美国人写作的三个重要原则

由于美国人生活繁忙、紧张,讲求快速,时间就是金钱,所以近年来许多美国大学也在推行日常生活的讲和写,不用难字,不写长句,不含偏见的「三不」。也就是说,尽量使用简短易懂的白话英语(论坛) (Plain English),写得愈白愈好,用字愈少愈妙,使别人可以一目了然,充分了解。这不但可节省「思索」时间,也可避免对方的误解。还有,老外为了族群和谐相处,也不使用带有偏见的字眼。以下即为一些例子,以供读者参考。

1. 尤其在商业上,报章杂志或公文书信上,尽量不用难字 (big word) 或过时的字眼 (old-fashioned word); 例如:

Many people feel that moral education is the infrastructure of higher learning. (许多人认为道德教育是高等知识的基础) (如果用 foundation 或 basis 代替 infrastructure 就更明白)

Three hundred acres of land is the parameter of our university,s expansion (growth). (三百英亩的土地是本大学发展的限度) (如果用limit代替parameter,会更简单易懂。)

This news has been disseminated all over the U.S. (这消息已散布到全美各地) (如果用spread取代disseminated,不更简单?) (动词时态是:spread, spread, spread)

The president of this college is not diminutive in size. (这大学的校长个子不小) (假如用small代替diminutive,不更明白吗?)

I have to elucidate this document to my staff. (我要向我的员工解释这份文件) (如用explain代替elucidate,也许更明白。)

Mr. A will endeavor to be a physician. (A 先生想尝试当个医生) (如果用try代替endeavor,会更浅白。) (endeavour = endeavor)

这就像美国大文豪马克吐温 Mark Twain 也曾说过:「我不愿在字典里找长字或难字,我绝不用『metropolis』这个字,因为我同样可以用『city』这个字来代替」。罗斯福总统为了强调美国政府不会遗忘那些穷人,在一篇讲词里用了这么一句:「We are endeavoring to construct a more inclusive society.」后来被人批评咬文嚼字,卖弄文笔。如果用浅白易懂的字眼写成:「We are going to make this country in which no one is left out.」或「We are trying to make everyone equal.」也许更简单明白!

2. 老外也主张不写噜苏或绚丽的字眼(flowery or wordy),句子应该越短越好,一句能用两个字,绝不多加一个。 例如:

At this point in time, we should pull together for our goal. (现在我们应该为我们的目标团结一致)(如果说:Now, we should pull……更简单。因为 at this point in time = now)

Despite the fact that my English is not very good, I am not discouraged. (虽然我的英语不好,但我不灰心。) (如果说:Although my English is not…… 就更简短。因为despite the fact tha t= although = Though)

I am of the opinion that Mr. Lee should resign from this position. (我想李先生应该辞职) (假如说:I think Mr. Lee should……不是更简单吗?因为I am of the opinion = I think)

He quitted the job due to the fact that he was sick. (他由于生病而辞职) (若说:He quitted the job because he was sick. 更简单。因为 due to the fact that = because)

In the majority of cases,he likes to ride bike to the office.(他通常喜欢骑单车到办公室) (如果说:Usually, he likes to ride…… 更简单。因为 in the majority of cases = usually)

She shows a preference for tea rather than coffee. (她喜欢茶而不是咖啡) (若说:She prefers tea rather……更简短清楚,因为 show a preference for = prefer)

I will bring the matter to the attention of Mr. Wang. (我要通知王先生)

如果只说:I will tell Mr. Wang (about the matter). 不是更简单吗?因为 bring the matter to the attention of = tell = inform) (句子最后面:「about the matter」可以省去); 同理,也要避免意义的重复或用字的多余 (redundant); 例如:

3. 老外为了族群和谐相处,除不用歧视或偏见的字眼外,连男女性别,也要避免区别,以示「平等」。 例如:

Mankind are considered the smartest animals in the world。(人类是世上最聪明的动物)= Man is the smartest animal……。 (如果改为:Human beings are considered the smartest animals…… 就能包括男女。所以 mankind = man = human beings) (注意:mankind 后面动词要用多数,而 man 的后面动词,则用单数)

Manpower seems not strong enough in developing our economy here. (发展这里的经济,似乎缺乏人力资源。)(如果说:Labor power seems not strong enough… 也就没有「男性主义」的感觉。可见 manpower = labor power = work force = human resources)

This small company hired a cleaning woman yesterday.(这个小公司昨天请来一名清洁女工)(如果说:This small company hired an office cleaner…也就没有男女之分了)
当然,一些带有种族偏见的字眼,甚至有侮辱的味道(insulting words 或 slur),也要尽量避免使用,以免闹出麻烦。例如:

对黑人不要用 Negro,更不能用 Nigger(用 Black 还可以),礼貌的说法是 Afro-American 或 African-American;

对白人不要用 Honky(这是黑人骂白人的用字),正确用法是 Caucasian,或 white people;


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