向英语学习者讲话 | Better Short Than Long 短比长好

更多精彩,请关注微信公众号:田间小站

Better Short Than Long
短比长好

Once I read an essay by Hilaire Belloc1 in which the author says “I cannot refrain from remarking2 that all the discussions of the silly critics as to whether sentences in English should be long or short are mere spoiling of paper”3.
我曾经读过希莱埃·贝洛克的一篇杂文,其中作者说道:“我忍不住要说愚蠢的评论家关于英语中的句子应该是长还是短的一切讨论简直是浪费纸张。”

I fully agree with him. A sentence is not good or bad merely because it is long or short. Length is a false test of a sentence. It is wrong to think that a series of long sentences is a proof of one’s good command of English4. It is equally wrong to think that simple and clear English requires every sentence to contain a certain number or words at most5.
我完全同意他。一句句子的好坏并不是由长短决定的。长短是检验句子好坏的假标准。认为能写一串长句是某人精通英语的证明是错误的;认为简单而明白的英语要求每句至多只可有若干个词也是错误的。

I remember that I myself formerly acted on6 these wrong opinions one after the other. For some time I tried to use as many words in a sentence as grammar and sense could justify7. The result was an obtrusively dignified style8. Then followed a period9 in which I tried to make every sentence a grammatically simple one10 and as easy to understand as those11 in first books12 for beginners. The result was affected13 simplicity.
我记得自己曾经前后按照这两个错误的想法行事。在一段时间内,我在一句句子里就语法和意思允许的范围内尽量多用词。结果导致文体过分庄严。后来又有一段时期,我努力做到每一句是语法上的简单句,而且像入门书中的句子那样容易理解。结果是不自然的简单。

However, while I would warn all learners of English composition against these two mistakes, I think that that14 of writing long sentences is the commoner one15. And learners ought to take more care to avoid it, not merely because in the hands of those who16 have not had much practice in the use of words and phrases and idiomatic constructions, long sentences are much harder to manage than short ones17. It must not for a moment18 be supposed that an error in grammar or idiom embedded in a long sentence can easily escape detection19.
但是,我就这两种错误向一切学习英语写作的人提出警告,我认为写长句的错误是两者中更普遍的,学习者应该更加注意去避免它,这不只是因为在那些对于词、短语和合于习语的结构没有多少实践的人们手中,长句比短句难于处理得多。决不可假定包含在一个长句中的语法或习语上的错误可能不容易被发现。

NOTES

  1. Helaire Belloc (1870 —1953) 英语文学家
  2. remarking 说
  3. spoiling of paper 白费纸张
  4. one’s good command of English 某人对英语的精通
  5. at most 至多
  6. acted on 实行
  7. use as many words in a sentence as grammar and sense could justify 就语法和意思所允许的范围内在一句里尽量多用词
  8. obtrusively dignified style 过分庄严的文体
  9. followed a period=a period followed
  10. one=sentence
  11. those=sentences
  12. first books 入门书
  13. affected 做作的;不自然的
  14. that=the mistake
  15. one=mistake
  16. those who … 那……的人们
  17. ones=sentences
  18. must not for a moment 决不可
  19. escape detection 不被发现

打赏

微信赞赏支付宝赞赏