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大学英语自学教程(上册) unit 09 学术词汇与普通词汇

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09-A. Learned words and popular words

In every cultivated language there are two great classes of words which, taken together, make up the whole vocabulary. First, there are those words with which we become familiar in ordinary conversation, which we learn, that is to say, from the members of our own family and from our friends, and which we should know and use even if we could not read or write. They concern the common things of life, and are the stock in trade of all who speak the language. Such words may be called “popular,” since they belong to the people at large and are not the possession of limited class only.

On the other hand, our language includes a large number of words which are relatively seldom used in ordinary conversation. Their meanings are known to every educated person, but there is little occasion to use them at home. Our first acquaintance with them comes not from our mother's lips or from the talk of our classmates, but from books that we read, lectures that we hear, or the more formal conversation of highly educated speakers who are discussing some particular topic in an elevated style. Such words are called "learned", and the difference between them and "popular" words is of great importance to a right understanding of language.

The difference between popular and learned words may be easily seen in a few examples. We may describe a girl as “lively” or as "vivacious." In the first case, we are using a native English word formed from the familiar noun life. In the latter, we are using a Latin derivative which has exactly the same meaning. Yet the atmosphere of the two words is quite different. No one ever got the adjective lively out of a book. It is a part of everybody's vocabulary. We cannot remember a time when we did not know it, and we feel sure that we learned it long before we were able to read. On the other hand, we must have passed several years of our lives before learning the word vivacious. We may even remember the first time that we saw it in print or heard it from some grown-up friend. Both lively and vivacious are good English words, but Lively is popular and vivacious is learned.

The terms "popular" and "learned,” as applied to words, are not absolute definitions. No two persons have the same stock of words, and the same word may be "popular" in one man's vocabulary and "learned in another's. There are also different grades of "popularity." Still, the classification into "learned" and "popular" is convenient and sound. Different opinions may come up as to the classification of any particular word, but there can be no difference of opinion about the general principle. We must be careful, however, to avoid misconception. When we call a word "popular," we do not mean that it is a favorite word, but simply that it belongs to the people as a whole that is, it is everybody's word, not the possession of a limited number. When we call a word "learned” we do not mean that it is used by learned persons alone, but simply that its presence in the English vocabulary is due to books and the cultivation of literature rather than to the actual needs of ordinary conversation.

【课文译文】

学术词汇与普通词汇

每一种发展起来的语言中都有两大类词汇,这两大类词汇合起来就构成整个词汇。首先是我们在平时谈话中所熟悉的词,也就是说,这些词是我们从家人和朋友那儿学来的,即使我们不会读书写字我们也应该知道这些词。它们与生活中常见的事情有关,是说这种语言的人都具备的。这样的词叫“普通词汇”,因为它们属于普通大众,而不属于某个有限阶层的人们。

另一方面,我们的语言中还包括大量日常谈话中较少用到的词。每个受过教育的人都知道它们的意思,但是在家里却很少用它们。我们第一次认识这些词不是来自于母亲的话,也不是来自于同学们的谈话,而是来自于我们所读的书,所听的讲座或者受过高等教育的人以严肃的风格讨论某个特定话题时的更为正式的谈话。这样的词叫做“学术词汇”。学术词汇与普通词汇之间的区别对于正确理解语言极其重要。

从下面几个例子中就可以容易看出普通词汇与学术词汇的不同。我们可以描述一个女孩是“lively”或“vivacious”。在第一种情况中,我们用的是一个由大家所熟知的名词life形成的本土英语词;在后一种情况中,我们用的是一个有着完全相同含义的拉丁派生词。然而,这两个词的使用环境很不相同。人们不是从书本上学到lively这个形容词的。它是每个人词汇的一部分。我们不曾记得什么时候不知道这个词,而且我们确信早在我们能读书之前就学到了这个词。另一方面,我们肯定是在经过几年的学习生活之后才学到vivacious这个词的。我们甚至记得什么时候第一次从书上看到它或从某个朋友那儿听到它。lively和vivacious两个词都是很好的英语单词,但lively是个普通词而vivacious是个学术词。

“普通的”和“学术的”这两个术语,当用于给词分类时,并不具有绝对明确的定义。任何两个人所掌握的词汇都不一样。同一个词在一个人的词汇里可能是“普通的”,而在另一个人的词汇里可能是“学术的”。“普通性”的程度也不一样。然而,把词汇分成“普通的”和“学术的”是方便的、合理的。关于某个特定的词的分类可能会出现分歧,但是关于一般原则不会有不同的意见。然而我们必须仔细,以免造成错误想法。当我们把一个词叫做“普通词”时,我们并不是说它就是个人们喜欢的词,而只是意味着它属于大家——也就是说,它是每个人的词,而不是某一有限数量的人们的词。当我们把一个词叫做“学术词”时,我们的意思并不是它只为有学问的人所使用,而只是意味着它在英语词汇中的出现是由于书籍和文学的培养,而不是日常谈话的实际需要。
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