读读这本貌似简单的英文版《伊索寓言》

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书架上一直有本柯林斯(Collins)出品的《伊索寓言》(Aesop's Fables ),最近才看完。

《伊索寓言》的来龙去脉不在此赘述,百度一下你就知道。我手头的这本全书 300 多页,收集了 300 多个寓言故事。每个故事只有 1-2 段,100-200 字左右,读起来很轻松,适合刚开始读英文书的成年人练手,也适合当作中小学生的课外读物。

fable 的特点书在序言中总结为:

The construction of a fable involves a minute attention to (1) the narration itself; (2) the deduction of the moral; and (3) a careful maintenance of the individual characteristics of the factious personages introduced into it.

寓言的特点是直白,没太多细节,也没有卖关子。讲个故事,说个理儿,不拖泥不带水。 因此我们可以学习如何用精简的语言讲好一个故事。

比如,《龟兔赛跑》都听过,你会如何用英文讲这个故事呢? 书中的版本可以适当作为参考,请先认真一字字读完下面这段英文:

The Hare and the Tortoise

A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: "Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race." The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortosie never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.

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Slow but steady wins the race.

怎么样?是不是没你想得那么简单好读?这本书中的寓言风格大概就是这样,我们可以观察到:

1)整体语言风格偏正式

这段故事中就出现了 ridicule/swift/assertion/assent/fatigue 这些偏正式的词汇。

2)整体语言简洁,没有过多的修饰和细节

语法上大量使用从句和非谓语动词,让信息更紧凑。这段话一共 7 句,只有 On the day appointed for the race the two started together 和 Slow but steady wins the race 是简单句。

这样看来,语言虽短,五脏俱全,是学英文的好材料——不认识的词,去查;不懂的语法结构,去搜。我觉得它比《新概念》系列更有趣,有些地方值得直接背下来,比如上面出现的:

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