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自考高级英语下册 Lesson 4 The Tragedy of Old Age in America

Lesson Four The Tragedy(悲劇) of Old Age in America

By Robert N. Butler

Text

美国老年的悲剧

What is it like to be old in the United States ?

在美国,老年是个什么样子?

What will our own lives be like when we are old ?

当我们自己老了以后,生活会是什么样子?

Americans find it difficult to think about old age until they are propelled into the midst of it by their own aging and that of relatives and friends .

美国人感到在他们置身于自己的老年或亲朋好友的老年之中以前要考虑老年时的状况是很困难的。

Aging is the neglected stepchild of the human life cycle .

衰老过程是人类生命周期中被忽视的非亲生儿。

Though we have begun to examine the socially taboo(忌諱) subjects of dying and death , we have leaped over that that long period of time preceding death , we have leaped over that long period of time preceding death known as old age .

虽然我们已开始研究有关临终和死亡这个为社会所忌讳的题目,但是我们却跳过了死亡来临之前、称为老年的那一段漫长的时间。

In truth , it is easier to manage the problem of death than the problem of living as an old person .

其实对待死亡的问题比对待老年时生活的问题要更容易

Death is a dramatic one-time crisis while old age is a day-by –day and year –by –year confrontation with (對抗)powerful external and internal forces , a bittersweet coming to terms with one’s own personality and one’s life .。

死亡是富有戏剧性的一次性危机,而老年则一天天一年年都在与强大的内外力量抗争,是一种苦乐参半的逐渐适应自己的个性和生活的过程

Those of us who are not old barricade(阻止) ourselves from discussions of old age by declaring the subject morbid , boring or in poor taste .

我们之中那些未老的人阻挠我们讨论老龄问题,宣称这一话题是病态的、枯燥的、粗俗的。

Optimism (樂觀)and euphemism(委婉) are other common devices .

其他常见的回避这个问题的方法有在谈论时用乐观的词语和委婉说法。

people will speak of looking forward to their “ retirement years “ . The elderly are described respectfully as “ senior citizens “ , “ golden agers “ , “ our elders “ , and one hears of old people who are considered inspirations and examples of how to “ age well “(不顯老) or “ gracefully “ (老而莊重).

人们会说到期待“退休年龄”的到来,老人被尊称为“年长的公民”,“金龄人”,“我们的长者”,而且人们听说有的老人在怎样能“不显老”或“老而庄重”方面成为鼓舞力量和榜样。

There is the popularly accepted opinion that Social Security and pensions provide a comfortable and reliable flow of funds so the elderly have few financial worries .

还有一个人们普遍接受的看法,说社会福利和养老金源源不断地提供宽裕的可靠的收入,因此老人很少有经济上的担忧

Medicare has lulled(麻貔) the population into reassuring itself that the once terrible financial burdens of late-life illnesses are now eradicated .

对老人的国家医疗照顾制度诱使所有的人们放心地认为,晚年疾病造成的那一度可怕的经济负担已被连根消灭了。

Advertisements and travel folders show relaxed , happy , well-dressed older people enjoying recreation (消譴), travel and their grandchildren .

广告和折页旅行指南展示了轻松快乐、衣着考究的老人享受着娱乐、旅游和儿孙之乐

If they are no longer living in the old family home , they are pictured as delighted residents of retirement communities with names like Leisure World and Sun City , with lots of grass , clean air and fun .

。。假如他们不再住在原来的家里,他们就被描绘成退休老人社区的快活的居民,这些社区有着像悠闲世界、太阳城一类的名字,绿草如茵、空气清新、其乐无穷。

This is the American ideal of the “ golden years “ toward which millions of citizens are expectantly toiling through their workdays .

这就是千百万公民辛劳地度过他们的工作日时心中期待着要实现的那个美国“金色岁月”的理想。

But this is not the full story . A second theme runs through the popular view of old age .

但这并不是全部情况。在人们对老年的流行看法中还贯穿着另一个调子,

Our colloquialisms (口語)reveal(說明) a great deal : once you are old you are “ fading fast “很快枯荽 , “ over the hill “ 走下坡路, “ out to pasture “靠邊站 , “ down the drain “徒勞無功 , “ finished “ 完蛋了, “ out of date “過時了 , an “ old crock “老廢物, “ fogy “ 老古板, “ geezer “怪老頭兒 , or “ biddy “ 長舌婆.

