从鸭嘴兽到水獭
——狱中给女儿的信选刊六十五

亲爱的小文:
  一个半世纪前,科学家刚听说有一种下蛋的哺乳动物(egg-laying mammal),他们都不相信,说胡扯(a hoax),没想到世界上真有这么一种动物,就是“鸭嘴兽”(platypus)。鸭嘴兽只在澳洲(Australia)东海岸才有,澳洲也叫澳大利亚,是一个国家。
  澳洲本来跟亚洲连在一起,但在五千万年以前分开了,所以它自己成为一个特别的地方,老是有些全世界只有它有别人没有的怪东西,鸭嘴兽就是其中之一。(Australia has many kinds of strange animals not found on other continents. This is because the bridge of land that once connected Australia with Asia disappeared about 50 million years ago. From then on, most of Australia's animal life developed independently)
  另外一种只有澳洲有的小动物,就是koala,爸爸有一封信专门跟你谈过它,你记得吗?
  Koala means “no drink”, and the aboriginal word well describes the gentle marsupial that draws moisture only from its food, the leaves of certain eucalyptus,(油加里树,也叫桉树,是常绿乔木,长得很快)or gum trees. With oddly arranged fingers-the first two oppose the other three-a koala clings to a branch in a sanctuary at Waikerie. Phascolarctos cinereous faced extinction by fur hunters until the 1920's, when conservation laws began to protect the continent's dozens of marsupial species.
  Koala也叫袋鼠熊(kangaroo bear)。
  袋鼠(kangaroo)也只有澳洲有。袋鼠前面两只手,很会打拳(boxing),后面两脚,很能跳,大尾巴在跳的时候可帮忙保持平衡(balance)。
  美国有俗语“袋鼠法庭”kangaroo court, U.S. Informal. an unauthorized or unofficial court, usually self constituted, as a mock court by prisoners in a jail or a frontier court:…shot down over North Korea in 1952 and condemned to prison by a Red kangaroo court.(Newsweek),类似中文所说的“私设公堂”。以前在Kangaroo州,法官巡回各地办案,由这跑到那,很像袋鼠跳来跳去,所以叫袋鼠法庭。(Kangaroo court:A kangaroo court is an illegal mock or sham court, usually one set up by inmates of a prison to levy fines and punishment on other inmates who violate the “code”. Such organizations, usually very informal in nature, exist in most large prisons and are even encouraged by some wardens as a useful device for maintaining order. The name probably originated at the time when Australia, land of the kangaroo, was the penal colony for the British Empire. The term has occasionally-and inaccurately-been applied to the kind of roadside justice of the peace court which exists only to collect fines from motorists caught in speed traps.)
  当然这个kangaroo court是来自有kangaroo的地方才对。澳洲有袋鼠,澳洲以前又是英国的天然监狱,所以kangaroo court的观念(idea)是从澳洲来的。
  英国本来把political prisoners朝美国送的,美国独立以后,英国要找个地方送prisoners,于是选中澳洲,自一七八七年起,英国在八十年间,送了十六万八千prisoners到澳洲,当时路上很苦,要走四个月。一七八八年初,prisoners在现在悉尼地方,建了settlement,悉尼就是Sydney,Sydney是当时英国内政大臣的名字,大概是为了拍马屁,才这么叫的。
  悉尼人口不过二○○万,世界最大的船也可以开到港里去,是世界上最好的港口之一,也是澳洲最老资格的城市。
  丹麦建筑师Utzon设计了Sydney Opera House,后面就是Harbour Bridge,这座桥重五万吨。
  澳洲是脱离英国而独立的国家,所以受英国影响很重,连国旗里面都有英国旗。马路上走,也靠左走,英国就是靠左的(最早宣布澳洲是英国的人是科克船长Captain James Cook,他是发现Hawaii的探险家。五十一岁的时候,在Hawaii被土人杀了。)(Captain James Cook landed at Botany Bay, south of Sydney, in 1770. He claimed Australia's entire east coast for Great Britain.)
  首都堪培拉(Canberra),有一千五百万以上的树,它的议会大厦(Parliament House),尤其漂亮。
  墨尔本(Melbourne)的名字是一个英国首相的名字,也是拍马屁来的。它的植物园、美术馆,都很有名,有三座大学。本来是首都,一九二七年迁都到堪培拉去了。
  澳洲南部有两个有名的岛:
  一个是塔斯曼尼亚(Tasmania)岛,也曾是英国关prisoners的地方,用了五十年。岛上有一种塔斯曼尼亚狼,母的也有袋鼠一样的袋,不过是装在背上,不在肚皮上。The Tasmanian wolf's genus name, Thylacinus, means “pouched dog”. The female has a pouch which opens backwards and contains four teats. The pouch is large enough to hold four pups, although the usual number of young in a litter is two. The period of gestation is not known, but it is probably a little less than one month. The young are born hairless and blind in an incomplete, almost embryonic state of development. They are carried in the pouch for three months-the duration of their semi embryonic life. The cubs are then deposited in a nest of dry leaves and grass until they are old enough to hunt for themselves.
