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英语语言

2006-08-11 11:06

  THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

  Mr. Chairman, adjudicators, ladies and gentlemen,

  Good afternoon.

  The arrival of the year 1999 has brought with it a near perfect opportunity to take a look back at the last one thousand years, assess man's successes and failures, and look forward with our predictions of the third 1)millennium. Already this afternoon you’ve heard many assessments and you've heard a variety of predictions.

  A few hundred years ago to have held an event like this it would have been 2)imperative that we were all fluent in a number of different 3)tongues, for the approach of combating the language barrier was simply to learn many different languages. Of course people back then had an 4)ulterior motive: that was to ensure that different languages held their different societal positions, or as King Charles V of Spain put it, “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to woman, French to men and German to my horse.”

  Today our approach is somewhat different. Instead of trying to vastly spread our 5)verbal ability 6)across the board, we've chosen rather to focus it, concentrating on our ability to master one particular language, the English language. Time magazine recently suggested that by the turn of the millennium, English will be the 7)Lingua Franca for one quarter of the world’s population. Already today sixty percent of the world's television and radio broadcasts are produced and delivered in English. Seventy percent of the world’s mail addressed in English. And it is the language of choice for almost every byte of computer data sent across the globe.

  But why English? There are no clear linguistic reasons for its suggested global dominance, certainly the grammar is complicated, the spelling peculiar and the pronunciation 8)eccentric, to say the very least. One would need only look through the dictionary to find the vast list of amusing paradoxes in the English language- 9)quicksand that works slowly, a 10)boxing ring that is in fact square and a 11)guinea pig that's really neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. Doesn’t it seem odd that one can make 12)amends but not one 13)amend. Or 14)go through the 15)annals of history but not one annal. The reason, ladies and gentlemen, is simple. English is strange, but no where near as strange as some of our 16)alternatives.

  Perhaps I should give you a few 17)idiomatic examples. In English we say “once in a blue moon.” The Italians choose instead “every death of a Pope.” Yiddish doesn't like our “drop dead,” replacing it rather with the slightly more obscure “you should lie in the earth?” And if you wanted to 18)tell someone off in Spanish our relatively obvious “19)go fly a kite” would be better served by the phrase “go fry 20)asparagus.” English’s primary advantage is that of flexibility. On the one hand it has the largest vocabulary of all modern languages, allowing us, as its users, to say exactly what we want in exactly the words we choose to use. On the other, globalization has insured the introduction of a business English, a sort of 21)trimmed down variety of the language we've all come to know and love.

  In a thousand years time, Western clocks will hopefully have ticked onto the year 2999 and we can be assured that scientists, academics and 22)futurists will 23)convene, much like we've done today to look back at the third millennium and offer their predictions for the successes of the forth.

  It's impossible to imagine what they might say, impossible to imagine what technology they’ll have available or even which planet they'll hold the meeting on. In fact, quite possibly the only thing we can say for sure is that they’ll be discussing the issues in one common universal language. And that will be the language of the third millennium. And that language without any doubt looks set to be English. Thank you.

  主席先生,诸位评判员,女士们,先生们:

  下午好。

  1999年的到来给我们带来了一个回顾过去一千年的好机会,评价人类的成与败,展望第三个千年的前景。今天下午大家已经听到了许多评价和不同的展望。

  几百年前,举办一次这样的活动是十分麻烦的,我们得流利地说许多种不同的语言,因为在当时克服语言障碍的办法就是学习多种不同的语言。当然,那时候的人们有一个心照不宣的观念:不同的语言显示着不一样的社会地位,就如西班牙国王查尔斯五世所说,“我对上帝说西班牙语,对女人说意大利语,对男人说法语,对马儿说德语。”

  今天我们的做法有些不一样。我们不用分散精力去学习多种语言,而只需集中精力掌握一种特别的语言——英语。《时代》杂志最近说,在世纪之交,英语将会成为世界四分之一人口的通用语言。今天已经有60%的电视和广播在用英语制作和传送。70%的信件是用英语写的。在全球传送的电脑数据中,几乎每个字节用的都是英语。

