咱們搞不懂的語法 老外其實也有點懵逼!

作者:admin

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2016-9-22 19:35

English grammar, beloved by sticklers, is also feared by non-native speakers. Many of its idiosyncrasies can turn into traps even for the most confident users.

But some of the most binding rules in English are things that native speakers know but don’t know they know, even though they use them every day. When someone points one out, it’s like a magical little shock.

This week, for example, the BBC’s Matthew Anderson pointed out a “rule“ about the order in which adjectives have to be put in front of a noun. Judging by the number of retweets—over 47,000 at last count—this came as a complete surprise to many people who thought they knew all about English:

That quote comes from a book called The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase. Adjectives, writes the author, professional stickler Mark Forsyth, “absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.“

Mixing up the above phrase does, as Forsyth writes, feel inexplicably wrong (a rectangular silver French old little lovely whittling green knife…), though nobody can say why. It’s almost like secret knowledge we all share.

Learn the language in a non-English-speaking country, however, and such “secrets“ are taught in meticulous detail. Here’s a page from a book, published by Cambridge University Press, used regularly to teach English to non-native speakers. An English teacher in Hungary sent it to us.
The book lays out the adjective order in the same way as Forsyth’s illumination. Hungarian students, and no doubt those in many other countries, slave over the rule, committing it to memory and thinking through the order when called upon to describe something using more than one adjective.

The fact is, a lot of English grammar rules only come as a surprise to those who know them most intimately.

堅持細節的人鐘愛的英語語法也是非母語者的畏懼之物。甚至對于那些最自信的使用者來說,英語語法的許多特性也會變成陷阱。

然而,英語最具約束力的部分(語法)規則,雖然那些母語使用者們明白這些規則,且天天都使用這些規則,但是他們卻并不自知。當某個人指出一條規則的時候,就像有魔力一般,大家都會有點震驚。

比如,這周BBC的馬修·安德森指出一條關于順序的“規則“,也就是形容詞必須放在名詞之前。根據推特轉發量來判斷(最后一次統計已超過4萬7000次),這對許多以為自己對英語了如指掌的人來說都完全是件意外的事:

那個例子出自《雄辯的要素:如何完美地使用英語短語》這本書。堅持細節的專家馬克·福賽斯在書中寫道,形容詞“當然必須要按照這個順序來說:意見-尺寸-年齡-形狀-顏色-起源-材料-用途名詞。所以,你可以有一把古老的產自法國的可愛的綠色矩形銀質小削刀。但是如果你打亂一點兒順序,你聽起來就像個瘋子。“

就像福賽斯寫的那樣,把上述短語混在一起使用,莫名其妙地就會覺得錯了(一個矩形銀質產自法國的古老的小的可愛綠色削刀……),盡管沒人能說清到底是為什么。這幾乎就像是我們共同分享的隱秘知識。

然而,在一個不講英語的國家學習這門語言,就會有人詳細地教授這類的“秘密“。這是劍橋大學出版社出版的一本書中的一頁,常用于教授非英語母語者學習英語。一位匈牙利的英語老師把它發給了我們。
就像福賽斯闡明的那樣,這本書也用了同樣的方法列出了形容詞的順序。毫無疑問,匈牙利的學生以及許多其他國家的學生得努力記住這條規則,當他們要用不止一個形容詞來描述某個事物的時候,他們就得仔細想想這條規則。

事實上,對于那些非常精通英語的人來說,許多英語語法規則也讓他們很意外。

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