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為什麼我們老是記不住別人的名字

  There's little doubt that people's names are hard to remember. No, it's not just you, research suggests there's something unusual about names which makes them particularly tricky to recall. Indeed some researchers suggest that people's given names are the most difficult of all words to learn.

 

  毫無疑問,人名是很難記的。是的,不僅僅只有你難以記得人名。研究表明,姓名裏面擁有獨特的東西,令它們難以被回憶起來。事實上,有科研研究表示,人們的名字是最難被記住的詞。


  One study gave participants fake names and biographies to study. Then they were tested on what they could remember. Here are the percentages for different pieces of information that were recalled:


  某研究讓實驗者記住的一些假名和傳記,測試他們能記憶的部分,籍此作為研究內容。以下是能被記住資訊的比率:


  Jobs: 69% 職業 69%

  Hobbies: 68% 愛好 68%

  Home towns: 62% 家鄉 62%

  First names: 31% 名字 31%

  Last names: 30% 姓氏 30%

  So names are more difficult to remember than what people do, what their hobbies are and where they come from. And, you won't be surprised to hear, as we age, most of us get even worse at remembering names.




  因此,相對於那人的職業、愛好和家鄉而言,人的姓名更難以被記得住。隨著我們年齡越來越大,要記住別人的名字就更難了。

  But, why?

  但是,這是為什麼呢?


  All kinds of theories have been put forward. One is that lots of us have the same names. People guess that common first names like 'John' and surnames like 'Smith' are more difficult to remember because, on our minds, one John Smith interferes with another.


  對此,人們給提了各式各樣的理論。其一,大多數人擁有相同的名字。許多人表示,像“約翰”和“史密夫”這些大眾化的姓氏和名字更難讓人記得住,因為在我們的大腦裏,一個約翰?史密夫就能搞到記憶亂亂的。


  Counter-intuitively, though, some research suggests common names are easier to recall than unusual names. Other research suggests the opposite so it's not exactly clear what is going on.


  也許沒想到的是,有研究表明大眾化的姓名比那些不常見的容易被記得住,而有研究得出的則是相反的結果,那人們就更搞不清是是非非了。


  What's in a name?

  姓名包含什麼?


  The most popular explanation in the research is that names are essentially arbitrary and meaningless.

  比較讓人接受的說法是:其實名字取得很隨意,也沒有什麼含義在名字裏。


  For most of us our names give away few clues about our appearance, our personalities or anything about us, except maybe a rough age, ethnicity, social class and whether our parents were celebrities (hello 'Moon Unit', 'Tu Morrow' and 'Moxie Crimefighter'—yes, all real names of celebrity offspring).

  對於大多數人而言,名字中沒有體現出我們的外貌特徵、個性和其他一些關於我們的資訊,特別是大概的 年齡、民族、社會等級和父母是否是名人(你好,'Moon Unit', 'Tu Morrow' and 'Moxie Crimefighter'——是的,名人後代的名字的確如此)。


  If, for example, I was called 'The Pink Panther', and I happened to look like a pink panther, you'd almost certainly find it easy to remember my name.

  舉個例子,如果我叫作“豹粉紅”,而我也像一隻粉紅的豹子,那要記住我的名字實在太容易了。


  Meaning is the key: we seem to find it difficult to remember names because they have weak semantic hooks. Oddly we find it easier to remember that a person is a potter, i.e. makes pots, than if their surname is actually Potter. We automatically treat names as meaningless, even if they have meaning.

  另外,名字的意義是關鍵。當名字沒有含義,我們就很難記得住這些名字。奇怪的是,我們很容易記得住像“potter,i.e.”的名字,但也記不住Potter的姓氏。就是說,即便有些姓名是有內在含義,我們也會自動認為它們是無意義的。


  Perhaps it's because we get so used to the lack of association between a person's name and what they do, or much else about them. 'Dave' could just as easily be a serial murderer as a quantity surveyor. In fact it's surprising if we meet, say, a Miranda Brain and she turns out to be a neurosurgeon.

  我們一直都認為,一個人的姓名與他們的所作所為和其他的事情是毫無關係而言,或許,這就是記不住姓名的原因。一個叫 “Dave”的人可能是一名職業為工料測量師的系列兇殺案的殺手。事實上,如果我們認識的一個叫“Miranda Brain(大腦)”的女士是一名神經外科醫生,那我們會相當驚訝。


  That's why one common trick for remembering names is to force yourself to make some kind of memorable association in your mind. It's also probably why nicknames are better remembered than given names: they have more meaning because people acquire them for particular traits or events.

  所以,記名字的常用手段是讓那人在你腦海里弄出一些相關性。也是因為如此,綽號會比名字更容易被記得住:人們會因某些特性和事件中得出其他人的綽號,因此綽號會有讓人記得住的含義。


  So, the next time you are beating yourself up for forgetting a name,don't worry, it's perfectly normal. Just be kind to others and keep reminding them what your name is. And when someone forgets your name, console yourself with Shakespeare:


  因此,當下次你竟然記不起一個名字時,不用擔心,因為這實在太正常了。那你就得對別人好一點,要讓人們因為你的好而記得住你的名字。如果有人忘了你的名字,你可以用莎士比亞的一句話來安慰安慰自己:


  "What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet."

  “名字有什麼關係?把玫瑰花叫做別的名稱,它還是照樣芳香。”



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