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名师课堂:说说英语写作中的“套话”

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想写这篇文章,是因为在评改作文的时候,笔者总是看到一些考生在文章的开头使用“It goes without saying that …”或“There’s no denying the fact that …”等套话。还有一些考生使用更长、更复杂的套话,比如,仿照《独立宣言》的首句,写成:“We hold these truth to be self-evident that …”或者仿照简·奥斯丁在小说《傲慢与偏见》中的写法,写成:“It is a truth universally acknowledged that …”笔者经常想,这种只占字数、不表达思想的句子在作文中出现,考官会怎么看?他们会觉得考生的写作水平高吗?考生当然也很无奈:要完成一篇250~300个词的英文文章,如果不写这些套话,要写够字数,还不能写得太简单,那都写什么呀?
  
  看来,问题不在于该不该写这些套话,而在于如果不写套话,那么考生该用什么来取代它们,以使作文简练、流畅而不装腔作势。下面笔者列出几种套话写作的处理方法,和大家共享。
  
  方法一:宁写一词、不写一句
  
  这种方法主要用于替换引言套句。具体的办法是将主题句前面的“It goes without saying that …”“There’s no denying the fact that…”等引言套句换成一个副词,直接引出主题句。比如,考生写一篇关于“互联网”的文章,一般都会习惯性地用引言套句引出主题句,写成:“It goes without saying that the Internet has offered people a way to communicate.”(句子1)还有些担心字数不够的考生甚至把上述句子扩充为:“I’m quite certain that a growing of number of people, youngsters in particular, would agree that the Internet has offered people a way to communicate.”坦率地讲,在最初用英文写作时,笔者也经常用这样的句子,而且每次用心中都会感到一种巨大的“成就感”。但你对英文写作熟悉了之后,就会慢慢发现,上述句子中的“I’m quite certain that a growing number of people, youngsters in particular, would agree that”(句子2)除了占用了你策划主题句的时间,实在没有什么实用价值。
  
  相反,如果写作时不写这样的套句,而直接用副词引出主题句,则不光观点鲜明、结构简练,还能让考官一眼看到主题。以上句为例,我们不如干脆写成:“Undeniably, the Internet has offered people a way to communicate.”(句子3)这岂不更为简练?所以,考生与其花时间去背诵和主题无关的引言,还不如把精力放在主题句本身的锤炼上,完善结构,增加修辞,把主题句写精致。比如上面的句子,我们可以进一步改写成:“Undeniably, the Internet has revolutionized the ways people communicate.”(句子4)大家可以对比一下句子2和句子4,显然句子4的结构和修辞更有英语的韵味。
  
  类似的替换写法很多,以下是一些常用的替换写法,大家可以参考:
  
  1. “It is an indisputable fact that …”换成“Undeniably, …”
  
  2. “We hold it truth to be self-evident that …”换成“Evidently, …”
  
  3. “There’s no denying the fact that …”换成“Undeniably, …”
  
  4. “It is a well-known fact that …”换成“Not surprisingly, …”
  
  5. “Even more worrying is the fact that …”换成“Even more disturbingly, …”
  
  6. “It is obviously that …”换成“Obviously, …”
  
  7. “It is vitally important tha”t换成“More importantly, …”
  
  方法二:巧用结构,替换空话
  
  诸如“with the development of our society”这样的句子可能是中国考生最爱写的一类套话了。考生通常会把这类套话安排在主题句的前面,美其名曰“先交代时代背景,再引出主题句”。这类套话还会衍生出无数“变种”,比较夸张的写法是:“Along with the dramatic economic growth and groundbreaking social and psychological displacement, there’s an urgent demand that our country have more newspapers and magazines.”看过上千篇“范文”的考官一眼就能看出“Along with the dramatic economic growth and groundbreaking social and psychological displacement, there’s an urgent demand that”是“凑字”的空话。
 

        那么该如何替换这一类空话呢?其中一个办法是使用“……很重要,我们要重视”这样的句子形成主题句,然后对“……很重要,我们要重视”这个意思进行结构变换或修辞处理,使用词和结构更加多样化。下面用语法结构解析的方法来逐一分析“……很重要,我们要重视”的表达方式。
  
  1. 用“主?系?表”结构表达。“主?系?表”结构是英语写作中最为基础的结构,它的基本结构是“名词+be (变形)+形容词”。在用该结构替换上文所述空洞无物的套话时,可以使用“not only +形容词, but also +形容词”结构,比如写成:“… is not only necessary, but also indispensable”,然后后面再补充一句:“and that’s why we are supposed to emphasize its central position in our society.”这样就能成功将“随着社会的发展”这一空话替换下来。
  
  2. 用“主?谓?宾”结构表达。上文中的句子还可以这样表达:“… plays a significant part in our society, so it is essential that its position be emphasized.”细心的考生可以发现,虽然是表达同一个意思,但“主?系?表”结构和“主?谓?宾”结构采用了不同的句子形式,这两种表达方式都直接、有效。
  
  3. 用否定句和被动语态表达。否定句和被动语态结合起来使用能使表达更加多样,也更具客观性,如:“The central position of … cannot be ignored. So we are expected to underscore its importance in our society.”
  
  4. 用until正话反说或反话正说。可以用“… has been overlooked until recently. But …”这一句型来为“……很重要,我们要重视”这个意思做铺垫,从而使句意表达更加生动,比如:“The importance of … has been in large measure overlooked until recently. But nowadays, it is not only necessary, but also indispensable in our society. ”
  
  5. 将“重视”和“重要”的顺序颠倒,先写“重视”,再写“重要”。比如:“We are supposed to emphasize its central position in our society, because it is not only necessary, but also indispensable.”
  
  方法三:用好“数据论证”,学会没话找话
  
  “数据论证”这个方法像把双刃剑,一方面它很管用,写得好的话,能形成流畅的论证过程;而另一方面,它有点像“谎话”,如果写不好,数据组织和延伸句之间不通顺,一看就像编“故事”,反而影响成绩。所以,建议经验较丰富的写作“高手”使用该方法。考生在使用这一方法时,可以巧妙地把数据论证和延伸句结合成一个整体。比如,《新概念英语》第三册第九课中,L.G. Alexander就曾用数据论证的办法证明“猫有九条命,是摔不死的”:
  
  … they have nine lives. Apparently, there’s a great deal of truth in this idea. A cat’s ability to survive falls is based on fact. Recently, the New York Animal Center made a study of 132 cats over a period of five months. All these experience have one thing in common: they have fallen off high buildings, yet only eight of them died from shock or injuries.
  
  划线部分的句子将研究机构名称、实验数字、实验期限三个要素串接在一起,插接在主题句“they have nine lives”和延伸句“they have fallen off high buildings, yet only eight of them died from shock or injuries”之间,形成了一个有效的铺垫。这种写法虽然有点“耗字数”,但是对于写作时无话可说的考生来说,也不失为一个好的选择。
  
  考生可以仿照上述文章的数据写作方法,采取“机构名称+调查数字+调查期限”的写法写成句子,插接在主题句和延伸句之间。例如,考生可以将中间的铺垫句写成以下形式:
  
  1. As can be seen in a recent survey by the China Daily, at least three out of every five interviewees believed that +延伸句
  
  2. Recently the Beijing Youth made a study of 1,132 citizens for a period of two months. Despite their genders, occupations, religious background, social status and income levels, there is one thing in common: +延伸句
  
  3. CCTV interviewed five people from five cities—they are from Harbin, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Shenzhen respectively. The survey showed that +延伸句, in spite of their birthplace, educational background and socio-economical status.


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