1月 02 2021

勒卡雷论学习外语:更好地了解自己

Published by at 10:45 under 英语阅读

最近去世的英国作家勒卡雷在2017年为《观察家报》(The Observer,《卫报》的星期天版)写了一篇文章,讲述为什么英国人应该学德语。他回顾了自己学习德语的历程,其中的一些见解可以推而广之,并不只限于英国人学习德语的情形。

他在文章中写道:“学习一门外语可以让你更好地了解你自己,让你对自己的文化背景、社交举止和思考方式做更细致地观察。”

他还引用了查理大帝(Charlemagne)的一句话:“掌握另一种语言就像是拥有第二个灵魂“来形容学习外语带来的影响。以下这段话用在翻译者身上非常贴切,但是任何愿意深入了解自己所学外语的人都会有同样的经历。

“当然,要让两个灵魂有之间有任何实实在在的交融,对思考的敏锐度有相当高的要求。它迫使我们作出精确的表述,深究词语的含义,思考问题时既有逻辑又带创意。每当我们遇到一个词,都会努力不懈地寻找,直到在另一种语言中找到意义对应的词,或是在有些情形中,接受不存在对应的词这一事实,转而寻找一个恰当的表述或是解释。“

他高度赞扬了教外语的老师,决定教外语是“一种投入”、是“慷慨之举“、是试图”调解“(两个不同的世界):他的中学德语老师让他爱上了德语。当时二战刚结束,在学校里德语是被嘲笑的语言,但是他的德语老师告诉他的学生们,总有一天,​“真正的德国”会回来的。​

以下是文章片段,全文在《卫报》网站上

The decision to learn a foreign language is to me an act of friendship. It is indeed a holding out of the hand. It’s not just a route to negotiation. It’s also to get to know you better, to draw closer to you and your culture, your social manners and your way of thinking. And the decision to teach a foreign language is an act of commitment, generosity and mediation.

It’s a promise to educate – yes – and to equip. But also to awaken; to kindle a flame that you hope will never go out; to guide your pupils towards insights, ideas and revelations that they would never have arrived at without your dedication, patience and skill.

To quote Charlemagne: “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” He might have added that to teach another language is to implant a second soul.

Of course, the very business of reconciling these two souls at any serious level requires considerable mental agility. It compels us to be precise, to confront meaning, to think rationally and creatively and never to be satisfied until we’ve hit the equivalent word, or – which also happens – until we’ve recognised that there isn’t one, so hunt for a phrase or circumlocution that does the job.

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