100年前,英国孩子如何认识中国?

中国:无头的水母?(图: diffa ,取自Flickr)

100年前,英国孩子如何认识中国?

朋友Bob从书店里扛回来了一大箱发黄的英国儿童百科全书。

他打电话过来,要我们去他家里挖这些宝。

这些百科全书,都是英国老先生、老太太遗留人间的古物。

我们家里已经书满为患,我坚持不再收容任何百科全书。我们花了一个周末下午,把百科全书里有意思的部分撕了下来。

我收藏的都是和中国有关的部分。

这几套百科全书,都没有记录出版年份。这一篇内容提到清朝、废除科举、废除缠足,我们估计,出版年代是1920左右,距今有90多年。

今天,我只介绍这篇中国篇的开场白和结论。明天,再介绍其他有趣内容。

你们要知道,这是90多年前为英国儿童而写的儿童百科全书,带有英国绅士对儿童说话的口吻,神气、自命不凡,very patronising, 读了令人发笑。

这篇中国篇的篇名是:China, the Home of Upside Down (中国—一个颠倒的国家)

1)在中国,书本是这样倒着读的:第一页是从最后一页的最后一栏的最上方开始,然后一直倒着念,直到第一页的第一栏为止。A book in China begins at the top of the last column on the last page and goes backward till it ends with the first column on the first page.

中国:颠倒的国家

2)中国人的晚饭,先吃水果和甜点,最后才喝汤、吃米饭。A dinner begins with fruit and sweets, and ends with soup and rice.

3)在中国,男人穿裙子,女人穿长裤。Men in China wear skirts, and women wear trousers.

4)在中国,白色是悲悼的颜色,新娘穿鲜红色的裙子。White is the colour for mourning, and brides dress in scarlet.

And so it goes. 诸如此类。

5)你将永远无法理解中国人究竟是怎么想的,他们也将永远无法明白你是怎么想的。You will never understand why the Chinese think the way they do, and they will never understand why you think as you do.

6)中国人和英国人有着同样的感情:他们都会感觉到饿,感到欢喜、会生病、有爱恋。但是,中国人和英国人将永远没法了解对方的思想。A Chinese and an Englishman can feel the same things; they can both be hungry or happy or ill or in love. But they will never understand each other’s thoughts.

7)对于中国,你要记得的第一件事情是:我们可以去认识一些关于中国的事情,但是,我们将永远无法真正了解中国。This is the first thing to remember about China. We can learn certain things about China, but we can never really understand it.

结论:共和中国的未来: The future of the Chinese republic

上世纪的儿童百科全书:介绍中国

中国的未来将如何? What of China’s future?

今天,中国就像是一只巨大的水母,摊开着身躯, 散漫地躺卧在东方亚洲上。她全身就只有身体,没有头,她任由任何往来的人摆布。To-day she is like a great jelly-fish, lying sprawled over eastern Asia. She is all body and no head, and is at the mercy of anyone who comes along.

但是,如果她有朝一日,振作起来,给自己找到了一个头,她将有可能成为一个伟大的国家。But if she ever gathers herself together and finds a head, she may again become a great country.

这样的描述,今天读起来,不知大家有何看法?

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Janet Williams 張玉雲

I am Janet Williams, an academic living in the southeast of England. I blog about culture, history, languages and my community. I created Chandler's Ford Today. During my spare time, I make Origami. Thank you for stopping by.

4 thoughts on “100年前,英国孩子如何认识中国?”

  1. 那段近代史刚好是一盘散沙的时候,水母这样的描述是很形象、生动的。。。

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