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中国留学生常犯的Thesis Statement错误整理

在英文学术写作中thesis statement的重要性我们已经强调多次了,无论是在课堂上还是实际应用中。在美国大学课堂给一篇习作评分,thesis statement写得好不好,往往能占据40%~50%的分数。
thesis statement
它是一篇文章的灵魂,需要全面地概括全文的主要内容;同时它又只是短短的一句话,不能罗嗦。所以一个好的thesis不是一蹴而就的,而是要经过多次的修改。今天我们就从一些同学们的日常习作中,来看看中国留学生们常犯的thesis statement错误。

1.Too narrow,不够全面完整


原稿:
① I always thought that climate change was not the issue that an individual like me can deal with. ② It should be the jobs of governments and enterprises. ③ I thought that the issue won’t affect us in short term, but after the course, I learnt that the issue isn’t the same as I thought before. ④ Climate change has already changed our life in many different ways. ⑤ Luckily, the issue could be solved easily if everyone is willing to take action.

修改:
Climate change is not just a remote issue for governments and enterprises but an urgent matter that requires everyone's response and effort to avoid further dire impacts upon many aspects of individuals' lives.

Thesis必须是一句话。这里作者把自己的观点用5个句子表达清楚了,但是实际读者阅读时,只会寻找其中的某一句话作为全文的thesis。所以不论哪句话作为thesis,都会犯了不够完整的错误。修改之后,就把这5句话的内容精炼地用一句话表达清楚了。另外原文还犯了第一人称的错误,学术写作是普遍使用第三人称的。

2.A fact,在讲述事实,而不是自己的观点题


原稿:
There are many conflicts between those classes every year and this could be considered an example of the term “othering”.

修改:
The caste system in India has always been not only ① one of the major causes of social discrimination and class conflicts but also ② a long-lasting hindrance upon the nation's economic development, a reality that proves that ③ it is a fitting example of "othering" in both historical and current society.

初稿的thesis不仅略显单薄,而且读起来更像是讲述一个事实,而不是自己的观点。修改之后,其基本含义没有根本变化,还是讲述印度种姓制度的危害,但是读起来不仅更为全面地涵盖了下面正文要谈的三个问题,而且给读者的感觉是:这是作者的观点而不是一个事实。同学们要牢记,fact事实是永远不能作为thesis statement的。

thesis statement写作常见错误

3.没有thesis statement,或者thesis statement放在结尾,而文章开头直接进入了举例论证


原稿:
The article “Observation on What Is Language” is written by Richard Nordquist on May 25, 2019. It defines the term “language” which refers to “the grammar and other rules and norms that allow humans to make utterances and sounds in a way that others can understand”(Language). ...

修改:
“Observation On What Is Language,” written by Richard Nordquist on May 25, 2019, strengthens the conviction that human language, with its complexity and beauty, is more than a communication tool but a key to define us and distinguish us from others.

The article defines the term “language” as the combination of “the grammar and other rules and norms that allow humans to make utterances and sounds in a way that others can understand”(Language). ...

同学们有时候受到中文语言教育以及中国文化思想的影响,觉得不应该一上来就明确表达自己的态度,特别是在写书评或者与人辩论的时候,好像这样会太生硬没礼貌,要含蓄点表达,以表示对对方的尊重。所以在写文章的时候,有时一开始并没有表达自己的thesis,而是把thesis放在了全文的结尾。

这点要注意改过来,英文学术写作一定要在第一段就明明白白地表达自己的立场和观点,这不是粗鲁,更不是人身攻击,而是实事求是,就事论事。

这位同学的初稿就犯了这样的错误,第一段立即进入了举例论证,在最后一段才委婉地表达了自己的态度,让读者一直猜测到结尾。修改后,虽然第一段introduction还是显得单薄,但至少明确告诉读者下面全文是围绕什么观点展开的,然后在下一段再开始举例论证。

4.Too broad,范围太广了,不够具体


原稿:Throughout the movie Brave Heart, the life journey of the protagonist, William Wallace, and his Scottish followers during the Scotland and England War demonstrateindividual freedom, nationalism and religious faith in many ways.

