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拉脱维亚人的性格标签

更新时间:2018-7-16 20:04:47 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Latvia: Europe's nation of introverts
拉脱维亚人的性格标签

In a comic book produced by the organisation Latvian Literature for the recent London Book Fair, the main character gives a rare smile on realising that the weather outside is perfect. That is, it’s heavily snowing, and thus he’s unlikely to meet anyone out on the roads. As he says, “below zero = below average risk of random encounter”.

最近的伦敦书展上,拉脱维亚文学协会出版了一本漫画书。书中的主人公在得知外面天气“甚好”后,露出了难得的笑容。其实窗外正大雪纷飞,但是这也意味着他不会在路上撞见任何人。正如他所说,"气温零度以下代表偶遇的几率也在平均水平以下。"

The comic is part of Latvian Literature’s #IAMINTROVERT campaign to celebrate – and affectionately make fun of – a kind of social reserve that Anete Konste, a Latvian publicist and writer who devised the campaign, sees as very representative of her nation. “I don’t think our campaign is an exaggeration at all,” she said. “In reality it’s even worse!”

这本漫画书是拉托维亚文学协会“我是内向者”运动的一部分,这个运动以拉脱维亚内敛含蓄的文化开玩笑自嘲。设计此运动的康斯特(Anete Konste) 是拉脱维亚一位出版人和作家,她将这种文化视为国家象征。她说:“我认为我们发起的运动一点也不夸张,现实情况其实更糟糕。”

I understood what she meant as soon as I arrived in the Baltic state. My first day walking through Riga, Latvia’s capital city, was unlike walking through the capital of any other European country. It was more serene. The sun shone brightly as I strolled towards Kronvalda Park, and at times it seemed like the only sources of noise were passing cars and chattering tourists. When I did see some Latvians walking together, they often did so silently and with plenty of space in between. I sensed that these aren’t the most gregarious of people.

我一踏入这个波罗的海国家就明白了康斯特所说的话。第一天在拉脱维亚的首都里加漫步时,我觉得这个城市一点也不像其他欧洲国家的首都,它显得更加宁静。散步前往科瓦达公园时,阳光普照,有时仿佛觉得耳边只有汽车的行驶声和游客的交谈声。 我确实也看见有些拉脱维亚人走在一起,但他们总是沉默不语,彼此还隔着距离。在我看来,他们是这个世界上最不喜欢合群而居的民族。

This feeling was confirmed on an hour-long train trip from Riga to Sigulda. As we whizzed north-east through thick pine forests, my friends and I alternately admired the scenery and played a film trivia game. We were getting excitable, shouting out answers, when it dawned on us that we were the only ones in the train compartment speaking.

从里加到锡古尔达坐火车要一个小时,我的这种感受在路途中再一次得到验证。火车朝东北方行驶,经过一片茂密的松树林时,我和朋友们开始轮番称赞美景,还玩起了电影问答游戏。我们越玩越兴奋,争相喊出答案,后来才发现整个车厢说话的只有我们几个人。

But why are Latvians often so reserved, at least at first? There is no cut-and-dried answer, but studies have shown a link between creativity and a preference for solitude. Konste has seen this first hand in her line of work; in fact, she believes that introversion is especially heightened among those in creative fields, such as authors, artists and architects. Meanwhile, Latvian psychologists have suggested that creativity is important to Latvian self-identity, so much so that creativity is a priority in the Latvian government’s educational and economic development plans. The European Commission has reported that Latvia has one of the highest shares of the creative labour market in the European Union.

为什么拉脱维亚人总是如此沉默内敛?这一问题并没有可以套用的答案,但研究显示,创造力和偏爱独处的性格之间有着千丝万缕的联系。康斯特在她从事的行业里观察到了这一点。事实上,她认为在创造性领域中内向型性格更加常见,比如作家、艺术家和建筑师。同时,拉脱维亚的心理学家们认为创造力是拉脱维亚人民的自我认同感中极其重要的一部分,所以拉脱维亚政府在制定教育和经济发展计划时总是将创造力视为头等大事。欧盟执行委员会发布的报告显示,拉脱维亚是欧盟中占据创造性劳动市场份额最高的国家之一。

Latvians are often self-deprecating about their culture’s tendency towards introversion, a personality type that gets overstimulated easily and prefers solitude, quiet and reflection. Examples abound, from the Riga neighbourhood called Zolitūde (Solitude) to many ingrained habits, like not smiling at strangers. When Philip Birzulis, a Riga tour guide, moved to Latvia in 1994, he was surprised to see that some Latvians would cross the street to avoid passing another person. “I noticed that people were making these decisions [on] how to avoid each other about 5-10m in advance,” he said.

