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영어 바로쓰기-한국식 영어의 허점과 오류-작문편 (4)
작성자 : 이영재 작성일 : 2011-08-02 오전 11:28:05 조회수 : 2503
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This month, for a change, we won’t start with an example from one of Korea’s English-language newspapers. Instead, our first example is taken from the published English translation of a speech made by a presidential candidate upon being nominated at his party’s national convention:

1) xxx- When I am elected, I will… become a friendly, not an authoritative president. –xxx

This sentence contains three problems: two rather minor ones and one serious one. Consider first the phrase, 'when I am elected'. The word, 'when', is in no sense conditional; it implies that an event definitely has occurred, is occurring, or will occur. Thus to say, 'when I am elected', is to say that one's election will definitely, inevitably occur. While it is certainly good for a political candidate to show confidence in himself, it is absurd, when speaking to voters, to pretend that one's election is inevitable. To say, 'when I am elected,' really implies that one will definitely become president regardless of the will of the voters. In short, it sounds not so much confident as simply arrogant. Obviously it would be better to acknowledge the conditionality of the situation and also the power of the voters by saying, 'If I am elected'.

The next, rather minor problem is in the word, 'become'. This word emphasizes a process. When the candidate says that he will 'become' a certain kind of president, he gives us the idea that it will be a long process, filled with trial and error before he finally manages to be that kind of president. This does not give us voters much confidence in him! Therefore, it would be much better to say, '…I will be a friendly…president.'

The third problem, though, is the serious one. It involves the word, 'authoritative'. Koreans frequently use this word when they actually mean, 'authoritarian'. Do you know the difference? 'Authoriatarian' means 'characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual liberty.' This is exactly what the candidate is referring to, that is, he is promising not to be an 'authoritarian' president; he promises to respect the citizens' individual liberties. As you can see, 'authoritarianism' is generally a negative concept; leaders do not wish to appear to be 'authoritarian'.

'Authoritative', on the other hand, is an essentially positive word. It means, 'having or arising from proper authority; official.' For example, if I am not sure of the spelling of a word, I might look in a dictionary because a dictionary is 'an authoritative source' of information about spelling. Here is what one 'authoritative source' (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) says about the word, 'authoritative'; "'Authoritative; is applied to exercise of official authority or authority based on acknowledged merit." This is clearly not the same as 'authoritarian', which is usually applied to the arbitrary, unreasonable exercise of not necessarily legitimate authority.

The concept of 'authoritarianism' often comes up in discussions of Korea politics, society, education, and even family relations. It is therefore important to understand that 'authoritarian' is in no way the same as 'authoritative'. You should now be able to rewrite the candidate's speech:

1a) ok- If I am elected, I will… be a friendly, not an authoritarian president.

But it's not our job to help individual candidates with their campaign speeches, so let’s return to the newspapers, always a fertile source of problematic English. What do you think of this sentence:

2) xxx- In a ruling at the Seoul appeals court yesterday, the firm was ordered to reinstate the worker and to pay him wages for the past two years which he might have received had he not been dismissed. -xxx

The problem here is in the word, 'might'. This word is used to express possibility.And the sense of possibility it expresses is generally rather weak. In other words, to say that something 'might' happen or 'might' have happened, is to express the possibility of that event's occurring or having occurred, but it makes a relatively weak claim about the probability. For example, when we say, 'It might rain today,' we indicate that there is some possibility, some probability of rain, but we certainly are suggesting that it is also quite possible that it will not rain. The statement, 'It may rain today,' makes a stronger claim about the possibility at nearly 100%.

Now look at problem sentence #2. The court has decided that the company must pay the worker wages for the past two years because he WOULD have earned those wages if he had not been dismissed. It is not merely a 'possibility' that he would have earned those wages. It is a very strong probability, indeed a virtual certainty. They are not wages he 'might' (possibly) have earned; they are wages he 'would' (definitely) have earned if the company had not dismissed him. The sentence should therefore be corrected as:

2a) ok- In a ruling at the Seoul appeals court yesterday, the firm was ordered to reinstate the worker and to pay him wages for the past two years which he would have received had he not been dismissed.

