一分钟学写作|《The Elements of Style》写作的基本规则(9)


第二章

写作的基本规则(9)

规则二十

把相关的词放在一起

句子中各词的位置是表示相互关系的主要手段。位置不当,就会导致混乱和产生歧义。因此,作者必须把意义相关的词和词组放在一起,而把意义不甚相关的词和词组隔开。例如:

He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center.

He noticed a large stain right in the center of the rug.

他发现地毯正中有一个大污点。

You can call your mother in London and tell her all about George’s taking you out to dinner for just two dollars.

For just two dollars you can call your mother in London and tell her all about George’s taking you out to dinner.

你只要花六十个美分就可以给你伦敦的母亲打电话,并把乔治带你出去吃饭的事全部告诉她。

New York’s first commercial human-sperm bank opened Friday with semen samples from eighteen men frozen in a stainless steel tank.

New York’s first commercial human- sperm bank opened Friday when semen samples were taken from eighteen men. The samples were then frozen and stored in a stainless steel tank.

(纽约第一个商用人类精子库于星期五开业,那天从十八位男子身上取了精液样品。这些精样随即被冷冻并贮存在不锈钢容器内。

从左栏的第一个例子,读者无法知道污点是在地毯的中央还是地毯在房间的中央。从左栏的第二个例句,读者完全有理由怀疑究竞什么花费了六十美分——是打电话还是吃饭。读者一读到左栏的第三个例句,他的心就会飞向被冷冻在不锈钢容器内的十八个可怜的家伙。

句子的主语和主要动词通常不应该让一个短语或从句隔开,这个短语或从句可以移到句子的开头,例如:

Toni Morrison, in Beloved, writes about characters who have escaped from slavery but are haunted by its heritage.

In Beloved, Toni Morrison writes about characters who have escaped from slavery but are haunted by its heritage.

华兹华斯在《游览》的第五篇中,对这个教堂作了详细的描述。

A dog, if you fail to discipline him, becomes a household pest.

Unless disciplined, a dog becomes a household pest.

狗除非驯顺,否则就成了家中的灾害。

插进一个短语或从句(如上面左栏中的例子)有碍于主句行文的流畅。

然而,仅因关系从句或同位语的插入而致使行文不畅,通常并不令人讨厌。有时候,在长句中,故意中断句子以便创造悬念。

在大多数情况下,关系代词应该紧接在它的先行词之后。例如:

There was a stir in the audience that suggested disapproval.

观众中掀起了一阵骚动,这骚动表示不满。

A stir that suggested disapproval swept the audience.

观众中掀起了一阵不满的骚动。

He wrote three articles about his adventures in Spain, which were published in Harper’s Magazine.

他写了三篇关于他在西班牙的冒险经历的文章。这些文章发表在《哈泼杂志》上

He published three articles in Harper’s Magazine about his adventures in Spain.

他在《哈泼杂志》上发表了三篇描写他在西

班牙冒险经历的文章

This is a portrait of Benjamin Harrison, who became President in 1889. He was the grandson of William Henry Harrison.

这是威廉·亨利。哈利生的孙子本杰

明·哈利生的肖像,他于一八八九年当上了总统。

This is a portrait of Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison, who became President in 1889.

这是本杰明·哈利生的肖像,他于一八八九年当上了总统。他是威廉·亨利·哈利生的孙子。

如果先行词是一个词组,在不会引起歧义的情况下,将关系词置于该词组的末尾。例如:

The Superintendcnt of the Chicago Division,who

芝加哥地区的警察长,他……

上述情况不会产生歧义。但是下面的句子

A proposal to amend the Sherman Act,which has been variously judged

提议修改谢尔曼法令,已从多方面作了评

价。

就使读者无所适从,作了各种不同评价的是“提

议”还是“法令”。因此,关系从句必须移到前面去,成为:

“Aproposal,which has been variously judged,to amend the Sherman Act..…”

一项修改谢尔曼法令的提议,已从多方面作了评价,……

下面的情况与此相似:

The grandson of William Henry Harrison, who

威廉·亨利·哈利生的孙子,他……

William Henry Harrison’s grandson, Benjamin Harrison, who

威廉·亨利·哈利生的孙子本杰明·哈利生,他……

在左栏的表达式中,关系词who指威廉·亨利。哈利生,还是他的孙子?指代不明确;而在右栏的表达式中,关系词who显然指代本杰明·哈利生。

用作同位语的名词可以位于先行词和关系词之间,因为这样的组合实际上不会产生歧义。例如:

The Duke of York,his brother,who wasregarded with hostility by the Whigs

他的兄弟—约克郡公爵,横遭辉格党党员的敌意

修饰语的位置应该尽可能靠近它们所修饰的词。如果有好几个词语修饰同一个词,则应将它们作恰当的排列,以免产生错误的修饰关系。例如:

All the members were not present.

所有的成员未都出席

Not all the members were present.

