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老鼠是mouse还是rat?

来源:   发布时间:2021-08-20 12:00:33   浏览:

    鼠乃先民运用来拟况、观照、指代、影射社会人生的重要动物、高频意象,人们通过鼠之习性,广泛折射出鼠在人们心目中曾经根深蒂固的灾难性印象。这在英语词汇体系中亦有相应的语义表现。

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如鼠译为mouse或rat,mouse指体型较小的家鼠(中性词),可指称实验室的白老鼠或家里养的宠物鼠:

That laboratory mouse had died since it took the medicine.

那只实验室白老鼠自从吃了药后就死了。

而rat属体积大的田鼠、害鼠(贬义词),多生活于阴沟、下水道,故在英文内有邪恶的、肮脏的等意义,如:

Those dirty rats are living in drains.

那些肮脏的老鼠是住在下水道里的。

mouse、rat在英语词典中常以隐喻的认知方式频繁出现,如派生词mouse-colored指灰褐色的、鼠色的:

The string of spare horses included a mouse-colored grullo whose looks Ennis liked.

剩下的马中还有一头鼠灰色的,看起来跟埃尼斯挺像。

而mousy指某人头发(像老鼠)灰褐色的、暗棕色的,不吸引人:

He was average height,average build,with mousy hair and a forgettable face.

他中等身高、中等身材、灰褐色头发,长着一张过目即忘的脸。
 

mousy亦可表达某人胆小如鼠的、羞怯的、不引人注意的:

He was a pleasant North countryman,small,almost mousy,with white hair and black eyebrows.

他来自北部乡村,生性活泼,个子矮小,鹤发浓眉,胆小如鼠。

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老鼠繁殖迅速,数量惊人,在生物界极具代表性,故可用mouse and man泛指芸芸众生、一切生灵。英语民族关于老鼠有不少形象生动的隐喻表达,如Play cat and mouse with somebody( 搞猫戏老鼠) 表示“欲擒故纵; 愚弄; 把某人当作玩物”:

To play cat and mouse is for somebody or something to chase the other in a very strategic,teasing,and game-like way (like a cat chasing and playing with a mouse).

玩猫捉老鼠的游戏,是指某人或某事用战略性的手段挑衅和追逐着其他人,就像猫在追老鼠。

鼠的众多生活习性也成为英语民族进行联想隐喻的重要载体,其胆小逃窜特征为世人所知,英文中mouse可形容某人性格沉默害羞,如as quiet as a mouse 表“安静如鼠;一声不吭;悄无声息”:

She was as quiet as a mouse that nobody noticed her presence.

她不声不响,以至于没人意识到她也在场。

也可形容某人胆小怕事,as timid as a mouse即指“胆小如鼠”:

He was as timid as a mouse in real life,and his cowardice caused his wife to divorce him.

现实生活中,他胆小如鼠,使得妻子离开了他。

有意思的是汉语表“落汤鸡”词意对译成英语时需转换成mouse,用like a drowned mouse /rat(落水溺亡的老鼠) 表达狼狈不堪状:

John looked piteous,like a drowned mouse.

约翰那模样好惨,活像落汤鸡。
 

mouse亦可用于形容某人嗜酒醉倒丑态,如as drunk as a mouse /rat /skunk(黄鼠狼) 表示“烂醉如泥, 酩酊大醉”:

He came home as drunk as a mouse /skunk again.

他回到家就醉得不省人事。

古时教堂没有大鱼大肉, 教堂的老鼠自然就没有什么油水可捞,故a church mouse(教堂里的老鼠) 意 即“穷 困 潦 倒 的 人”,而 as poor as a church mouse 表“赤贫”意:

Although very rich in his youth,he is now as poor as a church mouse.

尽管年青时曾阔气过,但他眼下已沦为一贫如洗、饥寒交迫。
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与 mouse 相比 rat 几乎全部呈现出负面意义,如Cat,cat,go and catch that fat bad rat.(猫,猫,快抓住那只又肥又坏的硕鼠) 。

rat可指代背叛者、告密者等行为不端、反复无常的人:

he trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win,you’re still a rat.

卑鄙竞争的问题是: 就算你赢了,你也只不过是个小人。

而 a rat fink 表“讨厌鬼; 卑鄙小人”:

If I find the rat fink who informed on me,he will be punished.

如果给我找出哪个卑鄙小人出卖我,他会受到惩罚的。

rat亦可称呼骗子,如 love-rat( 爱情老鼠) 指“爱情骗子; 自私又不忠的情人”:

Britain's biggest love-rat has 12 children with 12 different women,all of whom he has cheated on at least 5 times.

英国最臭名昭著的花花公子和12个女人生了12个孩子。他同她们每一个交往的时候,都至少有过5次不忠行为。

与汉语歇后语类似的是英语: The cat weeps for the dead mouse.( 猫哭耗子) 形容“虚伪的人”:

In fact,your heart is to wish him failure,don't here cat cry mouse.

