CHINESE ANNOTATED CLASSICS OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY
We are pleased to bring you the Chinese Annotated Classics series of English literature, science and philosophy.
Enjoy these Classics in their original English text as we provide you with definitions for new vocabulary, analysis and explanations of complex sentences, and commentary on cultural context.
Read with confidence!
An Excerpt from our "Preface"
Reading comprehension will increase as the student develops proficiency up the “word-sentence-paragraph” hierarchy. Similarly, our readers will also face challenges at each of these three levels:
1. 生词的问题。说到基本的学习工具，就不能不提到词典。但遗憾的是，每一个词，在词典中并非对应唯一的一个释义。有些词既可以作名词，也可以作动词，而且有众多的释义。比如一个简单的back，名词有“后背”的意思，动词则是“支持”，形容词既可以表达某一物体的“背面的”意思，也可以表达时间上的“前面的”意思，副词也有“向后”或“回到从前”的意思之分，如果再加上动词短语（phrasal verb: back up, back down, back out, back off…）可能的意思就有更多了。在这么多释义中，到底哪一种才是正确的意思，就需要把这个词放在具体的句子中加以判定。另外一种情况是，在单词本身的含义之外，词与词之间的搭配也有很多变化。当我们对别人赞扬的时候，我们通常不说give someone a compliment（虽然这并非错误），而是说pay someone a compliment，这种词语之间的搭配 (idioms) 更多的是由于语言的使用习惯，而不是语法的规则。这些习惯用法在英语直译为汉语的时候不容易理解，但是通过多接触可以很容易学到。所以，如果读者仅靠一本词典，来查找生词和猜测意思，不仅需要耗费大量的时间和精力，而且收效甚微，这就是为什么英文原著那么难懂的原因。
1. The problem with new vocabulary words. In every language student’s toolkit, the most common reference book must be the dictionary. However, finding the correct definition is not always easy, because each word entry often has more than one definition. Some words can be a noun or a verb, and in each form, have a number of different meanings. For example, take a simple word like “back”: as a noun, it can mean the back of a body, or the back of an object, such as a chair; as a verb, it means “to support” someone’s position; as an adjective, it can refer to the rear side of an object or location (e.g., the back entrance), or something from an earlier time (e.g., the back issues of a magazine); as an adverb, it can mean movement backwards to a place or time (e.g., come back, three weeks back). If we include its usage as a phrasal verb (back up, back down, back out, back off, etc.) the number of possible meanings increases even more. From among all these definitions, the correct one can only be determined by interpreting the word through its use within the sentence.
In other situations, apart from the meaning of each individual word, there are also many expressions with unusual word associations. For example, we usually do not "give" someone a compliment (even though it is not incorrect English); instead, we would "pay" someone a compliment. These special word associations and expressions (idioms) usually arise from usage and custom, and may not even follow the rules of grammar. In addition, they may be difficult to understand in direct English-to-Chinese translations. For example, the expression “hold your tongue” means “do not speak”. These expressions are most easily learned through repeated exposure. Therefore, if the reader relies on only a dictionary to figure out the meaning of new words, it will require significant investment of time and effort, but may yield little value. This is the reason why original English texts are so challenging for students.
Our solution, in this series, for the problem posed by new vocabulary words is to provide the correct definitions for our readers through annotations. Selection for annotation is generated using the “General High School English Curriculum Standards” (2017 edition) vocabulary list; this 3,000-word list contains the first 1,500 words that students are required to learn during compulsory education and an additional 1,500 words required in high school compulsory and selective courses. Words beyond the scope of this list are selected as new vocabulary words, and the definition that is both correct and relevant for each given context are provided in footnotes. Idiomatic expressions are also identified and annotated by our team of editors. This way, the reader can escape the inconvenience of constant interruptions to their reading for consulting the dictionary, and avoid the pitfall of choosing an incorrect definition from indiscriminate, multiple offerings. More importantly, this methodology aims to help our readers develop the habit of examining each word in context as part of the definition process.