拉脱维亚人总是自嘲自己国家的文化变得越来越内敛。拉脱维亚人的这种性格容易受惊,更偏爱独居、沉思和安静的环境。这种例子比比皆是,比如里加附近有一个叫做“寂静”的城镇,再如该国有许多根深蒂固的习惯,如不會朝陌生人微笑等。勃祖利斯(Philip Birzulis)现在里加作导游,他1994年移居至拉脱维亚时,看到一些拉脱维亚人在过马路时竟然会避免经过他人身旁时,感到很惊讶。他说:“我发现他们在5到10米远的时候就开始考虑如何避免与人擦身而过。”

Even the Latvian Song and Dance Festival – a massive celebration that gathers more than 10,000 singers from all over the country – shows signs of introversion in that it takes place only every five years. Birzulis jokingly suggested that it would be too much of a strain otherwise, and commented that this kind of togetherness is very much the exception rather than the rule in Latvian culture.

即使是拉脱维亚歌唱舞蹈节也能展现拉脱维亚内敛的文化。这场大型庆典會汇集一万名来自于全国各地的歌手,但要每五年才会举办一次。勃祖利斯打趣说:“如果不这样安排,庆典将会成为一种负担。因为这种万人欢聚一堂的场面实属例外,在拉脱维亚文化中非常罕见。”

Konste gave another example of her fellow citizens’ tendency towards introversion. In apartment buildings, “it is very Latvian to wait a little for your neighbour to leave the foyer, and only then leave yourself so to avoid an awkward greeting opportunity,” she told me. (Well, surely many of us do that?)

康斯特还讲了另外一个例子来证明拉脱维亚人民正变得越来越内向。她告诉我:“在公寓大楼里,拉脱维亚人的习惯是要等门厅里的人走了后才出自己的房门,以免在门厅碰面要尴尬地打招呼。”

However, a disdain for small talk does not necessarily mean that Latvians are cold. After all, some of the silent train passengers my friends and I encountered were also quick to offer assistance as we puzzled over a map. As explained by Justīne Vernera, a translator and freelance journalist from the medieval town of Cēsis in north-east Latvia, “In Latvia, not maintaining a conversation the whole time is not a rude or awkward thing. Being chatty the whole time is seen more as arrogance than being silent from time to time.”

然而,不喜欢闲聊并不意味着拉脱维亚人民都很冷漠。当我和朋友看不懂地图时,火车上安静的乘客马上伸出援手。薇内拉(Justīne Vernera)是一名翻译和自由记者,来自拉脱维亚东北部的中世纪小城采西斯(Cēsis) 。她解释道,“在拉脱维亚,交谈适可而止并非失礼或尴尬之举。说个不停比适时沉默看起来更傲慢自大。”

While the reserved habits of the Latvian people may be difficult for newcomers to ignore, many Latvians note that theirs is not the only culture with an introverted disposition. Birzulis believes Swedes are much more invested in personal space than Latvians, while Konste points out that Finns are also very introverted. And Evelina Ozola, one half of Latvia’s Fine Young Urbanists, an architecture and urban-planning duo, commented, “In the introversion department we’re really not that different from Estonians.”

虽然初来拉脱维亚的人很难对这种高冷的态度不无微言,但许多拉脱维亚人认为并不只有自己国家的文化如此内敛。勃祖利斯认为瑞典人比拉脱维亚人更在意个人空间,康斯特指出芬兰人也十分内向。奥祖拉(Evelina Ozola)从事建筑和城市规划,与朋友建立了一个网络平台“拉脱维亚年轻城市居民”。他说:“说到内向,我们和爱沙尼亚人真没什么不同。”

It is also important to remember that Latvians are not homogeneous. There are significant Russian and other minority groups in Latvia, with varying degrees of linguistic and cultural integration. There are also generational differences between those who grew up during an era of surveillance and forced communal lifestyles as part of the Soviet Union, and a younger generation raised in capitalism and greater cosmopolitanism. Thus it is impossible to talk of a single, all-encompassing cultural trait – even though the value placed on personal space is one that spans generations.

并非所有拉脱维亚人都是如此。拉脱维亚还居住着不少俄罗斯人和其他少数族群,所以存在不同程度的语言和文化融合现象。由于以前拉脱维亚是苏联的一部分,老一辈是在监视和强迫集体生活中长大成人,而现在的年轻一代则成长于资本主义社会,受世界主义影响更深,因此两代人之间存在代沟。所以,虽然对于个人空间的重视并非个例而是几代人共同的特点,我们也不能一概而论。

One clue to Latvian reserve lies in the physical layout of the country, specifically its low population density and lush forests. Ozola explained that “[Latvians are] simply not used to seeing a lot of other people around. It is quite unusual to have to wait for a table at a restaurant or to sit too close to another party while dining. There’s enough space in the country to keep a distance from others.”

