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英语修辞与写作·1.2 修辞学的研究方法

所属教程:英语修辞与写作

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2021年09月17日

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1.2A 学习修辞与写作的意义

1) 有人认为,现代社会的有声联络十分方便,不用学习修辞与写作了。这是一种片面的看法。有声传播技术的发展确实减少了某些方面的写作需求,如人们通过电话交流信息,书信往来就少了,但在另外一些领域内写作却比以往更加重要,如技术报告和新闻报道,即使电视新闻也多是先写好文字稿而后播出的。有些工作中不一定非用写作不可,然而能以文字形式表达自己的观点仍不失为一技之长。

此外,会写作也是一个人成熟的一种标志和良好素质的一种体现。不论当律师、会计师、教师、工程师或普通工作者,虽然不像作家那样一定要写诗歌、小说等,但若写点小文章也难以提笔,甚至连一般的计划、报告、小结或说明书、介绍信之类的应用文也写不好,那显然是不符合文明社会成员的基本要求的。而要写文章,就要不同程度地涉及修辞与写作技巧。

2) 也有人以为,只要模仿不同的文章格式并能按照语法规则把句子写正确就够了。这种看法也不全面。客观情况千差万别,不可能把固定的某些格式到处套用;诚然,写出符合语法规则的正确句子是必需的,但不能仅仅停留在这一点上。前面1.1A已讨论到语法与修辞的关系,说明修辞是在语法正确的基础上如何进一步使用语言技巧,提高交际效果。这里还需说明,学习了修辞与写作的基本技巧和规律,虽然不能说就等于会写好文章了,但对写好文章肯定是有帮助的,若忽视它们,则不可能把文章写好。

3)口语中是否用得着修辞技巧呢?答案是肯定的。俗话说某某人“能言善辩”,某某人“出口成章”,均指其人十分善于辞令,会说话。我们在口头交际时首先要清楚应当“说什么”,“怎样说”,做到话随旨遣,又要根据具体谈话对象,做到因人而异;什么地方应当详尽,什么地方应当简略,等等,这些都是涉及修辞技巧方面的问题。

1.2B 学习修辞与写作的方法

1) 结合实践学习。修辞学是社会交际实践的产物,也只有密切结合社会交际实践才能掌握好修辞技巧。教师的课堂讲授,只能为学生提供一把研究修辞的钥匙,学生还必须通过阅读才能巩固课堂知识。不仅如此,还要在说话、写文章和进行翻译时有意识地利用各种修辞手段来提高自己的语言使用技能,以取得更好的交际效果。有个留美学生曾以A Way Out for the Homeless Couples为题写了一篇文章。在修辞课上讨论到择语的准确性后,他想到文中的homeless一词有待斟酌:虽然在美国英语中home可以和house同义,但一般说来,house主要指住房,而home除指住处以外,还往往包括家庭生活;由于文中所谈的是青年成家后的住房问题,故houseless一词较为恰当。

2) 针对语境使用。Patrick Hartwell说:“修辞是适于某种语境和出于某种目的所做的选择。”(Hartwell, Patrick, Open to Language)如果离开语境就难以确定某种表达方式是否符合修辞要求。例如根据一般修辞要求,被动结构应避免使用,因为它需要增加助动词,不符合用词简炼的原则,而且也不如主动结构那样明确有力,但有时为了突出受事者,或为了强调通常情况下不作主位的句子成份,则应使用被动结构,例如:

The tree was struck by lightening.

(Thomas S. Kane)

Out of the windows could be seen three hickory trees placed irregularly in a meadow that was resplendent in spring time green.

(Stephen Crane)

又如,想要别人把门关上时,可以有多种表达方式,除了生硬地命令式只适用于某些特殊场合外,通常还可以用下面的某种说法:

A) Close the door, dear.

B) Would you be so kind to close the door?

C) It's a bit cold here. Can you close the door?

D) Would you like to close the door for me?

E) I would be glad if you could close the door.

F) Would you mind closing the door?

上述A、B两句用于家庭成员或好友之间,属于亲昵的表达方式;D、E两句突出对对方的尊重或客气,适用于对社会地位高于自己或与自己相同的人说话,属于婉转的表达方式;C句介乎两者之间,可用于其他两种场合。当然也可选择其他的表达方式,包括“Would you mind ...?”不过用这个句式请别人做(或停止做)某事时,很可能带有“贬”的色彩,是不满或甚至是愤怒情绪的一种表达,例如“Would you mind stop making so much noise?”等。

3) 注意母语的影响

语言学家Dorothy M. Guinn和Daniel Marder说:“Rhetorical operations are patterns of thought that direct and order our perceptions, ideas, and feelings.” (Guinn, Dorothy M. & Daniel Marder, A Spectrum of Rhetoric.)。

不同民族的人从小养成了独特的思维方式,这种方式反映到修辞活动中,便形成修辞的民族特色。我们在研究英语修辞时要经常注意母语的影响。例如汉语的词语组合中有一种表示强调的格式,如“确切的事实”、“参差不齐”,其中“确切”强调“事实”,“参差”修饰“不齐”,修饰成分同被修饰成分的含义有重复,但并不使人感到别扭,这是汉语,若是在英语中这样写,用“true facts”,“irregularly uneven”这样的组合形式,就不对头了。

刘宓庆教授说:“以汉语为母语的人注重思维形态上的主体性,认为任何行为都只可能是人这个行为主体完成的,因此行为主体‘尽在不言之中’。这种思维风格(方式)使汉语句子的语态(主动式或被动式)呈隐含式,形成受事的施事化。”这同英语中施事、受事(被动式)并用的表现法形成对照。为此,类似“我们改革开放政策取得了很大成绩”这样的汉语句子,内容和形式都是站得住的,但若以同样的句式套用到英语,即以“Our policies of reform and opening to the outside world”做主语,后接谓语“have won great successes”,那就不符合英语的思维逻辑,而应采用类似下面的表达方式:

We have won great successes for our reform and open policies.

