1. American Social Relations




文摘 - Digest (English-Chinese)

American Social Relations

  By Gladys G. Doty & Janet Ross

  American society is much more informal than that of 1 many other countries and, in some ways, *is characterized by 2 less so­cial distinction. The American mixture of pride in achievement and sense of "I'm just *as good as 3 anybody else", along with lack of importance placed on personal dignity, is difficult for a foreigner to understand. Americans in general *do not like to be considered inferior 4, and they grumble loudly about inconveniences or not getting a "*fair deal 5. Yet they do not *make a point of 6 their personal honor. As an illus­tration of the difference between European and American reflection in this respect, John Whyte in American Words and Ways gives the following account.

[2] A… (European) professor (visiting in America) was once sent a bill for hospital services which he had never en­joyed. The bill was accompanied by a strong letter demanding payment. It was obvious that a mistake in names had been made, but the professor, thoroughly aroused by this reflection 7 on his character and *financial integrity 8, wrote a vigorous letter of reply (which an American *might also have done 9). But in this letter of reply he *demanded that the creditor write 10 him a formal letter of apology ... for this reflec­tion on his honor. * Since no publicity could possibly have been given to the mis­take, for mistake it was 11, most Americans in that situation, after *getting the matter off their chest (or without doing that) would have let the matter rest 12.

[3] An example of the same thing may be that although Americans like to talk about their accomplishments, it is their custom to show a  certain modesty in reply to compliments. When someone praises an American upon his achievement or upon his personal appearance, which, incidentally 13, is a very polite thing to do in America, the American *turns it aside 14". If someone should say, "Congratulations upon being elected president of the club," an American is expected to reply, "Well, I hope I can do a good job," or something of the sort. Or if someone says, "That's a pretty blue necktie you are wearing," an American is likely to say, "I'm glad you like it," or "Thank you. My wife gave it to me for my birthday." The response to a compliment seldom conveys the idea, "I, too, think I’m pretty good." 

[4] Likewise, there are fewer social conventions that show social differences in America. Students do not rise when a teacher enters the morn. One does not al-ways address a person by his title, such as "Professor" or "Doctor". ("Doctor" is al-ways used, however, for a doctor of medicine.) The respectful "sir" is not al-ways used in the northern and western parts of the country. 

[5] Clothing in America, as in every place in the world, *to a certain degree 15 reflects a person's social position and in-come, or, at least among the young, his attitudes toward society or toward himself. Yet no person is * restricted to 16 a certain uniform or manner of dress because of his occupations or class in society. A bank president may wear overalls to paint his house and is not ashamed of either the job or the clothing, and a common laborer may wear a rented tuxedo 17 at his daughter's wedding. 

[6] Yet in spite of all the informality, America is not completely without customs that show consciousness of social distinction. For example, one is likely to use somewhat more formal language when talking to superiors. While the informal "Hello" is an acceptable greeting from employee to employer, the employee is more apt to say "Hello, Mr. Ferguson", whereas the employer may reply, "Hello, Jim." Southerners make a point of saying "Yes, sir" or "Yes, ma' am 18 ", or "No, sir" or "No, ma'am" when talking to an older person or a person in position of authority. Although this is a good form all over the United States, "Yes, Mr. Weston" or "No, Mrs. Baker" is somewhat more common in a similar situation in the North or West. 

[7] Certain other forms of politeness are observed on social occasions. Though people wear hats less now than in the past, women still occasionally wear hats in church and at public social functions 19 (except those that are in the evening) . 

[8] In America there are still customs by which a man may show respect for a woman. He opens the door for her and lets her precede him through it. He walks on the side of the walk nearest the street. He takes her arm when crossing a street or descending a stairway. A younger person also show respect for an older one in much the same fashion, by helping the older person in things requiring *physical exertion 20 or involving possible accident. 

[9] American surface informality often confuses the foreigner because he interprets it to mean no formality at all. He does not understand the point at which informality stops. A teacher, though friendly, pleasant 21, and informal in class, expects students to study hard, and he grades 22 each student's work critically and carefully. He also expects to be treated with respect. Al-though students are free to ask questions about statements made by the teacher, and may say that they disagree with what he says, they are not expected to contradict him. Similarly, in boy-girl relationships a foreign student should not mistake the easy relationship and flattery that are part of the *dating pattern 23 in the United States, nor 24 presume that * it means more than it does 25. 

