向英语学习者讲话 | Imitation, Good and Bad 模仿的好处和坏处

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Imitation, Good and Bad
模仿的好处和坏处

Too often a learner of English who has read one or two classics tries to imitate their style. The fact, however, is that style cannot be imitated. Different authors have different styles. They do not endeavour to write the way they write1. So the imitation of any style often results in2 affectation.
时常听到有英语学习者读了一两本经典著作就努力去模仿它们的文体。可是事实上文体是不能被模仿的。不同的作家有不同的文体。他们并不努力去写得像他们写的那样。所以模仿任何文体往往导致矫揉造作。

And the result will be till worse if the style imitated is that of a work written a hundred years ago or more. We are of the eighties3 of the twentieth century, and we should not write the English of the eighties of the nineteenth century.
而且被模仿的文体要是一百多年前的著作的文体,结果更加不好。我们是20世纪80年代的人,不该写19世纪80年代的英语。

I would advise you not to aim at a special style. Take care to write correct, simple, idiomatic, and clear English, that’s all4.
我建议你别把某个特殊的文体作为目的。注意写正确的、简单的、合于习语的、明白的英语,如此而已。

But imitation is not always bad. Very often it is important to imitate something. Where personal style is out of place5, imitation is the only means by which correctness may be secured. In writing an advertisement about something, for example, you have to imitate some such advertisement that you have read. You cannot possibly6 write a good one if you have never read any, though you may have read very widely in general literature.
但是模仿并不总是坏的。往往模仿某个东西是重要的。在个人的文体不适宜的场合,模仿是做到正确的唯一方法。举例来说,在写关于某事物的广告时,你必须模仿你所见过的类似的广告。虽然你可能很广泛地读过一般读物,要是你不曾读到某种广告,你就不可能写出一个好的广告。

You will do well to7 collect a number of8 short advertisements, formal invitations9 and announcements, receipts, IOU’s10, business contracts11, etc. When you have occasion to12 write one of such, you have simply to do a little imitating and adapting13. The following is an ordinary formal invitation:
你这样做将是有益的:收集若干短的广告、请帖、启示、收条、借据、商业合同等。当你需要写这种东西中的一种时,你只需做一些模仿和改变。下面是一个普通的请帖:

Mr and Mrs M. S. Adams request the pleasure of Mr and Mrs L. J. Williams’s company14 at dinner on Saturday evening, May the seventeenth, at seven o’clock, 86 Star Street.
M·S·亚当斯夫妇请L·J·威廉斯夫妇光临,在五月十七日星期六晚上七点钟共进晚餐。地址是明星街八十六号。

This invitation is from Mr and Mrs M. S. Adams to Mr and Mrs L. J. Williams. Surely, with this piece before you15, you can write a new one. You have simply to change the names, the day, the date16, the time, and the address.
这封请帖是M·S·亚当斯夫妇写给L·J·威廉斯夫妇的。只要把它放在你面前,你就能写出一个新的。你只需改变一下姓名、星期几、某月某日、时间和地址就行了。

NOTES

  1. the way they write=the way in which they write
  2. results in 结果导致
  3. the eighties 八十年代
  4. that’s all 只有那样,别无它法
  5. out of place 不适宜的
  6. cannot possibly 必不可能
  7. will do well to … 这样干是有益的
  8. a number of 若干
  9. formal invitations 请帖
  10. IOU=I owe you 欠款凭证;借据
  11. contracts 合同
  12. have occasion to … 有……的必要
  13. do a little imitating and adapting 做一些模仿和改变
  14. request the pleasure of …’s company 请……光临
  15. before you 放在你的面前
  16. the day, the date 星期几,几月几日

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