向英语学习者讲话 | An Easy Sentence to Study 供研究的一个简易的句子

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An Easy Sentence to Study
供研究的一个简易的句子

Before reading on1, please consider the following short sentence: “They cannot see enough of each other”.
在读下文前请考虑下面这一短句:“They cannot see enough of each other.”

What do you think this sentence means? Well, please consider and consider before reading on.
你认为这句是什么意思?请读下去以前考虑再考虑。

This is a very easy sentence, indeed, and I think every English or American schoolboy or schoolgirl understands it. In fact, it occurs in a story-book for children. But I have been asked to explain it by a young man who, so far as I can see2, has been learning English earnestly for years and has acquired a fair knowledge of grammar and a fairly large vocabulary.
这的确是一个很简易的句子,我想每个英国或美国的男女学生都理解。事实上,它出现在一本给儿童读的故事书中。可是曾经有一个青年请我解释它,据我所知,这个青年已经认真地学习英语好几年,并且习得了不少语法知识和相当大量的词汇。

Why, after all, did the young man fail to understand this short sentence? My answer is that it is because its way of expression3 does not have its corresponding way in our own language. There are many ways of expression in English that have no corresponding ways in Han. These are puzzling to most Chinese learners of English.
究竟为什么这个青年不懂这个短句呢?我的回答是因为在我们自己的语言中没有与之相当的表达方式。英语中有许多表达方法在汉语中找不到能与之相应的。这令大多数学习英语的中国人十分费解。

The above-quoted sentence means that the two persons love each other so dearly that though they see each other often, they think they see each other but4 seldom. By the way, the of in the sentence also deserves attention.5 “See enough of each other” means see each other often enough. “See much of you” means see you often.
上文所引用句子的意思是:这两个人相互喜爱,以至于虽然他们时常相见,但总觉得相见太少。顺便说一说,这句中的“of”也值得注意。“see enough of each other”的意思是“相见得够多”。“see much of you”的意思是“时常见到你”。

In your reading you will do well to pay special attention to those ways of expression for which you do not find corresponding ways in Han. This will help you both in reading and in writing. I am sorry to find that many Chinese learners do not realize the importance of doing this, with the result that6 while they can read English by Chinese authors and write long and tolerably grammatical essays, yet they may not be able to understand an Englishman’s social letter thoroughly or write a short paragraph in purely idiomatic English.
在你的阅读中,如果你特别注意在汉语中没有与之相应的那些表达方式将受益非浅。这样做在读和写中对你都有帮助。我很遗憾地见到有许多中国的学习者没体会到这样做的重要性,结果是他们虽然能够读懂中国作者写的英语,而且能够写出篇幅长且语法上还算可以的文章,却也许不能彻底理解英国人写的社交信或用纯粹合于习语的英语写的一段短文。

NOTES

  1. reading on 读下去
  2. so far as I can see 据我所知
  3. way of expression 表达方式
  4. but=only
  5. deserves attention 应该注意
  6. with the result that … 结果是……;以至于……

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