我们的口语用词很说明问题:你一旦老了,便“很快枯萎”,“走下坡路”,“靠边站”,”徒劳无功”,“完蛋了”,“过时了”,是个“老废物”,“老古板”,“怪老头儿”或“长舌婆”。

One hears children saying they are afraid to get old , middle-aged people declaring they want to die after they have passed their prime , and numbers of old people wishing they were dead .

人们听到孩子们说他们害怕变老,中年人声称他们愿意在壮年过后就死去,而许多老人但愿自己早已死去。

What can we possibly conclude from these discrepant差異性 points of view ?

从这些互相矛盾的看法中我们能够得出什么样的结论呢?

Our popular attitudes could be summed up as a combination of wishful thinking and stark terror .

可以把流行在我们之中的态度归纳为痴心妄想和赤裸裸的恐惧的结合。

We base our feelings on primitive fears , prejudice(偏見) and stereotypes(墨守成規) rather than on knowledge and insight .

我们将感情建筑在原始的恐惧、偏见和墨守成规上而不是建筑在知识和远见之上。

In reality , the way one experiences old age is contingent upon (與什麼有關)physical health , personality 性格, earlier-life experiences早年經歷 , the actual circumstances of late –life events 晚年生活具體情形( in what order they occur , how they occur , when they occur ) and the social supports one receives :

事实上,一个人老年经历如何是因下列因素而异的:身体健康状况、性格、早年经历、晚年事件的具体情形(这些事件发生之先后顺序、情形及具体时间)及他得到的社会支持;

adequate finances , shelter(住處), medical care , social roles , religious support , recreation文化如樂 .是否有足够的金钱,住处,医疗,社会任务,宗教支持,文化娱乐。

All of these are crucial 至關重要的and interconnected elements which together determine the quality of late life .

这一切至关重要而又相互关联的因素共同决定个人晚年生活的质量。

Old age is neither inherently miserable (痛苦的)nor inherently sublime(卓越的)---like every stage of life

老年既不是天生就是痛苦的,也不是天生就是美满的,正如生命中每一阶段一样,

it has problems , joys , fears , and potentials .

它有难题、欢乐、恐惧和潜力。

The process of aging and eventual death must ultimately be accepted as the natural progression of the life cycle , the old completing their prescribed life spans and making way for the young .

年老的过程及最后的死亡必须最终作为生命周期的自然进程被人们所接受,老人结束他们各自的寿数,为年轻人让路。

Much that is unique in old age in fact derives from the reality of aging and the imminence (迫近)of death .

事实上,老年独特之处多是由于衰老这一现实及死亡之逼近。

The old must clarify and find use for what they have attained in a lifetime of learning and adapting ;

老人必须分清并加以利用自己毕生学习和适应的收获,

they must conserve strength and resources where necessary and adjust creatively to those changes and losses that occur a part of the aging experience .

他们必须在必要时,保持精力和物力,并创造性地加以调整,使自己适应于衰老过程中必定会经历的变化与损失。

The elderly have the potential for qualities of human reflection and observation which can only come form having lived an entire life span .

老人有着人类更好地进行回顾与观察的潜在能力,而这是只有在度过整整一生之后才能得到的。

There is a lifetime accumulation of personality and experience which is available to be used and enjoyed .

在一生中所积累形成的品格与经验可以从中受益匪浅。

But what are an individual’s chances for a “ good “ old age in America , with satisfying final years and a dignified death ?

但是在美国,个人能有“美好”的老年,度过令人满意的生命的最后岁月并庄严地死去,这个可能性究竟有多大?

Unfortunately , none too good .

不幸的是,不大。

For many elderly Americans old age is a tragedy悲劇 , a period of quiet despair 絕望, deprivation (剝奪), desolation(凄涼孤寂) and muted rage .

对许多美国老年人来说,老年是个悲剧,是沉默绝望,各方面被剥夺、凄凉孤寂、无言的愤怒的时期,

This can be a consequence of the kind of life a person has led in younger years and the problems in his or her relationships with others .

这种情况可能是一个人过去某种生活和他或她人际关系上存在的问题造成的后果,

There are also inevitable personal and physical losses to be sustained , some of which can become overwhelming壓抑and unbearable無法忍受的 .

