By Noah S. Sweat


[1] My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with3 controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey4. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:


[2] If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster5, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.


[3] But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine6, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes7; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step8 on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy9, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.


[4] This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.



1. 本文摘自叶子南著《英汉翻译:译·注·评》(翻译名师系列讲评丛书)(清华大学出版社,2016),早先还见于《中国翻译》杂志。本篇是美国密西西比州议员小诺厄·斯韦特(Noah Sweat Jr.)在1952 年发表的一篇演讲。斯韦特后来当了律师和法官,但写本演讲稿时,他是密州的议员。当时在美国不少州贩酒仍属违法,但人们已开始对禁酒展开辩论,结果群众见到一位政治人物总要问他对禁酒的立场,斯韦特不喜欢这样的“逼问”,于是就写了这个演讲。结果在宣读时,念完前半部分,一部分人拍手称快,讲完第二部分,另一部分热烈鼓掌,因为他在演讲中采取了一个没有立场的立场,博得了双方的赞赏。斯韦特原本是个没有全国知名度的人物,但后来因本篇讲演出了名。据说他花了两个半月写就这篇演讲。

2. 叶子南,浙江绍兴人,毕业于杭州大学外语系(现浙江大学外国语学院)。近二十年来任教于美国明德大学(Middlebury College)蒙特雷国际研究学院(MIIS)。

3. fraught with 表示loaded with、full of的意思。但注意后面的it应该搞清楚,此处的it应该是issue而不是“立场”。

4. 有人将whiskey 翻译成“酒”,建议用“威士忌”。尽管当时谈的议题是开放酒禁,并非仅针对威士忌,但是这篇文章的题目是谈威士忌,是借一种酒,谈一个普遍议题。

5. 这里的the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster 在原文构成排比结构,最好还原三个排比短语(魔鬼之饮,酿灾之鸩,嗜血之魔),以便取得同样效果。

6. oil of conversation 主要说酒是“润滑剂”,就像润滑机器一样,以酒促言谈。至于说the philosophic wine,可以解释为喝了酒人比较看淡困难。这个philosophic 辞典中的一个解释就是characterized by the attitude of a philosopher; meeting trouble with levelheaded detachment,或able to accept an unpleasant situation calmly。记得杨必好像把philosophical about life 翻译成“想得通丢得开”。

7. 接下来的that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips , and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes有三个位置:in their hearts,on their lips,in their eyes,这说明句中的语言是隐喻的,因为歌不可能在心中,笑声也不会在唇上,满足更不会在眼里。但是我们发现这样的隐喻说汉语的人完全可以理解,没有跨文化的障碍,所以可以在译文中保留这几个有隐喻成分的语言(让相聚的伙伴心中歌声荡漾,嘴边笑声飞扬,眼中闪烁着知足常乐的光芒)。有关这种以概念隐喻为基础的语言隐喻,可以参考叶子南的《认知隐喻与翻译实用教程》(北京大学出版社,2013)。

8. 这里有个成语(a spring in your step),其中的spring 是弹簧的意思,不是春天的意思,表达的隐喻意思是精力充沛。

9. 原文magnify his joy 最好不翻译成增加了快乐,只是把它放大了,直译就是“放大喜悦和幸福”,这里略有发挥,译成“让人更觉快乐,更感幸福”。