What does that mean? 你真的瞭解這個慣用語嗎?

Imagery buries itself in language and takes on new meaning. The transplanted and transformed sets of words are called “figures of speech.” For a figure of speech to be effective, however, a writer must first understand the original meaning of the phrase. The following sentence contains a common figure of speech. Its original meaning is explained.

“The laboratory team approached the project as if it were an onion, systematically exploring its multiple facets till their eyes were red with exhaustion.”

Onions are vegetables that are recognizably layered. Each layer lends itself to peeling away to expose another layer underneath. Because the onion cells, when cut, produce a lighter-than-air gas, the peeling off of the layers irritates the eyes. The irritation brings tears, which are produced to wash away the irritation. These two characteristics of most onions—multi-layered composition and irritation of the eyes of anyone handling them—are universally recognized.

In saying scientists approached a project “as if it were an onion,” the writer used a simile to compare the methodical deconstruction of a complex object or compound to the peeling of the vegetable. Layer by layer, the scientists sorted and scrutinized the object or compound and recorded their findings. That they continued their quest till their “eyes were red” is an ancillary allusion to the onion and its capacity to stimulate tear glands in eyes. The laboratory experiment may not actually produce an irritating gas, but hours of squinting through microscopes can produce something similar, eyestrain.
用處理洋蔥(as if it were an onion)比喻處理問題,就是將處理複雜物質及化合物時抽絲剝繭的方法,用剝洋蔥來相比擬,如同科學家對事件的逐層處理、仔細檢視物質與化合物,並記錄研究發現。這裡提及科學家持續探索,直至「眼睛發紅」,同樣指涉洋蔥刺激淚腺的特點。研究室所進行的實驗可能未必真的產生刺激氣體,但對著顯微鏡連續看好幾小時的確會造成類似的結果,使眼睛疲勞。

Last Update at 2011-06-16 PM 2:51 | 0 Comments

Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問

The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: Figures of speech seem to me to be out of place in an academic paper. Such a paper needs clarity and conciseness and figures of speech are neither, and may actually hamper readership of a paper. Am I wrong to believe this?

Yes. You are wrong. Next question… Oh, well, I guess we should explore it a little further. What you are expressing is a common misconception. Some in the upper reaches of academia are almost self-conscious in their professional sobriety and seriousness of purpose and believe research papers should be similarly devoid of anything leavening. All else being equal, they will weigh a paper according to its dullness, with the most sodden, uncolorful, and tedious writing tipping the scales of perceived academic “excellence.”

But I ask you: When was the last time you entered a store and bought a pound of dullness? I suspect the answer is, never. Why then would you settle for anything less than liveliness and vigor in an academic paper? Your mistake is to equate spare and unadorned language with clarity and conciseness. In fact, bare language can obfuscate and clutter. Short is not necessarily succinct. Whereas a figure of speech not only can express a thought in fewer words than a direct statement, it can convey the thought more completely.

Dr. Karen Gocsik of Dartmouth College lists 7 principles of writing good sentences in academic papers and number 7 is “Write Beautifully.” She counsels writers wanting to improve their papers to explore such elements as balance, rhythm and… metaphor. I concur. Obviously, figures of speech should not take over a paper any more than anecdotes should substitute for verifiable substance. But employed adeptly, figures of speech can contribute to a paper’s brevity, clarity, narrative pace, and focus—and do it beautifully.
達特茅斯學院(Dartmouth College)的 Karen Gocsik 教授列出寫作學術論文佳句的七項原則,第七項是「寫作優美」。她建議,若想改善文章寫作,應注意平衡、節奏,以及善用隱喻。我同意她的看法。顯然地,軼事趣聞從未能取代論文中可驗證的事實據理,比喻自然也無須俯拾即是,不過若能巧妙善用比喻,文章則能更加簡練、清楚,敘事更有條理,焦點更清晰。

Last Update at 2011-06-15 PM 2:39 | 0 Comments

TPS 暑期英文潤稿優惠服務與免費贈書活動:想讓你的英文論文登上國際期刊嗎?








TPS推出英文專業潤稿暑期優惠服務,並且開放免費致贈TPS總監親自編撰的「10 個導致退稿的常見寫作錯誤 10 Common Writing Errors that Can Spell “Rejection” for Your Manuscript」書冊,相信目前已有許多位粉絲獲得贈書、收穫滿滿。這一波的贈書活動,自即日起715,只要點選「免費索取學術知識書冊」並填寫寄送資訊,就能獲得精心編著的實用寫作技巧書冊,僅限量150,請把握機會!