同时还要承受无法避免的失去亲人或丧失身体机能的痛苦,有些可能会使人难以自拔,无法忍受。

All of this is the individual factor , the existential element .

这些都是个人的因素,人的生活的一个部分。

But old age is frequently a tragedy even when the early years have been fulfilling and people seemingly have everything going for them .

但即使在早年,生活非常充实而日似乎一帆风顺的人,晚年也常常是个悲剧。

Herein lies what I consider to be the genuine tragedy of old age in America

这里就存在着我们认为的美国老年的真正悲剧

–we have shaped a society which is extremely harsh to live in when one is old .

——我们制造了一个老人极难在其中生活的社会。

The tragedy of old age is not the fact that each of us must grow old and die but that the process of doing so has been made unnecessarily and at times excruciatingly painful痛苦 , humiliating 屈辱, debilitating (虛弱)and isolating(孤獨) through insensitivity(冷漠) , ignorance愚昧 and poverty .

老龄的悲剧并不是在于我们每个人正常变老和死亡,而是在于这过程被冷漠、愚昧和贫困搞得充满了不必要的,有时是难忍的痛苦屈辱、虚弱与孤独。

The potentials for satisfactions and even triumphs in late life are real and vastly underexplored

晚年生活中取得满足甚至成功的可能性是确实存在的,而且还远远没有发掘出来。

For the most part the elderly struggle to exist in an inhospitable world .

老人大都为生存在一个冷淡的世界上挣扎着。

Are things really that bad ? Let’s begin by looking at the basic daily requirements for survival .

事情确实如此糟糕?让我们首先看一看生存必须的基本日常需求吧。

Poverty or drastically lowered income收入大幅度下降 and old age go hand in hand .

贫困或收入的大幅度下降与老年携手而至,

People who are poor all their lives remain poor as they grow old . Most of us realize this .

一生贫困的人们老后仍然贫困,我们大多数人都认识到这一点。

What we do not realize is that these poor are joined by multitudes of people who become poor only after growing older .

我们没有认识的是穷困者的队伍中加入了大批仅仅在进入老年后才变穷的人。

When Social Security becomes the sole(唯一) or primary(主要)income , it means subsistence –level styles for many , and recent increases do not keep up with soaring 高漲的costs of living .

当社会福利成为仅有的、主要的收入时,这对许多人就意味着仅能勉强维持生活,而且新增加的福利金赶不上高涨的生活费用。`

Private pension plans often do not pay off , and pension payments that do come in are not tied to inflationary彌補 decreases in buying power.

各种非官方的养老金制度经常不能支付全部应付金额,而得到的养老金数

目又不能弥补由于通货膨胀而造成的购买力下降。

Savings can be wiped out by a single unexpected catastrophe .(大災難)

只要一个意想不到的灾祸就可以将积蓄化为乌有。

In January , 1971, half of the elderly , or over 10 million people , lived on less than $75a week , or $10 per day . Most lived on far less .

在1971年1月,有半数即1000万以上的老人每周靠不到75美元即每天10美元生活,多数人的钱比这还要少得多。

Even the relatively well –off are not assured of an income that will support them .

即使是相对宽裕一些的人也不能保证得到能维持他们生活的收入。

It has been estimated that at least 30per cent of the elderly live in substandard housing .

估计至少有30%的老人住在不合法定标准的房屋中,

Many more must deprive themselves of essentials to keep their homes in repair .

更多的人为了保持房子适于居住进行维修而不得不牺牲一些必需品。

The American dream promised older people that if they worked hard enough all their lives , things would turn out well for them .

美国梦给老人这样的期望,只要他们一生努力工作,一切终会好的。

Today’s elderly were brought up to believe in pride , self-reliance and independence .

今天的老人在成长过程中受到的教育是信奉自尊、自立、自主。

Many are tough , determined individuals who manage to survive against adversity . But even the tough ones reach a point where help should be available to them .

许多都是能在逆境中生存下来的坚韧不拔而又有主见的人物,但即使是坚韧不拔的人们也会需要得到帮助。

Age discrimination in employment is unrestrained , with arbitrary retirement practices and bias against hiring older people for available jobs .

