纪念一下英语课

今天(昨天)上完了最后一堂英语课(虽然翘了台球和午饭),这是这学期博士生英语课的最后一堂,同时也可能是我整个学生生涯的最后一堂英语课了,不得不撰文纪念一下。

这学期的英语课牵扯了我大量的精力,每周都有一两篇的写作作业以及一两个口语课演讲稿要准备,以及每周两三次的早起,占据了我大部分的学习时间。尽管说这些作业的总量也并不能说是太大,不过由于我作业必须等拖到头才赶得出来,以及每次课后都要生物钟小紊乱一下,以至于应付英语课就成了我这学期的基本状态。

就结果来说,我的英语能力恐怕也并没有太大的提高,听说还是会有障碍,读写还是要靠词霸。但我仍然觉得这学期的英语课真没白上,至少,我对英语的感觉和信心有了明显的改观。

以往的英语课也不是没有写作训练,不过我从来没有把它们当作真正的“写文章”,而无非是一些应试的操练而已。而且,以往的英语文章都是写在纸上的。这学期的写作任务则是前所未有的。首先,外教老师非常认真,他显然不是把我们的作文当作应试作业来批改,而是像当年的语文老师看我们的周记那样,会把它们当作真正的文章来阅读和评论,除了词汇和语法之外,同样关心文章的想法和观点。其次,文章的主题和篇幅都较大,特别是周记作业,每次给两段名人名言作为主题,涉及人性、自由、宗教和世界等等大问题,写这些题目是不得不表达自己的思想和主张的。最后,也是最重要的是,这次的文章都是在电脑上写的(日记要交手写本,不过我也是先在电脑上写完再誊抄的)。

在电脑上写英语作文有几个重要意义:一是和我当年在试卷上写英语的感觉完全隔离了,而更接近于我写论文和写博客时的感觉;二是以电脑字符呈现的英文显得更加庄重;三是我随时可以用电子词典、搜索引擎和Google翻译来辅助我的写作。

这最后一条最为要紧。通过词典和Google翻译的帮助,我熟悉了不少词汇和用法,更加强了运用英语的自信。但当然,这种做法也许反而加深了我读写英语时对电子工具的依赖性,实际上脱离电脑写作并没有真正提高。但究竟什么是我“真实”的英语能力?是不借助任何工具进行读写的能力,还是说在将来实际接触英语时的能力?在我需要接触英语的实际情形中,大部分情况下我其实是可以使用电子工具的,电子工具是我的能力的一种延伸,是对他们的熟练使用也是我实际能力的一部分。

能够借助电子工具,真正使我能够把英语作文当作文章来写。而在以往,由于词汇量的限制,我不是根据自己的思想来遣词造句,而是根据遣词造句的可能性来决定文章的内容。而现在,我所想到的基本上都可能被表达出来,这就不至于因为词汇的限制而限制自己的想法了。不过另一方面,文字始终还是被词汇和语法限制着的,我在写作的时候深切地有所体会:同样的一些想法,如果用中文写出来,可能是如此这般的思路,但用英文写时,尽管我还没有做到Think-in-English,写出来的也很大程度上仍是Chinglish,但我仍然在有意无意间调节着我的表达方式和论证策略。最明显的一个体会在于标点符号的运用,许多时候中文都可以“一逗到底”,虽然不太雅观,但就文法和逻辑上不至于有大的偏差。而在英文中,句号明显用得更多,每一句话都需要形成一个自足的结构,什么是主谓宾,什么是从句的嵌套,各种不同地位的词项在一个句子里结成一个整体。

关于语言的反思先不多进行了,这里我只是想纪念一下英语课。最后选两篇英语周记贴在这里作为纪念吧:

 

JOURNAL WRITINGS I

“A SUPERIOR PERSON WILL FOCUS ON WHAT IS TRUTH, AN INFERIOR PERSON ON WHAT IS PROFITABLE.” ——CONFUCIUS

The original text of this maxim is “君子喻于义,小人喻于利”. The term “superior/inferior person” especially refers to ethical aspects. And the word “truth” corresponds to “义”, which also means “justice”, “rightness” or “reason”. Confucius told us a virtuous person should regard the “Reason” higher than “effect”. When we are judging whether something should be done or not, we should first consider the reasons for doing this. Once we decided to do it, we would then weigh the advantages and disadvantages in order to get better results.