  但为什么偏偏是英语呢?人们很难从语言学方面为英语在全球的主导地位找一个原因。但至少我们可以说英语的语法是复杂的,拼写是独特的,发音是古怪的。只要翻翻字典,你就能发现一大串逗人的似非而是的隽语——quicksand反而慢腾腾,boxing ring原来是方的,guinea pig既不是来自几内亚,也不是猪。一个人可以说“make amends”, 但却不能说“one amend”,这不是很奇怪吗?你可以仔细翻阅一本史册,但却不能把“一本史册”说“one annal”。其中的原因,女士们,先生们,是很简单的。英语确实很奇怪,但与其它语言相比,就显得小巫见大巫了。

  也许我该给大家举几个成语例子。“千载难逢”用英语我们说“once in a blue moon”,在意大利语中则成了“every death of a Pope”。依地语不喜欢把“猝死”说成“drop dead”,而用更为模糊的“you should lie in the earth”来表达。如果你想用西班牙语指责某人“滚开”, 那么最好是用“go fry asparagus”,而不是相对较直白的英语说法“go fly a kite”。英语的最基本的优势即在于它的灵活性。一方面,它在所有现代语言中词汇量是最大的,允许我们这些使用者能用最恰当的词汇恰如其分地表达出我们的思想。另一方面,全球化使得商业英语的出现成为必然,而商业英语是简化了的英语,它已成为我们都熟悉并喜爱的语言。

  在一千年后,西方的时钟将滴答走向2999年,我们也可以肯定,届时,科学家、学者和未来主义者将汇集在一起,就像我们今天这样,回顾第三个千年,并展望第四个千年的辉煌成就。

  我们无法想像得到届时他们将说些什么。他们会掌握了什么样的科技,甚至他们会在哪个星球上开会,是我们无法想像的。实际上,我们唯一敢肯定的事情是,他们将用一种共通的世界语言讨论事务。这就是第三个千年的语言。毫无疑问,这种语言就是英语。谢谢大家。

  1、millennium [mi5leniEm] n. 一千年,千年期

  2、imperative [im5perEtiv] a. 绝对必要的,迫切的,强制的

  3、tongue [tQN] n. 语言,方言

  4、ulterior [Ql5tiEriE] a. 日后的,将来的;秘而不宣的

  5、verbal [5vE:bEl] a. 字面的,词语的,口头的

  6、across the board  全部地,包括一切地

  7、lingua franca n.(不同民族之间交往或进行交易时用的)混合语;混合方言

  8、eccentric [ik5sentrik] a. (人,行为等)古怪,偏执

  9、quicksand [5kwiksend] n. 沙漏。这里和以下数句是演讲者玩的文字游戏,以说明英语语言的巧妙之处

  10、boxing ring n. 拳击场

  11、guinea pig n. 豚鼠,一种产自巴西的啮齿小动物,约7英寸(约18厘米)长,通常为白色,有黑色或橙色斑点,一般作为宠物饲养,或用于科研实验;供进行医学(或其他科学)实验的人或物。Guiea: 几内亚

  12、amends [E5mendz] n. (复数形式)赔罪,赎罪

  13、amend [E5mend] v. 改正,改过自新

  14、go through 仔细检查,全面考虑

  15、annals [5AnElz] n. (复数形式)编年史,历史记载

  16、alternative [C:5tE:nEtiv] n. 替换物

  17、idiomatic [7idiE5mAtik] a. 符合语言习惯的,成语的;富于习语性质的

  18、tell off 斥责,责备

  19、go fly a kite [美国俚语] 滚开,走开

  20、asparagus [Es5pArEgEs] n. 芦笋

  21、trim [trim] v. 削减,缩减

  22、futurist [7fju:tFE5ritist] n. 未来主义者

  23、convene [kEn5vi:n] v. 集合

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