向英语学习者讲话 | “More Presently”

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“More Presently”

A friend of mine called my attention to1 what he called a mistake in a biographical sketch2 of a literary man: the name of a person followed by “of whom more presently”. In fact, there is no mistake at all in the expression. “More presently” is elliptical3 for “more will be said presently”. My friend did not know this idiomatic ellipsis, having apparently taken “more” to be the adverb modifying “presently” and thought a subject and verb ought to have been supplied so as to make a complete clause.
一个朋友要我注意在一篇文人传略中他认为的一个错误:在人名后面接了“of whom more presently”。事实上这个表达方式并没有错。“more presently”是“more will be said presently”的省略形式。我的朋友不曾知道这个合于习惯的省略,显然把“more”看成了修饰“presently”的副词,因而认为该补入主语和动词来做成一个完整的从句。

Equipped with4 a knowledge of grammar, Chinese learners of English are apt to think they are quite able to read general literature without much difficulty so long as they have a good dictionary within reach5. What is more6, they are too ready to7 dismiss as wrong8 any combination of words that does not seem to him to be capable of grammatical analysis9.
具备了一些语法知识,中国的英语学习者易于认为只要手头有一本好词典,他们完全能够没有多大困难地读懂一般的英语读物。更有甚者,他们轻而易举地把自身看来似乎不能作语法分析的词组看作是错误的而置于不顾。

Important as grammar is10, there are many turns of expression11 that are generally considered blameless English though they are not quite defensible12 from a narrowly grammatical point of view13. So that14 the mastery of English grammar in its narrow sense does not enable one so much as15 to read English intelligently.
语法固然是重要的,可是确有许多结构,虽然从狭隘的语法观点来看是不可加以辩护的,但是通常被人们看作是无可非议的英语。所以精通了从狭义上所说的语法并不使人能读懂一般的英语读物。

When you come across16 in good writing any construction that you do not find grammatical, I would advise you to note it down instead of17 calling it a mistake, and to see if 18 you will meet with a similar one19 in your reading. You will20 very soon, perhaps, and then you will most likely understand the construction.
当你在良好的写作中碰到看来不合语法的任何结构时,我劝你把它记下来,别叫它错误,看看是否在阅读中会碰到相似的结构。也许,你不久就会碰到的,那时候你很可能已经了解这个结构了。

NOTES

  1. called my attention to 使我注意
  2. biographical sketch 传略
  3. elliptical 省略语的
  4. Equipped with 备着……;有了……
  5. within reach 在附近的;可以取用的
  6. What is more 而且
  7. too ready to … 太易于……的
  8. dismiss as wrong 把……看作错误而置于不顾
  9. capable of grammatical analysis 可能在语法上分析的
  10. Important as grammar is 虽然语法是重要的
  11. turns of expression 结构;说法
  12. defensible 可被辩护的
  13. narrowly grammatical point of view 狭隘的语法观点
  14. So that 因而
  15. so much as 即使
  16. come across 碰到
  17. instead of 而不
  18. if=whether
  19. one=construction
  20. will=will meet with a similar one in your reading

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