外媒选读|“变老”的日本促产业创新

WE 英语世界 2018-09-14

Every cloud has its silver lining. (Credit: futureislam.com)

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Silver linings


注/羊毛线

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TOKYO

Japanese firms get better at[1] selling to the country’s legions of[2] elderly[3].

[题解] silver lining本义指“云朵的银色边缘”,引申义为“困境中的一线希望”。习语“Every cloud has its silver lining.”可译作“否极泰来”。此处作文章标题,一方面直接点明主旨,即日本人口老龄化困境下企业创新为经济发展挖掘的种种潜能;另一方面具有隐含义,silver容易使读者联想到银发老人(the silver-haired)、银色产业(silver industry)等意象,与老年群体关系密切,间接呼应主题。

[1] get better at表示“比从前更加擅长”,此处动词选择get而非be动词are,意在强调变化过程而非静止状态。日本企业逐步走出社会老龄化造成的困境,面对老年客户群体愈发得心应手,其蒸蒸日上的态势为日本带来一线希望,这恰好呼应了文章标题。

[2] legions of义为“大量的”,多用于正式场合。后文表达相同意思的短语还有crowds of。值得注意的是,legion本义为“军团”,该意象与日本老年人结合,暗示老龄化难题需要日本公司去直面与攻克,需要其有策略地战胜老年人群体这一原本的“敌人”。如今,日本公司“化敌为友”,形势渐好,是为silver linings。

[3] 作形容词时,elderly与old均形容人年纪大,前者较后者委婉,多用于正式场合。后文the elderly则属于“the+adj.”表示特定人群的固定用法,义为“老人”。本文语体较为正式,且此处第一次出现对老年人的称呼,故使用elderly以表尊敬。值得注意的是,elder和older作形容词表示“年纪较长的”,如my elder brother义为“我的哥哥”,与“老龄”无关,应加以区分。


A BRANCH of Renaissance[4], a Japanese chain[5] of fitness centres, would[6] not seem the likeliest place to find crowds of the elderly, but they abound[7]. Older women chat as they leave the facilities[8] with wet hair; a couple of seniors sit in the lounge reading books and sipping coffee. The lounge is something the chain introduced with the grey-haired[9] in mind[10]. “Our older clients like community and hospitality,” says Naoki Takazaka of Renaissance. All staff[11] must make time[12] to chat with them.

[4] 全称Renaissance Incorporated,1979年创立,总部位于日本东京,主要经营运动俱乐部。

[5] chain指有许多联号或连锁店的大企业。此处指Renaissance,即整个插入成分为Renaissance的同位语。

[6] 情态动词would表示习惯或事物自然倾向,呼应后文but引起的转折。

[7] 此处they代指the elderly。abound表示“富于、盛产”,是不及物动词,例如:Stories about his travels abound.(有关他游历的故事多得很。)另外,abound with/in sth.也表示同样意思,但使用时需注意主语不同,例如:The lakes abound with fish. / Fish abound in the lakes.(这些湖泊盛产鱼。)

[8] facility以复数形式facilities出现,义为“(为满足特定功能提供的)建筑、服务、设备等”。此处根据语境可知指淋浴间。

[9] 用 the gray-haired代替the elderly,避免重复。文中对老年人的称呼富于变化, seniors、older people、the silver-haired等皆是。此外,用“白发的”指代老年人乃以局部代整体的提喻修辞法(synecdoche),突出群体特征,生动形象。用法相似的其他词语有bread(food)、boots(soldiers)、sails(ships)、glasses(spectacles)等。

[10] do with sth. in mind义为“将某事作为动作目的、原因或基础”。该句含义为:休息厅是针对老年群体研发的。与下句our older clients呼应。

[11] staff是集合名词。在英式英语中,staff既可作单数(a staff of ten),亦可作复数(I have ten staff working for me.);该词作主语时,动词用复数(The staff in this shop are very helpful.)。在美式英语中,staff只能作单数。复数形式staffs较少用,但在英式英语和美式英语中均指两批或以上的职员。【以上摘编自《牛津高阶英汉双解词典》】

