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.

“Developed sometime between the appearance of the Phoenician and Latin alphabets, the Greek system of written language is a shard of a living civilization.”

A “shard” most often is used as an archaeological expression and refers to any piece of pottery found at an archaeological dig. The method of manufacture, design, and surface decoration of the piece of pottery gives scientists clues about a society, including its ability to construct useful utensils, its advancement as a social order, and its level of artistry. While “shard” also has a more general meaning as a fragment of a breakable object, the word most often is used in the archaeological sense.
“Shard”(碎片)通常是考古用語,意指出土於古代遺址的陶器碎片。陶器製造的方式、設計以及表面裝飾,能讓考古學家一窺當時的社會,明白彼時製造用具的能力,以及社會制度與藝術程度的發展。雖然 “shard” 也可以指一般物體的碎片,但通常用在考古上。

The sentence about languages uses “shard” in a metaphorical and ironic sense. First, languages are not made of clay, so they cannot fracture into pieces. However, individual letters and words can said to be fragments of a language, so it is obliquely relevant. Second, the Greek civilization still exists; therefore, while the language is a link to antiquity, it also has currency in modern Greece. This explains the otherwise curious phrase, “a shard of a living civilization.” Using familiar words in unfamiliar ways gives language a liveliness that captures readers.
本例句討論語言,“shard” 一詞既是隱喻,也是奇言巧思。首先,語言不是陶土製成,不會破碎成一片片,但是個別文字與詞語可說是語言的片段,所以換個角度來看確實說得通。其次,希臘文明如今依然存在,雖然希臘文字讓人聯想到古代,但也在現代希臘社會普遍使用。如此一來,原先有點奇特的片語 “a shard of a living civilization”(活文明的碎片)就解釋得通了。如果能以別出心裁的方式使用熟悉的詞彙,語言就能生動活潑,吸引讀者注意。

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