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点评一篇GRE 作文习作

8

10-1:原文如下

Topic:
People have been so encouraged by society to focus on apparent differences that they fail to see meaningful similarities among ideas, individuals, and groups.

Differences and personality seem to have been playing a crucial role in our society in many aspects, whether ideas, individuals, or groups, for the incentive to stand out in the increasingly larger amount of output by society of both new high-tech products and elites of persons and groups. And therein exists another belief that by taking differing from others too far causes people's failure to see the meaningful similarities among related things. As far as I am concerned, however, that pursuing differences or personality and seeking similarities between counterparts are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and that a coalition of them both can be possibly and necessarily realized if handled properly, which will benefit our society a lot with the appropriate proportion of them each to blance each other out.

Admittedly, apparent differences is now playing an important part in distinguising someting or someone out, especially in the tense competition field concerning business. A free market ecomony is where this rule takes effect and works most well. Take American automobile industry for an example. Equipped with modern technology, many other countries are now able to manufact automobiles almost as the same to American's time-honored superior cars, in almost every way: the fashion style, the comfortable seats, energy-effective process, high-quality materials, and the like. In this situation, American manufactures established and estinguished their automobiles by creating an attractive emotion image of their cars: masculine, owning money and time to drive cars, enjoy life and so on. One of the most clever use of emotion to differ itself is seen in the old Volvo slogan, "Volvo, the car for people who think." The suggested reason for buying the car is obvious: it is the intelligent choice, and this is where the unique idea appeals to people----they want to be included in the group of intelligent, thoughful people. So we can conclude that when you've got something special, you stand out and go ahead of your competitors.

However, overemphasizing apparent differences may mask the meaningful similarities between things, which would do harm to the meaningful and constructive communication not only between individuals but also even between different cultures. First of all, too much focus on apparent differences may narrow ones eyesight and blind him from the basic and foundamental similarity in common with others, which is the very element that understanding, helpful discussion, and potential cooperation necessaries to develop. In addition, without the acknowledge of the common share between different cultures in human nature, such as desire, love, hate, jealousy, etc., and in its function to cultivate its peopel and to serve the power of its nation, one may find it really hard to understand another culture's customs and values deviating from his own, and that is where his bias and prejudice toward that culture starts and forms. And this illustrates how culture gap develops, in a much simpler process, of course. From the two reasons above, we can see the importance of encouraging people to study and seeking the meaningful similarities to cultural communications as well as individuals'.

In conclusion, similarities and differences are both equally important and indispensable to our society. Without differences and varieties, we risk of making a dull world, without diversity and variety. Without similarities and conformity, we risk ourselves of losing our willingness and ability to communicate efficiently between both individuals and different cultures. We should therefore get out to make apparent differences and personality on the foundamental basis of sharing and acknowledging the meaningful similarity between we human beings.


10-2:总体评价

全文结构清晰,第一段为开头,陈述作者的论点(在differences和similarities 之间走中庸之道);第二段论述differences的重要性;第三段论述similarities的重要性;最后一段为结论,主要从反面来论述differences和similarities各自的不可或缺性。作者有一定的词汇量,有构建较为复杂句式的能力,内容尚显充分,亦能进行例证。第一段思绪混乱,表述不清,极为费解,出现严重句法错误。从第二段起思路和文笔逐渐流畅清晰起来,表达的意思也渐趋明朗.用GRE Issue类作文的评分标准来衡量,得分应在3.5分左右。


10-3: 具体分析

第一段极为晦涩费解,层次紊乱,读完五遍之后我才基本整理出一个头绪,读了十遍并详加揣摩之后才弄清楚应怎样重新加以组织方显条理清晰。这或许是因为原作者急于展示自己的才能却又驾御失控所致。

第一句:“Differences and personality seem to have been playing a crucial role in our society in many aspects, whether ideas, individuals, or groups, for the incentive to stand out in the increasingly larger amount of output by society of both new high-tech products and elites of persons and groups.”

本以为这句是作者自己的论点,大致是说由于现代社会高新技术产品和精英人物层出不穷,因此,为了不被湮没在茫茫的人与产品的海洋中而陷入默默无闻,就十分有必要维持与他人或他物的差异并张扬个性。但读到第三句“As far as I am concerned, however…”读者才能推断出开头第一句并非作者自己的论点,而是他人的论点。此外,由第二句中的“another belief”可推知,第一句和第二句所表达的分别是他人的两大观点。故为了条理清晰,作者应在第一句的开头加上“Some people believe (hold, maintain) that…”的字样。

在语言上,“personality”是一种误用,它的意思是“一个人的性格,人格”, 而不是“与众不同的个性”,故应改成“individuality”。在“in many aspects”后面出现了补充说明性质的“whether ideas, individuals, or groups”,但其中应维持介词结构的表达方式,即在“ideas”之前至少要有介词“in”,最好“individuals”和“groups”之前都有,以显严谨。但即使这样,将“idea”,“individuals”和“groups”说成社会的诸个侧面也是极为牵强的,改成“human thoughts, individual behavior and group activities”较为贴切。在句子后半部分,将“for”用作介词,后接 “the incentive to…”是比较奇怪的,最好将“for”用作连词,后接一个句子,改成“for the incentive to…is great/high”,但这仍是一个不太常见的句式。另外,“by society”最好改成“in our society”, “elites of persons and groups”最好改成“elite people and groups”。全句最好改为:“Some people maintain that differences and individuality play a crucial role in our society in many aspects, whether in human thoughts, individual behavior, or group activities, for, amidst the increasing output in our society of both new high-tech products and elite people and groups, it is extremely necessary to stand out in order not to be obliterated in the sea of overwhelming similarities.”

