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做到从简、标点、副词巧,帮你去掉assignment“中国味”

发表时间:2017-06-30

做到从简、标点、副词巧,帮你去掉assignment“中国味”
      我们中国留学生在写assignment的时候往往都会有一股“中国味”,例如:我们在英文写作的时候经常用which, who, what, that引导的从句来解释和补充?频频用and把几个短句连成一个长句?再长的句子也只会用句号和逗号断句?想要去掉assignment写作的“中国味”,就要学习如何写出更加简洁的英文——简洁不是指多用简单句,而是指灵活运用语法规则有效率地表达。本文奉上简洁英语的三宝:从简、标点、副词巧,做到这三点,足以帮你去掉assignment写作“中国味”的问题。

一、从简:复合句从句简化
      从简是指复合句从句简化(clause reduction)。复合句其间有一些重复、空洞的元素。剔除他们,节省空间,精简句子就是复合句从句简化。以下是《时代周刊》一篇封面文章的节选。作者 Michael Schuman是一名“老笔杆子”,其文笔相对更注重表现力。下划线的部分简化了从句。
      The view in most of the world is that China is indestructible. Shrugging off the crises multiplying elsewhere, China seems to surge from strength to strength, its spectacular growth marching on no matter what headwinds may come. It appears inevitable that China will overtake a U.S. mired in debt and division to become the world’s indispensable economy. Those businessmen and policymakers looking to the future believe China’s “state capitalism” may be a superior form of economic organization in dealing with the challenges of the modern global economy.
      第一个下划线句子,如果不用从简的手法会写成: After China shrugged off the crises that multiply elsewhere, it seems to surge from strength to strength, and its spectacular growth marches on no matter what headwinds may come. 同理,第二个下划线句子的原型是a U.S. which is mired in debt and division…, 第三个下划线句子的原型是: Those businessmen and policymaker who look to the future…. 这些句子是不是有种文绉绉的“中国味”了?After, which, and, who等联结词用得非常熟练。原句用词更为经济,而且通过删除不必要的元素自然地突出了句子的主要元素,显得语言活泼有力。
      上边的句子基本反映了从句精简的规则:如果从属从句的主语和主要从句中主语重复,在从属从句中可以省略主语;然后,1.) 如果从句的动词是Be动词,视Be动词是否有实际含义直接去掉或者变成Being,其他不变 2.) 如果从句中有could, would, must等助动词,将助动词变成不定式to,其他不变; 3.) 如果从句中没有助动词,也没有be动词则将动词变成Ving,其他不变。

二、标点:活用分号,冒号,破折号和连字符
      标点指的是活用分号(semi-colon),冒号(colon),破折号(em-dash)和连字符(hyphen)。通篇几乎只用逗号和句号也是一种“中国味”。由于我们中式教育不太重视英文这四种标点的使用,比如说高考中就很少考查这些知识点。相反,母语作者在文章中会更多地使用到这四种标点。作家Roy Peter Clark在他的Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer中,很形象地将这些标点比喻成交通标志——如果说句号是停车标志 (stop sign) 的话,那么分号就是在停车标志下没有完全挺稳就继续前进(rolling stop);冒号是黄颜色的警示标志,提示驾驶员前方有情况;而破折号,在他看来,是让人分心的树干(这点我持保留态度)。
      这些标点一方面控制了文章的节奏感,另一方面,它们还在视觉上创造了疏密有致的空间,提高了阅读体验。它们在不增加,甚至在减少单词的前提下传达更多的信息,使文章更加精炼、简洁。此外,连字符的作用有些特殊,它不是标明停顿,而是起了构词的作用,运用得当对于精简用词和翻译有中国特色的词汇有奇效。以下用《纽约时报》一篇谈写作文章的节选作标点使用的例子。作者Ben Yagoda是一名英语教授。下划线的部分简化了从句,而加黑的地方则提示了标点的应用。
      One of the three most famous writing mottoes is “Kill your darlings.” Commonly attributed to William Faulkner and others, the sentiment seems originally to have been expressed by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in the early 20th century. He said, “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” No matter the verb, the sentiment is that sometimes a passage can be improved by the removal of a metaphor, turn of phrase or quip to which one has become partial. True enough, but, in my experience, the problem of a well-turned phrase hurting the larger piece doesn’t come up all that often.
      A second motto is “Show, don’t tell.” This actually has two meanings, both profound and, in my experience, always correct. The first is that, in describing a scene, you should always try to make the reader feel that he or she is right there in the moment, rather than hearing about it second-hand. More generally, in making any kind of argument, well-chosen and well-deployed facts trump opinions and generalizations; by extension, strong nouns and verbs serve as the main engine of good writing, adjectives and adverbs as the grace notes.

