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英语礼貌用语的特点

来源:外办  【 】 发布日期:2015-07-16

  礼貌用语是人们在日常工作和人际交往中的一个重要部分,它反映一个国家的文明程度和民众的素质。礼貌用语(或称委婉表达法),是纯正英语的特色之一。这种以简单明快而见长的语言,表达力强,同时使听者感到愉快、舒服,可称为语言的润滑剂。随着我国改革开放的蓬勃发展,国际交往迅速增多,礼貌用语的重要性日益凸现,值得认真探索。
  
   
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      多年前,在我国国际航班的广播中听到这样的句子:PASSENGERS MUST PAY ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING REGULATIONS, 宣布上机后乘客必须遵守飞行时的某些规定,口气十分生硬。如改为:PASSENGERS ARE KINDLY REQUESTED TO OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING REGULATIONS, 口气就客气和礼貌得多,很容易为外国旅客理解和接受。要宣布事情,不要直截了当地说 ATTENTION EVERYBODY, 如果表达为:MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTTION,LADIES AND GENTLEMEN?就非常得体。我国译员和服务行业都存在类似的问题。笔者乘坐外国飞机时,发现礼貌用语随处可闻可见。如:请乘客保持盥洗室脸盆清洁时,贴有下述标志:AS A COURTESY TO THE NEXT PASSENGER, MAY WE SUGGEST THAT YOU CLEAN THE BASIN WITH THE TOWEL YOU HAVE BEEN USING.(为照顾其他旅客,竭诚建议您用刚用过的清洁纸把脸盆擦干净)。在广播中请旅客在飞机完全停稳之前不要离开座位,是这么说的:PASSENGERS ARE KINDLY REQUESTED TO REMAIN SEATED UNTIL THE AIRCRAFT COMES TO A COMPLETE HALT.
  
      客气地使用语言,是欧美文化的重要组成部分,外国人对这点是很敏感的。要求对方做某某事时,往往使用下述句型: WILL YOU…….? WOULD YOU LIKE TO……? WOULD YOU MIND DOING SOMETHING? I WONDER IF YOU WOULD……WOULD YOU BE SO KIND AS TO……. I WOULD BE GRATEFUL IF…….. I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF…….,如:WILL YOU FOLLOW ME AND GO THIS WAY,PLEASE?显然不是问句, 而是导游客气地请客人跟他走。SIR……WOULD YOU LIKE TO SIT BESIDE LADY……,PLEASE?请客人按主人的安排就座,并非征求意见。WOULD YOU MIND ANSWERING A FEW PERSONAL QUESTIONS? 考官客气地问面试者一些个人问题。I WONDER IF YOU COULD DO ME A FAVOR BY POSTING THE LETTER IN THE POST OFFICE ON YOUR WAY HOME? 请人顺路代寄一封信。WE WOULD BE MOST GRATEFUL(or: MUCH OBLIGED, APPRECIATE IT) IF YOU WOULD KINDLY LET US KNOW YOUR COMMENTS AT YOUR EARLY CONVENIENCE,请客户及早赐告对产品的意见。这一句型在外事文书上有得尤多。
                    
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      国外政府机构和公司企业的秘书往往使用一套规范用语,值得学习。他们接电话时,先以问候和自报单位开始,如:GOOD MORNING,THIS IS BHP GENERAL MANAGER‘S OFFICE,接着马上问:MAY I HELP YOU? 或 IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO FOR YOU?需要问清对方身份时,除了用WHO IS CALLING PLEASE?还可以说,MAY I TELL OUR GM WHO IS CALLING? 显得更委婉客气。如对方想找的人不在,先答:SORRY,MR. XXX IS NOT IN. 还可以解释:MR.XXX IS AWAY ON A BUSINESS TRIP. 或HE IS ON VACATION FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS.还可以进一步表示:BUT I’LL LET HIM KNOW THAT YOU CALLED AS SOON AS HE RETURNS,也可以问:WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEAVE A MESSAGE? 使人感到这位秘书热情而又负责。对方查询某情况时,WAIT A SECOND或 HOLD ON,PLEASE.是一种答复。更客气的回答是:DO YOU MIND WAITING A FEW SECONDS WHILE I CHECK THAT FOR YOU?(我查一下,请稍等几秒钟可以吗?)查出告诉对方后,往往再加上一句:THANK YOU FOR WAITING 或 SORRY TO HAVE KEPT YOU WAITING. (谢谢,对不起让您等候了。)对不是自己主管的事,从不一推了事,而是耐心提供线索,不要用:YOU HAVE TO ASK…….FOR THAT,而用以下词句:AS FAR AS I AM AWARE,MR…….OF THE…….OFFICE IS IN CHARGE OF THAT. I’M SURE HE’LL BE GLAD TO HELP YOU IF YOU RING…….真是礼多人不怪,服务周到之至。一方在电梯上不慎踩碰了对方,双方往往同时说 I AM SORRY,对方从不会去责怪一方,所以说,礼貌用语是人际关系的润滑剂。使用礼貌的电话用语,重要的是避免使用命令句,如不用YOU MUST, YOU HAVE TO, IT’S NECESSARY FOR YOU TO…….,YOU’D BETTER ASK MR…….,但可用IT MIGHT BE BETTER IF……
  
