "correct" any "mistakes" 王蘭 would find in the translation. This will certainly give a very high degree of face to 王蘭, and she will enjoy correcting the translation for certain, treating Professor Wong as one of her best students, if not good friends. Hopefully, She may, years later, discover her own terrible translation errors, if she has sufficiently high IQ and EQ, but not without. Last but not least, to be honest, I am a loyal fan of the US-based Professor Wong, and I believe that he is doing the right thing, from a moral perspective, as I believe honesty is the best virtue.

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  9. Continued. The US-based Professor Wong does not understand the "face obsession culture" among Taiwanese. In my opinion, although openly criticized 王蘭's bad translation twice in the past two months,王蘭 has been doing a great job on her part so far -- she manifested enormous patience and tolerance toward Professor Wong's critique, by being silent. This means that she is signaling her willingness to keep giving face to the US-based Professor Wong by being silient, and she anticipates that Professor Wong's criticism toward her will stop very soon,不要再窮追猛打,逼狗入窮巷。I think this event is no longer about an issue of good vs. bad translation, but becomes an issue of conflict in cultures between HK-US and Taiwan. As mentioned earlier,face obsession syndrome is prevalent in Taiwan, but not in the US and Hong Kong. If translation is to bridge different languages, mutual understanding is required for efficient interaction between people from different cultures. My advice for Professor Wong is that, not only is it important for you to know what you are thinking about, but it is also important for to know, or at least care about, what Professor Wang is thinking about; if you can do so, you will be doing a great job in communication.

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  10. Continued. A piece of news clipping from Taiwan today is a good example of the "face obsession culture" among Taiwanese.
    立法院長王金平涉入關說,引發國民黨風暴。國民黨榮譽主席連戰非常關心此事,坦言不希望造成國民黨及社會動盪。對於黨紀,連戰也說了重話,「不該用這種不當的方式羞辱他(王金平)」,應給予基本的尊重;況且王金平還在國外,「馬主席作法有欠周延」。
    The above comment from Dr. Lien means: regardless of whether Our Honorable Parliament Speaker Mr. Wang Jinping is guilty of the crime of obstruction of justice (關說), you (Dr. Ma) should not have made Wang lose face; instead, you should give him a decent degree of face. Wang is currently abroad, and the action you take against him is not perfect enough.
    By describing Dr. Ma's action as "not perfect enough" rather than "bad", Dr. Lien is giving much face to Dr. Ma and anticipates that Dr. Ma will return some face to him (Dr. Lien) by treating Wang leniently.
    Ironically, if Wang did commit the crime of obstruction of justice, so does Dr. Lien (for his above "advice" to Dr. Ma). Dr. Lien is a former boss to Dr. Ma. In Taiwan, there is no rule of law, but rule of face. Wang will be fine, because Dr. Lien sides with him.

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  11. 一點點小說明:

    有謂「比如運用人際關係,禁止該出版社的書籍刊登廣告,或是不能在書局販售之類的手段」

    假如這件事在台灣發生,那出版社將是徹底勝利的一方

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  12. Grammatical technicalities apart, one in fact just has to turn to common sense to properly understand ‘could solve it, with paper and pencil, if not without’.

    Doing calculations with paper and pencil is plainly easier that doing them without paper and pencil.

    Would anyone in her or his right mind actually say 'even if you can't do the easy bits you can do the hard bits' or 'even if you can't stand you can run'?

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