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纽约客逗号女王的挑剔荣耀

The nit-picking glory of The New Yorker's Comma Queen | Mary Norris

在过去38年的时间里 我都尽力试着做一个隐形人
I have spent the past 38 years trying to be invisible.
我是一名文字编辑
I’m a copy editor.
我在纽约客工作
I work at The New Yorker,
为纽约客做文字编辑
and copyediting for The New Yorker is like playing shortstop
就像是为«职业棒球联盟»打游击手一样
for a Major League Baseball team:
每一个微小的动作 都会被批评家们挑出刺儿来
every little movement gets picked over by the critics —
上帝禁止你出任何差错
God forbid you should commit an error.
先澄清一点 文字编辑并没有权利选择可以被发表的文章
Just to clarify: copy editors don’t choose what goes into the magazine.
我们在句子层面工作
We work at the level of the sentence,
也兼顾篇章
maybe the paragraph,
我们看的是字词 标点
the words, the punctuation.
我们的工作主要集中于细节
Our business is in the details.
我们加入分音符 就是在 “naive”中字母i上面的两个点
We put the diaeresis, the double dot, over the “i” in “naïve.”
我们做独特的印刷风格
We impose house style.
每一份出版刊物都有自己的印刷风格
Every publication has a house style.
纽约客的风格更是别具一格
The New Yorker’s is particularly distinctive.
我们有时候会因为独特的风格而遭到嘲笑
We sometimes get teased for our style.
设想一下 我们仍然在拼写“teen-ager”的时候加上连字符
Imagine — we still spell “teen-ager” with a hyphen,
就像这词才刚刚被造出来似的
as if that word had just been coined.
但是你一看到在“teen-age”里面的连字符
But you see that hyphen in “teen-age”
和在“coöperate”上面的分音符
and that diaeresis over “coöperate,”
你就知道你正在读的是纽约客了
and you know you’re reading The New Yorker.
在纽约客做编辑是一个机械的过程
Copyediting at The New Yorker is a mechanical process.
有一个与此相关的环节叫做查询校对
There is a related role called query proofreading,
或者叫“让这一页OK”
or page-OK’ing.
与机械性的编辑工作形成对照的是
Whereas copyediting is mechanical,
查询校对起到解释说明的作用
query proofreading is interpretive.
我们通过编者来对作者提出建议
We make suggestions to the author through the editor
以便能够加强句子语气
to improve the emphasis of a sentence
或者指出无意识的重复
or point out unintentional repetitions
也会提出更有力的替代选项
and supply compelling alternatives.
我们的目的是让作者看起来更完美
Our purpose is to make the author look good.
既然我们不是把校对意见直接告诉作者
Note that we give our proofs not directly to the author,
而是告诉编辑
but to the editor.
这就会造成好人 坏人的动态转换
This often creates a good cop/bad cop dynamic
在这个过程中 文字编辑 我来解释一下
in which the copy editor — I’ll use that as an umbrella term —
是永恒不变的坏人
is invariably the bad cop.
如果我们把工作做好了 我们就能继续隐形
If we do our job well, we’re invisible,
可是一旦我们犯了错
but as soon as we make a mistake,
我们审稿员就会成为众矢之的
we copy editors become glaringly visible.
这是我最近犯的错误
Here is the most recent mistake that was laid at my door.
【上周二 在共和党集会上
[Last Tuesday, Sarah Palin, the pre-Trump embodiment
Sarah Palin在特朗普之前已经成为无可知论 (no-nothingism) 的化身
of populist no-nothingism in the Republican Party,
支持特朗普】
endorsed Trump.]
有读者问 “纽约客传说中的审稿员都干嘛去了”
“Where were The New Yorker’s fabled copy editors?” a reader wrote.
“难道作者想说的不是不可知论(know-knowingism)吗?”
“Didn’t the writer mean ‘know-nothingism’?”
哎呦
Ouch.
犯这种错误是没有任何借口的
There’s no excuse for this mistake.
但是我喜欢no-nothingism
But I like it: “no-nothingism.”
