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ZT 官话∶中国官员的谎言根源

作者∶内维尔-哈德利(Peter Neville-Hadley)

曹长青网站编者注∶

这是居住加拿大温哥华的作家内维尔—哈德利(Peter Neville-Hadley)发表在2013年9月19日《华尔街日报》上的书评“中国官员的谎言根源”(Roots of Chinese Officials’ Lies),评论普林斯顿大学退休教授、知名汉学家林培瑞(Perry Link)的新书《解析中文∶韵律,隐喻与政治》(An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics,哈佛大学2013年5月出版)。

亚马逊网络书店上介绍说,内维尔—哈德利曾撰写并出版过有关中国的六本书,包括2013年8月第三次再版的《北京和上海∶中国最热门的城市》(Beijing & Shanghai: China’s Hottest Cities)。

这篇书评的中文为《华尔街日报》所译,刊登在该报中文版(2013年10月8日)上。原文把Perry Link音译为“佩里.林克”。本网统一改为Perry Link自己用的中文名“林培瑞”。以下为该文的译文——

普林斯顿大学荣誉教授林培瑞(Perry Link)根据自己30年对汉语奇诞现象的研究记录,勾勒出一幅揭示中国政治圈内人思维方式的生动图景。长达一个世纪的思想斗争或许已使中国分裂出很多派别,但“官话”(一种极为圆滑的表达方式)却将相互争斗的各派联合在一起。

林培瑞剖析了中国现代统治者有意或无意用语言使民众服从的机制。这对当下不管在哪个级别上与中国打交道的人都有重要的启示。

以对使用标语口号进行宣传的偏好为例。那些提醒人们横穿马路时要小心,或上卫生间后要冲水的中文标志,经常为“七言”结构,使用“二、二、三”节律。这是诗歌基本结构中的一种。在中国人听来,这种节奏感不仅听上去“对头”,而且赋予口号本身以权威性。

因而这种结构深受宣传部门的欢迎。在文化大革命达到高潮之时,红卫兵声讨着一切传统事物,毛泽东却仍然在使用这种古典的形式∶“灵魂深处干革命”。

林培瑞认为,可能是传统的力量非常强大,以至于毛泽东甚至并未意识到他在用“旧”思维攻击“旧”思想。疯狂高呼“我们要见毛主席”的年轻信徒们可能也没意识到这点。

林培瑞接着讨论了隐喻的使用,但该书最为出色之处是最后一节,他在其中揭示了操纵性语言在现代中国政治中的内在作用机制。在乾隆年间,“官话”只在官员中普遍使用,然而从毛泽东时代以来,它却日益毒害人们的日常谈话。

1958年至1961年,在毛泽东发起的灾难性“大跃进”运动中,尽管身边饿死了数千万人,人们仍不得不说着“大丰收”这种“官话”。他们学会了反着来解读报纸上的“官话”,就像今天他们仍在做的那样∶宣称腐败已经减少的消息,表明腐败比想像中更严重。声称100家妓院被关闭的新闻标题,则意味著成百上千家妓院还在营业。

“官话”喜欢用笼而统之的话做挡箭牌,形成了政治评论员曹长青所称的“水果语言”。正如林培瑞所解释的∶“如果一位官员说‘水果很好’,结果上级认为香蕉不好,那麽这位官员就可以说‘我指的是苹果’。水果语言让官员保留回旋余地,甚至能保住他或她的仕途。”

用模糊而矛盾的“官话”表达法规,并偶尔实施这些法规,纵容了随意的指控,掩饰了专制的行为,并让几乎每个人都可能被冠上罪名。外国商人很快意识到,他们根本无法遵守所有的地方法规;好在他们欣慰地发现,多数法规都没有得到执行。

但当贪婪的官员突然指出他们没有遵守某条法规,要求缴纳罚款甚至乾脆要求接管企业所有权时,他们毫无抵抗之力。

判断官方声明正确性的标准,不是看它们是否真实,而是看它们是否服务于官方利益。“官话”比普通谎言更可靠,因为它不仅表明了说话者希望听众相信什麽,而且表明了说话者的利益所在。

