经济学人精读 | 中国版块开设新专栏:Chaguan(茶馆)

《经济学人》新开了一个专栏,名字叫Chaguan(茶馆),该专栏的负责人 David Rennie 在推特中介绍说:

经济学人精读 | 中国板块开设新专栏:Chaguan(茶馆)

茶馆不只是喝茶的场所,更是街面上三教九流之人聚集之地,他们有的谈古论今,有的聊些奇闻怪见、荒唐新闻,还有人诉说自己的不幸遭遇,感慨人生。它是文化交流的所在,也是世态的缩影,茶馆虽小,但足以窥见中国市民社会的变迁。

这就是《经济学人》设置本专栏的目的,通过“茶馆文化”来了解中国。今天我们一起读一读这篇文章。

一、茶馆的人世百态

①Within living memory his home town, the capital of Sichuan province, had boastedmore than 600 teahouses, or chaguan. ②Some were famous for storytellers or opera. ③Others welcomed bird-lovers, who liked to suspend their pets in cages from teahouse eaves to show off their plumage and singing. ④Some served as rough-and-ready courtrooms for unlicensed lawyers (to “take discussion tea” was to seek mediation). ⑤One place might attract tattooed gangsters, another intellectuals.

①句讲了过去茶馆数量之多,与后文的没落形成对比。

①Within living memory / his home town, the capital of Sichuan province, had boasted more than 600 teahouses, or chaguan.

Within living memory 的意思是“在人们的印象中/记忆里”,这是一个非常好用的词组搭配,以后在表达过去的时间时,除了 in the past,想一想能不能用 within living memory.

boast 是一个非常地道的小词,其核心意思是 have“有”,一般指拥有美好的、引以为傲的事物,比如:

  • Wechat boasts well over 1bn users.
    微信拥有10亿多用户。(用 well over 代替 far more than,使表达更酷一点。)

另外,enjoy 也有“have”的意思,比如在表示某物“有优势”时,除了 have an advantage,也可以说 enjoy an advantage.

②-⑤句描述了茶馆里的人世百态,有白有黑,有闲适也有纷争,异彩纷呈。

②Some were famous for storytellers or opera. ③Others welcomed bird-lovers, who liked to suspend their pets in cages from teahouse eaves / to show off their plumage and singing.

有说书的,有唱戏的,也有遛鸟的,用老舍《茶馆》里的话描述,就是:

玩鸟的人们,每天在遛够了画眉、黄鸟等之后,要到这里歇歇腿,喝喝茶,并使鸟儿表演歌唱。

suspend…from…表示“把…挂到…上”。Eaves是“屋檐”的意思,常用复数,补充一个eavesdrop,表示“偷听”。plumage 是“羽毛”的意思。

④Some served as rough-and-ready courtrooms for unlicensed lawyers (to “take discussion tea” was to seek mediation).

这句话直译过来是:一些茶馆被当做无证律师的简陋法庭(当地人说的“喝茶评理”就是“寻求调解”的意思)。

serve as…是一个很地道的表达,字面意思是“以…身份服务”,也就是“起到…的作用,当…使”的意思,比如:

  • The sofa could serve as a bed for a night or two.
    沙发可以当床凑合一两夜。

rough-and-ready指“粗糙简单但能用的”;unlicensed 来自 license这个词,license表示“许可”,可作动词可作名词,unlicensed便是“未经许可的”意思。unlicensed lawyer 字面指“无证律师”,但考虑到中国特色的社会环境,应理解成当地头面人物。

seek mediation是“寻求调解”的意思。

老舍的《茶馆》中有一段类似的描述:

那年月,时常有打群架的,但是总会有朋友出头给双方调解;三五十口子打手,经调人东西 说,便都喝碗茶,吃碗烂肉面,就可以化干戈为玉帛了。总之,这是当日非常重要的地方,有事无事都可以来坐半天。

“有事无事都可以来坐半天”在这篇《经济学人》中也出现了它的对应表达:or simply idle for a while

⑤One place might attract tattooed gangsters, another intellectuals.

一处茶馆可能会吸引纹身流氓,另一处可能会有知识分子光顾。

tattooed 来自tattoo这个词,表示“有纹身的”。

another intellectuals 为了避免重复,中间省略了might attract:another might attract intellectuals.

英文中,如果连续的两个句子的谓语动词部分出现重复,通常把后面的省略,以求精简。在第六期课程的第三单元《逃离硅谷》(2018年9月1日封面文章)中就遇到过这种情况:

Mr Thiel is moving to Los Angeles, which has a vibrant tech scene. Phoenix and Pittsburgh have become hubs for autonomous vehicles; New York for media startups;London for fintech; Shenzhen for hardware.
泰尔正准备搬往洛杉矶,那里的科技圈生机勃勃。凤凰城和匹兹堡已成为无人驾驶汽车的研发中心;纽约媒体创业公司扎堆;伦敦为金融科技重镇;深圳是硬件制造基地。

下划线部分省略了 has become hubs,省略后句子更加精简,而且不会引发歧义。

二、政治动荡下的茶馆

①Before Communism, Chengdu endured iron-fisted rule by the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek. ②Despots with a bossy, scoutmasterly streak, the Nationalists issued dozens of orders to stamp out bad teahouse habits. ③Managers were told to report clients spreading political rumours…④During the war with Japan, teahouses in Chengdu were ordered to display Nationalist flags, slogans and leaders’ portraits…

①Before Communism, Chengdu endured iron-fisted rule / by the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek.