Great successes have been won for our reform and open policies.

练习一 (Exercise One)

I. Preview Questions:

1. What have Brooks and Woolen said about rhetoric in their book Modern Rhetoric?

2. What have you learned about the difference between grammar and rhetoric?

3. Do you agree with John Locke that rhetoric is the science of oratory?

4. Do you think it important to study rhetoric? Why?

5. What do you think are the effective approaches to studying rhetoric?

II. Read the following passages and then do the multiple choice exercises:

1. What is Rhetoric? Is it merely concerned with word choices, figures of speech, topic sentences, and transitions from paragraph to paragraph? Does it merely have to do with outlining a discussion and studying the principles of unity, coherence, and emphasis? Certainly it is concerned with those things, but they are not studied for their own sake.

They are studied because it is through language that we discover the world and ourselves. They are studied, too, because they contribute to the effective use of language — and thus to effective living.

Rhetoric, more specifically, is the art of using language effectively.

2. The human being may be called the animal with language. Upon a little reflection, we can see that only by means of language can mankind create and transmit the body of concepts, attitudes, values, and skills that constitute civilization. Only by language can we carry the past with us, understand the present, and project the future. Only by language can we have a clear notion of ourselves as individuals. “I think, therefore I am,” as the philosopher Descartes put it. And only by language can we forge the bonds of a society — a society as distinguished from some sort of instinctual hero or swarm.

3. Rhetoric involves practicing the most effective means or strategies for informing or persuading an audience. All writing, even technical or business writing, is “creative.” Deciding what to write, how to write it, how best to get your reader's attention, and how to inform or persuade your reader requires creativity and imagination. Every major requires the skills that writing courses teach: exploring new ideas, learning concepts and processes, communicating with others, and finding fresh or creative solutions to problems.

Now make the best choice and be prepared to explain why you made it.

1) Our study of rhetoric should__________.

(a) aim at informing or persuading our readers

(b) enable us acquire the body of concepts, attitudes, values and skills

(c) be like the study of an art for its own sake

(d) contribute to the effective use of language

2) What you think did Descartes mean by saying “I think, therefore I am”?

(a) He thinks he is right.

(b) He is a human being because he can think with a language.

(c) He believes that he is a philosopher.

(d) As he can think, he becomes a philosopher.

3) Why is language so important?

(a) Because language helps human beings to communicate with each other and forge the human society.

(b) Only language can create a clear notion for every person.

(c) Without language, human beings will become animals as well.

(d) It is language that enables human beings to communicate with others and find fresh or creative solutions to problems.

III. Go over the following passages and fill in each blank with a suitable word or phrase:

1. Traditional grammarians have always been (1)____________meaning, but meaning of a rather narrow kind: verb tenses, clausal relationships, kinds of nouns (common and proper, abstract and concrete), and so on. Descriptive grammarians set aside the problem of meaning in order to concentrate on observable forms and how they occur with one another. They talk in terms of grammatical (2)____________that can be abstracted from lexical meaning, of the grammatical meaning of ‘Twas brilling, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe .... More recently, however, transformational linguists have turned back to lexical meaning because they have set as their task a description of how semantic content is “mapped” onto syntactic and phonological forms.

2. It was Aristotle who, in the 4th century B. C., first defined (3)____________as the art of persuasion. In Athens, then the center of western civilization, great orators, by exercising their rhetoric, gained following and support, and eventually, political power.

With development of printing, rhetoric came to be (4)____________the ability to write or speak well in ornate, showy language. Today there are still people who equate rhetoric to the adoption of stylistic devices or the use of figures of speech in speech or writing.

Nowadays, however, with the quickened tempo of life, the increased stress on efficiency and efficacy, and the ascendance of the idea that languages are means of communication, more and more people have come (5)____________rhetoric as the art of effective communication. Furthermore, rhetoric tends to be connected more with writing than with speech, and more with prose writing (6)____________with verse.

IV. Passages for further reading:

Writing can change your life. It can help you deepen your understanding of yourself as well as achieve the goals you set for yourself. It can help you make sense of the information that assaults you every day and present ideas so that others take you seriously. And it can broaden your world by enabling you to communicate effectively with people you have never met.

Despite the tremendous advantages of writing well, many people persuade themselves that they can never learn to write, because they believe that writing is a talent they were denied at birth. People who think in these terms are unlikely to write well, because they lack the motivation to take their writing seriously. It is true that some people learn to write more easily than others because they have a certain aptitude for it or because they have been encouraged by parents, friends, or good teachers. But to a large extent writing is a skill that that can be learned by anyone willing to take the trouble. Believe that you will fail, and you are likely to fail. Believe that you can succeed, and you will have begun to succeed. It will certainly take time and effort to write successfully, for writing involves hard work; but you will find that this investment will pay rich dividends.

(Robert Keith Miller, 2005:1)

参考答案

Ⅱ. 1. d 2. b 3. a

Ⅲ. 1. concerned with / associated with 2. meaning 3. rhetoric 4. understood as / known as 5. to regard 6. than


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