这有可能是美国版的“虚无主义”呀
It might be American vernacular for “nihilism.”
[笑声]
(Laughter)
另一个读者引用杂志里的一段话
Here, another reader quotes a passage from the magazine:
【Ruby已经76岁了 但她仍然保持权威的姿态
[Ruby was seventy-six, but she retained her authoritative bearing;
只有她蹒跚的步态与她的年龄不相符】
only her unsteady gait belied her age.]
他说
He added:
“当然了 纽约客里的人知道“belied(与……不相符)”的意思
“Surely, someone at The New Yorker knows the meaning of ‘belied,’
但在这个句子里却完全把这个单词用反了
and that it is the opposite of how it is used in this sentence.
别闹了!认真点行么!”
Come on! Get it together.”
Belie的意思是 给别人以错误的印象
Belie: to give a false impression.
在这儿应该用“暴露”这个词更加合适
It should have been “betrayed.”
E.B. White有一次写到纽约客里的逗号 他说
E.B. White once wrote of commas in The New Yorker:
“他们像用刀去描绘人体轮廓一样 精准的分毫不差”
“They fall with the precision of knives outlining a body.”
[笑声]
(Laughter)
这是事实 我们收到了好多关于逗号的投诉
And it’s true — we get a lot of complaints about commas.
“在’Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard’里 真的有两个逗号吗?”
“Are there really two commas in ‘Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard’?”
也许没有明确的说明 但是没错 这就是纽约客写 “Jr.”的风格
There may not be on the sign, but yes, that is New Yorker style for “Jr.”
有个爱开玩笑的人说
One wag wrote:
【“拜托 你们可不可以杜绝 或者 至少 限制 一下
[“Please, could you expel, or, at least, restrain,
在你们的编辑中间那一股逗号狂热症 的存在?”】
the comma-maniac, on your editorial staff?”]
[笑声]
(Laughter)
恩 好吧
Ah, well.
在这句话里 别的逗号放的都合情合理
In this case, those commas are well-placed,
只是有一点
except that there should not be one
在maniac和on之间 不应该有逗号出现
between “maniac” and “on.”
[笑声]
(Laughter)
同样 如果在“at least (至少)”这个短语周围需要逗号的话
Also, if we must have commas around “at least,”
我们通常会改用破折号
we might change it up by using dashes around that phrase:
“…… 或者 至少 限制 ”
“… — or, at least, restrain –“
完美
Perfect.
[掌声]
(Applause)
还有这种:
Then there’s this:
“爱你们 也爱你们的杂志
“Love you, love your magazine,
但是能不能不要在文章里用英文写出巨额数字了?”
but can you please stop writing massive numbers as text?”
【二百五十万……三百八十五万……】
[two and a half million …]
不行
No.
[笑声]
(Laughter)
最后的强烈抗议是针对拼写的细节
One last cri de coeur from a spelling stickler:
【“那些细长的像绳子一样的东西是声带(vocal cord) 不是和弦(chord)”】
[“Those long stringy things are vocal cords, not chords.”]
愤怒的读者说
The outraged reader added,
“我确信我肯定不是第一个
“I’m sure I’m not the first to write
来指出这些超乎寻常的审阅纰漏的人
regarding this egregious proofreading error,
但我可以肯定 我也不是最后一个
but I’m equally sure I won’t be the last.
呸!”
Fie!”
[笑声]
(Laughter)
我是真喜欢收信呐!
I used to like getting mail.
在作者和编辑之间有一种契约
There is a pact between writers and editors.
编辑从来不会出卖作者
The editor never sells out the writer,
也不会把剪掉的不好玩的笑话
never goes public about bad jokes that had to be cut
和冗长的故事告诉别人
or stories that went on too long.
伟大的编辑通过适当的删减 来拯救作者
A great editor saves a writer from her excesses.
审稿人也有我们的执业准则
Copy editors, too, have a code;
我们不会到处宣讲我们对文章的监管
we don’t advertise our oversights.
在这儿泄露这些秘密 我觉得自己不太忠诚
I feel disloyal divulging them here,
所以来一起看看我们做的合适的事儿
so let’s have look at what we do right.
不知为啥 我这个人以严厉著名
