英语学习杂志 2018-01-26 17:21





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By Jennifer Bragg 思含 选注

Recently, I moved from Beijing to a very small town on the west coast of Ireland, which is to say, I went from a bustling urban life with all kinds of things to see and do, to a quiet country life.

Every time I looked out of my living room window in Beijing, I would see shoppers, friends hanging out and taking selfies, and bicyclists and cars passing by with bells ringing or horns honking. Now, when I look out of my window in Ireland, I have a view of a mountain across the road and sometimes I see a horse or a donkey in the field leading to the mountain. The pace of life has come to a screeching halt; it’s like driving a Ferrari at top speed then suddenly slamming on the brakes.

People often think of Ireland as a place with friendly people, heartbreaking folk music, and green landscape. After all, it is known as the “Emerald Isle” because it is so green, which is the result of constant rain. The average number of wet days can range from 151 days a year in the east and southeast, to about 225 days a year in parts of the west. To avoid getting soaked, it’s best to carry an umbrella or at least wear rain gear at all times.

West Ireland is home to a region called Connemara. It abuts the Atlantic Ocean and has a distinctive landscape. There are vast stretches of mountains, in between which lie small fishing villages, coves and bays. Because Connemara is so close to the sea, the seafood is amazing. I’ve eaten delicious crab salad, fresh mussels steamed in a rich broth, tender smoked salmon, and creamy seafood chowder. Most meals are served with fresh slices of brown bread and generous lashings of butter.


To break up the monotony of small-town life, I often go for drives around the area. On any given day, these drives allow me to enjoy the breathtaking views of a mostly untouched landscape. Besides, you really can take your time driving around, because there are so many twists and turns around mountains, lakes and villages, that you have to drive pretty slowly.

The Connemara region is a part of the country where you can hear people still speaking the Irish tongue. In Ireland there are two official languages. First is Irish, or Gaelic as it’s known locally, and is one of the oldest written languages in the world. The other is English. Some Irish people also speak Hiberno-English, which is a mix of the two, blending the grammatical style of Irish with English words. Here is an example of Hiberno-English from the tourism website Ireland.com: “You never asked if I’d a mouth on me” means “You did not ask whether I was hungry” in English.

Because I have known many Irish people over the years who speak English as their native tongue, I had the impression that the Irish language was outdated and no longer used. But on arrival to Ireland, one can see the Irish language displayed everywhere, from café signs to road signs alongside the English words. Turn on the television or radio and there are broadcasts entirely in Irish.

For centuries, Irish was the most widely spoken language in Ireland, but in the 18th and 19th centuries, it gave way to English. That’s because opportunities for economic livelihood came mostly from Britain and the United States, both countries where English is spoken. Today most people in Ireland use English, though Irish is taught in primary and secondary schools. The country’s population itself is about 4.7 million, so preserving the Irish language and culture in this small country is important.

As an American, living in Ireland is like living in a second ancestral home. My grandmother died when I was young, but her sister told me that when they were growing up in New York State, they were sometimes called “the Irish” because of their surname, Ryan. Back then, people were often warmly identified by the country of their roots, and the majority of families where my grandmother grew up boasted German, Italian and Irish heritage.

While I have yet to pursue my genealogical history, tens of millions of Americans claim to have descended from the Irish. As a result, there has been a huge drive for Americans to visit Ireland and combine tourism with a genealogical “dig” into their ancestry. In fact, the Irish government has created a website dedicated to helping families do the research. People can search civil records (births, deaths, marriages), census records and church records to find out more about their family roots. Some people even go on “genealogy tours” to have an individually guided journey with an expert.

As I plan to stay in Ireland for the foreseeable future, something I like to do is read literature that describes local life. When I lived in England years ago, I loved reading Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë novels to get a “feel” for old English culture.

Recently I picked up the book Brooklyn, written by the Irish author Colm Tóibín. It’s a beautiful story about the journey of a young Irish woman named Eilis who emigrates to the United States. The book is set in the 1950s, and even though the story is based mostly in the U.S., Eilis’ story gives me a good insight into Irish life. Even though my own journey is the reverse of hers—that I moved to Ireland instead of from it—reading this wonderful book allows me to see through her eyes how rich Irish culture and traditional values were during that period of time.

Even though Ireland is a foreign country to me, there is some comfort knowing part of my own family came from this place. I often receive a lot of warm greetings from locals, because in a way we are like family.


1. bustling: 熙熙攘攘的。

2. honk: (使汽车喇叭)鸣响。

3. 我的生活步调经历了一个急停,就像是开法拉利开到最快时突然刹车。screeching: 发出尖利刺耳声音的;halt: 暂停,停住;slam on the brakes: 急刹车。

4. Emerald Isle: 绿宝石岛,是爱尔兰岛的别名。

5. gear: 服装,用具,rain gear指雨具。

6. Connemara: 康尼马拉,位于爱尔兰西部,是目前仍说爱尔兰语的地区。这里自然景观优美,拥有众多湖泊。康尼马拉国家公园也是爱尔兰最受欢迎的国家公园之一。

7. abut: 毗邻,邻接。

8. cove: 小海湾。

9. mussel: 蚌;broth: 肉汤;smoked salmon: 熏制鲑鱼;chowder: 海鲜杂烩浓汤。

10. lashings of: 大量,许多。

11. monotony: 单调乏味,无聊。

12. twists and turns: 迂回曲折。

13. Gaelic: 盖尔语,尤指苏格兰部分地区和爱尔兰讲的一种凯尔特语言。

14. Hiberno-English: 英语和爱尔兰语的混合语。

15. ancestral home: 祖籍,老家。

16. 那时候,人们通常用自己的祖籍来辨明身份,我祖母成长起来的家庭多数都有德国人、意大利人或者爱尔兰人的血统。boast: 有(值得自豪的东西)。

17. genealogical: [,dʒinɪə'lɑdʒɪkl] 宗谱的;descend from: 是……的后裔。

18. 作者注:I am playing on the idea of an archeological(考古学的)dig, where people dig in the ground for artifacts(手工艺品)of history. In this case people go to Ireland for a genealogical dig into their family history.

19. census: 人口普查。

20. Jane Austen: 简•奥斯汀(1775—1817),英国小说家,代表作有《理智与情感》、《傲慢与偏见》、《爱玛》等;Charlotte Brontë: 夏洛蒂•勃朗特(1816—1855),英国女作家,“勃朗特三姐妹”之一,代表作《简•爱》。

21. Colm Tóibín: 科尔姆•托宾,爱尔兰当代著名作家,两部长篇小说《黑水灯塔船》和《大师》曾先后入围布克奖决选名单,长篇小说《布鲁克林》获得2009年度布克奖提名,并获得科斯塔年度小说奖。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:董静)

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