拉脱维亚的自然环境是造成国民内向性格的原因之一,特别是其较低的人口居住密度和苍翠繁茂的广袤森林。奥祖拉这样解释道,"拉脱维亚人民仅仅是不习惯人多闹热的地方。很少有人会在餐厅等位或在吃饭时与隔桌坐得很近。因为这个国家有充足的空间与他人保持距离。"

It is common for even Latvian urbanites to have an abiding love of nature, making regular escapes to the country. Particularly romanticised in Latvian culture is the image of the homestead: an isolated, self-sufficient, rural complex typically built of wood. The Latvian homestead is included in the Latvian Cultural Canon, a list of 99 items and people considered to be Latvia’s most significant. (Also on this list are grave care and Latvia’s justly well-regarded rye bread.)

在拉脱维亚,即使是城市居民也十分热爱大自然,他们会定期逃避到农村,享受孤独的乡村生活。在拉脱维亚文化中田园生活——遗世独立、自给自足,还有独立的传统乡村木屋——是十分浪漫的。拉脱维亚的传统农宅还被列入了国家文化传统的名单中。这个名单列出了被拉脱维亚人视为对该国文化传统影响最重要的99个事物和人物。(名单上还包括丧葬服务和拉脱维亚有名的黑面包)。

Ozola pointed out that while the homestead reality died out in the 20th Century with the Soviet regime’s push for collectivisation, the cultural attachment to the homestead image persists. “Between 1948 and 1950, the proportion of homesteads to all countryside dwellings went down from 89.9% to 3.5%, and thus, traditional living patterns were effectively eradicated,” she said.

祖拉指出,由于苏维埃政权推行的农业集体化,拉脱维亚独门独户的传统乡村农宅在20世纪渐渐消失,但即便如此,人们对这种田园生活的文化依恋仍然如故。她说:“从1948年到1950年,传统独立农宅占农村住宅的比重从89.9%跌至3.5%,这意味着传统的生活方式已迹近彻底抹去。”

But Vernera noted that self-sufficiency is still part of Latvian identity. “We still have this sort of single farmstead thinking: we don’t gather in cafes during the daytime, we don’t approach random people on streets,” she said.

但是薇内拉注意到自给自足仍是拉脱维亚自我认同感的一部分。她说:“我们还是保留着传统乡村离群索居的思考方式——白天不在咖啡馆聚集,不随意接近街上的陌生人。”

Another dramatic shift has been towards living in (comparatively small) flats. “Latvia is unevenly populated, with most people living in close proximity to each other in urban centres,” Ozola told me, noting that despite being one of Europe’s most sparsely populated countries, nearly two thirds of Latvia’s residents live in apartment buildings. This is one of the highest apartment-dwelling proportions in Europe, according to the statistics website Eurostat. At the same time, a survey conducted by the real-estate company Ektornet found that more than two thirds of Latvians want to live in private, detached homes. Ozola speculates that this disconnect may partly explain why personal space is so important to Latvians.

生活方式另一巨大转变是相对狭小的公寓生活。奥祖拉告诉我,拉脱维亚人口分布极不平均,大多数人都在城市中心,紧邻而居。尽管拉脱维亚是欧洲人口最稀少的国家之一,但三分之二的人口卻居住在公寓楼房里。根据欧洲统计局网站的数据显示,拉脱维亚是欧洲公寓楼房居住率最高的国家之一。同时,房地产公司Ektornet 进行的一项调查发现,约有三分之二的拉脱维亚人想居住在私密的独栋住房里。奥祖拉推测,这种脱节可以在一定程度上解释为什么个人空间对于拉脱维亚人来说如此重要。

But Latvians should be careful what they wish for. According to Politico, Latvia’s population is shrinking intensely with outward migration, with one of the steepest population declines of any nation in the world. So a nation that loves space may be getting more of it. Meanwhile, Latvian psychologists are hard at work investigating how psychological traits, including reserve around new people, affect Latvians’ attitudes towards refugees, as inward migration may be an important tool in stemming the population loss.

但是拉脱维亚人民需警惕这种追求带来的后果。《政客》杂志指出,由于外迁移民,拉脱维亚人口正在急剧减少,成为世界人口降幅最大的国家之一。一个注重个人空间的国家容易出现这种情况。同时,拉脱维亚的心理学家正在努力研究国人心理特点,如对陌生人的矜持冷漠,是如何影响拉脱维亚人对难民的态度,因为移民的增加可以弥补这个国家的人口流失。

For visitors and newcomers who are startled by Latvians’ inclination for reticence, Vernera has some advice: “I’d definitely just advise any foreigner not to be scared of the initial silence. Once a foreigner gets to know a Latvian and a certain amount of time passes, we’re really good friends. We’re not a very theatrical nation, so we’re pretty frank in certain parts. We won’t tell everyone that we like them, so if a Latvian says he/she likes you, it’s really true.”

对于被拉脱维亚人的沉默寡言吓到的游客和初来者,薇内拉建议:“所有外国人都不必害怕最开始的沉默。外来者一旦结识了拉脱维亚人,过一段时间,你会发现我们其实是很友好的朋友。拉脱维亚人不喜欢夸张,在某些方面十分坦诚。我们很少会直白地表达对他人的喜爱,所以如果拉脱维亚人说喜欢你,那绝对是真情实意的。”

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