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      在表示婉拒,发表不同意见和看法时,也大有讲究。宜避免单刀直入和太直截了当,要迂回地缓和语气,使对方不感唐突和尴尬,婉拒时说:I AM AFRAID THAT I WILL BE UNABLE TO COME AS I ALREADY HAVE A PRIOR COMMITMENT ON THAT DAY, THANK YOU ALL THE SAME. (因事先已另有约会,无法应邀,但仍感谢盛情邀请),类似的表达法还有:I’D LOVE TO, BUT I HAVE A PRIOR APPOINTMENT, I WISH I COULD,BUT MY MOTHER IS COMING THIS EVENING,THAT’S VERY KIND OF YOU,BUT I’LL HAVE AN EXAM TOMORROW 或I’M TERRIBLY SORRY,I DON’T THINK I CAN BECAUSE……,在书面答复中,先感谢邀请,接着表示 …….REGRETS THAT……(遗憾地表示无法出席)。当对方突然提出某种要求,希望在短时间内办到,使听者很为难,但又不宜断然拒绝,可委婉地先吹吹冷风,先档一下:I AM NOT SURE WHETHER THAT CAN BE ARRANGED AT SUCH SHORT NOTICE. IN ANY CASE,I’LL ASK AND RING YOU UP BEFORE LONG..即:通知时间这么短,我对能否办成实无把握,但表示可以问一下上级再复,使对方有了此事可能办不成的思想准备,但答复很客气。当不同意对方看法时,不用I DON’T AGREE,而说 I AM NOT TOO SURE ABOUT THAT。类似的表达法还有:I DON’T KNOW THAT I WOULD AGREE WITH YOU. OF COURSE I PRESUME THAT YOU WOULDN’T EXPECT ME TO SHARE THAT VIEW. WELL,THAT IS A VIEW I AM NOT DISPOSED TO ADVOCATE.(这个观点不敢苟同)。也可表示:WELL, THERE IS TRUTH IN WHAT YOU SAID,BUT I WOULD THINK……WOULD IT BE BETTER IF…….或说I DOUBT IT WILL WORK,BUT I’LL TRY MY BEST. 前述的I AM NOT TOO SURE ABOUT THAT,实际上是不同意的巧妙表达,等于给对方一个软钉子碰,可称怨而不怒,不卑不亢,多年前一个外国代表团来华谈判,适逢该国发表攻击我国的声明,我方表示无法在此种不利的政治气氛中谈判,向对方说:FRANKLY,WE ARE NOT INCLINED TOWARDS OPENING THE TALKS AT THIS SENSTIIVE TIME. 用“不倾向于开始谈判”来表明立场,但又不刺激对方,使人感到中方的做法无懈可击。以上例子表明,不论是婉拒、表达不同观点、表达不同观点,甚至是出现严重分歧时,都可在用词造句上进行有分寸的表述,起到避免不必要地营造对抗气氛的效果。尤其在外事场合,注意字斟句酌,既表明了立场,又不伤害别人,不啻为一门艺术。
  
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      双方交往时问题已经产生,为防止激化矛盾,可用较委婉的词句缓和一下。客户对厂家抱怨,经办人认为情况并非如此,就表示:WE DON’T RECALL THAT,BUT WE’CHECK OUR RECORDS.(答应查一下记录),或说WE WILL DOUBLE CHECK,无法办到对方的要求时,可这么说:I AM SORRY WE COULD NOT MANAGE TO DO MORE,BUT I THINK IN THE PRESENT SITUATION THIS IS THE MAXIMUM OF WHAT WAS POSSIBLE,即表示歉意后,提出在当前情况下已尽了最大努力。笔者在英国时,目睹一件甲方如何托辞拒绝会见乙方的实例:MY TIMETABLE IS HOPELESSLY CROWDED,AND IF YOU WOULD LIKE A MEETING,I WOULD BE GRATEFUL IF YOU PUT YOUR VIEWS TO MY SECRETRAY. 甲方推说自己日程实在太紧,请对方有问题找秘书反映,让对方吃闭门羹又不伤害人,把英国政客的老奸巨滑表现地淋漓尽致。英国一内阁成员在同首相发生严重政治分歧而提出的辞呈中写道:IN ALL HONESTY,I FIND MYSELF UNABLE TO SHARE YOUR VIEW OF THE RIGHT APPROACH TO THIS QUESTION. ON THIS BASIS,I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT I CAN ANY LONGER SERVE WITH HONOUR AS A MEMBER OF YOUR GOVERNMENT. 决心以下但口气平和,分寸把握得娴熟之至。他接着写道:I AM VERY SAD THAT OUR LONG YEARS OF SERVICE TOGETHER SHOULD HAVE TO END IN THIS WAY. IT HAS BEEN A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO SERVE UNDER YOUR LEADERSHIP. I SHALL, OF COURSE, MAINTAIN MY SUPPORT FOR YOUR GOVERNMENT IN…….,这是西方政界在处理矛盾时使用的典型语言,收到怨而不怒,落落大方的效果,实际上是言犹未尽,细心的读者定能从这种委婉语句中玩味出未明确表达的弦外之音。难怪西方流传一种说法:政治家和外交家都是善于运用晦涩或漂亮的言辞,来掩盖自己真实思想的能手。
  
      这方面的例子还很多,西方人在听到赞扬时从不说NO来表示谦虚,而说THANK YOU,或IT’S VERY KIND OF YOU TO SAY SO,可也说BETTER TOMORROW和 I’LL KEEP TRYING 等等。收到礼品,哪怕再不喜欢也表示:ISN’T THAT LOVELY!OH,LOOK AT THAT! 甚至用GREAT,TERRIFIC,GORGEOUS,SUPER,FANTASTIC等夸张形容词。这种现象更多是由于东西方的文化差异,值得人们做进一步的研究。
  
          [本文作者胡传忠曾在英国和澳大利亚长驻,在外交部翻译室从事口(笔)译及审稿工作近20年,具有丰富口(笔)译工作经验。现为外交笔会成员]