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雅思口语准备:中文“吃苦”登上纽约时报 揭秘中国崛起的奥秘

发表时间:2011/1/20字号:T|T
这些年来西方媒体上或直接或间接、或音译或意译引用的汉语词是越来越多。近日,纽约时报知名的专栏作家NicholasD.Kristof(中文名纪思道)发自北京的一篇文章就使用了一个纯汉语词来描述中国人和中国的崛起。这个词是...
      这些年来西方媒体上或直接或间接、或音译或意译引用的汉语词是越来越多。近日,纽约时报知名的专栏作家Nicholas D. Kristof(中文名纪思道)发自北京的一篇文章就使用了一个纯汉语词来描述中国人和中国的崛起。这个词是什么呢?

 
      纪思道的这篇文章题为China Rises, and Checkmates,可译为“中国崛起,将军!”这么大的一个标题,但内容是从一个小女生的故事说起的。文章这样写道:
      If there’s a human face on Rising China, it belongs not to some Politburo chief, not to an Internet tycoon, but to a quiet, mild-mannered teenage girl named Hou Yifan.
      如果让一个人来代表崛起中的中国,不应该是某位政治局常委,也不是某位互联网行业大亨,而应该是一名文文静静、举止温和、名叫侯逸凡的少女。
      侯逸凡,5岁学棋,12岁跻身特级大师行列,16岁成为女子国际象棋冠军;她是全世界最年轻的新生代棋后,是位“天才少女”。
      纪思道在文章中描述了他和小姑娘下棋的过程,然后总结说:
      Cynics sometimes suggest that China’s rise as a world power is largely a matter of      government manipulation of currency rates and trade rules, and there’s no doubt that there’s plenty of rigging or cheating going on in every sphere. But China has also done an extraordinarily good job of investing in its people and in spreading opportunity across the country. Moreover, perhaps as a legacy of Confucianism, its citizens have shown a passion for education and self-improvement — along with remarkable capacity for discipline and hard work, what the Chinese call “chi ku,” or “eating bitterness.”
      一些愤世嫉俗的人有时认为中国之所以能够崛起为世界大国,主要是因为政府操纵货币汇率和贸易规则所致。的确,在许多领域都存在大量操弄和欺诈的行为。然而,中国在对人力资源的投资和在全国各地创造机会方面也做得非常出色。此外,也许是儒家的传统,中国的公民们热衷于教育和自我提高,同时展现出了异乎寻常的自律和勤奋工作的能力——中国人称之为chi ku,即eating bitterness。

      在这段话里,纪思道直接使用了拼音chi ku来表示“吃苦”,并直译为eating bitterness,也就是自律加勤奋,discipline and hard work。在这位美国专栏作家看来,侯逸凡本人就是个吃苦而成功的代表:
      文章在最后一段为全文做结论时,非常自然地再次使用了eating bitterness这个词:
      There’s a lesson for us as well. China’s national commitment to education, opportunity and eating bitterness — those are qualities that we in the West might emulate as well.
      对我们来说,这是一堂课。中国全民族对教育、机遇和吃苦的执着,这正是我们西方人可以效仿的品质。

      If there’s a human face on Rising China, it belongs not to some Politburo chief, not to an Internet tycoon, but to a quiet, mild-mannered teenage girl named Hou Yifan.
      Ms. Hou (whose name is pronounced Ho Ee-fahn) is an astonishing phenomenon: at 16, she is the new women’s world chess champion, the youngest person, male or female, ever to win a world championship. And she reflects the way China — by investing heavily in education and human capital, particularly in young women — is increasingly having an outsize impact on every aspect of the world.
      Napoleon is famously said to have declared, “When China wakes, it will shake the world.” That is becoming true even in spheres that China historically has had little connection with, like chess, basketball, rare earth minerals, cyber warfare, space exploration and nuclear research.
      This is a process that Miss Hou exemplifies. Only about 1 percent of Chinese play chess, and China has never been a chess power. But since 1991, China has produced four women’s world chess champions, and Ms. Hou is the one with by far the most promise.
      At this point, I have to put my sensitive male ego aside. You see, Ms. Hou gamely agreed to play me after I interviewed her. She had just flown into Beijing after winning the world championship, and she was exhausted — and she shredded me in 21 moves.
      Most dispiriting, when I was teetering at the abyss near the end of the game, her coach nudged her and suggested mischievously that we should switch sides. Ms. Hou would inherit my impossible position — and the gleam in her coach’s eye suggested that she would still win.
      I protested that I could survive being beaten on the chess board by a schoolgirl. But to be toyed with, like a mouse by a cat — that would be too much. Ms. Hou nodded compassionately and checkmated me a few moves later.
      At 14 she became the youngest female grandmaster ever. She’s still so young that it’s unclear just how remarkable she will become.
      Women in general haven’t been nearly as good at chess as men, and the world’s top women are mostly ranked well below the top men — but Ms. Hou could be an exception.  She is the only female chess player today considered to have a shot at becoming one of the top few players in the world, male or female.
      Cynics sometimes suggest that China’s rise as a world power is largely a matter of government manipulation of currency rates and trade rules, and there’s no doubt that there’s plenty of rigging or cheating going on in every sphere. But China has also done an extraordinarily good job of investing in its people and in spreading opportunity across the country. Moreover, perhaps as a legacy of Confucianism, its citizens have shown a passion for education and self-improvement — along with remarkable capacity for discipline and hard work, what the Chinese call “chi ku,” or “eating bitterness.”
      Ms. Hou dined on plenty of bitterness in working her way up to champion. She grew up in the boondocks, in a county town in Jiangsu Province, and her parents did not play chess. But they lavished attention on her and spoiled her, as parents of only children (“little emperors”) routinely do in China.
      China used to be one of the most sexist societies in the world — with female infanticide, foot binding, and concubinage — but it turned a corner and now is remarkably good at giving opportunities to girls as well as boys. When Ms. Hou’s parents noticed her interest in a chess board at a store, they promptly bought her a chess set — and then hired a chess tutor for her.
      Ye Jiangchuan, the chief coach of the national men’s and women’s teams, told me that he played Ms. Hou when she was 9 years old — and was stunned. “I saw that this kid was special,” he told me, and he invited her to move to Beijing to play with the national teams. Three years later she was the youngest girl ever to compete in the world chess championships.
      It will be many, many decades before China can challenge the United States as the overall “No. 1” in the world, for we have a huge lead and China still must show that it can transition to a more open and democratic society. But already in discrete areas — its automobile market, carbon emissions and now women’s chess — China is emerging as No. 1 here and there, and that process will continue.
      There’s a lesson for us as well. China’s national commitment to education, opportunity and eating bitterness — those are qualities that we in the West might emulate as well. As you know after you’ve been checkmated by Hou Yifan.
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