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The Elements of Style 精选

已有 10140 次阅读 2012-1-17 10:44 |个人分类:读书|系统分类:人文社科| 写作

      
 

李泳老师在他的“三种人的城市”里提到了 The Elements of Style 一书,那的确是几代人的英文写作圣经。刚来美国不久,我们从“科学美国人”的读书俱乐部买了两套书,一套是费曼的,另一套是关于英文写作的,其中就有 The Elements of Style 一书。研究生阶段这本书一直在我的案头放着,有一年在加州理工念书的同学来波士顿开会,我带他转了MIT和哈佛的校园后,把他领到了我的办公室,一进门他就说:“哈!你也有这本 little book !

 

这本书现在已经有了网络版 ,有时改文章改到六神无主,几近崩溃时,我会把这本书拿出来给自己定定神,并想:回头从 Amazon 买一箱回来,作为圣诞礼物送给组里的学生。不过这个宏愿到目前为止还没有兑现过。

 

查阅近两年的读书笔记,2010年的一月还把 Approach to style 部分重读了一边并作了笔记,红色部分是我觉得应该格外引起我注意的,觉得它们对中文写作也同样适用:

 

  1. Place yourself in the background - write in a way that draws the reader's attention to the sense and substance of the writing, rather than to the mood and temper of the author. Writing is one way to go about thinking, and the practice and habit of writing not only drain the mind but supply it, too.
  2. Write in a way that comes naturally
  1. Work from a suitable design
  1. Write with nouns and verbs
  1. Revise and rewrite
  1. Do not overwrite
  1. Do not overstate
  2. Avoid the use of qualifiers - rather, very, little, pretty, these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words
  3. Do not affect a breezy manner
  4. Use orthodox spelling
  5. Do not explain too much - it is seldom advisable to tell all
  1. Do not construct awkward adverbs
  2. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking
  3. Avoid fancy words
  4. Do not use dialect unless your ear is good
  5. Be clear - clarity, clarity, clarity. When you become hopelessly mired in a sentence, it is best to start fresh; do not try to fight your way through against the terrible odds of syntax. Usually what is wrong is that the construction has become too involved at some point; the sentence needs to be broken apart and replaced by two or more shorter sentences.
  1. Do not inject opinion - we all have opinions about almost everything, and the temptation to toss them in is great. Opinions scattered indiscriminately about leave the mark of egotism on a work.
  2. Use figures of speech sparingly
  3. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity - do not use initials for the names unless you are certain the initials will be readily understood.
  4. Avoid foreign languages
  5. Prefer the standard to the offbeat

 

下面这几句零零星星的摘录也颇耐人寻味:

 

  • Style takes its final shape more from attitudes of mind than from principles of composition.
  • Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.
  • What you are, rather than what you know, will at last determine your style.
  • No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader's intelligence, or whose attitude is patronizing.
  • Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.

 

总之,这是一本非常难得的好书,简洁、精炼,特向科学网的朋友们推荐。

 

该书的网络版:http://www.seasofcommerce.com/uploads/7/9/9/8/7998029/strunk2.pdf

 



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