其实你心里是巴不得他失败,别在这儿猫哭耗子──假慈悲了。

而rat-face( 老鼠脸) 比喻“阴险的人”:

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo is a very insidious rat face.

美国国务卿蓬佩奥是一个非常阴险的政客。

rat on sb 表示“泄露秘密; 告发某人”:

Don't rat on him,or you will be disgusted with everyone.

不要告密,否则你将被所有的人讨厌。
 

老鼠能携播病菌、啮碎衣物等遭大众愤恨,乃全民公敌,故die like a rat 指“被毒死”:

Many of the rulers of Rome met with violent deaths.They were either murdered or died like a rat.

罗马许多统治者都死于非命,他们不是被谋杀就是被毒死。

老鼠嗅觉灵敏,警惕性高,故smell a rat 意为“感到不妙,察觉可疑,事有蹊跷”:

If I don't send a picture,he will smell a rat.

如果我不寄张照片,他会起疑心。

Have a rat in a garret(阁楼进老鼠) 形容“惴惴不安; 想法荒诞; 想入非非”:

Going to university has a rat in a garret for her.

上大学使她想入非非。
 

西方民间故事据说老鼠能预先感知船只碎裂漏水、失事下沉等灾难不测的发生,往往会在灾难降临以前全都弃船而逃,故rats desert a sinkingship谚语意指那些一遇到危险就争先寻求安全或一看见困难便躲得老远的人,义同汉语“树倒猢狲散;墙倒众人推; 破鼓万人捶”等成语,而a rat leaving a sinking ship(逃离沉船的老鼠) 即比喻“不能共患难的人; 酒肉朋友”:

Everyone knows Charles is merely a rat leaving a sinking ship.

大家都知道查尔斯是个只可同安乐不能共患难的朋友。

因老鼠活跃于暗处,视力退化,as short-sighted as mice( 鼠目寸光) 形容“目光短浅, 没有远见,难成大事”:

Only a man as short-sighted as mice will lose sight of the importance of education.

只有鼠目寸光的人才会看不见教育的重要性。

动物界中老鼠属体小力弱型言辞间容易被人嘲笑,如as weak as a rat( 像老鼠一样虚弱) 比喻“弱不禁风; 手无缚鸡之力”:

I knew that he was as weak as a rat and was not frightened of him.

我知道他弱不经风,所以就不怕他。

老鼠掉入圆形容器往往无处可匿,故 like a rat in a hole 隐喻“瓮中之鳖; 手到擒来”:

We bottled the enemy up like a rat in a hole.

我们把敌人围困得象瓮中之鳖。
 

老鼠争抢食物往往一拥而上,乱作一团,rat race原指一群老鼠被置于一个迷宫内,你争我夺都想成为第一个找到奶酪的那只幸运儿,尽管那个奶酪只是很小很小一块,但老鼠们仍会为了一个不切实际、虚无缥缈的目标而争得头破血流,故用来形容“ 激烈疯狂的竞争; 你死我活的竞争”:

We call the difficult side of city living the rat race.Working long hours and living in small spaces can make you feel like a rat.

我们将城市生活中艰辛的一面称为激烈竞争。工作时间长、居住空间狭小,自己仿佛就是一只生活在城市的老鼠。

而 rat out 表达“临阵脱逃; 夹着尾巴走; 尴尬离去”:

Tom was a rubbish,he tried to rat out at the last minute.

汤姆是个废物,最后时刻他竟然试图放弃了。

rat somebody out 也可讥讽“检举或出卖某人”:

There's a spy in our company, we need to rat him out.

我们公司有个内奸,我们必须把他揪出来。

因鼠类喜欢储集各种各样的无用物品,故pack rat比喻“有收集杂物癖好的人;贮藏者”:

I'm a pack rat,I never throw anything out.

我是个收藏癖,从来不扔任何东西的。
 

老鼠喜欢到处窜来窜去,mall rat戏谑指称“一有空就喜欢到商场里漫无目的闲逛的年轻人;逛商厦迷”,很多年轻人没有明确的购买目标,却喜欢花费大量时间在商场里闲逛,且多为只逛不买,像只老鼠在商场里钻来钻去:

I used to be typical mall rat,hanging around,without the purpose of purchase.

我过去是个典型的喜欢逛商场的人,在商场里瞎逛,没有购买目标。

西方谚语 A lion may come to be beholden to a mouse 喻指“弱者亦有帮助强者时;得饶人处且饶人”,语出《伊索寓言》之 The lion and the mouse:

Don't look down upon anyone,a lion may come to be beholden to a mouse.

别瞧不起任何人,强者也有求助于弱者的时候。

纵观剖析英语内含鼠的俗谚短语,其用作隐喻的诸多语料均属贬义,昭示出英语民族对鼠鄙夷轻视、辛辣嘲讽的动物观、文化观。

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