Somehow, I’ve gotten a reputation for sternness.
但是跟我一起共事的作者都知道该怎么跟我相处
But I work with writers who know how to have their way with me.
我在八十年代初就认识了Ian Frazier 我也叫他”Sandy”
I’ve known Ian Frazier, or “Sandy,” since the early 80s.
他是我最喜欢的作者之一
And he’s one of my favorites,
尽管有时候他写出来的句子
even though he sometimes writes a sentence
会让审稿员头疼
that gives a copy editor pause.
这是风暴Sandy过后
Here is one from a story about Staten Island
他写的关于斯塔恩岛的文字
after Hurricane Sandy:
【一个从中间部分折断 塌了一半的码头
[A dock that had been broken in the middle and lost its other half
朝水面倾斜
sloped down toward the water,
支撑它的管道和线缆向前倾
its support pipes and wires leaning forward
就像你打开一盒意大利扁面 而面条滑出来的样子】
like when you open a box of linguine and it slides out.]
[笑声]
(Laughter)
这要是放在从前 文法老师才不会允许这么写东西呢
This would never have got past the grammarian in the days of yore.
但是我能做什么呢?
But what could I do?
事实上 “like(像)”这个单词应该被替换为 “as(当……时)”
Technically, the “like” should be an “as,”
但是听上去很滑稽
but it sounds ridiculous,
就像作者即将登上荷马时期明喻的巨轮
as if the author were about to embark on an extended Homeric simile —
“当你打开一盒意大利扁面”
“as when you open a box of linguine.”
[笑声]
(Laughter)
我决定让暴风授予Sandy以诗歌上的公正
I decided that the hurricane conferred poetic justice on Sandy
然后让句子保持原样
and let the sentence stand.
[笑声]
(Laughter)
通常情况下 我如果觉得什么地方不太对
Generally, if I think something is wrong,
我都会看三遍
I query it three times.
不久之前有一次我跟Sandy聊到关于严谨的话题时 我把这事儿告诉了他
I told Sandy that not long ago in a moment of indiscretion and he said,
“只有三次?”
“Only three?”
所以 他学会了坚持
So, he has learned to hold out.
最近 他给«城镇说»写了个故事
Recently, he wrote a story for “Talk of the Town,”
故事被放到杂志首页
that’s the section at the front of the magazine
首页上还有其他主题
with short pieces on subjects ranging from Ricky Jay’s exhibit
从Ricky Jay在大都市博物馆的展品
at the Metropolitan Museum
到对于法国食品袋(用于顾客打包带走)的介绍
to the introduction of doggie bags in France.
Sandy写的是关于最高法院法官Sonia Sotomayor
Sandy’s story was about the return to the Bronx
回到布朗克斯的故事
of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
在文章里有三个地方我觉得需要改进
There were three things in it that I had to challenge.
第一个疑问是关于语法的
First, a grammar query.
法官穿了黑衣服 所以Sandy写到
The justice was wearing black and Sandy wrote,
【她的脸和手很突出 好像在古老的 全黑的画作里】
[Her face and hands stood out like in an old, mostly dark painting.]
不像是描述风暴时使用的“like”
Now, unlike with the hurricane,
这一次 作者没什么理由
with this “like,” the author didn’t have the excuse
使用“like(好像)”这个词来描述暴风造成的破坏
of describing hurricane damage.
“like”在这儿是个介词 介词后面得是一个宾语
“Like” in this sense is a preposition, and a preposition takes an object,
也就是个名词
which is a noun.
这里的“like”得换成“as”
This “like” had to be an “as.”
“如同存在于古老的 黑色的画作之中”
“As in an old, mostly dark painting.”
第二个是拼写问题
Second, a spelling issue.
作者引用了某个司法助手的一句话
The author was quoting someone who was assisting the justice:
【“马上就好
[“It will be just a minute.
我们正在把麦克风给法官
We are getting the justice mic’ed,”]
Mic’ed?
Mic’ed?
音乐人把话筒(microphone)拼写成“mic”
The music industry spells it “mic”