[10] Also, because an American is perhaps more likely to admit and laugh at his own mistakes than one who *stands more on his dignity 26, a foreigner some-times does not know how to handle the American's apparent modesty. The American is quite ready to admit certain weak-nesses, such as "I never was good at mathematics", "I’m a rotten tennis player" , or "I'm the world's worst bridge player" . How-ever, the stranger * must not be too quick to agree with him 27. Americans think it is all right, even sporting 28 , to admit a defect in themselves , but they feel that it is almost an insult to have someone else agree . A part of American idea of good sportsmanship is the point of being generous to a loser. This attitude is *carried over 29 into matters that *have nothing to do with 30 competition. If a man talks about his weak points , the listener says something in the way of encouragement, or points to other qualities in which the speaker excels 31. An American student reports that when he was in a foreign country he was completely stunned when he said to a native, "I don't speak your language very well", and the native replied, "I should say you don't". In a similar situation an American would have commented, "Well, you have only been here two months," or "But you're making progress. 

[11] Although Americans are quite informal, it 32 is best for a foreigner, in case of doubt 33, to be too formal *rather than 34 not formal enough.  Consideration for others is the basis of all courtesy.



  金學鏞 譯註



[2]有一次,有人給一位(正在美國訪問的歐洲)教授送来一 张他从未享受过的在医院治病 的费用清单,随清单还附来一封 要求付款的措词激烈的信。这 显然是把名字搞错了,可是这位 教授对这种有辱他的品格和财 务信誉的事火冒三丈,写了一封 措词强硬的回信(一个美国人本 来也可能会这样做的)。但他在 这封复信中要求债权人为了这 种损害他名誉的行径正式写信 向他道歉。由于是误会,而这种 误会既然没有可能宣扬出去,在 那种情况下,大多数的美国人在 把话讲清后(或者并不那样做) 也就不再深究了。 

[3] 同样的例子还有,虽然 美国人爱谈他们的成就,但他们 惯常在回答人们的道贺时表示 某种谦逊。当有人称赞一个美国人所取得的成就或他的仪表 时一顺便说一下,这在美国是 颇有礼貌的行动一那个美国人 往往把话岔开。如果有人说, “祝贺你当选为俱乐部主席,”一 个美国人准会回答说,“嗯,我希 望我能做好工作,”或类似的话。 如果有人说,“你戴的蓝领带很 漂亮,”一个美国人很可能会回 答,“你喜欢它我很高兴,”或者 说,“谢谢你,这是我过生日时我 妻子给我买的。”对道贺的回答 很少这样说:“我也认为我很 好。” 

[4〕美国同样也不大有显示 社会差别的社会习俗。教师走 进教室,学生并不起立。人们不 常叫一个人的头衔,如“教授”或 “博士”(Doctor一词也常使用,但 指医生)。在美国的北部和西 部,“先生”这个尊称并不经常使 用。 

[5〕在美国,就像在世界各 地一样,衣着在某种程度上反映 一个人的社会地位和收人,或者 至少在年轻人中间反映他对社会或对其本人的态度。但是,没 有人由于他在社会上的职业或 阶级而限于穿某种制服或某种 式样的衣服。一位银行行长可 能穿上工装裤去油漆他的房子 而不会以这种工作或衣着引以 为耻,一位普通工人在他女儿的 婚礼上可能穿上一件租来的无 尾晚礼服。 

〔6〕然而,尽管有这一切不 拘礼节的行动,美国并非完全没 有表示人们意识到社会差别的 风俗习惯。例如,人们跟长辈谈 话时可能使用稍微正式的语言。 雇员跟雇主打招呼,随便叫声 “喂”也可以,但说“喂,弗格森先 生”却更为恰当,而雇主可能回 答:“喂,吉姆。,,跟年长者或当权 者谈话时,南部人一直习惯说 “是,先生”或“是,太太”,或者说 “不,先生”或“不,太太”。虽然 在全美国这样的称呼是一种好 方式,但说“是,韦斯顿先生”或 “不,贝克太太”,在北部或西部 的类似情况下用得可能更为普 遍一些。 

(7〕在社交场合要遵守其他 某些礼节。虽然现在人们戴帽 子的比过去为少,但妇女在教堂 和公共社交集会上偶尔还戴帽子(除非集会在晚间进行)。 

〔 8〕美国还存在着男人可能 对女人表示尊敬的风俗习惯。 男人为女人开门,男人让女人先 走过去。在人行道上他走在最 靠近街道的那一边。他扶着她 的胳膊过街或下楼。年轻人也 用大致同样的方式对年长的人 表示敬意,帮助他们做一些体力 劳动的事,或者帮助他们避免可 能遭受的意外事故。 

〔9〕美国人表面上的不拘礼 节往往把外国人搞糊涂了,因为 他们把这一点理解为根本没有 什么礼节。外国人往往不懂不 拘礼节的限度是什么。教师在 课堂上虽然友好、和蔼和随便, 但他要求学生刻苦学习,并且细 心严格地评定每一个学生的作 业成绩。他也希望受到尊敬。 虽然学生对教师所发表的言论 可以自由提问,也可以说他们不 同意教师的意见,但不能反驳教 师。与此相类似,在男女学生的 各种关系中,一个外国学生不应 该把构成当今美国的约会方式 的随便交往和奉承恭维搞错了,也不应该认为这里面还另有文 章。 

