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(reminder: all quotes here are fiddled, probably.)

All Thumbs (翻譯練習)


National Geographic Magazine 2002.12

WHO KNEW?

All Thumbs: The cell phone and evolution (Anatomy)
by Joel Achenbach


美國地理學會雜誌 2002年12月號
專欄 / 有無人知
標題 / 大拇指通天下:手提電話與演化 (解剖學)
撰稿 / 阿陳伯


(All Thumbs, 美國俚語, 本意笨手笨腳, 此處一語相關, 奈何)
(National 國家級/全國, 論譯其實何須譯. 中文版取名《國家地理》,
暗渡「各國地理」以壯聲勢. 號稱, 又作別論.)

Behavior precedes anatomy---that seems to be a general rule in evolution. So in theory, a behavioral change could lead to a different kind of thumb. But learned traits aren't passed on to future generations.


先有新的行為模式,然後身體構造有相應的變化,這似乎是生物演化的通則。理論上,大拇指的運用方式既然轉變了,新的拇指構造就指日可待。不過,事情沒有這麼簡單,因為後天習得的特徵並不會遺傳給下一代。

For the thumb to evolve as a result of cell phone use, people whose genetic codes give them unusually nimble thumbs would need to pass along more of their genes than folks with clumsy, plodding, brutish thumbs. For example, great thumbwork might be considered alluring to potential mates, though the opposite seems more likely. ("Excuse me, darling, I need to make a quick call.") Or maybe only those with lightning-quick mutant thumbs would be able to call 911 before all the lines got tied up. But again, it seems more likely they'll remove themselves from the gene pool by making cell phone calls while driving.


有些人有特別的基因,大拇指因而格外靈活。手提電話普及真要促成大拇指演化,拇指靈活的基因,就得比拇指笨拙的基因有更大的機會傳下去才行-----譬如說,拇指靈活的人更能吸引交配對象;不過情況似乎相反(「等一等,得打個電話啊,很快就行。」)-----又或者遇上事故,人人打手提電話搶線路報警求救,也許只有拇指動作快如閃電的才能打得通;不過他們更可能從基因總集中退下來,原因是邊駕車邊打電話,發生車禍掛掉。

Research on thumb evolution looks not to the future but to the past—or at least to our closest living relatives. Although most other primates have opposable thumbs, their thumbs are shorter, farther down on the hand, and their fingers are longer and less straight. To pick up a grain of rice, a chimp may need to squeeze it between its thumb and the side of its index finger, the way a person might hold a key. The human thumb is fingerlike—it's a precision grasper.


研究拇指的演化,並不是研究人類的未來,而是研究人類的過去,至少是人類現存的近親。大多數靈長類動物的拇指,雖然都可屈過來以指頭內側觸及另外四指,卻更粗短而近於腕部,其餘的手指也更長更彎。要撿起一粒米,黑猩猩需要用拇指與食指側面捏著,動作彷彿人執鑰匙開鎖一般。人類的拇指則與其他手指相似,靈巧有如微創手術用的精細抓鉗,能用指尖把小東西捻起。

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