题型 Contest Sentence:
“About a half century ago, computers were quite large by comparison to today’s computers, pretty unreliable, very difficult to operate, and almost considered a technology without a future.”
恰当解释 Answer: We believe the best revision is… “Fifty years ago, computers were large compared to today’s models, unreliable, difficult to operate, and considered a technology without a future.”
大家坚信最好书写应是 “Fifty years ago, computers were large compared to today’s models, unreliable, difficult to operate, and considered a technology without a future.”
This sentence reduces the word count to 21 from 28, mostly by eliminating weasel words. What is weasel wording? It is phraseology that hedges rather than declares. In this case, the writer hedged by writing earlier computers were “quite large,” rather than flat-out saying they were large, especially when placed side by side with today's hand-held units. Other weasel words are “pretty” and “very” and “almost.” While such modifiers have their legitimate uses, they are only fillers in this sentence.
去除遁辞后，语句从28个字变为21个字。什么叫遁辞？应用遁辞便是汉字不以为意，不立即表明。词组里，创作者投机取巧地说，和今日的笔记本电脑对比，初期的电脑上「非常大」(“quite large”) ，并非直接了当地说电脑上非常大。别的遁辞也有 “pretty”、“very” 与 “almost”。这种修饰语有其适度性的使用方法，但在本例中仅仅鱼目混珠。
The introductory phrase, “About a half century ago,” is unnecessarily vague. A quick check of computer history shows that it would have been accurate to say “Fifty years ago…,” or for that matter 55 years ago. Instead, the lazy writer opted to use tired and imprecise “about” phrasing. In another place, the writer used two passive words—“by comparison”—instead of “compared,” a more forceful expression. Not only does the passive construction slow down a reader, it lengthens the sentence without vivifying it.
开始句“About a half century ago” 很模糊不清，能够更精确的表述，略微核实一下电脑的历史，就了解用50 年以前(“Fifty years ago…,”) 才恰当，更精准点，应当说55年前。可是创作者却懒惰，用俗套模棱两可的 “about” 表述；除此之外，创作者还用了处于被动叫法 “by comparison”，并非更强有力的 “compared”。处于被动构造不但令人读得慢，也变长语句，无法让语句更栩栩如生。
Writers make a mistake when they believe readers of academic papers—usually professors—are OK with trudging to a conclusion, rather than being propelled to the end by active, direct word choices. Writers also err in believing that dropping in modifiers and otherwise fudging instead of writing with exactness goes unnoticed by these same professors. This is a helpful rule of thumb for a writer of a paper: The heavier and more insipid the subject, the more direct and animated the writing must be. Content is gold, but gold is heavy; lift it with exact, robust language.