Newsletter No. 386

10 No. 386, 4.11.2011 …… 如是说 Thus Spake… 你翻译了但丁的《神曲》,有说你的意大利文是自学的,可 是真的? 不是。我最初在香港大学念意大利文,接着报读了香港意 大利文化协会的课程,及后远赴意大利佛罗伦斯大学深 造,当时选修了意大利文、意大利文学和专研但丁《神曲》 的科目。回港后,我经常阅读意大利文学作品,特别爱读 意大利诗歌。要掌握一种活语言,相比于自学,上课有效得 多,尤其是由以该种语言为母语的老师任教的话。因为上 课可以互动交流,远远胜过静态的自学。 愈来愈少人念文学翻译及文学,你有何看法? 很可惜。我读书的那个年代,很多学生念英国文学,特别是 有名的官津补助学校。念过英国文学,念过大文豪如莎士 比亚的著作,你的英文会不一样。我有幸中六时已有机会 读到大师级的作品,如莎士比亚、约翰.弥尔顿和塞缪尔. 约翰逊。现在愈来愈少中六学生对经典作品有兴趣,中英 皆然。我常用这个作为文学翻译课的开场白:「念文学不会 使你成为李嘉诚;但读过这些钜着,你的精神领域就是不 同,会更加欣赏上帝的伟大创造,精神生活更加丰盛。」 意大利文外,你又懂法文、西班牙文,更写得一手漂亮的中 英文,除了天分,是如何练就? 其实我的中英文都有待改进。回想中学时代,我得感激母 校皇仁书院给我均衡接触中英文的机会。皇仁虽然是所英 文官校,主要以英语授课,但同样着重中文,我和同学也参 加过中文写作比赛。记得念中三时拿了奖,当时的评判是 一位很有名的专栏作家,以为皇仁学生只是长于英文。他 见我参加又得奖,就打趣说:「你是来自皇仁的吗?怎么今 天不「炒鸡肠」了?」(英文草书弯弯曲曲的,那个年代被 戏称为「鸡肠」。)学习语言,兴趣是很重要的,在年轻时, 更要多阅读。 你曾于不同院校任教,中大学生与其他院校的相比,有何 不同? 中大生很出色,可谓精英中的精英。我在很多不同场合 也提及,中大过去数十年发展有目共睹,毕业生应以母校 为傲。身为大学一员,实在与有荣焉,在中大教书确是很 开心。 完成了名著《哈姆雷特》的译注,有何可分享?为何选这作 品? 《哈姆雷特》匠心独运,作为翻译的原素材,非常考功夫。 这是莎士比亚登峰造极之作,疯魔世世代代的文学师生, 我自己当然也不例外。我在大学时上了这个剧的课,年日 渐长,愈发懂得欣赏莎士比亚作为诗人和剧作家的伟大之 处。2006至07年,我任教一科论及戏剧翻译的科目,谈到 译者可以怎样处理戏剧,特别是不同时期戏剧大师的名 著,我就试译了《哈》的第一幕第一场,与同学课上讨论, 藉此引导他们留意很多译者常忽略之处。数年前我完成整 个剧本的翻译,虽然花了不少时间,却令人振奋。 谈谈你的诗剧创作,为何会选这体裁? 除了学术文章外,未来我计划把时间分配在创意写作和 翻译。我刚完成一篇一千三百多行的敍事诗,很快会于文 学杂志发表。两年前,《城市文艺》也刊登过我一个八幕 的诗剧本。过去数十年我创作很多小品,是时候做一些新 尝试,例如敍事诗或诗剧。我一向对这两种形式有兴趣, 爱其变化多端,不拘一格,当然更是因为对荷马、但丁、约 翰.弥尔顿、古希腊悲剧家索福克莱斯、莎士比亚,以及其 他大文豪的景仰。 You translated Dante’s Divine Comedy . Rumour has it that you taught yourself Italian. Is that true? No, I first learnt Italian at the University of Hong Kong, then at the Dante Alighieri Society, and finally 翻译系研究教授 黄国彬教授 Prof. Laurence Wong, Research Professor, Department of Translation at Florence University in Italy, where I took courses in Italian language, in Italian literature, and in Dante’s Divine Comedy . After I came back, I kept reading Italian literature, particularly Italian poetry. With a living language, taking courses—particularly courses taught by teachers who are native speakers of the standard form of the language—is much more effective than self-teaching. Taking courses is a dynamic, interactive process, far superior to static self-teaching. The number of students studying literary translation and literature has been declining. What do you think of that? It’s a pity. In my school days, many students, especially those of famous government or grant-in-aid schools, took English literature. Your English will never be the same after you have studied great writers like Shakespeare. I was lucky at school, because in Form 6, I had the opportunity to study the works of the masters, including Shakespeare, Milton, and Johnson. Nowadays, fewer and fewer Secondary 6 students are interested in the classics, whether Chinese or English. By way of introduction, I often tell students of literary translation, ‘Literature won’t make you a Li Ka-shing, but once you have studied literature, your spiritual world will never be the same again; you will be able to appreciate God’s glorious Creation much better, and your spiritual life will be richer.’ Besides Italian, you also know French and Spanish, and you write beautiful Chinese and English. Talent aside, how did you become so good at languages? Even with my Chinese and English, there is still much room for improvement. Looking back on my school days, I am grateful to my alma mater, Queen’s College (QC), which provided me with a balanced exposure to Chinese and English. At Queen’s College, an Anglo-Chinese government school, classes were taught in English, but QC also attached a lot of importance to the teaching of Chinese. My classmates and I took part in Chinese writing contests. I remember winning one in Form 3. The adjudicator was a famous newspaper columnist who was under the impression that QC students were only good at English. Seeing me, he joked, ‘So you’re from Queen’s College. How come you’re not “stir-frying chicken intestines” today?’ (English is sometimes referred to as ‘chicken intestines’ in colloquial Cantonese because of the resemblance of the cursive writing of English to the said offal.) I think interest is important in language acquisition. You also need to read a lot, especially when young. You have taught at different universities. How do CUHK students compare to students of other institutions? CUHK students are wonderful; they are la crème de la crème, the best of the best. I have spoken and written about this on more than one occasion, and said that CUHK alumni should be proud of their alma mater for the tremendous progress it has made in the past decades. As a member of CUHK, I share their pride. It is a joy to teach at CUHK. What was your experience translating Hamlet ? Why Hamlet ? Hamlet is fascinating and challenging as a source text; it is Shakespeare’s magic play, enthralling all teachers and students of literature, myself being no exception. I studied the play in one of the courses I took in my undergraduate years. As time went by, I appreciated Shakespeare’s greatness as a poet and playwright more and more. In 2006–07, I taught a translation course which covered drama translation. To show what a translator could do with drama, particularly with the work of the greatest dramatist of all time, I translated Act I, scene i of Hamlet , and discussed my draft with students in class, drawing their attention to pitfalls many translators were not aware of. I finished translating the whole play a couple of years ago. The project was time-consuming but exhilarating. Could you tell us about your creative projects, in particular, your poetic dramas? Why this particular genre? In the coming years, apart from academic papers, I shall divide my time between creative writing and translation. I’ve just finished a narrative poem of some 1,300 lines, which is going to appear in a literary magazine soon. Two years ago, I had an eight-act verse play published in the Hong Kong Literature Monthly . Having written so many short pieces during the past decades, I think it’s time to try my hand at something new, especially at narrative poetry and poetic drama. I’ve long been interested in these two genres, perhaps because of the wide range of possibilities they hold out for me—not to mention my deep admiration for Homer, Dante, Milton, Sophocles, Shakespeare, and their fellow Olympians.

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