This does not mean that inferior people would never consider justice or reason. They also talk about the rightness, but on the basis of the profits. What they regard as a right action is which could effect the biggest profit. They consider that the reason of an action should be judged just through its consequences.

A superior person needs not to be absolutely unselfish. He might has selfish desires, but could sympathize with others who have the same desires. On the other hand, an inferior person does not necessarily selfish. They might focus on the profits of public. The essential difference is that, actually, an inferior person never cares about the Virtue.

It is nothing wrong to weigh the consequences carefully. But how can we weigh something? We always need a ruler to measure the effects, and to identify profits and losses. We should first focus on our moral rule, thus we could choose a profitable action. The inferior people do not have their own rule, and they judge just according to the values ​​of custom or popular.

JOURNAL WRITINGS II

What are the common beliefs or differences about humanity between Christianity and Confucius.

Both Christianity and Confucianism are teaching people to perform good deeds. They believe that one should not be selfish, but to love others as himself.

Love is a key concept of Christianity and Confucianism. Confucius and Mencius said that benevolence means love of humankind(仁者爱人). And the apostle Paul said “the end of the commandment is charity.”(1 Timothy 1:5) Charity means love of humankind. The two religions both regarded “love” as the most important part of humanity.

However, there are some significant differences between their concepts of "love". The Christian “love” is some kind of universal and indiscriminate love; while the Confucian “love” is mainly different and graded.

In Christianity, first of all, each person is God's creation, so the most fundamental relationship is the relationship between human and God. There is an infinite difference between human and God. And then everyone is equal before God. Christianity hardly emphasizes the level of human relations.

But in Confucianism, first of all, each person is created and brought up by his parents, so the most fundamental relationship is the relationship between children and parents. The relationship between family members is clearly not equal. Everyone plays different roles in different positions in the family. Although family members should respect each other, the way for a son to treat his father would be very different to the way for a father to treat his son.

Confucius said, “filial piety and fraternal submission are the root of all benevolent actions.” Confucianism believed that the manner of treating others is an extension of the manner of treating one’s family members. So the community, just like a big family, may also have various levels of status.

Confucianism tends to support a hierarchical society, but its belief is not simply wrong. The natural love is really graded. And the grade of love does not necessarily mean discrimination. People need independence and impartiality, but they also need to feel loved. The universal love seems so abstract that people could rarely feel intimacy from it. The modern democracy gives people the rights to equality, but it could not tell us how to love others. The teachings of Confucius are still thought-provoking.

 

 

关于 古雴

胡翌霖,清华大学科学史系助理教授。本站文章在未注明转载的情况下均为我的原创文章。原则上允许任何媒体引用和转载,但必须注明作者并标注出处(原文链接),详情参考版权说明。本站为非营利性个人网站,欢迎比特币打赏:1YiLinDDwvBLT19CTUsNHdiQhXBENwURb

1 条评论

  1. 有人说“英语中句号用得更多”是因为写作能力造成的,的确如此,我讲的就是我个人的写作体验,而事实上英文作品中句号很有可能用得很少,一句结构复杂的句子可能连绵半页以上。但是关键在于,用中文进行的思考转换为英文表达时,就会倾向于更多地使用句号。这是因为在英文中如果两句话之间要用逗号分隔,那么这往往意味着某种从句的嵌套,英语中分号才能表达一种并列的地位,而逗号引出的大多是嵌套结构,逗号越多,句子的结构就越复杂。而在中文中,逗号更多地只是表达了一个“停顿”,这个停顿可以承担任何语法作用,可以是嵌套,更可以是并列或暧昧的关系。把散漫的中文词句翻译成英文时,就不得不作出决断,要么把主从关系弄得更严密,要么就干脆用句号隔开。

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