Words Order In Spoken English
As is well known, words order occupies a very important place in communication in English. Here we wish to emphasize only one point:Words order can make or mar one's interpretation, and wrong words order is capable of creating confusion or misunderstanding (on the part of the audience) and even leading to consequences detrimental to the interests of the original speaker. And we wish to drive this point home by citing one typical example - the interpretation of this title：“中国代表在联合国六委关于反对劫持人质公约的发言”。
The“发言”(Speech in Chinese),inclusive of this title, was once given to a group of 25 post-graduates for sight-interpretation into English. While nearly 20 of them did the rendition correctly, a few of them seemed to have been a bit too careless with regard to words order,thus producing respectively the following amusingly wrong versions - obviously wrong in words order, but essentially wrong in terms of accuracy in meaning:
Version A:"Speech on the Convention against the Taking of Hostages by Chinese Representative at the U. N.6th Committee" - This version is wrong because, to the audience, it could mean that the Convention is directed against the Chinese Representative who has committed the offence of taking hostages (!) and that the incident occurred at the U.N. 6th Committee!
Version B:“Speech at U.N. 6th Committee on the Convention against the Taking of Hostages by the Chinese Representative" - This version is not correct either because, to the audience, it means (i) that the Speech is made by someone else other than the Chinese delegate, and (ii) that the Convention is directed against the Chinese
Representative who has taken some people as hostages!
Version C:"Speech by Chinese Representative on the Convention against the Taking of Hostages at U. N. 6th Committee" - This version, while not so grossly mistaken, is not accurate; because it could mean that the incident of the Taking of Hostages occurred at the 6th Committee.
The correct rendition should be:“Speech by Chinese Representative at U.N. 6th Committee on the Convention against the Taking of Hostages".