TPS Team

Last Update at 2011-06-14 PM 2:35 | 0 Comments

0613 Brevity: Valuing Each Word-Answer and Explanation 簡潔準則:惜字如金 正確解答

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.”
我們相信最佳寫法應為 “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.
剔除遁辭後,句子從28個字變成21個字。什麼是遁辭?使用遁辭就是用字閃爍其詞,不直接說明。例句裡,作者取巧地說,和今天的手提電腦相比,早期的電腦「相當大」(“quite large”) ,而非直截了當地說電腦很大。其他遁辭還有 “pretty”、“very” 與 “almost”。這些修飾語有其適切的用法,但在本例中只是濫竽充數。

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.
開頭句 “About a half century ago” 很模糊,可以更精準的表達,稍微查證一下電腦的歷史,就知道用 50 年前 (“Fifty years ago…,”) 才正確,更精確點,應該說 55 年前。但是作者卻偷懶,用老套含糊的 “about” 表達;此外,作者還用了被動說法 “by comparison”,而非更有力的 “compared”。被動結構不僅讓人讀得慢,也拉長句子,難以讓句子更生動。

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.

Last Update at 2011-06-14 PM 12:36 | 0 Comments

0613 Brevity: Valuing Each Word-Win Your NTD200 7-11/Starbucks Prize! 簡潔準則:惜字如金 有機會獲得價值200元統一超商/星巴克咖啡禮券!


The best writing doesn’t waste words. It employs words efficiently. The first TPS Fan to complete the sentence below as we believe it should be completed will win a NTD200 7-11 / Starbucks Gift Certificate. Another Starbucks certificate will be awarded to the first Fan to complete it in an alternate way that, in our estimation, also is effective. The explanation and the names of the winners will be published tomorrow on this TPS Fans page. Each brevity rule is contained in 10 Ways to Shorten & Strengthen Your Academic Paper and will be posted on the TPS Fan page as introduced.


Rule # 3: Don’t write tentatively… If a trained academic writer knows his subject, his writing will reflect it. Tentative writing indicates thinking that is not fully developed, and generally results in wordiness. In the sentence below, the writer did not write assuredly. How can the sentence best be written shorter and stronger while retaining its meaning? 




題目 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.”

Last Update at 2011-06-13 AM 11:03 | 0 Comments

This is not academic writing 學術文章不是這麼寫的

Not all articles written on academic topics are written in proper academic English. In this "This is not academic writing" column we examine short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and explain how to correct them.

Unacceptable 不被認可的文章

“When King Ramses II died in about 1213 BC, tumult spread across the Mediterranean region. Some seafaring warriors plotted with Egyptian rivals and attacked Egypt to test the power of Ramses’ successor, King Merneptah. The new king was the winner. What was behind the attack? It was because of hungry people. Seizing the Egyptian grain-producing area seems to have been the reason for it; this is more evidence that, yes, war can be motivated by the pure need for conquest, but it also can be about meeting basic needs.”

The paragraph above contains both glaring and subtle flaws. An example: “…about 1213 BC” is a classic misuse of the word “about.” If the battle in question can be linked to a particular year in ancient history (1213 BC), there is no “about” about it. Also, “The new king was the winner” is an imprecise summation. Better wording is, “The new king’s forces prevailed”—which also gets away from the notion that wars have winners. To say the war was “because of hungry people” is sloppy expression. Soldiers did the fighting, after all, and they often were among the best fed citizens. A better formulation is to answer the rhetorical question in a single word—“Hunger.” And the “it” in the sentence that ends … “the reason for it” has no certain antecedent. In short, the paragraph has problems. See the improved version below.
這篇文章的錯誤有些很明顯,有些則不易察覺。例如:“…about 1213 BC” 這句就犯了 about 用法的典型錯誤。如果所提的戰爭發生在過去明確的年份 (1213 BC),就不應該用 about。此外,“The new king was the winner” 也不精確,較佳的說法是 “The new king’s forces prevailed”,這樣的說法也避免了戰爭有無贏家的問題。提到戰爭是 “because of hungry people” 同樣有欠周延,畢竟打仗的是士兵,通常不會讓士兵餓肚子,所以回答該問句的理想答案可用一字以蔽之:“Hunger”。還有,以 “…the reason for it” 結尾,但it並沒有明確的先行詞。簡言之,這段文章有許多問題。以下是修改後的文章:

Acceptable 認可的文章

“When King Ramses II died in 1213 BC, tumult spread across the Mediterranean region. Soon, some seafaring warriors allied themselves with Egyptian rivals and attacked Egypt to test the mettle of Ramses’ successor, King Merneptah. The new king’s forces prevailed. What was behind the attack? Hunger. Seizing the Egyptian breadbasket seems to have been the strategic goal, which is additional evidence that war is as often about meeting basic needs as it is about pure conquest.”

Last Update at 2011-06-09 PM 6:23 | 0 Comments

12 Recommendations to Help you Submit a Conventional and Acceptable Paper Tip 12: Neatly duplicate and submit the completed paper 12個獲得學術認可的論文撰寫技巧之十二:列印乾淨整齊的論文並繳交

The community of scholars has rules that govern how dissertations, theses and other academic papers are composed and formatted. Academic convention has established what is acceptable and what is not. Following is one of 12 recommendations to help you submit a conventional and acceptable paper. Each tip in the series will appear on the TPS Fans page.

