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美国人在华打工记:全中国最倒霉的船长

更新时间:2016-1-18 18:23:43 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Unluckiest Captain in China
美国人在华打工记:全中国最倒霉的船长

“Mayday. Mayday. Mayday. Call sign Alfa Bravo Charlie Delta. Mayday, Pacific Ocean. I am on fire in No. 4 hold and have dangerous goods on foredeck.” It is a Wednesday morning in Guangzhou, China, and in a recording studio on the 22nd floor of a Zhujiang New Town skyscraper, terrible things are happening to ships.

“求救。求救。求救。呼号Alfa、Bravo、Charlie、Delta。求救,太平洋。4号货舱着火了,前甲板有危险品。”这是中国广州的周三上午,在珠江新城一栋摩天大楼22层的一间录音棚里,船只发生着可怕的事情。

I am the captain of this and other distressed vessels — or rather, I have been hired to play one in a series of listening exercises for nautical trainees to accompany a textbook. I record various scenarios with the person who has been hired to play the vessel traffic officer, who is the hero of every situation — a Jedi knight of the seas.

我是这艘船及其他遇险船只的船长——更确切地说,我受聘扮演航海学员教科书里一系列听力练习材料里的船长角色。我与扮演船舶交通员的人一起录制各种情景。每一次,船舶交通员都是大救星——是海上的绝地武士。

Whether he is monitoring a tanker with 60,000 metric tons of wheat, a vessel laying cable or a ship heading blithely into the harbor with a load of TNT, the traffic officer always knows how to avert danger. During our stilted radio conversations, he dispenses such wisdom as, “Warning. Please check your anchor position and ensure it’s dragging anchor or not. Over.” and “Warning: One fishing boat on your starboard bow is forming risk of collision. Over.”

交通员总是知道如何避免危险,不管是在监控载着6万吨小麦的油轮、载着电缆的船只,还是载着TNT炸药徐徐开往港口的轮船。在我们呆板的无线电对话里,他如此演绎这些航海知识:“警告。请检查锚位,确保有否拖着锚。完毕。”以及“警告:船首右舷一渔船正形成碰撞危险。完毕。”

I have no special qualifications to be a voice actor in a nautical exercise. As the spouse of a teacher in Guangzhou, I am merely a native English speaker adrift in greater China, which opens you up to some unusual offers of employment.

我并没有航海培训配音员的特别资质。我是一位广州教师的配偶,不过是漂泊在大中华区、以英语为母语,但这就让我接触到一些特别的工作机会。

Everyone here takes English in school starting at a young age, but relative to the number of people, native speakers are still in rather short supply. To those learning English, exposure to someone who speaks it as their native language, whether on a recording or in person, can be a big help. And then, of course, there is the novelty factor.

这里的每个人年幼时就开始在校园里学习英语,但相对这个庞大的人数,以英语为母语的人仍然供不应求。对于那些学习英语的人来说,接触母语人士,无论是透过录音或当面交流,都可以帮助很大。当然了,新奇感也在其中起了作用。

One American I know was hired to read a novel aloud on a tram as part of an art exhibit, shouting over the stop announcements. Another was hired to be photographed pretending to marry a Chinese woman on various golf courses around Shenzhen. For me, despite having no formal training in teaching, every Friday I help four grade schoolers read American children’s books under the heading of enrichment. (“Strega Nona,” the Tomie dePaola book about an overflowing pasta pot, was a big hit. But “The Polar Express,” about a boy’s journey to the North Pole, was something of a misfire, since they didn’t know who Santa was.) The recording job came to me through a text message forwarded through a friend of a friend of a friend.

我认识的一个美国人受聘在电车上朗读小说,声音要盖过停站通报——这是艺术展的一部分。另一个人受聘在深圳多块高尔夫球场拍照,假装娶了一名中国女子。而我,尽管没有正规教育培训,但每周五都会帮助四年级学童阅读各种各样的美国童书,美其名曰充实头脑。(汤米·狄波拉(Tomie dePaola)撰写的有关一口满溢的意大利面条锅的故事《巫婆奶奶》[Strega Nona]很受欢迎。但是讲述一个男孩的北极之旅的《极地特快》[The Polar Express]却一点都不火,因为学童不知道圣诞老人是什么。)我之所以得到这份录音工作,是因为一位朋友的朋友的朋友转发的一条短信。

In the car on the way to the studio, I met the voice actor who had been hired to play the traffic vessel officer, an American student. We weren’t sure whether we should try to correct errors in the recording script, which had not so much been translated as converted by brute force. In the studio, we lean into the single microphone like bobbing birds to speak our parts, trying not to stumble on the Chinese grammar filled with English words. We do not know which of it might be nautical lingo, and we have no information as to context. It seems possible that the errors have been printed in a textbook already, and our corrections might cause further confusion.