[10〕而且,因为美国人也许 比硬要面子的人更有可能承认 和嘲笑自己的错误,外国人有时 不知如何对待美国人的这样表 面的谦逊。美国人随时准备承 认其某些弱点,例如“我一向不 擅长数学”,“我是个鳖脚的网球 运动员”,或者“我是世界上桥牌 打得最差劲的人”。不过,陌生 人切勿急于同意他的看法。美 国人认为,承认自己的不足是好 的,甚至是光明正大的,但是他 们觉得,如果别人同意这种看 法,那就几乎是一种侮辱。美国 良好的体育道德的一个方面是 对失败者表示同情。这种态度 也被带到与竞赛无关的事情中 去。如果一个人谈到他的弱点, 听的人就要说些鼓励的话,或者 指出说话的人占有优势的其他 特征。一个美国学生说,当他在国外对一个当地人说“你们的语 言我讲得不好”,而对方回答“我 应该说你是讲得不好”时,他目 瞪口呆,大吃一惊。在类似的情 况下,一个美国人就会说,“嗯, 你来这里才两个月,”或者说, “可是你在进步呀。” 

〔11〕虽然美国人很不拘礼 节,但一个外国人如果还未搞清 情况,与其过于随便,还不如彬 彬有礼为好。尊重别人是一切 礼貌的基础。




2.  be characterized by具有 ….…特点,突出地表现为。 又如:The Chinese people are  characterized by industry and courage.中国人民具有勤劳和 勇敢的特点。 

3. 和……(几乎)一样,实际上等于。又如:Enough is as good as a feast.(谚语)知足常 乐。

4. = do not like people to consider them inferior。 inferior在句中作主语Americans的补足 语。


6,这一习语在此句中意为“強調,重視”。本文第6段中有一句:Southerners make a point of saying "Yes, sir”…在这一句中,make a point of 意为“把…作为准则(惯 例)”。


8.指财务方面的廉洁,清 自。integrity完整;正直;诚 实。 

9. "might + 现在完成式”是 用来表示对过去发生的事情 的推测。用may也可以,但 用might表示实现的可能性 小。又如:You might (may) have read about it in the papers・ 你可能在报上已经读到这件 事了。 

10.动词demand, suggest, order等后面跟that引导的宾语从句中的谓语可用“should +原形动词”,或只用“原形动词”。后者比前者较为正式。这是一种虚拟语气的用法,它表示主句中的主语所提出的要求、建议、命令等只是一种主观愿望,未必能实现。又如:He suggested that the meeting (should) be postponed. 

11.插入语,= for it was mistake。表语mistake提到句首是为了强调这是一种误解.

12.这句中,从句谓语动词用"could+现在完成式”,主句中谓语动词用“would +现在完成式“,表示当时这种错事宣扬出去的可能性极小,或者根本不会公开,因此对大 多数美国人来说,像这样事情讲清后也就算了,或不了了之。get sth. off  one's chest吐出心里的话,把要讲的话都讲出来,倾吐胸中积闷。

l3.是口语中另换话题的说法,意为“附带地”,“顺便说一句”,相当于场the way。

14. turn aside避开,撇开;使转变方向。




18.  madam的缩写。 

l9.庆祝仪式;(盛大的)集 会,宴会。 



22.给…分等级(分类); 〔美〕给…评分。 


24.连词,意为“也不”,常与 否定词not, never等连用,意 为,“既不……也不”,“既没有 ……也没有”,相当于neither ….nor。. 

25.这里面还有什么文章。 这句话中的两个it都指dating pattern。does是代动词,替 代前面的means,以避免重 复。这句话直译为:“它超出 其本身的含义。” 

26.保持尊严,摆架子,拒绝 做有失身份的事。

27. 切勿过急于同意他的看 法。副词too在这里等于 very,但语气比very强。英语 里副词too常与一些形容词 连用,表示这一意思。如I’m only too glad to see you. = I’m very glad to see you.  注意这句里too的用法与too… to “太….一以致不能”这一固定结 构中的too的意思区别开来。如:He  is too young to join the army. 他年纪太小,不能参军。

28. 有体育道德的;光明正大的。

29. 这一习语原意为“将(账目等)结转(次页、栏、 册等)”,这里转义为“带到,转入”。

30.  与…没有关系,不跟 …. 往来。 

31.胜过其它,突出;擅长。Excel in (at) swimming擅长游泳。

32.先行词,在句中作形式主语,代替后面的真正主语不定式复合结构for a foreigner to be too formal rather than not formal enough。在这个复合结构中,介词for后面的名词foreigner是不定式to be的逻辑主语。

33. 如果有怀疑,如果搞不清。

34. (是)…而不(是),与其… 不如。