向英语学习者讲话 | So Many Points 这么多的要点

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So Many Points
这么多的要点

Having read much of what I have said about points of usage, some readers have given me to understand1 that they think it simply impossible to remember so many points, about which there seem to be no rules at all. They wonder whether all who2 write correct English know them all by heart3 and pay regard to them whenever they write, and whether it is at all possible for one to learn to write English fairly well without bothering about4 these tiny points.
读了许多我所说的关于惯用法的要点,有几个读者告诉我,他们认为要记住这么多看来并没有什么规则的要点简直是不可能的。他们想知道,是否所有写正确英语的人都牢记着这些点,并且每当写作时都注意到它们;是否还有人就算没注意这类小小的点也学会了如何把英语写得很好。

Yes, most of the points seem to be tiny ones5. But it is just these points that show whether one is really at home in6 English or not. Occasional errors in grammar, which should of course be avoided by all means7, may most probably be due to mere carelessness and not at all peculiar to8 those whose English is imperfect. But lapses in idiom always betray9 one’s unfamiliarity with10 correct English. It follows that11 the seemingly trifling12 points of usage are well worthy of the attention of13 all who wish to write English corretcly.
是的,大部分的这种要点看来是小小的点。然而正是这种点显示出一个人是否精通了英语。偶然的语法错误当然必须避免,它们很可能只是由于不小心,也很可能并不是英语不完美的人所特有的。但是习语上的失误总是暴露出某人不熟悉正确的英语。所以,看似不重要的惯用法点是值得所有想把英语写得正确的人注意的。

As to knowing them by heart, those who are born to the language14 may not need to make any conscious effort. They learn correct usage by intuition, so to speak15. They speak English every day, and the use of many idiomatic expressions and constructions are second nature16 with them, so that when they write they cannot possibly be17 incorrect where they are correct when speaking18.
至于把它们牢记在心,生来就用这门语言的人也许不必作出任何自觉的努力。可以说他们是凭直觉学到惯用法的。他们每天讲英语,许多合于习语的表达方式和结构的使用对他们来说是第二天性,所以他们在讲话时讲得正确的写起来也绝不会错。

The case is certainly different with19 Chinese learners of English, who are most of them English-reading rather than English-speaking. They must take care to master many points of usage that are quite natural to those whose mother tongue is English.
对于中国的英语学习者来说,情况截然不同,因为他们大多数是在读英语而不是讲英语。他们必须细心去掌握对以英语为母语的人来说十分自然的许多惯用法点。

What I call points of usage, however, are not so formidable20 an enemy as they may seem to you. Close attention to them helps to conquer them. Besides, what English-speaking persons get from speaking you may get from reading aloud21, which will help you in the same way as speaking would22, though perhaps less quickly. And there is an advantage in reading aloud over speaking23 in the fact that in reading good written English you are not in danger of24 getting those common solecisms, barbarisms, and improprieties in the speech of persons of limited culture.25
我所说的惯用法点并不像你认为的敌人那样难以对付。密切注意它们有助于人们去征服它们。还有一点,以英语为母语的人从讲话中学到的东西你可能通过朗读学到;虽然也许慢一些,但朗读会像讲话一样帮助你。朗读也有胜于讲话的方面,因为你在读好的书面英语时,没有从所受教育不多的人们口中学到常见语误、不规范语式和用词不当的危险。

NOTES

  1. given me to understand 使我知道
  2. all who … 所有……的人
  3. know them all by heart 牢记它们全部
  4. bothering about 因……而操心
  5. ones=points
  6. at home in 精通……的
  7. by all means 必然
  8. peculiar to ……所特有的
  9. betray 暴露
  10. unfamiliarity with 对于……的不熟悉
  11. It follows that … 因而有……的结论;所以……
  12. seemingly trifling 似乎不重要的
  13. well worth of the attention of 很值得……注意的
  14. are born to the language 生出来就用这语言;把这语言用作本族语言
  15. so to speak 可以这样说
  16. second nature 第二天性;习惯
  17. cannot possibly be 绝不会
  18. when speaking=when they are speaking
  19. with 关于
  20. formidable 难以对付的
  21. what English-speaking … reading aloud=you may get from reading aloud what English-speaking persons get from speaking
  22. would=would help you
  23. advantage in reading aloud over speaking 朗读胜于谈话的地方
  24. in danger of 有……的危险
  25. of limited culture 所受教育不多的

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