Now here's an easier one:

3) xxx- Among the laws to be revised include the Law of Assembly and Demonstration and the Social Security Law. -xxx

The problem is one of redundancy: 'Among' and 'include' perform the same function and cannot be used together in the same sentence. Correct versions can be written with either 'among….are' or 'include':

3a) ok- Among the laws to be revised are the Law of Assembly and Demonstration and the Social Security Law.

3b) ok- The laws to be revised include the law of Assembly and Demonstration and the Social Security Law.

In addition, the 'among…are' pattern can be reversed as '…are…among':

3c) ok- The Law of Assembly and Demonstration and the Social Security Law are among the laws to be revised.

Here’s another sentence with a redundancy problem. See if you can spot it:

4) xxx- It was the first time in six weeks that the riot police have clashed with protesters in Seoul since July 9, the day of the funeral of Lee Han-yol. [Note: This sentence appeared in the newspaper in the week of Aug. 20, i.e. six seeks after July 9.]

The expression, 'in six weeks' and 'since July 9' express the same information and cannot appear in the same sentence. It is easy enough to write two correct versions which eliminate this redundancy:

4a) ok- It was the first time that riot police have clashed with protestors in Seoul in the last six weeks.

4b) ok- It was the first time that the riot police have clashed with protesters in Seoul since July 9, the day of the funeral of Lee Han-yol.

You may object that neither of these versions provides all the information given in the problem sentence. If you really wish to indicate both the length of the period (six weeks) and the start of the period (July 9, the date of the funeral…), it is possible to use the construction, '…in THE six weeks since…'. I think the best version of the sentence which avoids the grammatical redundancy but provides all the information would be:

4c) ok- It was the first time that riot police have clashed with protesters in Seoul in the six weeks since July 9, the day of the funeral of Lee Han-yol.

The next problem is not a matter of grammar, but of word selection:

5) xxx- Business tycoons in domestic TV comedies are usually described as greedy pigs. -xxx

A 'description' is a verbal representation of something. We use language to 'describe' things. For example, you can read a 'description' of Toksu Palace in a guide book, or I might 'describe' my sister to you by saying, 'She has red hair and her voice is very soft.' But a TV comedy does not give a verbal 'description' of a character. Instead, it represents the character dramatically, through a performance. We often use the word, 'portray', to mean precisely that: to represent through a dramatic performance. A much better version of sentence 5, then, would be:

5a) ok- Business tycoons in domestic TV comedies are usually portrayed as greedy pigs.

The next problem is much more subtle. Indeed, it is a kind of problem which frequently occurs in the English written by native speakers. Consider this sentence:

6) xxx- The projected new constitution will not give the president the right to dissolve the National Assembly in order to reduce th presidential powers vis-à-vis the legislature. -xxx

There are no grammatical inaccuracies in sentence #6, and at first glance the meaning may seem clear. But if you look more closely, you will see that the meaning is actually quite ambiguous. The Phrase, 'in order to' is used to indicate the purpose or intention of an action. For example, the sentence, 'She put on her glasses in order to read the small print, "indicates that an action (putting on glasses) is associated with a purpose (to read small print). We can also put the 'in order to' phrase before the phrase indicating an action: 'In order to read the small print, she put on her glasses.'

But look again at sentence #6. The 'in order to' phrase indicates the purpose of some action:to reduce the powers of the president relative to the legislature. But what action is associated with that purpose? Well, the action-indicating phrase closest to the 'in order to' phrase is '…to dissolve the National Assembly.' Do you see the problem? As it is written, sentence #6 might easily be understood to mean that the purpose of dissolving the National Assembly is to reduce the powers of the president relative to the legislature. But this is not what the writer intended to convey.

It is necessary, then, to place the purpose-indicating 'in order to' phrase as close as possible to the appropriate action-indicating phrase. This can be done easily enough:

6a) ok- In order to reduce the presidential powers vis-à-vis the legislature, the projected new constitution will now give the president the right to dissolve the National Assembly.