①句交代了背景:国民党时期;特点:铁腕统治(iron-fisted)。Chiang Kai-shek指“蒋介石”;endure一词体现出茶馆艰难的生存环境。

②Despots with a bossy, scoutmasterly streak, the Nationalists issued dozens of orders to stamp out bad teahouse habits.

②句对iron-fisted展开:国民政府如暴君般专横跋扈,发布几十条命令,要求废除茶馆的坏习惯。

Despots 指“暴君”,是Nationalists 的同位语,with a bossy, scoutmasterly streak修饰Despots,意思是“有着专横跋扈特点的暴君”,streak此处作“性格特征”讲,常指不好的特征,比如 a mean streak 卑鄙的性格。

③Managers were told to report clients spreading political rumours.

“掌柜的”知道该怎么说了吧:manager.

spreading political rumours 是现在分词作后置定语,修饰clients,意思是:传播政治谣言的顾客。

client也可以用patron替换,patron是“老主顾、常客”的意思,我们刮奖时刮到的“谢谢惠顾”,英文就是:Thanks for your patronage.

这句话是说:掌柜的被要求举报传播政治谣言的顾客。

④During the war with Japan, teahouses in Chengdu were ordered to display Nationalist flags, slogans and leaders’ portraits…

抗日战争时期,政府要求成都茶馆挂上民国国旗、贴上口号、摆好领导人肖像。

经济学人精读 | 中国板块开设新专栏:Chaguan(茶馆)

三、茶馆鼎盛时期

In their heyday, when some city streets might have boasted half a dozen, they were places to relax, do business, gossip and exchange ideas, both lowbrow and highfalutin.

In their heyday的意思是“在它们的鼎盛时期”,也可以说 in one’s prime, in one’s day.

to relax, do business, gossip and exchange ideas 彰显人世百态,有放松消遣的、有做生意的、有甩闲话的、还有交流看法的。

both lowbrow and highfalutin修饰ideas,lowbrow 指“市井的,粗俗的”,highfalutin指“装模作样的、浮夸的”:trying to be serious or important, but in a way that often appears silly and unnecessary.

exchange ideas both lowbrow and highfalutin的意思是,有的聊天充满市井味,有的装模作样地高谈阔论。

也可以简化一下:ideas both high and low.

四、茶馆的衰落

茶馆的鼎盛时期与其衰落形成强烈的反差,在西方咖啡文化的冲击下,茶文化逐渐衰落:

①Teahouses are unlikely to boom again in Chengdu. ②Youngsters at Heming spoke of making time to “chill for the afternoon”, as they are usually too busy. ③Tastes change. ④This writer was on a first China posting two decades ago when Starbucks opened its inaugural shop there, in Beijing. ⑤The chain plans to have 6,000 outlets in China by 2022, with one opening every 15 hours.

①Teahouses are unlikely to boom again in Chengdu.

unlikely to boom 读着就令人唏嘘,我们也可以尝试着换一种表达:fade, decline, on the wane.

②Youngsters at Heming spoke of making time to “chill for the afternoon”, as they are usually too busy.

如果能在忙碌之中腾出半天时间,往茶馆一坐,喝上几杯茶,轻松安逸的度过一个下午,那便是再好不过了。然而,在愈加忙碌的今天,这已变得越来越奢侈,顶多在嘴边说说,过把嘴瘾(spoke of),而且,人们的口味也变了:Tastes change.

make time的意思是 to find time to do something or be with someone in spite of being busy “腾出时间”,比如:It’s difficult to make time for my children. 我很难腾出时间来看孩子。

chill 在这里是熟词僻义,表示relax,比如:

  • We went home and chilled in front of the TV.
    我们回家坐在电视机前放松了一下。

④This writer was on a first China posting two decades ago when Starbucks opened its inaugural shop there, in Beijing.

二十年前,这名作者第一次派驻到中国,那时,北京刚开了第一家星巴克。

on a…posting 表示“被派驻到…”,比如:This ambassador is on a Paris posting. 这名大使被派驻到巴黎。

inaugural 是一个比较高级的词汇,它的意思是:first, and marking the beginning of sth important,inaugural shop 指“第一家商店”。

航天飞机的“首飞”,英文就是 inaugural flight,美国总统的“就职演说”叫 inaugural speech,“开幕仪式”“就职典礼”可以说 inauguration.

⑤The chain plans to have 6,000 outlets in China by 2022, with one opening every 15 hours.

the chain指的是“星巴克连锁店”,outlet 本义是“排水口,出口”的意思,比如 a sewage outlet 污水排放口,这里引申为“专营店”(商品的销售出口),相当于上文的shop。

20年前,星巴克刚开了一家inaugural shop,而2022年计划有6000家连锁店,每15小时就要增加一家。这和茶馆的没落形成了强烈的反差。

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