Tip # 12 – Neatly duplicate and submit the completed paper

A completed academic paper is like any other printed communication: Until it is submitted to a publisher (or professor or agent), it is still a private document. It has no public standing. Until a professor actually sees a completed academic paper, it is only an expectation. So, handing it in (on time, by the way) is a meaningful threshold for a writer. It should be crossed thoughtfully.

Look at the paper—literally the paper, the first visual impression a professor has of a completed assignment. It is true that a paper will immediately stand out if it is printed on pink stock with purple trim, but that usually is a mistake. A professor is interested in content, and a frivolous or unusual package only distracts from that essence. Plain packaging always is the safest choice.

Clean packaging also adds to the eye-appeal of a paper. While this should be obvious, earnest students sometimes lose perspective about such things. If a page of an academic paper is marked by white-out corrections, smudges, or fingerprints, it is not ready for submission. Re-print it. Professors like clean pages, in part so their own notations will not have to compete for attention.

Computer-printed papers are the standard at this time, with laser printers creating crisp, standardized printed matter. Copiers produce facsimiles nearly as sharp. Academic writers should not settle for less than this in reproducing the pages of their papers. The goal is legible, inviting text that doesn’t impede the flow of content to the eyes of a serious, critical reader.

Finally, a loose bundle of papers plopped on the desk of an instructor probably is not going to be awarded a top grade. The pages should be stapled, paper-clipped, or bound between front and back covers—whichever method is requested by an assigning professor. Have faith that a paper is so compelling that it is going to be read… and re-read. Make it easy for a professor to do so.

A writer who has followed the foregoing tips on topic-choosing, researching, writing, formatting, proofreading, and presenting an academic paper has now completed the project. By not taking shortcuts, the writer has arrived at this point better informed and more highly skilled than those who did not. The reward is a superior grade and confidence in moving forward. Congratulations.

Last Update at 2011-06-08 PM 4:59 | 0 Comments

Dragon Boat Festival Return Announcement 歡迎TPS粉絲回來!

Dear Fans,

How did you celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival? We aren’t telling how we celebrated, but it was fun! See you tomorrow, when we bring you the concluding tip in our series on how to write a superior academic paper.

TPS Team

Last Update at 2011-06-07 AM 11:10 | 0 Comments

Dragon Boat Festival Vacation Announcement! 給TPS粉絲的假期通知!

Dear Fans,

Next Monday, June 6, we are going to take a short break from working with you, our TPS scholars, so we can enjoy the Dragon Boat Festival. We hope you enjoy it, too. We’ll be back June 7, with zongzi in our stomach and new questions to tease your brains. See you then.

The TPS Team

Last Update at 2011-06-03 AM 10:52 | 0 Comments

What does that mean? 你真的瞭解這個慣用語嗎?

Imagery buries itself in language and takes on new meaning. The transplanted and transformed sets of words are called “figures of speech.” For a figure of speech to be effective, however, a writer must first understand the original meaning of the phrase. The following sentence contains a common figure of speech. Its original meaning is explained.

“The actor harrumphed, then he brayed at the actress and clomped off the stage and into his dressing room, while the audience sat transfixed by the naked display of petulance.”

Donkeys “bray” and “clomp” and otherwise have a reputation for brash behavior and harsh guttural communication. They also are notably unwilling to act unhesitatingly. Despite these disagreeable impressions, donkeys are deemed to be unusually intelligent animals with long memories and agreeable social manners. Unfortunately, their outward characteristics have been caricatured for so long that to compare someone to a donkey generally is not intended as a compliment.

As used in a paper about drama and acting—“then he brayed… and clomped off the stage”—the allusion to the behavior of a donkey is not meant to be flattering. That the actor “brayed” and “clomped” meant that he spoke loudly and harshly at the actress who shared the stage and then exited noisily, his loud footfalls suggesting loss of personal control. “Bray” and “clomp” are both examples of onomatopoeia, which is a word that imitates the sound associated with it. A donkey braaays and walks, particularly on a wooden platform, with a clomp, clomp, clomp. Some upset actors do, too.
在這篇有關戲劇與表演的論文文章中,“then he brayed… and clomped off the stage” 使用原本用來形容驢子的特徵,可想而知,這並非在讚美他人。Brayed意指男演員對同在舞台上的女演員大聲斥責,clomped則形容他下台時的腳步聲沉重刺耳,暗指這位男演員的自我控制不佳。這兩個字都是擬聲用字,模擬與動作相關的聲音。驢子所發出的braaays叫聲,以及在木頭平台上發出clomp, clomp, clomp的腳步聲,皆暗指著某些情緒控制不佳的演員,行為就和驢子一樣。

Last Update at 2011-06-02 PM 2:46 | 0 Comments