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词的活力

第九章词的活力

文章是否写得生动耐读,和所选之词是否充满活力有关。写作初学者最常用的动词莫过于动词be和make,有时到了滥用的地步。而现代英语有使用短小,有力的动态动词来表达的倾向。如:

El Nino’s vast impact on humans has often been catastrophic. The El Nino of 1982-83 inflicted $ 13 billion in damage and claimed some blanketed Melbourne; bursh fires raged in its wake. In place of its normal monsoon, Southern India got dried-up crop and the threat of mass starvation. At the same time,wiolent rainstorms devastated the Western Hemisphere: Peru’s fishing industry-once one of the richest in the world-was wiped out, and seaside towns were washed into the Pacific.(Per Ola Get Readt for Some Wild Weather)

这里“inflicted… claimed… turned… blanketed… devastated… wiped out”一连串短小有力的动词的使用给文章带来了生气和力量,堵着它使人感到厄尔尼诺正在发威。

9.1be 动词

动词有静态和动态之分。连系动词be 一般是静态的,较少有活力。be动词主要指“be”的各种形式、“there+be”的各种形式和which is 的表达。在英语中它们常被称为静态表达。只要有可能,英语表达中尽量避免使用,因为它们在表达中往往使文章变得缺乏生气。请比较:

「1a」On one side of town there are many antelopes in the hills and along the roads are yellow wild fllowers. On the other side there is the Big Horns and nearly 10,000 feet up,Powder River Pass is through them.

位于小镇一边的山坡上是三、五成群的羚羊,路边满是黄色的野花。另一边则是高高的大霍恩山波德要隘就在近一万英尺的高处。

「1b」On one side of town,antelope abounded by fours and fives in the hills, and yellow wild flowers lined the roads. On the other side rose the Big Horns and nearly 10,000 feet up,Powder River Pass cut through them.(Jim Doherty Journey Weast) 比较两种写法,我们不难感觉到「1b」的行文充满活力。而主要原因就是作者选择了那些短小有力的动词,避免使用be,there be 等静态动词。美国教师路易·克鲁专门在《英语教学论坛》1985年第3期上发表了一篇题为《如何教授学生不仅写得正确而且生动有力》(Teaching EFL students to Write Effectively,Not Just Correctly)的文章,讨论这个问题。她认为,写作文不能仅仅满足于“没有错误”,或语法用词的正确性,还要追求表达的生动性。而要写出生动、简洁、有力、耐读和连贯的文章就要“尽可能选择表示强有力的行为动词”,“尽可能少用,不用被动语态和动词to be 的其他形式。”请看她给北京第二外国语学院的学生改的作文:

「2」学生原文:The Summer Palace is one of the biggest and oldest parks in China. It is the most beautiful park in Beijing as well. In the park,there are many famous architectures which make it quiet different from other parks.

路易修改文:Many famous architectural features distinguish the Summer Palace, one of the biggest and oldest parks in China, from just any other park.

「3」学生原文:After its natural scenery, the dominant feature of Naking is the Yangtze River Bridge.

路易修改文:Second only to the natural scenery, the Yangtze River Bridge dominates Nanking.

「4」学生原文:There is a beautiful park near my house. The name of the park is Tian-Tan Park, which was built several hundred years ago. It is the biggest park in Beijing. The Tian-Tan Park is famous not only for its beauty but its quietness as well.

路易修改文:Near my house stands Tian-Tan, the biggest park in Beijing, built several hundred years ago and famous now for not only its beauty but also its quietness.

「5」学生原文:There is a place where dreams of paradise remote are transformed into reality. It is very much the real China, embracing all of the traditional Chinese goods, cultural and history.

路易修改文:The place transforms dreams of a remote paradise into reality. It embraces all of the traditional Chinese goods, culture and history.

「6」学生原文:Nanking’s climate is marked by intense dry heat during summer months, the origin of its reputation as one of the”five furnaces of the Yangtze”.

路易修改文:Intense dry heat in the summer earns Nanking the reputation as one of the “five furnaces of the Yangtze”.

「7」学生原文:There is a river before my house. It is an east to west river and connected with the Yangtze River.It is not very long but deep.

路易修改文:A river,not very long but deep, runs before my house and connect with the Yangtze.

「8」学生原文:On the river banks there are many willow trees with their branches bending into water.

路易修改文:Many willow trees bend their branches into the river.

「9」学生原文:In the front, it was the sharp slope of a cliff.

路易修改文:The front cliff sloped sharply.

「10」学生原文:It is a small mountain village surrounded by a clear river winding through a deep valley, with willows and reeds along its banks.

路易修改文:A clear river surrouds a small mountain village and winds through adeep valley, with willows and reeds along its banks.

dminate, distinguish, run, bend, slope, earn, transform这些动态动词栩栩如生,不仅给原来句子带来了活力和生机,而且大大压缩了句子,使行文简洁、明快、紧凑,因而文章就耐读多了。我们再看几例:

「11a」The frameworks of mutual respect is the basis of our cultural cooperation.

「11b」The framework of mutual respect sustains our cultural cooperation.

互相尊重的精神是我们文化合作的基础。

「12a」Ecological imbalance is the biggest threat to the survival of wild animas and plants,even human beings.

「12b」Ecological imbalance threatens most the survival of wild animals and plants,even human beings.

生态失去平衡是对野生动物、植物乃至人类最大的威胁。

「13a」Within the past 300years,however,our numbers have increased dramatically, doublingin ever-shortening cycles, so that by 1930 the world population was at 2 billion.