节选里使用了大量简化从句,还运用了破折号、分号以及不少的连字符。下面Meeloun(www.lxws.net)来给大家说这些标点的具体用法。
      a. 分号:
      Richard C. Wydick在他的法律英文写作经典Plain English for Lawyers中谈到了分号,他描述道:“一些律师对于分号的态度就像是对野蘑菇:有些非常美味,但是有些却是致命的;因为没法分辨两者的区别,那就干脆统统避开。”Wydick自己的观点是分号没有那么危险,并且十分有用。其一,分号可以用来连接两个关系紧密的分句,这种做法的最大好处是可以增添写作的多样性,并且避免使用太多and之类连接词所带来的断断续续感(choppy sentences),同时也精简了用字。书中的一个例子是:
      The defense counsel objected to the questions; she said that it called for information projected by the attorney-client privilege.
      其二,放在已经被连接词(therefore, however, furthermore, thus, indeed, in fact, as a result or for example)连接的两个从句中间,从而加强句子的节奏感。比如:
      Her testimony could have been admitted under several exceptions to the hearsay rule; for example, either the excited utterance exception or the contemporaneous statements exception would apply.
      b. 冒号:
      冒号表明其后引用的内容是前边内容的列举、总结或阐述。每当放一个冒号,就像提醒读者:我要开始解释了。冒号用作列举则可省去include/including,并在视觉上创造一个更醒目的标志。而冒号更有价值的用法是引导对前文的总结(summary)、阐述(elaboration)或者是例证(illustration)。以下的例子也来源于“Plain English for Lawyers”:
      The plaintiff failed to prove two key elements: negligence and proximate cause.(列举)
      The damages were staggering: $1,000,000 in medical bills and $74,000 in lost wages. (阐释)
      Only one thing stands between us and settlement: money. (阐述)
      c. 破折号:
      破折号(em-dash)在“中国味”写作中是最被低估的标点,破折号可以加在被引导内容之前,用来表示停顿和解释。比如“Plain English for Lawyers”里列举的例子。
      We need not reach the constitutional issue—that can await another day and another set of facts.
      Ben Yagoda在《纽约时报》的“Mad Dash”一文中深入地讨论了破折号的用法:他认为破折号带来的停顿时长约等于四分之三个句号,这比括号稍长,而比逗号长得多,这样就可以更好地吸引读者的注意。他列举了《了不起的盖茨比》中的一段,来说明破折号和冒号的区别。
      Thirty: the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.试比较原文
      Thirty—the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair. 原文
破折号也可以像括号一样“括住”引导内容。但是破折号和逗号以及括号的强调程度不同:逗号往往是中性的,它们不加强也不减弱内容的重要性;括号往往会降低包括的内容的重要性;而破折号往往会加强包括的内容的重要性。比如Plain English for Lawyers里的几个例子。
      The judge—bristling with indignation—slammed his gavel on the bench. (强调了法官的情绪)
      Many lawyers believe that dashes are out of place in formal writing—that dash is amateur. But if used correctly, the dash can be—and should be—another tool for the better writer. (加强了说服的语气)
      破折号的另一种作用是标明长句中相对不重要的部分,以引导读者的思维跨越这一部分而连接起上下文。这种弱化和上面的强调作用刚好相反,一般只用在长句中。这是因为破折号远远比逗号容易辨识,也没有逗号承担的那么多种语法作用,所以读者可以更方便,更有信心的跨过破折号所引导的内容来理解全句。还是“Plain English for Lawyers”的例子:
      The magistrate may rule on any procedural motion—including a motion to suppress evidence and a motion to allow or disallow discovery—at any time following the acceptance of a plea. 
破折号虽然没有删减任何词汇,但是,却能在没有增加词汇的前提下,传达出更多的信息,所以为无声的强调,这也可以算上一种使英文更加简洁的方法吧。
      d. 连字符:
      连字符的主要作用是将不同词性的单词构成复合形容词,少数情况下也会用来表达其他词性。这种构词法和中文逻辑暗合,具体例子会在下文中讨论。“名词-动词分词(Ving/Ven)”组合最容易在写作中有意识地使用出来,从而达到精简文章的目的。
      大部分情况下“名词-动词现在时”构成了一个形容词,比如,nerve-racking situation, eye-opening event,self-serving comment, all-embracing definition。如果不用这种构词法,那么一般会用一个词语顺序完全颠倒的定语从句来代替,比如the situation that racks my nerve. The definition that embraces all situations.(如果一个以这种方式构成的词,习惯性地被经常使用,则连字符会被去掉,变成一个形容词或名词。比如sightseeing或者namedropping,本文暂不讨论这几种用法。)
      其次,“名字-动词过去时”作形容词时代替了被动语态的定语从句。这个从句的词语顺序和词组也是完全颠倒,但是中间多了一个by. 如 self-employed attorney是 attorney who employed by himself. 相同的词组还有 export-oriented economy, result-oriented boss, market-driven education, sales-based, commission-based salary等等。在写作时尤其可以在以下情况中使用。如“与……有关” (government-related, charity-associated); “遭受” (self-inflicted, cancer-stricken, poverty-stricken, panic-stricken ); “布满” (error-ridden, disease-ridden, class-ridden, guilt-ridden)等涉及描述状态的动词。以上两种技巧用得好的话,可以省掉很多不必要的从句。
      再者,如果两个或多个用连字符连起来的词在一起的时候,相同的部分可以被省略,比如:Long-and short-term budget reductions. Pre- and post-judgment interest.这是另一个小技巧。
      张懿老师的《浅议英语连字符连接的复合词》提出了很多关于连字符很有帮助的建议,并且举了很多好的例子。上边有些例子就是从其中摘录出来的,十分推荐阅读此文。值得一提的是,《浅议》一文指出连字符对于中国特色常用词语的汉英翻译有奇效。许多见诸中文报刊的新词具有很高的概括性,并且经常由名词组合而成,很适合用连字符翻译。