  塔斯曼尼亚有台湾两倍大,你看台湾多小!岛上原有一种大牙齿的土人,现在已绝种了。
  另一个岛是袋鼠岛(Kangaroo Island),岛的北边,就面对阿得雷德(Adelaide)城。它是澳洲考第三的大城。(Adelaide, South Australia's capital, is a well planned city, rich in parks and gardens. It is near the great Gulf St. Vincent, 90 miles long, 45 miles across.)
  在澳洲东北海岸外面,有一二五○英里长的珊瑚礁(大堡礁,The Great Barrier Reef),有声有光,景象离奇,非常好看。好看是好看,可是船很难走,科克船长的船曾在这一带三次遇险。The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's most popular tourist attractions. It is the largest coral reef in the world, stretching for about 1250 miles along the coast of Queensland. The reef has thousands of islands and underwater coral formations. The sandy beaches of the islands and the interesting sea life of the reef mark it an ideal spot for skin diving. 珊瑚礁中有一岛叫“绿岛”(Green Island),真巧,台湾也有一个绿岛!
  羊有绵羊(sheep)和山羊(goat)两种,山羊(billy goat)有胡子,还有羊骚味(goaty odor)。
  羊奶可以造干酪(cheese)和“牛”油,可以从羊身上得到羊毛。
  羊毛出在羊身上(literally)Without a sheep, there can be no wool.—The benefit comes, after all, from a price one has paid. Whatever is the expense, somebody is going to pay for it.做衣服,其他还可吃羊肉、用羊皮、做肥皂、做网球拍……羊的用处多极了!(Sheep yield wool, meat, and leather. They also furnish the raw materials for many byproducts, such as glue, tallow, suet, soap, fertilizer, cosmetics, and the catgut used in stringing tennis rackets.)
  澳洲的羊,占世界第一位。占全世界六分之一。(Long famous as a land of sheep, Australia is the world's leading producer and exporter of wool and mutton and is a major producer and exporter of beef and wheat. Australia is also a highly industrialized country. Large deposits of coal and iron have become the basis for an iron and steel industry, white an expanding economy provides a large domestic market for a wide range of goods and services.)
  澳洲平均每个人有十四头羊(澳洲旁边的纽西兰(New Zealand)每人有二十头),而中国人平均十个人分不到一头,这太不公平了!(In Australia, there are about 14 sheep for every person. In New Zealand, there are about 20 sheep for every person. Some states in the western United States also have more sheep than people.)
  过分的不公平,没有的人就会叫,这叫“不平则鸣”。(Those who are discriminated again will complain.)
  澳洲比台湾大二二二倍,但人口比台湾还少!
  亚洲人口平均每方英里(persons to the square mile)一二二人;澳洲人口平均每方英里四人。
  澳洲“得天独厚”to be particularly favored by nature (said of a land rich in natural resources or a gifted person)却是从不公平来的。澳洲有“白澳政策”,限制有色人种到他们那儿去。但白种人又少,所以将来问题一定很多,不是铁蒺藜(barbed-wire fence)拦得住的。澳洲人自己也说:“We've got a big, empty country here, and we have to fill it up. You Know,‘populate or perish’”
  澳洲的政策是错误的、自私的(wrong and selfish),这叫“狗占马槽”(dog in a manger describes a person who keeps others from using something that he himself cannot use. It comes from Aesop's fable of a dog that crawled into a manger of hay and prevented a horse from eating, even though dogs do not eat hay.),也叫“占着毛坑不拉屎”,这种人只希望“不惹睡狗”(Let sleeping dogs lie, means to leave a situation undisturbed.)“维持现状”“相安无事”。但这怎么行呢?“每条狗都有得意的一天。”(Every dogs has his day, is an expression used when something pleasant happens to a person, especially one who has been having bad luck.)别的狗会睡醒,澳洲虽然是down-under(在世界另一边),别的穷狗还是会咬到它的。
爸 爸 一九七五年六月八日

亲爱的小文:
  你这次信封上写的中文很有进步。
  鸭嘴兽只有澳洲有,水獭却只有澳洲没有。
  水獭是OTTER,is a fur-bearing animal that spends much of its time in the water. Otters are related to the weasels and are carnivorous(flesh-eating)mammals. They live on all continents except Australia. They are divided into two groups, river otters and sea otters.
  人会仰泳(backstroke),但水獭却更神气,它会仰吃,它在水里“仰面朝天”地吃,这才叫“仰不愧天”(to feel no shame before God)呢!
  水獭还是一个会用工具的家伙(a tool user),它吃蛤蜊(clam),会朝石头上敲,你说它多聪明!
  每只水獭的皮,可卖到二千五百美金,就是台湾十万块。全世界都不准杀它,所以它的皮就特别值钱。人死了,臭皮没人要,但许多动物死了,皮却成了“千金裘”,这真是“豹死留皮”啊!
  豹死留皮(literally)A leopard leaves behind its skin when it dies. A man has a reputation to leave to posterity when he dies.
爸 爸  一九七五年八月十七日