UNIT ONE HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD
Hit the nail on the head-exactly right in words or action
Drive something home-force the nail into the right place. Make something unmistakably clear Scrupulous-painstaking, meticulous , 辛勤的？ 一丝不苟的
How scrupulous Jane was about the facts.
He is an unscrupulous businessman.
Far afield- very far away
Rife-Disease is rife in the area. (rifer, rifest)
Leader-British English for newspaper editorial
Coercion-coerce, coerced, coerced, coercing, He was coerced into signing the contract Coercion-pressure, compulsion, under compulsion
Epitomize-epitomized, epitomized, epitomizing –be typical of , serve as the typical example of
Disprove –prove to be false , refute ,
Expire, Now her passport has expired. The old man expired in agony.
Indigent-indigently , peverty-striken, penniless
Have you ever watched a clumsy(clumsy, clumsier, clumsiest, clumsily, clumsiness) man hammering a nail into a box? He hits it first to one side, then to another, perhaps knocking it over completely, so that in the end he only gets half of it into the wood. A skillful carpenter, on the other hand, will drive home the nail with a firm, deft blows, hitting it each time squarely on the
head. So with the language , the good craftsman will choose words that drive home his point firmly and exactly. A word that is more or less right. A loose phrase, as ambiguous expression, a vague adjective, will not satisfy a writer who aims at clean English. He will try always to get the word that is completely right for his purpose.
The French have an apt phrase for this. They speak of le mot juste, the word that is just right. Stories are told of scrupulous writers, like Falubert, who spend days trying to get one or two sentences exactly right. (Flaubert, 福楼拜;法国小说家；;1821-1880；
Words are many and various, they are subtle and delicate in their different shades of meaning, and it is not easy to find the ones that express precisely what we want to say. It is not only a matter of having a good command of language and a fairly wide vocabulary. It is also nessary to think hard and to observe accurately. Choosing words is part of the process of realization, of defining our thoughts and feelings for ourserves, as well as for those who hear or read our words. Someone once remarked:” How can I know what I think till I see what I say? This
sounds stupid, but there is a great deal of truth in it.
It is hard work choosing the right words, but we shall be rewarded by the satisfaction that finding them brings. The exact use of language give us mastery over the material that we are dealing with . Perhaps you have been asked_what sort of a man is so-and-so, you begin, oh I think he is quite a nice chap but he’s rather ,,and then you hesitate trying to find a word or phrase to express what it is about him and you do not like . that constitutes of his limitation. When you find the rght phrase you feel that your conception of the man is clearer and sharper. In certain primitive tribes it was thought dangerous to reveal your name to a stranger. It might give
him power over you. Even in modern civilizee society you find yourself at a slight social disadvantage if someone knows your name but you don’t know his . command of words is
ultimately comand over life and experience.
Some English words have a common root but are used in very different senses. Consider human and humane. For example Their origin is the same and their meanings are related, but their usage is distinct. A human action is not the same thing as a hmane action. We cannot speak of a Declaration of Humane Rights-There is a weapon called a humane killer, but it is not a human killer.
We don’t have to look far afield to find evidence of bad carpentry in lauguage. A student , replying to an invitation to dinner, finished his letter, “ I shall be delighted to come and I am look forward
to the day with anxiety.” Anxiety carries with it suggestions of worry and fear. What the writer meant was possibly eagerness. Anxiety has some kinship with eagerness but it will not do as a subsittute in this context.
The leader of a political party in Uganda wrote a letter to the Press which contained the sentence:
Let us all fight this selfishness, opportunism, cowardice and ignorance now rife in Uganda and put in their place truth, manliness, consistency, and singularity of mind.
This stirring appeal is spoilt by a malapropism in the last phrase. (malapropism) The word singularity. What the writer meant, I think, was singleness of mind, holding steadfastly to the purpose in mind, without being sside by less worthy objects. Singularity means oddity or peculiarity. Soemthing that singles a man out from other men.
Without being a malapropism, a word may still fail to be the right word for the writer’s prupose.
The mot juste. A journallist, writing a leader about Chiristmas, introduced a quotation form Dickens by saying.
All that was ever thought or written about Christmas is imprisoned it this sentence. Imprisonment suggests force, coercion, as it the meaning wre held against its will. It would be better to write contained or summed up. Epitomized might do. Though it is rather a clumsy-sounding word. Searching a little farther for the mot juste, we might hit n the word distilled. This has more force than contained ro summed up. Distillation suggests essence and we might further improve the sentence by adding this word at the beginning. The essence of the all that was ever thought or written about Chrirtmas is distilled in this sentence.
English has a wide vocabulary and it is a very flexible language. There are many different ways of making a statement. But words that are very similar in meaning have fine shades of difference, and a student needs to be alive to these differences. By using his dictionary, and above all by reading, a student can increase his sensitivity to these shades of difference and improve his ability to express his own meanings exactly.
Professor Raleigh once stated: “ There are no synonyms, and the same statement can never
repeated in a changed form of words.”- this is perhaps too absolute, but it is not easy to disprove. Even a slight alteration is the wording of a statement can subly shift the meaning. Look at these sentences.
He expired in indigent circumstances.
English offers a fascinating variety of words for many activities and interests. Consider the wide range of meanings that can be expressed by the various words we have to describe walking,
for example. We can say that a man is marching, The important thing is to have a good control and command over the words you do know. Butter know two words exactly tht three vaguely . a good carpenter is not distinguised by the member of his tools. But by the craftsmanship with which he uses them. So a good writer is not measured by the extent of his vocabulary, but by his skill in finding the most juste. The word that will hit the nail cleanly on the head.