Let’s start with some news that your boss or clients probably won’t want to hear:让我们从一些你老板或客户可能不愿听到的消息开始今天的话题: There will be a delay in the completion of the project.该项目的竣工将推迟。 The speaker has made no attempt here to soften the negative content of the message. A more diplomatic and polite version might look something like this:发言人并没有试图缓和消息的负面语气。一个更适合外交和更礼貌的版本可能如下: There might be a slight delay in the completion of the project.项目的完成可能会有一点延迟。 We have added just two words to the sentence, but we have made it considerably more diplomatic. First, we have added the modal verb ‘might’, a technique we discussed in our previous post, and second, the qualifier ‘slight’.我们在这句话中只加了两个字,但我们已使它更加委婉化了。首先,我们添加了情态动词“might可能”,这是我们在上一篇文章中讨论过的一种技巧,第二种是添加限定词“slight稍微”。 1. Qualifiers1.限定修饰语 Qualifiers are words used to modify other words and they increase or decrease the quality signified by those words. Here’s a simple example:限定词是用来修饰其他词语的词,它们增加或减少了这些词所指的实质内容。下面是一个简单的例子: It is very hot.天气非常热。 Here the qualifier ‘very’ modifies the word ‘hot’ and increases its quality. If we use qualifiers to decrease the quality of a word, they make great ‘softeners’, words used to soften the tone of our content or convey politeness when we speak. Other examples of qualifiers that can make great softeners are:这里的限定语“非常”修饰单词“热”并增强其语气。当我们在说话交流时,如果我们使用限定语来增加一个词的语气,使它听起来更“温柔”,这些词就可以使得说话语气更加委婉,或者增强礼貌感。其他使得交流更委婉的词语还有: a little, a bit, a little bit, slight, slightly, small, one or two.一点儿,一点,一点点,稍微,轻微地,小,一两个。 Consider using these alternative structures when giving your boss or your clients some bad news:当告知老板或客户一些坏消息时,记得使用这些替代结构: We are having problems with the new product.我们的新产品出了一些问题。 We are having one or two problems with the new product.我们的新产品稍微有一两个问题。 We will run over budget.我们的预算即将超支啦。 We might run slightly over budget.我们可能略微超出预算。 The marketing campaign is behind schedule.营销活动比计划推迟了。 The marketing campaign is a little bit behind schedule.营销活动稍微比计划推迟了一点点。 2. Negative Question Forms2.否定疑问句的形式 Another way we can make our English more diplomatic is by using negative questions when we want to make a suggestion. Consider this sentence:另一种使我们的英语更具交流性的方法是在我们提出建议时,使用否定疑问句。思考一下这句话: We should redesign the company logo!我们应该重新设计公司的标志! This sounds quite forceful and direct and you’d probably want to avoid this when speaking to a superior or a client. A more indirect version looks like this:这听起来相当强势和直白,当你向上级或客户交谈,可能想避免这种情况时,更间接的版本是这样的: Shouldn’t we redesign the company logo?我们不应该重新设计公司的标志吗? Here we have taken a forceful sounding statement and turned it into an indirect suggestion by adding ‘not’ and changing the syntax to make it into a negative question. Typically, we use shouldn’t, wouldn’t and couldn’t to form this type of question.在这里,我们把它变成一个间接的建议,加上“no”和改变语法结构,使之成为一个否定疑问句。通常,我们使用shouldn’t、wouldn’t 和 couldn’t来形成这种类型的问题。 We must hire a new advertising agency.我们必须雇一个新的广告代理商。 Couldn’t we hire a new advertising agency?我们不可以雇一个新的广告代理商吗? Wouldn’t it be better to hire a new advertising agency?雇佣一个新的广告代理商不是更好吗? 3. Using the Past Continuous Tense3.使用过去进行时 Another way to make a sentence less direct and more diplomatic is to use the past continuous tense:另一种使句子不那么直接和更圆滑的方法是使用过去进行时态: I hope we can sign the contract today.我希望我们今天能签合同。 I was hoping that we could sign the contract today.我原本以为我们今天可以签合同。 Using the past continuous makes the sentence sound more hypothetical and tentative, and therefore less direct and is a great technique for injecting diplomacy and politeness into your English. Here are a few more examples:用过去进行时使句子听起来更具假设性和试探性,因此不那么直白,这是在英语中增添交际性和礼貌性的一种很好的技巧。这里还有几个例子: I think we need to hire more employees.我认为我们需要雇佣更多的员工。 I was thinking we need to hire more employees.我原本想我们需要雇佣更多的员工。 I aim to finish this project by the end of the month.我计划在这个月底之前完成这个项目。 I was aiming to finish this project by the end of the month.我原本打算在这个月底前完成这个项目。 4. The Passive Voice4.被动语态 Finally, the passive voice is a great way to make your sentences sound more diplomatic:最后,被动语态是使你的句子听起来更具有交际性的一个好方法: You have broken my computer!你把我的电脑弄坏了! This active voice sentence is brutally direct and if your aim is to avoid confrontation then you might consider using the passive voice to lessen the emotional impact of the sentence:这个主动语态的句子是草率而直白的,如果你的目标是避免冲突,那么你可以考虑使用被动语态来削弱句子的强烈语气: My computer has been broken!我的电脑坏了! Here we are removing the subject (you) from the sentence completely and focusing on the object (the computer) and the action. The effect here is to de-emphasize personal responsibility for the action. Let’s have a look at a few more examples of diplomatic sentences using the passive voice:在这里,我们将从句子中完全去掉主语(你),把注意力放在对象(计算机)和动作上。这里的效果是不再强调个人对行为的责任。让我们再看几个用被动语态作交际用语的例子: You said you were going to sign the deal today.你说你今天要签这笔交易。 It was understood that you were going to sign the deal today.听说你今天要签这笔交易了。 You agreed to lower your fees.你同意降低你的收费。 It was agreed that you were going to lower your fees.你赞同降低你的费用。