在前往录音棚的车上,我遇见了受聘出演船舶交通员一角的配音演员,一个美国学生。录音脚本与其说是好好翻译的,还不如说是生拼硬凑的,我们都不确定是否应该试着改正上面的错处。在录音棚里,我们像雀跃的鸟儿一样,轮流凑近那一个麦克风,说着自己的台词,尽量不要在中文语法串起英文单词的句子上出错。我们不知道台词的哪个部分可能真是航海术语,也没有背景资料。这些错误似乎已经被印到教科书上了,我们再改正可能会造成更多混乱。

“Understood,” I say. “I will slack more anchor chain.”

“明白了,”我说。“我会放松更多锚链。”

The people using the listening exercises I’m recording may be surprised that a young American woman is captaining every ship. But considering all the other coincidences, maybe not. On these ships, there are always 23 crew members, and it is an oddity never remarked upon by the traffic officer that many of the ships have the same call sign. They are also almost uniformly in danger.

使用我录的听力练习材料的人可能会感到惊讶,所有船舶的船长都是一个年轻的美国女士。但考虑到其他所有的巧合,他们可能也司空见惯了吧。这些船上总是有23名船员,而且大部分有一样的呼号,奇怪的是交通员却从来都没说什么。它们也几乎是一致陷入了危险。

You would think the captain would be losing her mind, her tanks leaking, her ship sinking, fire all around — 23 crew members to save. But because I have been asked several times to speak more slowly, I must lean into the microphone and say, in the voice of a somnolent robot, “My engine room is explosion.”

你会觉得船长会丧失理智:她的油箱在漏油、船在下沉、各处都着了火,还有23名船员要拯救。然而,因为几次被人要求放慢语速,我必须凑近麦克风,用让人昏昏欲睡的机器人声音说,“我的机房是爆炸。”

And all of these disasters occur at exactly the same place. As I read out the latitude and longitude for the 10th time, I reflect that this spot should have been cordoned off long ago, marked with a buoy and put on the charts: “The Bermuda Triangle of the Pearl River.”

而且,所有这些灾难都恰好在同一个地方发生。当我第10次读出经度和纬度时,我脑海里浮现了一个想法:这地方早就应该被封锁了,用浮标圈起来并在航海图上写着:“珠江百慕大三角”。

Hiring foreigners suggests, on some level, a desire for authenticity, and I’m happy to provide what I can. When the recording coordinator mentions offhandedly, halfway through the recording session, that we can make corrections if we wish, I do. When we are done, she will stop in the lobby of the skyscraper and hand me a brown envelope with nine 100-yuan bills, or about $150. I will count it, feeling like a gangster. I will tell her that if the need arises for further recording, she knows how to contact me.

在一定程度上,聘用外国人显示了对真实性的追求,而我也很乐意竭尽所能。协调录音事宜的人在录到一半的时候顺口说,我们可以随意作出改正,我也就这样做了。在我们完成工作后,她会在大厦的大堂里停下来,给我一个棕色信封,里面有九张100元钞票。我会数一数,感觉就像黑帮交易一样。我会告诉她,如果有需要进行更多录音,尽管来和我联络。

And if she does, chances are that I’ll agree. I too want, if not authenticity, some sense of connection with this place where I’m living. Somewhere in the space between their good intentions and mine, we meet, and even though everything seems to happen at the last minute, in the least well-thought-out way, and the work is invariably strange, I enjoy these odd jobs. Their beautiful absurdity is one of my very favorite things about my life here.

如果她联络我了,我很可能也会答应。我也希望与现在居住的这个地方产生些许联系,即使无关真实性。在他们和我的好意之间,我们能找到共同点。虽然一切都好像是在最后一分钟、在考虑最不周详的情况下才发生,工作又总是很诡异,我却很享受这些奇怪的工作。它们那美妙的荒诞之处正是我在这里的生活中最喜欢的事情。

So here I am. “My vessel has only slight damage on forecastle and bulb,” I intone. “No flooding was found. Now I keep pressuring her with engine dead slow ahead … Over.”

于是我来了。“我的船有前部水手舱和灯泡有轻微损毁,”我徐徐道来。“没有发现水浸。现在我在用发动机已经坏掉了在缓慢前进......完毕。”

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