「13b」Within the past 300 years,however,our numbers have increased dramatically, doubling in ever-shortening cycles, so that by 1930 the world population stood at 2 billion.(《21世纪大学英语》)(第一册)

然而过去的300年里,我们的人口大幅度增长,以越来越快的速度成倍上升,到1930年世界人口达到20亿。

「14a」As more women become mangers, researchers hanve examined differences in how men and women lead.

「14b」As more women rise to upper manasgement,researchers have examined differences in how men and women lead. (Susan V.Seligson What Women Do Better) 由于许多妇女成为经理,研究人员分析了男女领导人的工作方式有何不同。

9.2make 动词

英语中还有表示使役意义的动词make。过多使用make+宾语+补语构成的结构,往往会使行文变得滞重。英语是综合型语言,词化程度相当高,即在英语词汇中存在大量分析型语言(如汉语)要用一个短语甚至一个句子才能表达单个词。如在写作中能用词化程度较高的动词如endanger(使受到危险),disappoint(使失望),expose (使暴露),dismay(震惊),convince(使信服),involve(使卷入),impress(使留下深刻影响),fertilize(使肥沃),bewilder (使糊涂),group(使分成小组),wreck(使车船失事),cash (使变成现金),disqualify (使不能胜任)等,文章会同样明快简洁。请比较:

「1a」Years of watching television have made their attention span shorter, but their real problem is that listening attentively is much harder than they think.

「1b」Years of watching television have shortened their attention span, but their real problem is that listening attentively is much harder than they think. (David Daniels College Lectures-Is Anybody Listening?)

多年的看电视经历使他们能够集中注意力的时间大为缩短,但真正的问题是他们专心听的能力比他们想象的要差多了。

「2a」Berkeley women have made their social lives bright by taking the initiative with men.

「2b」Berkeley women have brightened their social lives by taking the initiative with men.(Laura Ullman Will You Go Out with Me?)

伯克利的女学生通过主动邀请男学生大大活跃了她们的社交生活。

「3a」But in our era of extensive social restructuring to grant women equally in education, in employment, in government, in athletics, what makes women have the right to the privileges-and makes them have the right of the status-of children?

「3b」But in our era of extensive social restructuring to grant women equally in education, in employment, in government, in athletics, what entitles women to the privileges-and reduce them to the status-of children?(Charles Krauthammer The Titanic Puzzle)

但是我们正在进行广泛的社会重组,在教育、就业、管理、体育中给妇女以平等的地位,在这样一个时代,是什么使妇女享有儿童的权利,并使它们降低到儿童的地位?

「4a」Women at Yale are under even more pressure than men to make their

expensive education reasonable to themselves, their parents,and society.

「4a」Women at Yale are under even more pressure than men to justify their expensive education to themselves, their parents,and society. (William Zinsser College Pressures)

为了向她们自己,她们的家长以及社会证明她们对得起高昂的学费,耶鲁女学生所承受的压力要比男学生还大。

「5a」Smooth and rough surfaces,things cold and hot make us surprised and charmed.

「5b」Smooth and rough surfaces,things cold and hot surprised and charmed us.

(Dorr Bothwell The Innocent Eyes)

光滑或粗糙的表面,冰凉或火烫的东西都使我们大为吃惊或吸引我们。

「6a」That’s why they admire my bike. It makes them comfortable and gives them a sense of something manageable, not too complicated.

「6b」That’s why they admire my bike. It comforts them and gives them a sense of something manageable, not too complicated.(Johanne Mednick The Highs of Low Technology)

这就是他们羡慕我的自行车的原因。它给他们一种安慰感,一种能够控制的感觉,它并不复杂。

「7a」Though we might be able to make more billions have food to eat, clothes to wear and house to live in,we cannot create more space for them;and limitations of spce will create serious psychological problems for humanity.

「7b」Though we might be able to feed, clothes, and house more billions, we cannot create more space for them;and limitations of spce will create serious psychological problems for humanity.(《21世纪大学英语》(第一册))

虽然我们能够使几十亿的人有饭吃,有衣穿,有房住,但我们不能给他们创造空间。空间的局限给人类带来许多严重的心理问题。

「8a」These areas, known as “suburbs”, have combined elements of both urban and rural living, and have made the diciding line blur between city and countryside.

「8b」These areas, known as “suburbs”, have combined elements of both urban and rural living, and have blurred the dividing line blur between city and countryside.(Bruce Oatman A Merging Metropolis)

这些被称之为郊区的地区兼有城市和农村的特点,这就使城市和乡村的界限模糊了。

「9a」Several countries, including Britain, Denmark, Germany,and Australia, have made all scientific work on cloning humans unlawful.

「9b」Several countries, including Britain, Denmark, Germany,and Australia,have outlawed all scientific work on cloning humans.

有些国家,包括英国,丹麦,德国和澳大利亚都宣布,所有关于克隆人的科学工作都是违法的。

「10a」Quite clearly, if one but looks around to assess the irrefutable evidence to reality, books make the dreaming facility strong,and television makes it numb.

「10b」Quite clearly, if one but looks around to assess the irrefutable evidence to reality, books strengthen the dreaming facility,and television numbs it. (Harlan

Ellison Books,TV,and the Imagination)

很清楚,如果我们看一看,评估一下不可否认的事实,就会发现书籍加强人的想象力,而电视使其麻木。