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美式待客之道:southern hospitality

2006-02-16 00:00

  An American friend has invited you to visit his family. You've never been to an American's home before, and you're not sure what to do. Should you take a gift? How should you dress? What time should you arrive? What should you do when you get there? Glad you asked. When you're the guest, you should just make yourself at home. That's what hospitality is all about: making people feel at home when they're not.

  一位美国朋友邀请你去他家。你以前从未去过美国人的家,你不确定该怎么做。该带一个礼物吗?该怎么穿?该几点到?到了那里该做什么?很高兴你发问。你若是客人,只要使自己感到自在就好了。待客之道就是这样:虽然不是在家里,却使客人有实至如归之感。

  The question of whether or not to bring a gift often makes guests squirm. Giving your host a gift is not just a social nicety in some cultures-it's expected. But in American culture, a guest is not obligated to bring a present. Of course, some people do bring a small token of appreciation to their host. Appropriate gifts for general occasions might be flowers, candy or-if the family has small children-toys. If you choose not to bring a gift, don't worry. No one will even notice.

  是否带礼物的问题常使客人不安。在某些文化中,送主人礼物不只是社交礼节——还是必要的。但是在美国文化中,客人并不一定要带礼物。当然,有些人的确会带个表示感谢的小礼物给他们的主人。在一般情況下,带花或是糖果,如果这家人有小孩,玩具应当是恰当的礼物。如果你选择不带礼物,別担心,甚至沒有人会注意到的。

  American hospitality begins at home-especially when it involves food. Most Americans agree that good home cooking beats restaurant food any day. When invited for a meal, you might ask, "Can I bring anything?" Unless it's a potluck, where everyone brings a dish, the host will probably respond, "No, just yourself." For most informal dinners, you should wear comfortable, casual clothes. Plan to arrive on time, or else call to inform your hosts of the delay. During the dinner conversation, it's customary to compliment the hostess on the wonderful meal. Of course, the biggest compliment is to eat lots of food!

  美国人的待客之道从家里开始——尤其是和食物有关。大多数美国人都同意,无论如何,好的家常菜胜过餐馆的菜。受邀吃饭时,你或许可以问:「我可以带些什么吗?」除非是每人带一道菜的聚餐,否则主人很可能会回答:「不用,你来就可以了。」大多数非正式的聚餐,你应该穿舒适、轻便的衣服。设法准时到,否则打电话告诉主人你会晚点到。用餐时,习惯上,人们会称赞女主人烹调的美食。当然,最大的赞美是多吃!

  When you've had plenty, you might offer to clear the table or wash the dishes. But since you're the guest, your hosts may not let you. Instead, they may invite everyone to move to the living room for dessert with tea or coffee. After an hour or so of general chit-chat, it's probably time to head for the door. You don't want to wear out your welcome. And above all, don't go snooping around the house. It's more polite to wait for the host to offer you a guided tour. But except for housewarmings, guests often don't get past the living room.

  当你吃得差不多时,或许可以主动表示要帮忙清理桌子或洗碗盘,但你既是客人,你的主人可能不会让你这样做。他们或许会邀请大家到客厅吃点心、喝茶或咖啡。聊个大约一小时或许就该离去了,你可不希望变得不受欢迎吧。还有最重要的是不要在屋子里四处窥探,等主人邀请你参观才较有礼貌。可是除了乔迁喜宴之外,客人通常都只待在客厅里。

  Americans usually like to have advance notice when people come to see them. Only very close friends drop by unannounced. This is especially true if the guests want to stay for a few days. Here's a good rule of thumb for house guests: Short stays are best. As one 19th century French writer put it, "The first day a man is a guest, the second a burden, the third a pest." Even relatives don't usually stay for several weeks at a time. While you're staying with an American family, try to keep your living area neat and tidy. Your host family will appreciate your consideration. And they may even invite you back!

  美国人通常喜欢访客事先通知他们,只有非常亲密的朋友才可能不请自来,尤其在客人要待好几天时更是如此。最好不要久留——这是给访客的经验之谈。如同十九世纪一位法国作家所写的:「第一天是客人,第二天是负担,第三天就是讨厌鬼了。」即使是亲戚通常也不会一次待上几个星期。当你住在美国人家里时,设法使你住的地方保持整齐清洁。你的主人一家都会感谢你这么体贴,他们甚至会再邀请你!

  Most Americans consider themselves hospitable people. Folks in the southern United States, in particular, take pride in entertaining guests. In fact, "southern hospitality" has become legendary. But in all parts of America, people welcome their guests with open arms. So don't be surprised to find the welcome mat out for you. Just don't forget to wipe your feet.

  大多数美国人都认为他们是好客之人。尤其是美国的南方人更以款待客人自豪,事实上,「南方的款待」是人们所津津乐道口口相传的。不过在美国各地,人们都展开双臂欢迎他们的客人,所以当你发现有WELCOME字样的鞋垫为你而时,別惊讶,只是別忘了把你的脚擦干净就是了。

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