因为在设备上印的就是“mic”三个字母
because that’s how it’s spelled on the equipment.
但是我从来没见过这个单词被用作动词
I’d never seen it used as a verb with this spelling,
一想到”mic’ed”要出现在我审阅过的杂志里
and I was distraught to think that “mic’ed”
我真的会抓狂
would get into the magazine on my watch.
[笑声]
(Laughter)
纽约客把“microphone”简写成“mike”
New Yorker style for “microphone” in its abbreviated form is “mike.”
最后 还有一个很麻烦的语法和使用问题
Finally, there was a sticky grammar and usage issue
代词跟先行词要在语法数量上
in which the pronoun has to have the same grammatical number
保持一致
as its antecedent.
【每一个在附近的人 都屏住了他们的呼吸】
[everyone in the vicinity held their breath]
“他们的”是复数形式 而作为先行词的“每个人”是单数
“Their” is plural and “everyone,” its antecedent, is singular.
你永远不会说 “每个人都在那里”
You would never say, “Everyone were there.”
每个人曾在那里 每个人都在这里
Everyone was there. Everyone is here.
但是人们总在说“每个人屏住他们的呼吸”
But people say things like, “Everyone held their breath” all the time.
为了让这些句子看起来更合理
To give it legitimacy,
审稿员给它们取了个名字 叫做“单数的他们”
copy editors call it “the singular ‘their,'”
就好像把它叫做单数 这个词就不再是复数了一样
as if calling it singular makes it no longer plural.
[笑声]
(Laughter)
我的工作就是当我看到这种句子被印出来的时候 尽可能的去消除它们
It is my job when I see it in print to do my best to eliminate it.
我不能把句子改成“每个人都屏住她的呼吸”
I couldn’t make it, “Everyone held her breath,”
或者是“每个人都屏住他的呼吸”
or “Everyone held his breath,”
或者“每个人都屏住他的或她的呼吸”
or “Everyone held his or her breath.”
我提的建议得让句子融到一起
Whatever I suggested had to blend in.
我通过编辑来询问
I asked, through the editor,
作者愿不愿意把句子改成
if the author would consider changing it
“所有在附近的人都屏住了他们的呼吸”
to “All in the vicinity held their breath,”
因为“所有人”是复数
because “all” is plural.
不行
Nope.
我再问 “所有出席的人都屏住了他们的呼吸?”
I tried again: “All those present held their breath?”
我觉得这个听起来模模糊糊还算公正
I thought this sounded vaguely judicial.
但是编辑说
But the editor pointed out
我们不能把“出席的(present)”和“出席(presence)”
that we could not have “present” and “presence”
放到一个句子里
in the same sentence.
校对过的最后版本出来时
When the final proof came back,
作者接受了把“like”换成“as”
the author had accepted “as” for “like,”
也把“mic’ed.”换成了”miked”
and “miked” for “mic’ed.”
但是在“每个人都屏住了他们的呼吸”这个句子上 作者维持原状
But on “Everyone held their breath,” he stood his ground.
三个改了两个 也还不错吧
Two out of three isn’t bad.
同样的
In the same issue,
在那个讲法国食品袋的文章里
in that piece on doggie bags in France,
法国人无缘无故的说了好多脏话
there was the gratuitous use of the f-word by a Frenchman.
我很好奇 再次收到来信的时候
I wonder, when the mail comes in,
到底会是哪一个让读者更加愤怒
which will have offended the readers more.
[笑声]
(Laughter)
谢谢大家
Thank you.
[掌声]
(Applause)

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视频概述

Mary·Norris说,“为纽约客改稿子,就像是为职业棒球联盟打游击手一样。每一个微小的动作,都会被批评家们挑出刺儿来“,她已经在职三十多年了。在这段时间里,她以严厉著称,并且得到“逗号女王”的称号,但是她说这些从来没有被公诸于世。最重要的是,她的工作的唯一目的是:让作者看起来更完美。让我们一起跟随最懂行的人的演讲,去探寻纽约客最别具一格的风采吧。

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

血蔷薇

审核员

Ah~Qiu

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rToBZSrxjgM

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