[12] make time + for doing / to do义为“腾出时间、抽空做”,暗示工作人员即使很忙也不能忽视老年人的社交需求,老年客户对日本企业发展的重要性可见一斑。


Japanese fitness club operator Renaissance is rolling out Synapsology, an exercise program that aims to prevent dementia. (Credit: Nikkei Asian Review)


Japan’s population is ageing[13] more rapidly than any other country’s. Those over 65 years[14] of age make up[15] 28% of the population, a proportion expected to rise to 40% by 2065. Any business that wants to prosper[16] has to cater to their needs[17]. It is an opportunity rather than a problem[18], says Masahiko Uotani, chief executive of Shiseido Group, a cosmetics behemoth[19]: older people live longer[20], are active for longer than past generations and are relatively rich. “But you have to take the time[21] to find out what they actually want since it is often not what you expect,” he says.

[13] age作动词,既可表示个体衰老,也可表示人口老龄化(老龄化社会aging society)。现在分词常见aging,英式英语也作ageing。

[14] 此处强调65岁是因为社会老龄化率按65岁以上人口占总人口比率计算。

[15] make up描述占比,近义表达有account for / comprise / constitute等。

[16] prosper义为“兴旺、成功”,尤指经济利益丰厚,主语为人或企业。

[17] cater to one’s need义为“满足、迎合某人需要”,类似表达有satisfy/meet one’s need。

[18] It指代日本人口迅速老龄化的事实,其成为机遇的原因则由后文冒号引出。该句直接点题,opportunity呼应标题silver linings。

[19] a cosmetics behemoth是Shiseido Group(资生堂)的同位语。cosmetics复数形式表示化妆品,behemoth源自《圣经·约伯记》中提到的巨兽,引申为超级公司、贸易巨头。

[20] long作副词义为“长时间”,通常用于否定句或疑问句句末,例如:I won’t stay here for long.(我不会在这待很长时间。)在肯定句中,long一般用(for) a long time代替,例如:He stayed here for a long time.(他在这儿待了很久。)此外也有特殊情况,当long①以比较级形式出现(I wish you would stay a little longer. )或②与too、enough、as、so、seldom等连词连用(I’ve been working here long enough.)或③与现在完成时连用时(I have long desired to meet them.),可用于肯定句中。此处即属long以比较级形式出现的特例。

[21] take the time to do 表示“从容不迫地做、慢慢来”。此处暗示发现老年人的真正需求是一件需要耐心的事。


The obvious opportunities[22] are in care of the elderly and end-of-life services such as funerals. Big companies such as Kobe Steel and Hitachi, two industrial heavyweights[23], sell private housing[24] to seniors. Several providers of nursery schools have also started care homes for the more numerous people at the other end of life.[25] Robotics firms are developing tools to help old people live independently for longer[26]. Manufacturers of walking sticks and adult nappies are faring well[27].

[22] 上段提出总论点,人口老龄化为日本社会带来机遇,后文详细分析所谓“机遇”有哪些。本段分析了最显而易见的机遇,即养老和治丧服务产业的发展。

[23] heavyweight义为“重量级人物、巨子”,呼应句首big companies。

[24] housing表示“住房”,是集合名词,包括flats和apartments等。public/private housing是“公共/私人住房”的固定表达。

[25] nursery schools主要为幼儿服务,他们的人生刚起步,相当于at one end of life;与此相对,老年群体自然是people at the other end of life。

[26] live independently for longer和live longer存在本质区别,前者指延长老人自理生活的时间,后者指单纯延长寿命。前者有助于解决老龄化人口引起的社会问题,后者则可能起相反作用。

[27] 原形fare well,义为“成功、顺利”,呼应段首obvious opportunities。


Aging consumers are reshaping Japanese market. (Credit: Nippon.com)


Unexpected avenues[28] of business are also opening up. Renaissance realised earlier than other companies that older people want to stay fit and started to offer discounted memberships for those over 60. By 2016, 30% of its customers were over 60 compared to just over 3% in 1994. People in this age group[29] are much less[30] likely than younger members to give up their membership, which is good for business, says MrTakazaka.

