《英文写作圣经》:英文写作的基本原则(2)

作者: William Strunk Jr.   译者: 陈湘阳

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规则: 使用主动语态。

 

主动语态通常比被动语态更自然有力,例如:

I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.
我会永远记得生平第一趟波士顿之旅。

写成被动则是:

My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.
生平第一趟波士顿之旅会永远被我记得。

第二个句子显得迂回、无力而冗长。若想让句子更简洁而把 by me 去掉,写成My first visit to Boston will always be remembered. 我生平第一趟波士顿之旅会永远被铭记在心。

则会显得语意不清:是作者本人、某个未知的人物,还是世上的众人都会记得那趟旅程呢?

当然这并不表示写作时要完全舍弃被动语态;它仍相当实用,且某些状况下必须使用被动。

The dramatists of the Restoration are little esteemed to-day.
复辟时期的剧作家如今鲜少受人尊敬。

Modern readers have little esteem or the dramatist of the Restoration.
现在的读者甚少尊敬复辟时期的剧作家。

第一个句子应该会出现在以复辟时期剧作家为主题的段落中,第二个句子则会出现在描述现代人阅读品味的段落中。如例句所示,主词的选择便会决定语态的使用。

此外,不要堆叠被动语态。

(×) Gold was not allowed to be exported.
(○)It was forbidden to export gold.
(○)The export of gold was prohibited.
当时不允许进口黄金。

(×)He has been proved to have been seen entering the building.
(○)It has been proved that he was seen to enter the building.
有人看见他进入建筑物一事已被证实。

在两个未修改的句子中,gold 和he 原本应与第二个被动动词export 和see 相关,却被当作第一个被动动词allow 和prove 的主词。

另一个常见错误则是将原本叙述动作的字词(如下列第一句中的survey)当作被动语态的主词,使得后头必须搪塞毫无意义的动词❶。

(×)A survey of this region was made in 1900.
(○)The region was surveyed in 1900.
曾有人在1900 年调查这个区域。

(×) Mobilization of the army was rapidly effected.
(○)The army was rapidly mobilized.
军队迅速地动员。

(×) Confirmation of these reports cannot be obtained.
(○)These reports cannot be confirmed.
这些报导的虚实无法确认。

学习小提醒❶
第一句的made、第二句的e ected、第三句的obtained 是毫无意义的动词,这些字词除了完成句子外,没有其他功能。

* * *

英文原文:

RULE10 Use the active voice.

The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:

I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.

This is much better than

My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.

The latter sentence is less direct, less bold, and less concise. If the writer tries to make it more concise by omitting “by me,”

My first visit to Boston will always be remembered.

it becomes indefinite: is it the writer, or some person undisclosed, or the world at large, that will always remember this visit?

This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary.

The dramatists of the Restoration are little esteemed to-day.Modern readers have little esteem for the dramatists of the Restoration.

The first would be the right form in a paragraph on the dramatists of the Restoration; the second, in a paragraph on the tastes of modern readers. The need of making a particular word the subject of the sentence will often, as in these examples, determine which voice is to be used.

As a rule, avoid making one passive depend directly upon another.

(×)Gold was not allowed to be exported.
(○)It was forbidden to export gold.
(○)The export of gold was prohibited.

(×)He has been proved to have been seen entering the building.
(○)It has been proved that he was seen to enter the building.

In both the examples above, before correction, the word properly related to the second passive is made the subject of the first.

A common fault is to use as the subject of a passive construction a noun which expresses the entire action, leaving to the verb no function beyond that of completing the sentence.

(×)A survey of this region was made in 1900.
(○)This region was surveyed in 1900.

(×)Mobilization of the army was rapidly effected.
(○)The army was rapidly mobilized.

(×)Confirmation of these reports cannot be obtained.
(○)These reports cannot be confirmed.

 

─ ─摘自:《英文写作圣经《The Elements of Style》》野人出版提供@

责任编辑:黎薇

 

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  • 本原则的目的同样是帮助读者阅读,这种写作方式能让读者在开始阅读每个段落时,就掌握该段落的目的,且直到段落结束时都铭记在心。因此,在阐释或议论时最常使用的段落结构为:
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