Ein­stein Ig­nited Zhou Youguang爱因斯坦启发周有光

Special Focus - - CULTURE - By Jian Ai 文 |简爱

After the anti-Ja­panese war, Zhou Youguang, an econ­o­mist, was dis­patched by Xin­hua Bank to work in New York, where he hap­pened to meet Mr. He Lian, once his su­pe­rior and col­league in Bureau of Agri­cul­tural Fi­nance. At that time, He Lian was hon­ored as a dis­tin­guished vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor in Prince­ton Univer­sity.

One day, He Lian talked to Zhou: ‘‘Ein­stein is free, are you will­ing to visit him if he wants to chat with you?’’

Zhou agreed with plea­sure and paid a visit to Ein­stein. Ein­stein had heard a lot about Zhou be­fore, so they seem old friends at the first meet­ing. What’s in­ter­est­ing was that nei­ther Zhou was in­ter­ested in the rel­a­tivism of Ein­stein nor Ein­stein was in­ter­ested in econ­omy and fi­nance that Zhou was ex­pert in. They just started their con­ver­sa­tion by pick­ing up a topic of the news­pa­per with­out any prior con­sul­ta­tion, or laugh­ing when they had the same opin­ions, or ar­gu­ing when they had dis­agree­ments.

When re­fer­ring to “ac­com­plish­ment”, Ein­stein said that how peo­ple make use of their spare time re­ally counted. Al­though seem­ingly nor­mal, the words did ig­nite Zhou. He main­tained that ex­cept eat­ing and sleeping, a man has much more spare time than work time when he reaches old. It is ab­so­lutely pos­si­ble that a man could be an ex­pert in some field by study­ing in spare time. Be­ing aware of his ex­pe­ri­ences in lan­guage study­ing in spare time, he de­cided to give pri­or­ity to lan­guage study after pon­der­ing for a while.

Sure enough, Zhou Youguang be­came an ex­pert by mak­ing good use of his spare time in study­ing lan­guage and draw­ing ad­van­tages from oth­ers. That’s why the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment would ap­point this over-fifty-year-old econ­o­mist es­pe­cially to be re­spon­si­ble for the na­tional lan­guage re­form.

(From Speech and Elo­quence, Is­sue 14, 2017. Trans­la­tion: Feng Yuhong)

抗战结束之后,经济学家周有光被新华银行派往纽约工作。在这里,他巧遇曾经的农本局领导何廉。当时,何廉作为国际知名学者,任普林斯顿大学特聘客座教授。

有一天,何廉对周有光说:“爱因斯坦空闲很多,想找人聊天,你愿意去吗?”

周有光欣然应允,转身赶往爱因斯坦的住处。爱因斯坦对周有光早有耳闻,两人一见如故。有趣的是,周有光不懂爱因斯坦的相对论,爱因斯坦对周有光的经济与金融也不感兴趣,两人不约而同地从报纸上的话题聊起,时而观点一致相对大笑,时而为分歧争论得面红耳赤。

谈到“作为”这个话题时,爱因斯坦说:“人的差异在业余。”貌似很随意的一句话,却让周有光触动颇深。他想,一个人年纪大了,除了吃饭睡觉,业余时间要比工作时间多得多,通过业余时间的学

习,完全可能成为某个领域的专门人才。想到自己曾利用业余时间学习语言,经过一番思索,周有光决定以后把所有业余时间都放在语言研究方面。

果不其然,利用业余时间搞语言文字研究的周有光,不久就成为专业人士,而且博采众家之长,以至后来中央直接委任这个年过半百的经济学家专门搞起了语言文

字改革。

(摘自《演

讲与口才》2017

年第14期)

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