2. 难句的问题。难句是另外一种困难。有的句子，即使没有一个生词，所有的单词你都认识，但是仍然难以理解整个句子的意思，这种情况也很常见。比如下面这句话：Nothing but the worst news came to us from every side, -- which is not to be wondered at, for if you look at the map you will see that we were right in the heart of it. 难句是一系列简单句的组合，这句话表达的意思，如果用若干简单句来写：Only the worst news came to us. This is not surprising. If you look at the map, you will see, we were in the heart of it. This is the reason. （来自四面八方的都是最坏的消息，这并不令人奇怪，因为如果你看一下地图就会明白，我们正处在暴乱的中心）。对于一个复杂句来说，即使没有一个生词，要想获得正确的理解，对于中国学生来说也并非易事。因为中国人学习英语是从生词和语法开始的，最后止步于一次次的考试，而考试中是很少会出现这样复杂的句子的，这些复杂的句子往往出现在那些复杂的故事和复杂的论证中，也就是说，只有在阅读经典的时候，你才会碰到它们。
2. The problem with difficult sentences. Complex sentences are another challenge. There are some instances where even if the reader knows the meaning of all the words given, they may still struggle to understand the sentence as a whole. This situation is quite common. For example, look at the following sentence: Nothing but the worst news came to us from every side, -- which is not to be wondered at, for if you look at the map you will see that we were right in the heart of it. A difficult sentence is often only the combination of a series of simple sentences. In this case, the sentence could be broken down and re-written like this: Only the worst news came to us. This is not surprising. If you look at the map, you will see, we were in the heart of it (the rebellion). This is the reason. Sentences with a complex structure, even without any new vocabulary words, will still be a problematic for our readers. This is because most Chinese students studying English start with vocabulary and grammar, and end with the exams, but because exam materials rarely present this type of complex sentence structure, such sentences are thus not included in the general education materials. Since complex sentences are usually found in complex narratives and essays, students will be sure to encounter such sentences when they read books like the Classics.
Our solution, in this series, for the problem posed by complex sentences is to provide sidenotes with translation and commentary. The selected sentences are displayed in italics, visually cueing the readers to slow down and pay closer attention. Assistance, placed alongside, generally includes a Chinese translation of the sentence and in some cases, an explanation of the sentence structure, grammar, and idiomatic usage. We hope this format will not detract from the reader’s experience and understanding.
3. 段篇章中修辞方法和论证结构的问题。对于词汇和句子构成的一个文本，每个作品都具有独一无二的结构。对于文学作品来说，是叙述的结构；对于科学著作来说，是论证的结构。除了字面的意思之外，对于文本所传递的深层信息，我们今天还需要以分析和批判的态度来进行学习，体会和领悟作者是如何讲故事的，是如何进行推理和论证的。分析阅读和写作（Analytical Reading & Writing使用分析的方法和逻辑推理来阅读和写作文本）与批判性思维（Critical Thinking基于事实的客观性分析来形成判断）在今天已经成为很多重要考试（high-stakes test）的一部分，目的就是为了培养学生们掌握文本的分析方法和逻辑推理的技能，而这正是中国学生亟待加强的地方。
3. The problem with understanding different styles of writing, forms of rhetoric and structure of arguments in paragraphs and longer passages. While a piece of text is essentially made up of words and sentences, each will have its own unique composition. For literary writing, it could be the style of narration and construction of the plot; for scientific writing, it is often the structure of argumentation and logical reasoning. Readers should approach each text critically and be ready to dig beneath the literal interpretations on the surface to reach the riches of its depths. Such further analysis will enhance their experience of a writer’s creativity and artistry in storytelling, and their understanding of a scientific author’s reasoning and arguments.
Analytical Reading & Writing and Critical Thinking have been incorporated into many of today’s major standardised exams (high-stakes testing) to encourage the development of skills in literary analysis and logical reasoning. This is precisely the area where Chinese students need to improve the most.
To help students develop these skills, in this series, we have carefully identified and provided annotations to cover cultural references, literary allusions, and other references in the text where our readers may need supplementary background information and analysis to deepen their understanding. In short, we hope that the students who use this set of English reading materials can, as with this book in hand, read it without reliance on any other reference tools and enjoy the freedom of reading these timeless Classics in their original language independently.
According to the present-day understanding of the information and knowledge process, the role of information is to reduce uncertainty. Therefore, we believe it is necessary for us to produce a set of reading materials, comprised of original English text, that is customised for Chinese students learning English – supplemented by Chinese annotations and commentary to address and eliminate any uncertainty that may arise during the course of study. To reduce the difficulty level and increase the readability of the text, we provide precise definitions for new vocabulary words (the first time a word appears in the book), analysis and breakdown of the more difficult, complex sentences, plus background information on the subject matter. This will ensure our readers the best use of their precious time by avoiding unnecessary detours, and thus engage effectively with the language learning process to make up for their prior reading deficiency in the shortest amount of time.
Dear reader, if you wish to improve your English, there is no short-cut. You must keep reading, keep thinking, and as you increase your exposure to the language, it will naturally become easier. We hope this series of the Classics of English Literature can be both the instrument and inspiration to spur you onward and accompany you every step of the way until all language and cultural barriers are overcome. We wish you a journey of infinite discoveries and enlightenment!