From The Gene Page 234:

It is the impulse of science to try to understand nature, and the impulse of technology to try to manipulate it. Recombinant DNA had pushed genetics from the realm of sciece into the realm of technology. Genes were not abstractions anymore. They could be liberated from the genomes of organisms where they had been trapped for millennia, shuttled between species, amplified, purified, extended, shortened, altered, remixed, mutated, mixed, matched, cut, pasted, edited; they were infinitely malleable to human intervention. Genes were no longer just the subjects of study, but the instruments of study. There is an illuminated moment in the development of a child when she grasps the recursiveness of language: just as thoughts can be used to generate words, she realizes, words can be used to generate thoughts. Recombinant DNA had made the language of genetics recursive. Biologists had spent decades trying to interrogate the nature of the gene — but now it was the gene that could be used to interrogate biology. We had graduated, in short, from thinking about genes, to thinking in genes.

“They could be liberated from the genomes of organisms where they had been trapped for millennia, shuttled between species, amplified, purified, extended, shortened, altered, remixed, mutated, mixed, matched, cut, pasted, edited”这一个长句子后半部分的动词排比并不难处理,相反,前面两个动词liberated和shuttled相对难处理,尤其是liberated,修饰的内容较长。遇到这种情况,我喜欢把长句子拆端,把修饰的部分单独处理。这样一来,原来很紧密的修饰结构就会打散,句子的节奏也会变得更轻快。如果要添加小短句,有两种最方便的办法,第一种增加动词,因为小短句的核心就是动词。动词就好像雨滴或者是雪花中心的小灰尘,虽然很小,但是能给蒸汽提供附着的点。第二种就是增加逻辑关系词,把隐含的逻辑关系显化出来。

They could be liberated from the genomes of organisms where they had been trapped for millennia这一部分,liberated其实是结果,trapped是产生结果之前的状态。所以修饰和被修饰部分之间的关系,可以看做时间先后关系或者前后对比关系。考虑到这一点,我先写之前,再写之后,然后点明两者对比关系。就得出了“只是千万年来禁锢在基因组中的一部分,相反,基因已经能从基因组中提取出来”,稍作修改后,顺应前文,与前文构成递进。

这样一句话就被拆分成两句话,更容易理解。

第二个翻译的难点,就是本文题目啦。think about和think in。这种用法,是英文独有的文字游戏,是让人会心一笑,觉得英文很可爱又很调皮的用法。类似的说法我在之前某篇Vital Speech of the Day上也看到过,原文忘记了,大概是We need to use our brains to think about things, instead of think of them. 我当时的翻译是“有些事,我们要用脑子思考,不能只惦记着。”虽然意思出来了,却丟掉了英文里的小把戏。这一段也是一样,虽然能把原意表达出来,却没能在翻译中再现文字游戏,英文中同用一个think,而中文里却很难找到有同一个字的词语,分别对应需要思考的问题和解决问题的思路。如果有人能想到,一定要告诉我。

译文如下:

科学的出发点是了解自然,而科技的出发点是掌控自然。重组DNA的实现,使遗传学从一门科学变成了一项科技。基因已经不再是抽象概念,不再只是千万年来禁锢在基因组中的一部分,相反,基因已经能从基因组中提取出来,在物种间转移,并进行复制、提纯、扩充、缩减、修改、重排、变异、混合、配对、剪切、贴合、编辑。在人类手上,它们呈现出无限可能。至此,基因已经不只是研究的课题,而变成了研究的工具。就好像小孩在长大的过程中会恍然大悟,原来语言的作用力是双向的,人的思想可以用语言表达出来,而语言反过来也能对思想产生影响。重组DNA技术的出现,让遗传学的语言(基因)也变成了双向的。生物学家耗时几十年,想要探寻基因的本质–而现在可以利用基因反过来探寻生物学本质。简言之,我们已经进步了,基因从“问题”变成了“思路”。

From the Gene Page 244:

It was an inverted fable: an academic Goliath versus a pharmaceutical David, one lumbering, powerful, handicapped by size, the other nimble, quick, adept at dancing around rules.

这一段主要考虑了中文读者的接受度。inverted fable直接用故事梗概,“小个子羊倌打败巨人格利亚”,简单明了,直接给了主角和结局。后面的小词都处理成了四字结构。这是一个个人习惯,如果原文复杂难懂,我习惯翻译成简单易懂的,如果原文简单浅显,我又习惯翻译成讨巧顺口的。当然,前提是跟原文的语言风格不冲突。

译文如下

这简直就是巨人不敌羊倌的翻版嘛:学术界的巨人单挑制药界小个子,一个孔武有力,五大三粗,可是反应迟钝,另一个机敏灵活,凌波微步,而且擅长使巧劲儿。

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