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作者:不详   发布时间:2009-06-27 10:17:07  来源:来源于网络
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Language and communication


On cross-cultural communication

There are dozens of books on communicating globally. The trials, tribulations and terrors of attempting to do so have been well documented-tales of linguistic misunderstanding leading to costly mistakes, embarrassing encounters and humorous assumptions. Many are real, and given the creative range of human imagination, some are apocryphal.

That said, do we need yet another book on how to communicate effectively internationally, and if so, is it possible that any revelations can be offered? Surprisingly, the answers are maybe and yes. The Elements of International English Style manages to carve out another niche in the ongoing quest for global understanding-a not unremarkable achievement. Early on, the book is off-putting because of its somewhat pedantic approach, but before relegating it to the look-at-it-later stack, the reader should persevere.

Author Edmond Weiss notes that while English is the first language of about 400 million people (he calls them E1s), there are more than a billion who speak it as a second language (E2s). "All communication risks misunderstanding," Weiss notes, "and communication between E1s and E2s simply increases those risks." The focus of his book, then, is how to minimize the difficulties in communicating with E2s, especially those trying to understand business and technical documents. Often, he says, the key is to challenge accepted ideas of clarity, to forgo eloquence for comprehension and to break a few rules in order to eliminate confusion.

One tactic to get the most out of this slender volume is to read it quickly for an overview, noting the areas of miscommunication vulnerability. The book then can serve as a useful reference for avoiding specific linguistic and cultural minefields. One helpful section describing ways to make life easier for E2 readers details the virtues of simplified syntax, aggressive punctuation and readable typefaces. Another chapter offers tips to prepare copy for translation and for correspondence. Also helpful is a checklist for "internationalizing" a web site.

Despite the book's academic trappings (carefully noted sources, discussion questions and sometimes stuffy vocabulary), Weiss unexpectedly introduces bits of humor to reward the diligent reader. Speaking of jargon, for example, he comments, "Impact as a verb has no place in writing, except for those who are discussing asteroids and wisdom teeth." And he gains credibility with his observation, "Americans will overuse basically in much the way that British E1s overuse actually; as far as I can tell, neither word means anything at all."

The usual admonitions about global communication appear: no slang, no jargon, no sarcasm or irony, no idiomatic expressions, no cultural or literary allusions, no military or sports vocabulary and/or anything else that might befuddle an E2 attempting a literal translation. Also included are such anomalous ideas as substituting longer, more complex words with a single meaning for simpler words with many meanings, and hyphenating normally unhyphenated words to improve comprehension.

Other useful sections summarize principles of simplicity, clarity, correspondence and cultural adaptation, and writing for translation. Readers reluctant to plunge into uncharted international semantic seas can test the waters by completing an exercise in Appendix 2, "Sentences that Need Editing". In fact, this is not a bad way for a communication manager to introduce his or her staff to some of the more obvious traps.

Weiss also discusses how different cultural values can affect communication. He notes, for example, that in the U.S., people in business are admired for directness, lack of formality and effective use of time-traits seen in other parts of the world as rude, uncultured and immature. In the end, if nothing else, reading Weiss' book should heighten one's international cultural sensitivity.

Reading comprehension

1. According to Edmund Weiss, the key to minimizing the difficulties in communicating with E2s does not include____.
[A] avoid cultural minefields
[B] challenge accepted ideas of clarity
[C] forgo eloquence for comprehension
[D] break a few rules to eliminate confusion

2. What does the author want to tell us by quoting "impact as a verb has no place in writing"?
[A] Jargon is difficult to understand.
[B] It is necessary to try to avoid the use of jargon in communication.
[C] He wants to show his sense of humor.
[D] He wants to gain credibility.

3. Edmund's suggestions on making global communication clearer include the following except_____.
[A] avoid the use of cultural literary allusions
[B] use simple words with many meanings 
[C] hyphenate normally unhyphenated words
[D] avoid idiomatic expressions

4. What aspect does Weiss discuss apart from the language that can also affect communication?
[A] Body language 
[B] National boundaries
[C] Intonations and tones 
[D] Cultural values 

5. What type of writing is this article?
[A] Novel. 
[B] Article. 
[C] Essay. 
[D] Book review. 答案与题解

Edmund Weiss认为,和以英语为第二语言的人交际中,减少交际困难的关键是挑战固有的关于清楚表达的概念、为增加理解而放弃雄辩、打破一些规则。




这是一道宏观题。文章对Edmund Weiss所著的《国际英语文体基础》做了介绍和评论,作者对该书总的评价不错。比如作者认为,这本书虽然比较学术化,但仍然不乏幽默。文章最后一句说,读Weiss的书能够提高人的国际文化敏感性。


tribulation   磨难

costly  贵重的

apocryphal  不足凭信的

revelation  启示,揭示

carve out  开拓,创业

niche  小生境

off-putting   令人气恼的

pedantic  书生气的

relegate  转移,归入

typeface  字体

trapping  特有的或象征性的符号

jargon  行话

admonition   警告

befuddle  使迷惑,使迷糊

anomalous  不规则的,反常的

hyphenate  以连字符号连接


1. 第二段第三句中的a not unremarkable achievement 是双重否定的用法,为了表示强调。
2. 第二段最后一句中的look-at-it-later复合法构词。由动词词组look at it later中间加上连字符构成,变成形容词。
3. 第四段第一句话中的get the most out of作"发挥......最大功效"讲。例如The doctor have told him that he has only six months to live, so he's trying to get the most out of them. 医生告诉他,他只能再活6个月了,因此他试图最有效地利用这段时间。
4. 第四段最后一句话Also helpful is a checklist for "internationalizing" a web site. 这是一个倒装句。正常语序是A checklist for "internationalizing" a web site is also helpful.
5. 第六段第二句话Also included are such anomalous ideas...也是一个倒装句。





作者Edmond Weiss谈到,虽然英语是大约4亿人的第一语言(他称作E1s),还有超过10亿人将英语作为第二语言(E2s)。"所有的交际都有误解的风险,"Weiss提到,"E1s和E2s之间的交际只是增加了这些风险。"这本书关注的焦点在于怎样使同E2s之间交际的困难变得最小,特别是那些想要理解商业和技术文件的人。他说,关键是挑战公认的关于清楚的观念、放弃完全理解的想法,打破一些规则以消除混淆。




书中其他有用的部分对简洁、清晰、一致和文化适应等原则进行了总结。不愿意投入未知的语义海洋的读者可以通过做一下附录2中的一项练习 "需要编辑的句子"来试试水。实际上,这对于交际经理来说不失为一个好办法,这样可以向他或她的员工介绍一些明显的陷阱。


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