      虽然一个英文句子中连字符构词用得多了会显得不够正式,但是,这种吊儿郎当又煞有介事的构词法,反而可以用来翻译“无厘头”的网络流行语。比如“羡慕嫉妒恨”“envious-jealous-hateful”,“人艰不拆”“life-hard-no-expose,”“男默女泪””men-silent-women-sobbing”,“细思恐极”“hard-thinking-dread-feeling.”
      当然连字符也不能被滥用,一般推荐的规则是不超过三个词连接在一起,多的话会使一个词变得臃肿累赘。

三、副词巧:状态副词以取代副词短语
      “副词巧”指的是多多利用状态副词以取代状态副词短语。换句话说就是将一个词组的意思浓缩到一个副词上。这个技巧是新加坡的英文教育专家陈清霖老师在他《联合早报》的报刊专栏中的一篇文章提到的。试比较陈老师提供的几个句组:
      As an enthusiastic reader, Peter read many books without paying attention to their differences in quality or subject matter.
      As an enthusiastic reader, Peter read many books indiscriminately(不作选择地)
      Good staff performed their tasks with great care and strong sense of responsibility.
      Good staff performed their tasks conscientiously.(诚心诚意地)
      The pharmacist, through an oversight, made a mistake in the prescription.
      The pharmacist inadvertently made a mistake in the prescription.(不经心地)
      The new encyclopedia, published regardless of expenses, is now available at a reduced price.
      The new encyclopedia, lavishly published, is now available at a reduced price.
      When we read the annual report, we were impressed by the content presented in simple words and sentences.
      When we read the annual report, we were impressed by its concisely presented content.
      从上面几组句子看,很明显,和动词搭配起来,状态副词比状态副词短语简洁有力,活泼可爱。值得多多学习。以下是一些比较容易忘记在写作里使用的状态副词。
      allegedly
      abnormally
      conveniently
      deceivingly
      haphazardly
      deliberately
      eventually
      inadequately
      ingeniously
      inquisitively
      invariably
      optimistically
      reluctantly
      sensibly
      thoughtfully
      vigorously
      unbearably
      unexpectedly

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