就业方面的年龄歧视是不受任何限制的,规定退休的具体做法很任意。在雇佣人时对上年纪的人有歧视。

Social Security penalized the old by reducing their income checks as soon as they earn more than $2,400 a year .

一旦老年人工作一年挣得2400美元以上,社会福利便用减低福利金的办法来惩罚他们。

Job-training programs don’t want the elderly ( or the middle-aged , for that matter ) , so there is no opportunity to learn new skills .

职业训练项目不愿接收老年人(连中年人也不要),因此没有机会学新技能。

Employers rarely make concessions for the possible physical limitations of otherwise valuable older employees , and instead they are fired 解雇, retired or forced to resign .

雇主对于那些除了可能有体力上的局限外其它方面很有用的年长职工很少进行照顾,而是将他们解雇,要他们退休或强迫他们辞职。

It is obvious that the old get sick more frequently and more severely than the young , and 86 per cent have chronic(慢性) health problems of varying degree .

显然老年人比青年人容易生病,病起来也更严重,而且86%的老人有不同程度的慢性疾病。

These health problems , while significant , are largely treatable可以治 and for the most part do not impair the capacity to work .

这些疾病固然应加以注意,但大量的疾病是可以治疗的,而且多数并不损害工作能力。

Medicare pays for only 45 per cent of older people’s health expenses ;the balance must come from their own incomes and savings , or from Medicaid , which requires a humiliating (羞恥的)means test .

国家医疗制度只支付老年人医疗费用的45%,余下部分得从他们自己的收入或积蓄中支付,或由医疗补贴计划来支付,但为此必须接受令人羞辱的家庭经济情况调查。

A serious illness can mean instant poverty .

一场重病可能意味着顷刻之间变得一贫如洗。

Drugs prescribed outside of hospitals , hearing aids , glasses , dental care and podiatry (足科)are not covered at all under Medicare .

不是由医院开的药的药费、助听器、眼睛、牙科和足科病,国家医疗照顾制度根本一律不予负担。

There is prejudice against the old by doctors and other medical personnel who don’t like to bother with them .

医生和其他医务人员歧视老年人,不愿为他们操心。

Psychiatrists(精神病患者) and mental-health personnel typically assume that the mental problems of the old are untreatable .

精神病医生和治疗人员是很典型的,他们认定老年人的精神病没法治。

Psychoanalysts , the elite (精華)of the psychiatric profession , rarely accept them as patients .

作为治疗精神病行业中精华人物的精神分析学家,很少收治老人。

Medical schools and other teaching institutions find them “ uninteresting “ .

医学院及其他教学机构认为他们“没有意思”。

Voluntary hospitals 私立醫院are well known for dumping the “ Medicare patient “ into municipal(市立的) hospitals ;

私立医院在把“靠国家医疗照顾制度的病人”往市立医院一推了之是出了名的。

municipal hospitals in turn funnel them into nursing homes小型疗养所, mental hospitals精神病院and chronic-disease institutions 慢性疾病without the adequate 充分diagnostic診斷 and treatment effort which might enable them to return home .

而市立医院不作充分的努力进行诊断和治疗,使他们有可能出院回家,却把他们分别集中到小型疗养所、精神病院和慢性病院去。

Persons who do remain at home while in ill health have serious difficulties in getting social , medical and psychiatric services brought directly to them .

身体不好而仍留在家中的人要得到社会、医疗和精神病治疗方面回送上门的服务,存在着极其严重的困难。

Problems large and small confront the elderly .

老年人面临大大小小的问题。

They are easy targets for crime in the streets and in their homes .

不论在街上还是在家里,他们都是犯罪分子易于得手的目标。

Because of loneliness(寂寞) , confusion(糊塗) , hearing and visual difficulties 耳聾眼花they are prime victims(主要受害人) of dishonest (不誠實的)door –to –door salesmen and fraudulent advertising , and buy defective hearing aids , dance lessons , useless “ Medicare insurance supplements “ , and quack health remedies (假藥)

由于寂寞、糊涂、耳聋眼花,他们是狡诈的挨门挨户推销商品的人和骗人的广告的主要受害者,买下有毛病的助听器,报名上舞蹈课,参加毫无

用处的“国家医疗保障制度补充保险”,还购买骗人的假药。

Persons crippled (跛子)by arthritis關節炎 or strokes 呵斥are yelled at by impatient bus drivers for their slowness in climbing on and off buses .

