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如何巧学善用英语成语

LEARNING.SOHU.COM    2005年4月4日10:15    来源:[ 双语时代 ] 
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  One of the most difficult aspects of learning any foreign language is being able to understand and use a wide range of idioms. The English language has over 15,000 idioms and native speakers use them very frequently, often without realising it themselves. This can make communication with native speakers confusing.

  在任何语言学习中最困难的一个方面就是,要能理解并运用大量成语。英语有15000多个成语,而且本族语使用者常常在不自觉的情况下频繁使用它们。这就造成了与本族语使用者的沟通不畅。

  What is an idiom? An idiom is a group of words which, when used together, has a different meaning from the one which the individual words have. For example:

  什么是成语呢?一个成语就是一组词,当结合在一起使用时,其意与单个词语所表达的意思均不相同。例如:

  -How do you know that Sid and Nancy have separated

  你怎么知道席德和南希分手了?

  -I heard it on the grapevine.

  我是从小道消息听到的。

  Of course, the second speaker does not mean he heard the news about John by putting his ear to a grapevine! He is conveying the idea visually of information spreading around a widespread network, similar to a grapevine.

  当然,第二个谈话者并不是说,他把耳朵贴在葡萄藤上才听到这个关于约翰的消息的!他只是在形象地表达一种意味,即这个消息通过一个类似葡萄藤的巨大网络传播开来。

  We use idioms to express something that other words do not express as clearly or as cleverly. We often use an image or symbol to describe something as clearly as possible and thus make our point as effectively as possible. For example, "in a nutshell" suggests the idea of having all the information contained within very few words. Idioms tend to be informal and are best used in spoken rather than written English.

  我们使用成语是要表达其它词语无法如此清晰或如此巧妙表达的东西。我们经常会运用比喻和象征以便尽可能清晰地描述事物,因而可以尽可能有效地阐述我们的观点。比如,“in a nutshell”表明的意思是,用很少几个词来涵盖所要表达的全部意思。成语往往是非正式的,最好用于口语,而不要用在非书面表达中。

  One of the best ways to learn an idiom is by looking at the context in which it is used. This can be done by concentrating on the rest of the sentence and try to guess the meaning. Many idioms are not that difficult to understand when considered in their context. For example:

  学习成语的最好方法之一是查看它所在的上下文。而这可以通过通读句子其它部分来实现,并试着猜测其意。当把许多成语放在上下文中考虑,理解起来就不那么难了。例如:

  We are going to have a surprise party for Tom tomorrow. It's a secret so please don't let the cat out of the bag.

  明天,我们要给汤姆举办一个惊喜聚会。这是一个秘密,因此请不要泄露秘密。

  'Let the cat out of the bag' is an idiom. Imagine you don't know what this idiom means; by looking at the words preceding it should be easy to guess that the speaker does not want you to tell Tom about the surprise party. Therefore, 'let the cat out of the bag' must mean something like' reveal a secret' or 'tell a secret'.

  “Let the cat out of the bag”是一个成语。设想你不知道这个成语的意思;如果看看之前的单词,就会很容易地猜出,讲话者是不想让你跟汤姆谈及惊喜聚会的事情。因此,“let the cat out of the bag”一定是“揭露秘密”或“泄露秘密”之类的意思。

  Other examples:

  其它例子:

  He was on the carpet last week for being late to work three times.

  上星期,他由于迟到三次而受到批评。

  It was a very long report. It took me three hours to wade through.

  那是一个很长的报告。我花了三个小时才总算读完它。

  Let's call it a day. I'm very tired and I think we have covered the main points of the meeting already.

  我们今天就到此为止。我很累,而且我认为,我们已经处理了这次会议的主要问题。

  However, idioms can often be very difficult to understand. You may be able to guess the meaning from context but if not, it is not easy to know the meaning. Many idioms, for instance, come from favorite traditional British activities such as fighting, sailing and hunting. As well as being quite specialist in meaning, some of the words in idioms were used two or three hundred years ago, or longer, and can be a little obscure. Here are some examples:

  然而,成语通常很难理解。你也许能够通过上下文来猜测其意,但如果不能的话,那么就不易理解其意了。譬如,很多成语起源于英国人钟爱的传统活动,如搏斗、航海和狩猎。其不仅在意思上是十分特殊的,而且成语中的有些词是二、三百年前,甚至是在更久远年代使用的词汇,因此可能有点晦涩难懂。以下是一些例子:

  -Now that the Prime Minister has been elected there will be a lot of jockeying for position to get the key posts in his administration. (Horse Racing)

  由于首相已被选定,所以在谋求其政府要职的过程中将会出现许多欺诈牟利的行为。(赛马)

  -I finally ran the book to earth in a second-hand bookshop in Wales. I had been searching for it for three years. (Hunting)

  我最终在威尔士的一家旧书书店里觅求到了这本书。我找这本书已经有三年的时间了。(打猎)

  -They took her ideas on board and decided to increase the budget. (Sailing)

  他们考虑了她的意见,并决定增加预算。(航海)

  -You should fall in with our arrangements; we can't make alternative plans for you. (Army)

  你应该同意我们的安排,我们不可能再为你另做安排。(军队)

  -We saw the boss at the bar but we gave him a wide berth. We did not want to talk to him then. (Sailing)

  我们在酒吧里见到了老板,但我们避开了他。我们那时不想与他说话。(航海)

  What is the best way to learn idioms? It is best to learn idioms as you do vocabulary. In other words, select and actively learn idioms which will be useful to you. Write the idiom in a relevant and practical sentence so that you will be able to remember its meaning easily. If you can, record the idioms in a file and on a card along with other words and idioms which have similar meanings.

  学习成语的最好方法是什么?最好就是像学单词一样学成语。换句话说,要选出并主动学习那些对你有用的成语。把这个成语写在一句与之相关、有实际意义的句子中,这样你就可以轻易记住它的意思了。如果可以的话,你可以把这些成语记录在那些写有意思相近的其它单词或成语的卡片上,收在文件中。

  

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