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 "What's in a name?" According to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, not too much. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But Shakespeare may have been wrong. In most cultures, names and titles matter a great deal.

  一个名字到底意味着甚么呢?根据莎士比亚的名著,罗密欧与朱丽叶,名字里没有太多的意义--「就算给玫瑰取任何其它的名字,它闻起来还是一样的芬芳。」不过莎士比亚也许错了。因为在大部份的文化中,姓名和称谓可是很重要的呢。

  Americans choose names for their children with care. Parents usually think about the impression a name gives, not its meaning. Most Americans would consider a "Jennifer" more attractive than a "Bertha," for example. The last name, or surname, must also be considered when choosing a first and middle name. A name like Lester Chester Hester would sound poetic, but odd. Parents may avoid names that remind them of people they don't like. On the other hand, people might name their children after a respected older relative or even a famous person. The popularity of certain names can change with each new generation. Names that were once common, like Fanny or Elmer, sound old-fashioned today. But other names-like John and David, Mary and Sarah-have stood the test of time and continue to be favorites.

  美国人会很小心地为孩子取名字,父母们通常会考量的是名字给人的印象,而不是名字本身的意义。比如说:大部份的美国人会觉得Jennifer这个名字比Bertha要来得吸引人。取第一和第二个名字的时候(注:美国人除了姓和名之外,有些人还有中间的名字)也要将姓考虑进去。像「雷司特.彻司特.海司特」这样的名字或许听起来很诗意又押韵,其实是很奇怪的名字。有些名字会使父母们想起自己不喜欢的人,他们就会避免使用;另一方面,人们会以一位敬佩的年长亲戚或是名人的名字来替孩子命名。某些名字受欢迎的程度在每一代都不尽相同。曾经相当普遍的名字像是Fanny或Elmer,现今听起来都过时了,不过有些名字像是John,David,Mary和Sarah都历久不衰,仍是大家的最爱。 (来源:英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

  People in America don't always call their friends and relatives by their given names. Instead, they often use nicknames. Sometimes nicknames are short forms of a longer name. For instance, a girl named Elizabeth may be called Lisa, Beth or Betsy. As children grow up, they may decide for themselves which nickname they wish to be called. If they consider their nickname childish, they may start using a more adult form. Some people just go by the initials of their first and middle names, like B.J. or R.C. And of course, people may call their children or their sweethearts other special nicknames. Often they have a "sweet" flavor, like Honey or Sugar.

  美国人通常不是直呼亲戚或朋友的名字,而是喊他们的小名,有时候小名就是较长的名字的简称。例如说,名为伊丽莎白(Elizabeth)的女孩,可能被叫做丽莎(Lisa),贝丝(Beth),或是贝兹Betsy(Betsy)。当孩子们长大了之后,他们可以决定要别人叫他们哪个小名;如果他们觉得小名太幼稚了,就会开始用一些比较像大人的称呼方式。有些人干脆用第一和第二个名字的首字母作为称谓,像是B.J.或R.C.。当然,人们还会有一些特殊的昵称来称呼他们的孩子或是甜心。这些昵称通常有「甜甜」的味道,像是Honey或是Sugar。

  In informal settings, people are normally on a first-name basis. Sometimes older folks even allow young people to call them by their first name. But in most formal situations, people use an appropriate title-such as Mr. (Mister), Ms. ("Miz"), Dr. (doctor) or Prof. (professor)-with a person's last name. After an introduction, the person may say, for example, "Please call me Tom." If not, use his or her surname.

  在非正式的情况下,人们一般会以名字相称,有时候长辈甚至允许年轻人喊他们的名字。不过大部份的正式场合里,人们会采用适当的称谓。例如:先生、女士、博士、教授再加上姓来称呼人。经过介绍之后,对方可能会说:「请叫我Tom就好了。」否则,还是以他的姓称呼之。

  Americans still use a few very formal titles which reflect their Old World heritage. The British address their king and queen as Your Majesty; Americans address the judge in a court as Your Honor. Americans speaking to their nation's leader respectfully call him Mr. President. And many churches refer to their leader as Reverend. In everyday situations, the polite forms sir and madam (or ma'am) show a measure of respect. But Americans don't generally use the names of occupations or positions as formal titles. Students might address their teacher as Mr. (or Ms.) Hudson, but not Teacher Hudson.

  美国人仍会使用一些很正式的称谓来反映出他们欧洲背景的传统。英国人称呼他们的国王和皇后为殿下,美国人则称呼法官为阁下;美国人很尊敬地对国家元首说话时,会称他为总统先生;而很多教会提到教会的领导者,则以牧师尊称。在日常生活中,先生或是夫人这样礼貌的称谓,表现出相当的尊重。但是美国人一般不会用职业或是职位的名称来称呼人。学生们可能会称呼他们的老师为哈德森先生(或女士),而不是哈德森老师。

  What's in a name? A world of significance. So if you're choosing an English name for yourself, take care to choose a good one. A made-up name could sound strange to native English speakers. And a translation of your Chinese name may not make an appropriate name, either. But a good name can leave a positive and lasting impression. As an American politician once remarked, "In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears."
 
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