那些因患关节炎或中风而行动不便的人由于上下公共汽车太慢而遭到不耐烦的司机呵斥。

Traffic lights turn red before they can get across the street .

还没等他们走过马路交通灯就变红了。

Revolving doors move too quickly . Subways usually have no elevators .(電梯)or escalators .

旋转门转动太快,地铁通常没有电梯或自动扶梯。

Old women fare worse than old men .

老年妇女比老年男子遭遇更惨。

Women have an average life expectancy of seven years longer than men and tend to marry men older than themselves ;

妇女的平均估计寿命比男子长 7年,她们一般倾向于和比自己年长的男子结婚,

so two-thirds ( six million ) of all older women are widows .

因此老年妇女中2/3(约六百万)是寡妇。

When widowed they do not have the social prerogatives as older men to date and marry those who are younger .

丧夫之后她们没有和老年男子一样的与比自己年轻的异性约会结婚的社会权利,

As a result , they are likely to end up alone

结果是她们很可能独自度过余生。

---an ironic turn 諷刺意義of events when one remembers that most of them were raised from childhood to consider marriage the only acceptable state .

她们老年时的遭遇实在是个很有讽刺意味。如果人们记得她们中多数人从童年起受到的教育就是把婚姻看作是唯一可以接受的生活状况,

The income levels of older working women are generally lower than those of men ;

老年职业妇女的收入水平一般低于男子,

many never worked outside the home until their children were grown and then only at unskilled , low-paying jobs .

许多妇女直到子女长大才离家出外工作,结果只干些非技术性的、工资低的活。

Others who worked all their lives typically received low wages , with lower Social Security and private retirement benefits as a result .

还有一些妇女工作了一辈子工资还是很少,结果是社会福利和非官方退休津贴都很低。

Until 1973 , housewives who were widowed received only 82.5 per cent of their husband ‘s Social Security benefits even though they were full –time home –makers .

直到1973年为止,死去丈夫的家庭妇女,尽管她们专职全天工作持家,却只能领取去世丈夫的社会福利金的82.5%。

Black , Mexican –American and American Indian elderly all have a lower life expectancy than whites , due to their socioeconomic disadvantages .

黑人、美籍西哥人、美国印第安人的老人,由于他们社会经济上的不利地位,

估计寿命都低于白人。

Although the life expectancy of 67.5 years for white men remained the same from 1960to 1968 , the life expectancy for black men declined a full year during that time ( from 61.1 to 60.0) .

从1960年到1968年,尽管白人男子的估计寿命保持在67.5岁,黑人男子的估计寿命在此期间整整减少了1岁(从61.1岁减至60岁)。

Blacks of all ages make up 11 per cent of the total United States population , but they constitute only 7.8 per cent of the elderly .

各个年龄段的黑人一共占美国总人口的11%,但在老人中黑人只占 7.8%。

The life expectancy for Mexican- Americans is estimated at 57 years , and for American Indians at 44 years .

美籍墨西哥人的估计寿命是57岁,美国印第安人为44岁。

Most do not live long enough to be eligible (符合條件)for the benefits of Social Security and Medicare .

多数人没有能活到有资格领取社会福利补助和享受国家医疗照顾

Poverty is the norm . Scant attention is paid to their particular cultural interests and heritage .

贫困是他们标准的生活方式, 对他们独特的文化兴趣与传统很少给予关注。

Asian-American elderly ( Chinese , Japanese , Korean , Filipino and Samoan ) are victims of a public impression that they are independently cared fro by their families and therefore do not need help .

在人们心中有这样的印象,美籍亚裔中的老人(中国、日本、朝鲜菲律宾及萨摩亚人)受到家庭的单独照顾,因此不需要帮助。

However , patterns方式 of immigration by Asian-Americans to this country , the cultural barriers , language problems and discrimination歧視 they have faced have all taken a toll of their elderly and their families .

美籍亚裔向美国移民的方式,文化障碍,语言问题及他们受到的歧视都使他们的老人及家庭遭到损害。

This is particularly true of older Chinese men , who were not allowed to bring their wives and families with them to the United States or to intermarry .

特别是华裔老年男子,不允许他们带家眷到美国来,也不允许他们与别的人种通婚。
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