But personally I don't like to use an 'in order to' phrase with a negative action-indicating phrase. I think the best version of sentence 6 would be:

6b) ok- In order to reduce the presidential powers vis-à-vis the legislature, the projected new constitution will deny the president the right to dissolve the National Assembly.

As seen above, in order to prevent ambiguities, it is important to place 'in order to' phrases as close as possible to the action-indicating phrases they are associated with. The same principle applies to prepositional phrases as well. Consider this example:

7) xxx- About 2000 students held a violent on-campus demonstration yesterday, setting fire in the playground to furniture they had removed from the administration building in the playground. -xxx

Again, a problem of ambiguity. To what does the prepositional phrase, 'in the playground', refer? Well, the closest candidate would be, 'the administration building'. Indeed, one could very easily interpret sentence #7 to mean that the administration building is in the playground. But I doubt that this is what the writer had in mind. I think that 'in the playground is meant to refer to the place where students burned the furniture. But because of the placement of the prepositional phrase, this is not at all clear. We must rewrite the sentence to make sure that 'in the playground' is associated with the appropriate phrase. One version would be:

7a) ok- About 2000 students held a violent on-campus demonstration yesterday, setting fire in the playground to furniture they had removed from the administration building.

This version eliminates the ambiguity associated with 'in the play ground', but I don't think it is a very elegant sentence. The verbal expression, 'setting fire to ___' is broken by the prepositional phrase. Here is a more elegant version:

7b) ok- About 2000 students held a violent on-campus demonstration yesterday, removing furniture from the administration building and burning it in the playground.

Another elegant version would be:

7c) ok- About 2000 students held a violent on-campus demonstration yesterday, making a bonfire in the playground with furniture they had removed from the administration building.

The important thing to note is that all of these corrected versions make it absolutely clear that prepositional phrase, 'in the playground', refers to the location of the fire, not the administration building. Again, ambiguities involving the placement of prepositional phrases are, unfortunately, also common in English written by native speakers. But please don't use that as an excuse for carelessness!

Here is one final example of problematic English from a Korean newspaper:

8) xxx- "The people have the right to know all about the candidates. In this view, I propose joint two or more TV debates among the candidates of the four political parties," Kim told the audience. -xxx

There are two problems here. The first problem involves the link between the two sentences. Obviously the first sentence gives the reason for the second sentence; the second sentence is a conclusion derived from the first sentence. 'In this view' does not express that relationship properly. Indeed, 'in this view' is not generally used as a sentence conjunction at all.

Perhaps the author was thinking of the expression, 'in view of ___', which is often used as a sentence conjunction and would fit reasonably well here. It would certainly be reasonable to write:

8a) The people have the right to know all about the candidates. In view of this right, I propose…

However, there are many other expressions which could be used to link the two sentences here: "Hence" and "therefore" are very commonly used. Here are two more that I think fit very well in this case:

8b) ok- The people have the right to know all about the candidates. To that end, I propose…

8c) ok- The people have the right to know all about the candidates. With that in mind, I propose…

The second problem concerns the order of adjectives. Consider the phrase, 'joint two or more TV debates'. The noun, of course, is 'debates', and the noun, 'TV', is being used as an adjective in the phrase, 'TV debates', to indicate a certain kind of debate. The adjective, 'joint', gives further modification to the phrase, 'TV debates'. The phrase, 'two or more', obviously is a quantifier. Now it is true that there is some flexibility in the order of adjectives in English sentences, but there are also certain rather reliable rules. One of these rules is that adjectives and phrases expressing quantity go before other adjectives (though they go after possessive pronouns or other phrases indicating possession). Thus it would be incorrect to say, xxx- I bought large red three apples. -xxx Since 'three' expresses quantity (number), it must go before the other adjectives: ok- I bought three large red apples. -ok Of course if there were a possessive pronoun (for example 'my'), that would go before all the other adjectives: 'I gave my three large red apples to Felix.'

You should now be able to correct th adjective order problem in example 8 and rewrite the whole passage as:

8d) ok- "The people have the right to know all about the candidates. With that in mind, I propose two or more joint TV debates among the candidates of the four political parties," Kim told the audience.


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