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如何学习语言:前言

(2009-10-16 14:32:30)
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杂谈

分类: 阅读无敌

摘自http://www.yeeyan.com/articles/view/4283/1788

This may be the most frequently told joke in the world- it’s repeated every day in almost every language:

“What do you call a person who speaks two languages?”

“Bilingual.”

“What do you call a person who speaks three languages?”

“Trilingual.”

“What do you call a person who speaks four languages?”

“Quardrilingual.”

“What do you call a person who speaks only one language?”

“An American!”

这可能是世界上最流行的笑话,每天都会被人用各种语言重复着:

“如何称呼会说两种语言的人?”

“双语者。”

“如何称呼会说三种语言的人?”

“三语者。”

“如何称呼会说四种语言的人?”

“四语者。”

“如何称呼只会一种语言的人?”

美国人。”

With your help this book can wipe that smile off the world’s face.

The reason Americans have been such notoriously poor language learners up to now is twofold:

1.       We’ve never really had to learn other peoples’ language before, and

2.       Almost all foreign language instruction available to the average American has been until now (one hates to be cruel) worthless. “I took two years of high school French and four more years in college and I couldn’t even order orange juice in Marseilles” is more than a self effacing exaggeration. It’s a fact, a shameful, culturally impoverishing, economically dangerous, self defeating fact!

Modern commerce and communications have erased reason 1.

You and the method laid out in this book, working together, will erase reason 2.

借助你的努力,这本书可以使美国人不再被世界所嘲笑。

迄今为止,导致美国人在语言学习方面如此声名狼藉的原因是两方面的:

1、  我们从来也没有是不得不去学习其他的语言;

2、  到目前为止,几乎所有针对一般美国人出版的外语教材都是毫无价值的(这个结论或许有些过分)。“我在中学花了两年时间学习法文,又在大学花了4年的时间,但是还是无法在Marseilles点橘子汁。”这绝不是在夸大其词。这是一个事实,一个令人尴尬的,文化匮乏的、危及经济的,自我放弃的事实。

现代商业联系否定了原因1。

你的努力,以及书中所提供的方法,两者结合,将解决原因2。

It started for me when I learned that the Norwegian word for “squirrel” was acorn. It may have been spelled ekorn, but it was pronounced acorn. Then I learned that “Mickey Mouse” in Swedish is Mussie Pig. Again, the Swedish spelling varied, but so what? As delights like those continued to come my way, I realized I was being locked tighter and tighter into the happy pursuit of language love and language learning.

当我发现在挪威语中,squirrel(松鼠)代表acorn(橡树果)的时候,我认识到语言的美妙。Acorn原来是拼做ekorn,但他的发音还是acorn。后来我发现,在瑞典语中,米老鼠的意思是Mussie猪。而且,在瑞典语中,有很多种拼写方法,这有什么关系呢?随着这样的发现越来越多,我认识到自己日益迷恋在对语言的热爱和学习中了。

My favorite music is the babble of strange tongues in the marketplace. No painting, no art, no photograph in the world can excite me as much as a printed page of text in a foreign language I can’t read-yet!

我最喜爱的音乐就是广场上用奇怪的声调发出的生意。是的,除了用我从未见过的语言书写的文字之外,没有其他任何的绘画、艺术平或者照片能够打动我了。

I embraced foreign language study as a hobby as a teenager in 1944. When I was inducted into the army in 1952, I was tested and qualified for work in fourteen different languages. Since then I’ve expanded my knowledge of those languages and taken up others. Whether fluently or fragmentally, I can now express in twenty-five languages.

1944年,当我十几岁的时候,我就把学习语言当成了业务爱好。1952年参加兵役的时候,我已经通过了考试,并能够使用14种不同的语言。在那之后,我又加紧了对这些语言的深入了解,并学习其他语言。现在,我可以用25种语言表达自己的想法,有的很流利,也有些会结结巴巴。

That may sound like a boast, but it’s really a confession. Having spent so many years with no other hobby, I should today be speaking every one of those languages much better than I do. If you’re a beginner, you may be impressed to hear me order a in Chinese or discuss the Tito-Stalim split in Serbo-Croatian, but only I know how much time and effort I wasted over those years thinking I was doing the right thing to increase my command of those and other languages.