言语与内心真实想法两者之间的差距,是如何超出政治领域并渗入到其他许多领域的?对这个问题,林培瑞并未详加探讨。来到中国的人(不管是发现导游的话不可信的游客,还是必须抛弃对合同约束力所持信仰的商人)都必须迅速学会看穿谎言。

到中国来的外国人不妨略过机场书店中的《孙子兵法》,而拿起林培瑞的书。一个人可能花一生时间学习中文,却仍然无法理解这个国家。关键还在于破解“官话”密码。

内维尔—哈德利(Neville-Hadley)是一位温哥华作家。

下面是内维尔-哈德利的文章原文∶

Roots of Chinese Officials’ Lies
To understand China’s politics you have to learn how her officials speak.

By PETER NEVILLE-HADLEY

Princeton Professor Emeritus Perry Link draws on 30 years’ worth of notes about the Chinese language’s quirks to construct a revealing picture of how Chinese involved in politics think. The country may have been torn apart by a century of ideological struggles, but the maddeningly malleable manner of expression known as guanhua or "official language" has united the warring factions.

Mr. Link dissects the mechanisms by which the modern rulers of China both consciously and unconsciously use language to club the populace into submission. There are important lessons here for those who deal with China on any level.

Take for example the tendency to lapse into sloganeering. Chinese signs recommending caution when crossing the road, or reminding lavatory users to flush, often use seven-syllable 2ˉ2ˉ3 rhythms called qiyan, one of the building blocks of poetry. To the Chinese ear this meter not only sounds "right" but the rhythm lends their instructions authority.
This has made it popular with propagandists. Even at the height of the Cultural Revolution, when Red Guards condemned all that was traditional, Mao Zedong used the same classical form, Linghun shenchu gan geming: "Make revolution in the depths of your soul."

Mr. Link suggests that the pull of tradition was so strong that Mao probably wasn’t even aware that he was using "old" ways of thinking to attack "old" ways of thought. Nor were the crowds of youthful acolytes who ecstatically chanted Women yao jian Mao zhuxi: "We want to see Chairman Mao."

Mr. Link goes on to discuss the use of metaphor, but the book’s triumph is the final section in which he reveals the inner workings of manipulative language in modern Chinese politics. Whereas in Qianlong’s time guanhua was the domain of officials, since Mao it has increasingly poisoned everyday conversation.

During Mao’s disastrous 1958ˉ61 Great Leap Forward campaign, people had to speak in guanhua of "great and bountiful harvests" even as tens of millions starved around them. They learned to read their newspapers’ guanhua upside-down as they still do today: A claim that corruption has been curtailed indicates that it’s even worse than thought. A headline saying 100 brothels have been closed means that there are hundreds more that are still open.

Guanhua loves to takes refuge in generalities, leading to what political commentator Cao Changqing calls "fruit language." As Mr. Link explains, "If an official says ‘fruits are good’ and it turns out that a higher-up decides that bananas are bad, the official can say ‘I meant apples.’ Fruit language preserves an official’s options and might even save his or her career."

Intermittently enforced regulations expressed in vague and conflicting guanhua permit arbitrary accusation, disguise authoritarian behavior, and make almost everyone potentially guilty. Foreign businessmen quickly realize that it is impossible to abide by all local regulations and take comfort in the fact that most are not enforced.

But they are left with no defense when greedy officials suddenly cite lack of compliance with a particular rule to demand a fine or even outright ownership of the business.

The standard by which the rightness of official pronouncements is judged is not whether they are true but whether they serve official interests. Guanhua is more reliable than ordinary mendacity as it indicates not only what the speaker wants the listener to believe, but where the speaker’s interests lie.

Mr. Link glosses over how the gap between what is said and what is really thought has spilled beyond politics into so many other spheres. Visitors to China must quickly learn to see through falsehoods, whether they are tourists who find they can’t trust what their guides tell them, or businessmen who must unlearn their faith in the power of contracts.
Foreigners heading to China would do well to skip the copy of Sun Zi’s "Art of War" in the airport bookstore and pick up Mr. Link’s book instead. One can spend a lifetime learning Chinese and still not understand the country. The key is to crack the guanhua code.

—Mr. Neville-Hadley is a Vancouver-based author.

September 19, 2013

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323808204579083211630945186.html

2013-10-10

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