Informal Language 美语中的非正式用语
Ever go jogging in a business suit? What about going to a job interview in pajamas? Dressing appropriately is a lot like using a foreign language in the right way. It all depends on the situation. People in America use formal English for making speeches and writing business letters. But they prefer informal language when they talk to friends. Americans are fairly laid-back, both in styles of dress and in language. So to understand their culture, it pays to know something about informal language-in other words, English in blue jeans and a T-shirt.
English, like every language, is always changing. New slang terms are created all the time. Often they're here today, gone tomorrow. For instance, if you wanted to call something exciting in the 1960s, you would say it was groovy or far out. Today you might describe it as cool or even bad. Each sub-group of American society-from teenagers to soldiers to thieves to ethnic groups-has its own slang. People who aren't a part of the "in-group" can't understand the meaning, even though the words are "English." So it's not easy for outsiders to use slang correctly.
Like many languages, American English has numerous idioms that paint word pictures. These colorful expressions come from everyday life and add spice to language. When Americans want to make a good first impression on someone, they try to put their best foot forward. That way, they won't get off on the wrong foot in their relationship. Learning about idioms in a language and culture can be difficult, but don't get cold feet. Just be careful when using these expressions. Otherwise, you might put your foot in your mouth.
Americans enjoy making things easy on themselves. Even their pronunciation is relaxed. Sounds or syllables that are not stressed are shortened or combined with other sounds. As a result, "What do you want to do?" becomes "Whaddaya wanna do?" And "I don't know" sounds like "I dunno." See if you can understand the following conversation:
Gene: Jeet yet?
Tim: No, ju?
Now let's translate it into regular English:
Gene: Did you eat yet?
Tim: No, did you?
Gene: Let's go eat!
School teachers probably cringe at this kind of pronunciation. But the fact is, that's how Americans often talk in real-life situations.
美国人喜欢把事物简化，甚至连他们的发音也很轻松自在，不是重音的发音或是音节，通常会被缩短或是和其它的音相连。因此，「What do you want to do?」就变成了「Whaddaya wanna do?」而「I don't know.」听起来像「I dunno.」看看你能不能听懂以下的对话：
吉妮: Jeet yet?
提姆: No, ju?
吉妮: Did you eat yet? （你吃过了没？）
提姆: No, did you? （还没有，你呢？）
吉妮: Let's go eat! （一块儿去吃吧！）
There's one type of informal language that you should avoid using, however. Swearwords offend many people in America. Sometimes people say "four-letter words" to express anger or pain. Many of these "curse words" are terms from the Bible that people have misused. For example, to damn means to punish forever in Hell, so "damn" and "hell" are strong curses. Using the names of God or Jesus without respect can also bother people. And one more thing: stay away from "dirty words"-vulgar descriptions of sex or the human body. True, some people talk like this, but such "gutter language" should stay in the gutter.
Americans enjoy being informal. They like making themselves comfortable, whether it's wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt or using informal language. So if you want to speak real American-style English, just go casual-especially if your English teacher isn't looking.
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