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第九届 “LSCAT 杯”浙江省笔译大赛

660 words
We know from fossil records that the populations of many animal species declined sharply when humans expanded their range. There is no doubt that the world that existed from the emergence of Homo sapiens about 300,000 years ago until the beginning of human civilizations was far richer in large wild animals than the one we inhabit today. Art and literature all record this.
Of course, these artistic and literary sources do not tell the whole story. They are not spread out evenly across space, time or biological class; they do not result from systematic selection; and they were mostly written by white men. Some of them are works of fiction or myth; many of them are anecdotal; some may have involved exaggerations, or be reports only of exceptional phenomena; and all should be subject to the normal rigours of source analysis. Many of the abundances described, moreover, were also probably influenced by human actions and should not be considered straightforwardly natural.
They are nevertheless important because, first, anyone interpreting a historical source that hails from any great distance in the past needs to remember that the world its creator existed in was probably more abundant than ours. When Keats wrote about a nightingale singing in north London, he was not writing about a rare or extraordinary event. When Milton described how "fry innumerable swarm", he was describing something many of his readers would have witnessed personally. When Darwin wrote of "a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds and with birds singing on the bushes", he was describing something more various and lively than we would be likely to encounter today. When choughs and bustards were put on the coats of arms of Cornwall and Wiltshire, these were not obscure choices. When Tennyson wrote of sparrows being speared by shrikes, he expected readers to know what he was referring to. When Shakespeare included "choughs that wing the midway air" in his description of Dover cliff, he probably chose them because they were typical shoreline birds. When John Clare wrote a poem about a wryneck's nest, he considered himself to be writing about a fairly common country bird. When latemedieval men and women sang "Sumer is icumen in", they were familiar with the sound of the bird they imitated in the second line. An understanding of lost bioabundance should be part of the basic background knowledge that readers bring to historical sources.
然而,它们仍然很重要,因为首先,任何解释过去任何遥远历史来源的人都需要记住,它的创造者所处的世界可能比我们的世界更丰富。当济慈写到一只夜莺在伦敦北部唱歌时,他并不是在写一个罕见或非凡的事件。当弥尔顿描述如何“炸无数的蜂群”时,他描述的是他的许多读者会亲眼目睹的事情。当达尔文写到“一个纠结的河岸,长满了各种各样的植物,还有鸟儿在灌木丛中歌唱”时,他所描述的东西比我们今天可能遇到的更多样化、更生动。当乔夫和鸨被放在康沃尔郡和威尔特郡的徽章上时,这些并不是晦涩的选择。当丁尼生写到麻雀被伯劳刺伤时,他希望读者知道他指的是什么。当莎士比亚在描述多佛悬崖时包括“在中途空中飞翔的鹦鹉”时,他可能选择了它们,因为它们是典型的海岸线鸟类。当约翰·克莱尔(John Clare)写了一首关于扭颈鸟巢的诗时,他认为自己在写一种相当常见的乡村鸟类。当中世纪晚期的男人和女人唱“苏美尔是icumen in”时,他们熟悉他们在第二行模仿的鸟的声音。对失去的生物丰度的理解应该是读者带入历史资料的基本背景知识的一部分。
This should also affect how we think about progress. Though optimistic writers like Steven Pinker have attempted to describe the history of the past few hundred years as one of improving quality of life for
这也应该影响我们对进步的看法。尽管像史蒂芬·平克(Steven Pinker)这样的乐观作家试图将过去几百年的历史描述为改善生活质量的历史之一。

millions of people, brought about by improved nutrition, more reliable food supplies, better education, a decrease in violence and so on, these narratives, even if they are allowed to be true, need to be qualified by an understanding of what these improvements have meant for the natural world. What might in one account be "progress" might in another be a vast and unsustainable transfer of benefits from non-human living beings to human ones.
Thinking like this can promote several different reactions. If we believe that humans tend under a diverse range of conditions to spoil and diminish the natural world, then we may be sceptical about the likelihood of humanity significantly mitigating the effects of the crisis. Humans will need to behave in ways that are historically extraordinary if the future is not to be one of continued disaster. It might also make us think that mitigation is the best we can hope for. Any hope of putting things back the way they were must be dismissed, not least because so many irreversible events, including extinctions, have already occurred. But thinking like this may also make us angry. Restoring wildlife populations even to what they were in the 1990s, although a desirable and ambitious aim, would be risible if even a partial restitution of what has been lost overall were sought.
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