题型 Contest Sentence:

“The prisoners in the most distant camps were mistreated by their guards and many of them expired from lack of physical sustenance.”

恰当解释 Answer: We believe the best revision is… “The prisoners in the most distant camps were mistreated by their guards and many of them starved to death.”

This sentence reduces the word count to 19 from 22 by substituting three words, “starved to death,” for six words, “expired from lack of physical sustenance.” There probably is little argument that the new rendering of the sentence is superior. Why , then, do writers often go the wordier route to make a point about death? They do so either to express the special significance of a particular death event—after all, death always is significant—or to express the thought in a way they believe is more memorable.

将本来“expired from lack of physical sustenance”( 因欠缺人体营养成分咽气)换为“starved to death”(饿死了)后,语句篇幅由22 个字减少为19 个字,新的语句毫无疑问好于原话。说起来,为何很多创作者谈及身亡时大多数文句冗杂?由于她们想表述身亡这件事情很重要,身亡实际意义也是重特大,或是想要更难以忘怀的方法表述。

Sometimes they succeed in this. Not this time. To say the prisoners “expired from lack of physical sustenance” is not pleasing or moving to read; “expired” and “physical sustenance” are stilted and colorless euphemisms. Writers also sometimes ignore simpler sentence construction or more direct language for another reason: They want to avoid repetitive use of words or phrases. While that is not a bad motive for a thoughtful writer, if the result is bloated or vapid expression, it is a bad choice.

有时候这种表述的确让人印象深刻,但此句要不然,描绘罪犯“expired from lack of physical sustenance”(因欠缺人体营养成分咽气),读起来既不讨喜都不感人至深,“expired”(咽气)和“physical sustenance”(人体营养成分)全是委婉语,听来矫情又乏味。除此之外,有时候句构繁杂、汉字转弯抹角,是为了更好地防止汉字反复。那么想的确忧虑周延,作用优良,但若导致篇幅浮滥、了无生气,就并不是理想化做法。

Please note: To write “many of them starved,” rather than “many of them starved to death” does not work. The last two words are not redundant. Neglected and persecuted captives can be starved for years and yet emerge alive at the end of their captivity. Hunger is not a killer until a level of undernourishment actually shuts down body systems. In the same sense, writers should strive to write shortly and directly, but not so severely that pertinent information is sacrificed.

留意不必将 “starved to death”( 饿死了) 改成 “starved”( 饿肚子),“to death” 二字是必需的。犯人若遭受忽略、残害,很有可能饿肚子很多年,但有期徒刑完毕时仍能获救。挨饿不容易致人于死,除非是过多缺乏营养造成 身体器官没法运行。创作时要尽量简洁明了立即,但不可以因过度简洁明了而放弃有关信息。