修改:The award-winning movie Brave Heart not only narrates the life journey of the historic Scotland hero, William Wallace, but also demonstrates how he and his Scottish followers transform from individuals pursuing personal freedom to the defenders of national independence, united together against religious and political oppression under the same banner of nationalism.

这是一篇对于奥斯卡获奖影片“勇敢的心”的影评。虽然原稿thesis把下面全文讲述的几点的category罗列了出来,但是给观众的感觉是涉及范围太广,“野心”太大了。不说别的,单是宗教信仰在那段时期的影响,就足以写一本书了。

这样的thesis明显不适合一篇较短的影评,影片本身也并不是一本中世纪社会百科全书。修改之后,内容还是那几个方面,individual freedom, nationalism... 但是明显聚焦在主人公及其追随者身上了,范围具体了很多。而且,修改后读起来也更感觉是作者的观点了,而不是象初稿那样在陈述事实。

5.Too vague, 没有把自己的观点鲜明清晰地表达出来


原稿:Although himself advocating for the application of reasons in the movement, in his book, Montesquieu constantly ridicules individuals’ ability to fully apply rationality and reasoning in their judgments.

thesis statement写作

修改:Although himself advocating for the application of reason, in his book, Montesquieu constantly questions and ridicules individuals’ capacities for making independent reasoning and judgment while they are under a multitude of influences ranging from religious oppression and cultural vanity to personal background and human emotions.

这篇文章是评论“启蒙运动”领军人物之一的法国思想家孟德斯鸠的某一文学作品,原稿thesis虽然指出了该作品的主题与孟德斯鸠的主要思想之间的矛盾之处,但却没有说明为什么,也就是没有说明白全文的核心thesis -- 我的解释答案是什么,为什么在这部作品里孟德斯鸠会自己“打脸”。

这样的thesis读起来是很模糊的,读者不知道作者的观点到底是什么。修改之后添加了红色字体部分,这样就十分清晰地指出了为什么,这四点原因就是作者的观点,下面全文也是围绕这四点展开论述的。而读者无论是否同意,至少就知道了作者的立场。

6.太具体啰嗦,不够精炼简洁


原稿:①America's economic prospect for China and ②its political ideal resulted in its insistence on building a coalition Chinese government centered on the Kuomintang during 1944 and 1945, despite acknowledging the gradual corruption of and the consequent public discontent on the Kuomintang. This unchanging attitude, together with ③American former ambassador Hurley’s overconfidence on the Nationalist-Communist relationship, led to the enlarging breach between the Communist Party with both the Kuomintang and American allies.

修改:America’s ①deep-rooted distrust of Communism and ②economic prospect for China resulted in America’s favoritism with Chinese Nationalist party despite the latter’s corruption and unpopularity. Coupled with the ③overly-optimistic situation assessment, these policies inevitably led to a rushed, doomed peace treaty and America’s ultimate failure in China.

这是一篇历史课的期末命题论文,论述在国共内战/解放战争期间,美国的中国政策为什么会最终失败。

文章全文较长,涉及内容观点也很多,所以原稿thesis虽然很全面地涵盖了全文的三个主题,以及一些具体内容,但是太长了。同学们注意,thesis statement不仅结构上是一两句话,而且字数也是有讲究的,不能过长,一般控制在50 words以下,而这里的原稿thesis就几乎达到一段话的长度了。修改之后,三个核心内容主题没有变化,都涵括了,但句子表达就精炼了不少。

这还只是第一次修改,其实该thesis还可以修改的更精炼一些,当然这就更加考验同学们的写作造句功底了。

这里列举了一些同学们实际写作中常犯的thesis错误,而在实际写作中同学们往往并没有意识到这一点,导致经常犯各种错误,白白丢分。希望通过我们的“啰嗦”,同学们都能在将来的写作中对thesis statement这一句话多花些心思。

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