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美国人的时间观

Time 美国人的时间观

 
  What is time? Is it a thing to be saved or spent or wasted, like money? Or is it something we have no control over, like the weather? Is time the same all over the world? That's an easy question, you say. Wherever you go, a minute is 60 seconds, an hour is 60 minutes, a day is 24 hours, and so forth. Well, maybe. But in America, time is more than that. Americans see time as a valuable resource. Maybe that's why they are fond of the expression, "Time is money."

  时间是什么?是一种像金钱一样可以节省、花用或浪费的东西吗?或者它像天气那样,是一种我们无法掌握的东西?全世界的时间是不是都一样呢?你会说,那是一个简单的问题,不管你去那里,一分钟都是60秒,一小时是60分钟,一天是24个小时,以此类推。嗯,也许是这样吧。但是在美国,时间的意义不只是如此而已。美国人视时间为一项重要的资源,也许这就是为什么他们喜欢说「时间就是金钱」的缘故。


  Because Americans believe time is a limited resource, they try to conserve and manage it. People in the U.S. often attend seminars or read books on time management. It seems they all want to organize their time better. Professionals carry around pocket planners-some in electronic form-to keep track of appointments and deadlines. People do all they can to squeeze more life out of their time. The early American hero Benjamin Franklin expressed this view best: "Do you love life? Then do not waste time, for that is the stuff life is made of."

  美国人认为时间是一项有限的资源,所以他们试着去爱惜时间且加以管理。美国人经常参加有关时间管理的研习会或阅读这方面的书籍,他们似乎都希望能把自己的时间安排得更好。专业人士随身带着口袋型记事本,有些甚至是电子的记事本,好随时留意所订的约会与工作截止日期。人们想尽办法要在有限的时间内挤出更多的时间来。早期的美国英雄班哲明?富兰克林将这种想法表达得最淋漓尽致:「你爱生命吗?如果爱就不要浪费时间,因为生命即是由时间组成的。」


  To Americans, punctuality is a way of showing respect for other people's time. Being more than 10 minutes late to an appointment usually calls for an apology, and maybe an explanation. People who are running late often call ahead to let others know of the delay. Of course, the less formal the situation, the less important it is to be exactly on time. At informal get-togethers, for example, people often arrive as much as 30 minutes past the appointed time. But they usually don't try that at work.

  对美国人来说,守时是一种尊重他人时间的表现。通常若约会迟到超过10分钟,就应该向对方道歉或解释原因。知道自己会迟到的人往往会先打个电话,让对方知道自己会晚一点到。当然,会面场合愈不正式,精确准时的重要性就愈小。举例来说,在非正式的聚会中,人们往往会在约定时间过后30分钟才到,不过,他们上班通常就不会这样做。


  American lifestyles show how much people respect the time of others. When people plan an event, they often set the time days or weeks in advance. Once the time is fixed, it takes almost an emergency to change it. If people want to come to your house for a friendly visit, they will usually call first to make sure it is convenient. Only very close friends will just "drop by" unannounced. Also, people hesitate to call others late at night for fear they might be in bed. The time may vary, but most folks think twice about calling after 10:00 p.m.

  美国人的生活型态表现出他们对别人的时间有多尊重。当人们在计划一项活动时,通常会在几天或几个星期前把时间定好。时间一旦决定,除非情况紧急,否则不会轻易改变。如果有人想到家里拜访你,他们通常会先打电话过来,以确定你是否方便,只有很熟的朋友才会未经通知就突然造访。同时,人们也不太喜欢太晚打电话给别人,因为怕对方已经上床睡觉了。何时才算太晚并不一定,不过,大部分的人若想在晚上10点钟以后打电话,都会再三考虑。


  To outsiders, Americans seem tied to the clock. People in other cultures value relationships more than schedules. In these societies, people don't try to control time, but to experience it. Many Eastern cultures, for example, view time as a cycle. The rhythm of nature-from the passing of the seasons to the monthly cycle of the moon-shapes their view of events. People learn to respond to their environment. As a result, they find it easier to "go with the flow" than Americans, who like plans to be fixed and unchangeable.

  对外人而言,美国人似乎很依赖时钟;其它文化背景出身的人则看重人际关系甚于时间表。在那些社会型态中,人们不会设法去控制时间,而是去经历享受它。举例来说,很多东方文化把时间视为一个周期。从季节的更替到每个月亮圆缺变化的周期,这些大自然的节奏塑造了他们对事情的看法。人们学习去因应环境的变化,因此他们比美国人更容易视情境而作弹性的应变;而美国人则喜欢将计划固定好不要更动。


  Even Americans would admit that no one can master time. Time-like money-slips all too easily through our fingers. And time-like the weather-is very hard to predict. Nevertheless, time is one of life's most precious gifts. And unwrapping it is half the fun.

  不过连美国人都承认,没有人能够完全掌握时间。时间就像金钱一样,很容易就从我们的指间溜走;时间也像天气一样,是很难预测的。然而,时间是生命中最宝贵的礼物之一,而拆开(这项难以掌握和预料的)礼物本身就已经是一种乐趣了。

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