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历年考研英语阅读理解2005年04

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[00:05.63]2005 Text4

[00:07.86]Americans no longer expect public figures,

[00:11.18]whether in speech or in writing,

[00:13.41]to command the English language with skill and gift.

[00:17.76]Nor do they aspire to such command themselves.

[00:21.81]In his latest book, Doing Our Own Thing:

[00:24.83]The Degradation of Language and Music

[00:27.62]and Why We Should, Like, Care,

[00:31.36]John McWhorter, a linguist and controversialist

[00:34.49]of mixed liberal and conservative views,

[00:38.22]see the triumph of 1960s counter-culture

[00:41.94]as responsible for the decline of formal English.

[00:45.57]Blaming the permissive 1960s is nothing new,

[00:49.59]but this is not yet another criticism

[00:51.78]against the decline in education.

[00:55.40]Mr. McWhorter's academic specialty

[00:58.05]is language history and change,

[01:00.45]and he sees the gradual disappearance of "whom", for example,

[01:04.60]to be natural and no more regrettable

[01:06.90]than the loss of the case-endings of Old English.

[01:11.34]But the cult of the authentic and the personal,

[01:14.30]"doing our own thing",

[01:15.98]has spelt the death of formal speech,

[01:18.39]writing, poetry and music.

[01:21.52]While even the modestly educated sought an elevated tone

[01:25.46]when they put pen to paper before the 1960s,

[01:29.49]even the most well regarded writing since then

[01:32.73]has sought to capture spoken English on the page.

[01:36.44]Equally, in poetry, the highly personal, performative genre

[01:41.42]is the only form that could claim real liveliness.

[01:46.56]In both oral and written English,

[01:49.29]talking is triumphing over speaking, spontaneity over craft.

[01:55.34]Illustrated with an entertaining array of examples

[01:58.47]from both high and low culture,

[02:00.99]the trend that Mr.McWhorter documents is unmistakable.

[02:04.93]But it is less clear, to take the question of his subtitle,

[02:08.85]why we should, like, care.

[02:12.19]As a linguist, he acknowledges

[02:14.13]that all varieties of human language,

[02:16.77]including non-standard ones like Black English,

[02:20.39]can be powerfully expressive

[02:22.41]--there exists no language or dialect in the world

[02:26.13]that cannot convey complex ideas.

[02:29.36]He is not arguing, as many do, that we can

[02:32.49]no longer think straight because we do not talk proper.

[02:37.01]Russians have a deep love for their own language

[02:40.14]and carry chunks of memorized poetry in their heads,

[02:43.96]while Italian politicians tend to elaborate speech

[02:47.61]that would seem old-fashioned to most English-speakers.

[02:51.43]Mr. McWhorter acknowledges

[02:53.07]that formal language is not strictly necessary,

[02:56.29]and proposes no radical education reforms--

[03:00.73]he is really grieving over

[03:02.29]the loss of something beautiful more than useful.

[03:06.74]We now take our English "on paper plates instead of china."

[03:11.27]A shame, perhaps, but probably an inevitable one.

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