不是所有的成员都出席了

She only found two mistakes

他只发现两个错误

She found only two mistakes.

他发现只有两个错误。

The director said he hoped all members would give generously to the Fund at a meeting of the committee yesterday.

主席说他希望所有的成员在昨天委员会会议上给基金会以慷慨的资助

At a meeting of the committee yesterday, the director said he hoped all members would give generously to the Fund.

在昨天的委员会会

议上,主席说他希望所有的成员给基金会以慷

慨的资助。

Major R. E. Joyce will give a lecture on Tuesday evening in Bailey Hall, to which the public is invited on “My Experiences in Mesopotamia” at 8:00 P.M.

R.E.乔伊斯少校星期二晚上将在贝利大厅作演讲。欢迎大家晚上八点前去聆听题为“我在美索不达米亚的经历”的演讲。

On Tuesday evening at eight, Major R. E. Joyce will give a lecture in Bailey Hall on “My Experiences in Mesopotamia.” The public is invited.

星期二晚上八点,R.E.乔伊斯少校将在贝利大厅作演讲,谈他在美索不达米亚的经历。欢迎大家前往参加。

请注意:左栏的最后一例中,词语的位置放得不适当,句子的意思就立刻走样。

英语原文:

The position of the words in a sentence is the principal means of showing their relationship. Confusion and ambiguity result when words are badly placed. The writer must, therefore, bring together the words and groups of words that are related in thought and keep apart those that are not so related.

He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center.

He noticed a large stain right in the center of the rug.

You can call your mother in London and tell her all about George’s taking you out to dinner for just two dollars.

For just two dollars you can call your mother in London and tell her all about George’s taking you out to dinner.

New York’s first commercial human-sperm bank opened Friday with semen samples from eighteen men frozen in a stainless steel tank.

New York’s first commercial human- sperm bank opened Friday when semen samples were taken from eighteen men. The samples were then frozen and stored in a stainless steel tank.

In the lefthand version of the first example, the reader has no way of knowing whether the stain was in the center of the rug or the rug was in the center of the room.

In the lefthand version of the second example, the reader may well wonder which cost two dollars-the phone call or the dinner. In the lefthand version of the third example, the reader’s heart goes out to those eighteen poor fellows frozen in a steel tank.

The subject of a sentence and the principal verb should not, as a rule, be separated by a phrase or clause that can be transferred to the beginning.

Toni Morrison, in Beloved, writes about characters who have escaped from slavery but are haunted by its heritage.

In Beloved, Toni Morrison writes about characters who have escaped from slavery but are haunted by its heritage.

A dog, if you fail to discipline him, becomes a household pest.

Unless disciplined, a dog becomes a household pest.

Interposing a phrase or a clause, as in the lefthand examples above, interrupts the flow of the main clause. This interruption, however, is not usually bothersome when the flow is checked only by a relative clause or by an expression in apposition. Sometimes, in periodic sentences, the interruption is a deliberate device for creating suspense. (See examples under Rule 22.)

The relative pronoun should come, in most instances, immediately after its antecedent.

There was a stir in the audience that suggested disapproval.

A stir that suggested disapproval swept the audience.

He wrote three articles about his adventures in Spain, which were published in Harper’s Magazine.

He published three articles in Harper’s Magazine about his adventures in Spain.

This is a portrait of Benjamin Harrison, who became President in 1889. He was the grandson of William Henry Harrison.

This is a portrait of Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison, who became President in 1889.

If the antecedent consists of a group of words, the relative comes at the end of the group, unless this would cause ambiguity.

The Superintendent of the Chicago Division, who

No ambiguity results from the above. But

A proposal to amend the Sherman Act, which has been variously judged

leaves the reader wondering whether it is the proposal or the Act that has been variously judged. The relative clause must be moved forward, to read, “A proposal, which has been variously judged, to amend the Sherman Act….” Similarly

The grandson of William Henry Harrison, who

William Henry Harrison’s grandson, Benjamin Harrison, who

A noun in apposition may come between antecedent and relative, because in such a combination no real ambiguity can arise.

The Duke of York, his brother, who was regarded with hostility by the Whigs

Modifiers should come, if possible, next to the words they modify. If several expressions modify the same word, they should be arranged so that no wrong relation is suggested.

All the members were not present.

Not all the members were present.

She only found two mistakes

She found only two mistakes.

The director said he hoped all members would give generously to the Fund at a meeting of the committee yesterday.

At a meeting of the committee yesterday, the director said he hoped all members would give generously to the Fund.

Major R. E. Joyce will give a lecture on Tuesday evening in Bailey Hall, to which the public is invited on “My Experiences in Mesopotamia” at 8:00 P.M.

On Tuesday evening at eight, Major R. E. Joyce will give a lecture in Bailey Hall on “My Experiences in Mesopotamia.” The public is invited.

Note, in the last lefthand example, how swiftly meaning departs when words are wrongly juxtaposed.

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一分钟学写作|《The Elements of Style》写作的基本规则(9)

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