20 серпня 2013

English language: foreigner’s perspective

I’m reading Orwell’s «Politics and the English Language». And you know what? His «modern English of the worst sort» is easier for me to understand than the original:

Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

Second is much easier for me to read. In fact, I didn’t understand the first one before reading the second (no, I never really read Bible in any language, so I couldn’t have guessed). It was quite hard to decipher that «the race is to the swift» means that the swift win the race.

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