English Syntax and Borrowed Words

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Jun 28, 2016 22:36
For me, vocabulary has always been the most difficult part of studying English. Syntax is less difficult, because it’s logical. If, after intensive study, you’re able to comprehend the principles of English syntax once and for all, then you can parse long, complicated English sentences, and even write them.

Of course, studying English syntax can be very boring. In an English class at college, an idea flashed across my mind: Isn’t an English sentence like a family? The clauses are family members. It’s like a soap opera. The more complicated a sentence is, the more hilarious the plot will be. I jotted it down and later wrote an article about it. This whimsical fantasy cracked my classmates up, but they agreed with me. This made the boring grammar stuff come alive to me, and really helped me to learn syntax.

Vocabulary study is quite a different thing. Mostly, you have to learn the words by rote, because the etymology of the English language is varied. It’s been borrowing words from foreign languages such as French and Italian. For instance, when I once read an art critique, I was bombarded with tons of “obviously-foreign-looking” words: outré, cul-de-sac, alfresco, etc. I’ve gotten used to it, but I still want to know, “Is French a superior language or does it sound trendy?”, and I’ve also learnt to say “rendezvous” to mean “a prearranged meeting place” in daily conversations. But then again, memorizing those foreign words has expanded my English vocabulary, and has improved my memory. Haha.
在我学习英语的时候,词汇学习一直是个难点。而英语句法要容易一些。通过集中学习,如果能理解句法的规则,理解长难句不是难题,甚至还能写出一些复杂高级句。

当然,英语句法学习有时候非常无聊。我读大学时候,在一堂英语课上,我突发奇想:一个句子不就是一个家庭吗?主句,从句就是家庭成员。就像肥皂剧一样,如果一个句子越长越复杂,那么这部戏就越狗血越好看。我把这个想法记了下来,写了一篇文章,我的同学们都被逗乐了,他们也同意我的观点。语法学习瞬间变得有趣起来,这个奇思妙想也帮我掌握了英文的句法。

而词汇学习则完全不同,更多的时候需要死记硬背。因为英语的词源太复杂了,不断地从法语、意大利语等外语中借词汇进来。我在读一篇艺术评论时,碰到很多一看就知道是外国词汇的词汇,比如outré, cul-de-sac, alfresco等等。 虽然我已经习惯了,我还是想知道,是不是人们都认为说法语更有优越感?连我现在在日常英语对话中,也会说““rendezvous”(集合地点)了。。。话说,记这些外来词语,扩大了我的词汇量,还锻炼了我的记忆力。哈哈。
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