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层次与连贯--学习英语写作(四)   

2010-03-26 15:10:08|  分类: 翻译写作 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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    若是说写作中有什么东西能倚马可待能立马提高的,那大概就是使用过渡连接词语(transitional expressions)了,比如:“First”“Second”“Finally”。

没有这些词语,文章的诸多观点拉杂堆积,层次混乱,一观点,始自何处,终于何时,也不易识别它,或者让人觉得毫无征兆突然转到新的话题。如果用上此类过渡连接词(discourse markers),犹如行路有了指示标一样,文章就顿时显示出层次来,那远近高下,峰峦沟壑,于读者眼前清晰了然。

不过,中国学生有时会分不清firstat firstlastat last的区别。

首先来看看这个“首先”。First就可以,Firstly也可以,有人觉得它不如First。或用First of all,有强调之意。但是不要误用了“at first(When you are contrasting feelings or actions at the beginning of an event with ones that came later, you say at first)

这个短语我曾在《曲解莎朗?斯通,无意还是有心》帖子中谈过:

朗文字典中这样解释的At first can only be used for a period of time, often when you are comparing it with a later period.(只用来指一段时间,经常是把它与后来的一段时间相对比)。说得很清楚,它的意思是一开始,起初,言下之意是,后来变(得相反)了。比如说,At first I didn’t like you, but I soon changed my mind(一开始,我不喜欢你,但后来我想法改变了)

莎朗?斯通的话(Well, you know, it was very interesting, because, at first, you know, I am not happy about……)被曲解,与她的话中“at first”被当成“first”理解有着很大的关系。也许,她的回答中的第一个字“Well”没被翻译成“好”就已经值得她庆幸了。

与“at first相对,“at last也常被人们误用为“last”。如果是用来列举,最后一项可以用“last”“lastly”“last of all”“last but not least”,但不能用“at last”。它的意思是“期盼已久的事终于发生了(At last and at long last are used to indicate that something that you have been waiting for or expecting for a long time has happened.)”。

    至于“last but not least”,意为“最后但并非最不重要(也很重要)的一点”,大约是因为人们习惯把最重要的放在第一,即“first and foremost”或“first thing first”才有这说法。这个短语在英语中已经属于用滥了的俗套,全无新鲜感了,因此,写作专家建议要避免使用这种陈词滥调。这是很有道理的。但是,对于中国学生来说,有些学生可能还不知道或不熟悉,在写作中用上它应该是值得肯定,还算不上是“要努力避免的”错误。

附:Yeti的一个帖子《First vs Firstly

http://www.rainlane.com/dispbbs.asp?BoardID=11&replyID=1836&ID=9393&skin=1

The debate about first and firstly still rages on. From what I can gathered, grammar purists consider the use of firstly incorrect when dealing out points. For them, when you give a list of examples in point form, it is (1), (2) , (3) , or One ,Two , Three and that translate into First, Second and Third. Notice that those article were written by some grammarians for refuting other grammarians. You can consider that as a "fine point" in English grammar. I seldom use firstly,secondly and thirdly, but I am not an authority in grammar. I have been having both my eyes and ears open for when first and firstly are used and I have come across both, with "First, second and third..." used predominantly when it is a matter of giving out examples or points in arguments. I also notice some authors -- and I am talking about English-English (not even American-English) authors that used "Firstly, secondly..." , but only once in a while. So, grammarians can argue until they are blue in the face, people do use the two forms in the way they see fit. The articles I came across on the Web that say "First and second" should be use usually give good reasons why that is so. They also acknowledge the fact that many people ignore the difference and go ahead and use firstly and secondly in places where they should not be used. One thing that is in consenus, is that firstly or secondly should not be used in the form of "I speak to him firstly", "I go firstly" , "I thank George firstly" -- they should all be "first." Another sticky point is the use of "at first" when "first of all" should have been used. In many cases "at first" implies something comes after "at first." E.g. At first, he thought he was in no danger, but when he look more carefully he realize he was not in a safe poistion at all. Or " George said thank you to Mary at first, but quickly regreted having said that." I put that post up several weeks ago after I adviced some people to use "First, second..." in their essays. These people were worried that in an exam the grader might not consider "first, second..." as being correct since so many "standard essays" shown on various web sites have had "firstly , secondly..." in them.

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