听起来像是吹牛,但却是事实。如果这些年来我能够一直心无旁骛,那么在任何一种语言方面,我都会说的比现在要好。如果你是一个初学者,或许会很惊讶于我用中文点菜、用赛尔维亚-克罗地亚语与人讨论Tito-Stalim峡谷,但是只有我自己明白,在这些年来,我花费了多少时间和精力来寻找提高语言能力的方法。

This book, then, does not represent the tried and true formula I’ve been using since 1944. It presents the tried and true formula I’d use if I could go back to 1944 and start all over again.

这本书讲述并不是我在1994年以来一直使用的方法,而是如果让我回到1944年并重头开始,我将会使用的方法。

Commonsense tells us we can’t have dessert before we finish the meal; we can’t have a slim figure until we diet; we can’t have strong muscles until we exercise; we won’t have a fortune until we make it. So far common sense is right.

Common sense also tells us, however, that we can’t enjoy communicating in a foreign language until we learn it. This means years of brain benumbing conjugation, declensions, idioms, exceptions, subjunctives, and irregular verbs. And here common sense is wrong, completely wrong. When it comes to learning foreign languages, we can start with the dessert and then use its sweetness to inspire us to back up and devour the main course.

常识告诉我们,餐后甜点只能在饭后吃;节食才能身材苗条;锻炼才能肌肉强健;努力创造才有财富。到目前为止,这些常识是对的。

常识也告诉我们,只有学习了一门外语,才能用它交流。这意味着要在那些令人头脑混混的连词、名词、常用语、例外情况、虚拟语气和不规则动词上花费好几年的时间。然而,常识是错误的,完全错误的。学习语言的时候,我们可以先吃餐后甜点,然后再倒回去吃正餐。

What six year old child ever heard of a conjugation? Wouldn’t you love to be able to converse in a foreign language as well as all the children of that tongue who’ve not yet heard of grammar? No, we’re not going to rise up as one throaty revolutionary mob, depose grammar, drag it out of the palace by the heels, and burn it in the main square. We’re just going to put grammar in its place. Up to now, grammar has been used by our language educators to anesthetizes us against progress. If it’s grammar versus fun, we’re going to minimize grammar and maximize fun. We’re going to find more pleasant ways to absorb grammar.

六岁的儿童何时听说过连词?你不希望用外语与人交谈吗,就像所有不懂语法的孩子所做的那样。当然,我们并不是要掀起一场发音的革命,抛弃语法,把它从皇宫里拖出来,戴上脚镣,然后烧毁在广场上。我们只是把语法放到它应在的位置。一直以来,语言教育用语法来麻痹我们、阻止进步。如果将语法与乐趣对比,我们一定会忽略语法而重视乐趣,因此,我们要找到更多学习语法的快乐方法。

Unfortunately, there are a lot more “self improvement” books than there is self improvement. Too many books whose titles are heavy with promise turn out to be all hat and no cattle – not enough take home after you deduct the generalities and exhortations to “focus” and “visualize” your goals. Extracting usable advice from high promising books can be like trying to nail custard pies to the side of a barn.

遗憾的是,现在有很多标榜能促进自我进步的书,而真正做到的却太少了。现在有太多宣称能够给你承诺的书籍,然后再扣除通常的“关注”、“明确”目标的字眼后,你会发现根本没必要把它们带回家。从这些满是承诺的书中提取有用的建议就像是将奶油派钉到到谷仓的墙壁上一样困难。

Mindful of that danger, I will not leave you with noting but a pep talk. Follow the steps herein, and you will learn the language of your choice quickly, easily, inexpensively, enjoyably and on your own.

And you will have fun en route, though not nearly as much as you’ll have once you get that language in working order and take it out to the firing range of the real world!

留意那些危险,我不会只告诉你一些空话。按照这里所列的步骤,你能够快速、轻松,而且是充满乐趣的学会一种语言。

在这个过程中你会获得乐趣,当然,这种乐趣还不能与你学会这门语言之后、并真正应用于现实的乐趣相比。

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