[28] 除上段提出的显而易见的机遇(obvious opportunities),人口老龄化还促进日本企业另辟蹊径,创造出人意料的发展路径(unexpected avenues of business)。avenue本义为“林荫道”,比喻义为“途径、渠道”,如avenues of research等。

[29] this age group代指 (people) over 60,采用这种说法可以避免重复。

[30] much修饰less,起强调作用。相比年轻人,老年群体对放弃会员身份谨慎得多。


Many retirees simply want the same things as those a decade younger[31], slightly tweaked[32]. O-net, Rakuten’s matchmaking arm[33], in 2013 launched[34] a dating service for seniors which[35] is growing. Shiseido beauticians go into care homes to teach old people how to do their make-up[36], at a cost (to the care home) of¥10,000-20,000 ($88-177) per visit; a process[37] with therapeutic benefits[38]. Since older people often spend longer in a shop, making them more likely to spend, some convenience-store chains have tried to become places to socialise by adding dining facilities or having personnel make coffee rather than offering it from a machine, says Ming Li of Lawson, a chain of convenience stores.

[31] a decade younger表示“年轻十岁”。

[32] tweak作动词义为“微调”。此处意在说明退休人群的需求其实和年轻十岁的人群无本质差异,仅有细微变化。此句中的simply和slightly均淡化了老年群体的特殊性,强调其与年龄更小群体的同质性。

[33] arm有“部门、分支”之义。O-net是Rakuten(乐天)旗下的婚恋平台。

[34] launch义为“首创、开办”,与initiate或introduce含义相近。婚恋媒介主要服务对象一般为年轻人,而2013年O-net推出了针对老年人的“红娘”服务,可谓开风气之先。

[35] which指代a dating service for seniors,后接现在进行时,表示该服务仍在发展壮大。

[36] do one’s make-up是固定搭配,义为“化妆”。

[37] a process指代“资生堂美容师走进护理院教老人化妆”。

[38] therapeutic benefits可理解为对老年人心理问题的治疗效果显著。


Japanese retirees have the same need as the younger. (Credit: The News)


Companies have also noticed how, in Japan too, elderly folk are reluctant to shop online. Lawson is rolling out[39] stocks of[40] books in some shops while it and other convenience-store chains (so ubiquitous[41] that older people can often walk to them) are competing with supermarkets by stocking more food, cleaning products and over-the-counter[42] medicines.

[39] roll out义为“正式推出(新的产品或服务)”,与上段launch含义相近,均强调“从无到有”的创新。面对人口老龄化困境,近年来日本企业重新定位客户群,准确把握客户需求,最终推出创新服务,彰显其能力提升,呼应了文章首段的get better at。

[40] stock本义为“库存、储备物”,stocks of义为“大量的”。

[41] ubiquitous义为“普遍的、无所不在的”。由此可知,连锁便利店数量多、分布广泛且密集,因此顾客平均购物出行距离缩短,老人步行即可到达,十分便捷——这也是便利店相比于大型超市的优势。

[42] over-the-counter即OTC(非处方药)全称。POM(处方药)全称是prescription only medicine。


Despite the plethora[43] of initiatives, businesses are only in the early days[44] of working out how to target older consumers, says Hiroyuki Murata, who heads[45] the Centre for Studies on Ageing Societies and advises firms on targeting the silver-haired. Few companies have yet started[46] opening early, for example, when old people say they like to get out and about[47]. Most stores have yet to improve[48] access for the infirm[49] with, say[50], handrails (public facilities have brought in features such as slow escalator[51] speeds).

[43] plethora近义词为excess,义为“过剩”,具有贬义色彩。由该词可见,Hiroyuki Murata对日本企业争先恐后推出的创新方案(initiatives)并不完全满意,自然而然引出后文。

[44] in the early days表示许多日本企业在老年客户定位方面尚处起步阶段,暗示日企针对老年客户推出的产品和服务仍有诸多不足需要改进。

[45] head作动词,义为“主管、领导”,与后半句的advise结构对称。

[46] 注意yet在否定句中的用法,few表否定义,整句意为“还没有几家公司(开始提早开门……)”。

[47] 依然要注意yet的用法,have yet to do表示“尚未做某事”。

[48] get out and about是固定搭配,表示“外出走走、离开家门”。out and about还表示“(病人病愈后)能够外出走动”,例如:Mr. White had a bad cold about a week ago, and he is out and about this morning.(怀特先生大约一星期以前患重感冒,今天早晨能出来走走了。)

[49] the infirm表示“年老体弱的人”。

[50] say与for example均表示“举例而言”,前者更加口语化。本段for example用于引出日企创新不足之处的例子(整句话),开门不够早即是其一,而say用于引出便利店入口处缺少的设施(句中成分)。

[51] escalator义为“自动扶梯、滚梯”,区别于elevator(升降电梯)。


The accesses for the infirm have yet to be improved. (Credit: Pop-up City)


Marketing to older people is another area that needs work. They want to be subtly targeted, says Mr Uotani, rather than being reminded of their age through, say, adverts using someone advanced in years[52] or with wrinkles. “I’m 64 and I am not old!” he says. His firm seems to have pulled this off[53]; sales of Shiseido’s Prior range of cosmetics aimed at those over 50, with simple packaging and instructions on how to use the products in a large font, have risen by 120% per year in the two years since its launch in 2015. [54]

[52] advanced in years表示“年老的”。 advancing years较old age委婉,更典型的表达还有winter of life、golden years、second childhood、evening of life等。此类委婉修辞法(euphemism)类似汉语中的“避讳”,常见例子有overweight(fat)、economically marginalized(poor)、 visually challenged(blind)等。

[53] pull sth. off 义为“成功完成某事”,通常指困难的事。前文指出以老年人为对象的销售格外需要技巧,不能让客户明显感到自身年龄特征,这具有一定难度。

[54] 此段与上段分别阐述了日企针对老年群体在客户定位与市场销售方面存在的问题,未像文章其他部分那样平铺直叙地论证老龄化带来的种种机遇。其实,文章指出的两大问题正是日企进步的空间,这是另一种“机遇”。作者变换了写作角度,使文章结构不至于单调。


Another sizeable[55] opportunity may lie in what firms can then export in terms of know-how as other countries follow Japan’s demographic trajectory[56]. Last year Shiseido started to run its care-home cosmetics lessons in Taiwan. Renaissance has developed Synapsology, a programme of simple but ever-changing[57] exercises for the brain, and now makes money both taking the programme into care homes and certifying people to run the course[58]. It has struck a deal[59] for a South Korean company to host it locally. That fits nicely with[60] another priority of which Japanese firms often talk: becoming more global-minded.

[55] sizeable亦作sizable,与considerable意义相近。日本人口老龄化将刺激公司出口,但不同于一般商品出口,日本企业将出口其老年产业服务运营的宝贵经验(in terms of know-how)。老龄化国家越来越多,日本作为世界老龄人口比率最高的国家,其成熟的管理模式非常值得学习借鉴。这对日本而言,可谓“巨大机遇”(sizeable opportunity)。

[56] Japan’s demographic trajectory表示“日本的人口发展轨迹”,即人口老龄化趋势。

[57] ever-changing表示“不断变化的”。根据Renaissance官方定义,Synapsology是一项活化大脑训练,指用剪刀石头布等基本动作(对应simple),不断变化(对应ever-changing)对感觉器官的刺激和对认知功能的刺激,通过大脑对刺激产生反应起到活化大脑的作用。

[58] run the course义为“开设课程”。run作动词可表示“提供、开设(服务/课程等)”,也可表示“管理、经营”,如run a hotel(经营一家旅店)。

[59] strike a deal是固定搭配,义为“达成交易/协议”。Renaissance公司授予韩国某公司在韩国进行Synapsology训练的许可权,换取经济利益。正如上句所介绍,在护理院开展训练与颁发许可权是Renaissance公司获利的两大途径。

[60] fit with在这里表示“与……一致”。日企与韩企签订商业合约,将其专利推向世界,完美契合了日本公司经常强调的一点:要更具全球视野。

原文出自The Economist,图片来自网络




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