第二句“And therein exists another belief that by taking differing from others too far causes people's failure to see the meaningful similarities among related things.” 由于用了“therein”一词,本句在逻辑上存在严重矛盾。从内容上看,本句所陈述的意思是,如果过分地采取与众不同的做法则会阻碍人们认清相关事物之间的共同点。这一论点是与第一句所表述的论点截然相反的另一种观点(another belief),但 “therein”(“在那个里面”)却规定了这第二个论点是包含在第一个论点之中的。这便产生了两个逻辑矛盾。第一:全然相反的第二个论点怎么能被包含在与之矛盾的第一个论点之中呢?第二:“another”暗示第一个句子中应包含二个“beliefs”,但我们在第一个句子以外,所能读到的却只有一个“belief”,缺乏另一个“belief”的存在。这里,作者可能出于炫耀词汇的心理,用了一个不常用的带有故旧色彩的“therein”,如同上文中的“personality”一词那样,均是囫囵吞枣、没有透彻把握而造成误用的表现,改成“there”,变为 “there exists another belief…”便可。

在语言上,介词结构“by taking differing from others too far” 是不能做主语的,“by”一词应去掉,变成现在分词短语才可以充当主语,这里显示出作者受到了中文思维的干扰。此外,在及物动词“taking”之后出现的名词,在“differing”和“differences”之间应首选“differences”。但即使这样,“taking differences”在搭配上也是生硬的,应改成“taking on differences”或“assuming differences” 方为贴切。最后,以副词形式出现的“too far”修饰“taking (assuming)”也显别扭,最好改成形容词“excessive”,放在名词“differences”之前来修饰,才符合英文习惯表达方式。

这一句可改为:“On the other hand, there exists an opposite belief that assuming excessive differences from others can result in people's failure to see meaningful similarities among related things.”

第三句:“As far as I am concerned, however, that pursuing differences or personality and seeking similarities between counterparts are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and that a coalition of them both can be possibly and necessarily realized if handled properly, which will benefit our society a lot with the appropriate proportion of them each to blance each other out.”?对于本句,先说语言上的问题。如果保持“As far as I am concerned”这一从句,则后面的内容应该表现为主句,故“pursuing differences”和“a coalition of them both” 之前的两个“that” 应删除,不然会出现全句只有数个从句而没有主句的严重语法问题。或者,保持以“that” 引导的两个从句,将“As far as I am concerned ”改为主句“I think /believe/hold/maintain…”。其次,“similarities between counterparts” 是对原文similarities among ideas, individuals, and groups” 的篡改,因为“counterparts”指的是同类的或对等的人或事物,但题目中“similarities among ideas, individuals, and groups”指的是表面上视若不同的思想之间、个人之间和群体之间在深层次上的共同点”。其次,“coalition”一词常指政治和军事上的联盟,表示两者的融合应该用“combination”,或“integration”, “fusion”, “incorporation”等词汇。此外,“possibly and necessarily”是自相予盾的,应改成“possibly or necessarily”才免强可行。最后,“them each”应改成“each of them”, “blance”为拼写错误,应改成“balance”, 但“balance each other out”也是中国式英语,应改成“to keep a balance between the two”。整句可改为:“As far as I am concerned, however, pursuing differences or individuality and seeking similarities among apparently different entities are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and a combination of both can be possibly or necessarily realized if handled properly, which will considerably benefit our society with an appropriate proportion of each of them to maintain a state of balance or equilibrium.”经过上述修改之后,第一段本身已变得层次清晰,连贯通顺。作者先指出了两个均带片面性的他人的论点,然后提出了有别于这两个片面论点的属于自己的折衷观点。

但是,一旦将表达作者立论的第一段与对这一立论展开论证的第二、第三段结合起来考虑,全文最大的一个逻辑矛盾才凸现出来!这是因为,按第一段文章的基本思路来推断,作者在文章主体部分应左右开弓,首先对他人的两个片面观点进行简明扼要的批判与驳斥,然后集中力量来论证其自己的主题,即对个性的追求和对共性的追求是如何互相兼容的,并且这种兼容又是如何有益于社会的。然而,不幸的是,通篇看下来,作者根本没有去论证自己的命题,而是以两个孤立的段落来分别论证追求个性和追求共性的重要性,即论证了第一段文章中他人提出的、也是被文章作者用“however”加以否定的第一、第二两个“belief”的正确性。这里,作者在逻辑上的混乱已经达到了无以复加的地步!他不遗余力所证实的恰好是他自己开宗明义所要反对的!

此外,第二段文章开头所用的“admittedly”也会在语气上给读者造成极大的困惑。Admittedly在语气上表示让步。相当于汉语中的“诚然”,表示它所涵盖的内容应该是让步的和次要的,是在为另一部分进行铺垫,作好准备。但从第二段最后一句和第四段第一句可以看出,文章作者丝毫没有把整个第二段内容当作次要的来对待。实际上,揣摩文章作者的意图,这里本该表达的意思是“我们必须承认…”,英语应该是“We must acknowledge that…”或“It must be acknowledged that…”,而不是“admittedly”。

除“admittedly”造成的困惑之外,文章自第二段至最后一段在逻辑上均较为连贯,行文也较为流畅。只是在语言上存在这样那样的问题,有必要逐一加以指出并订正。

1.“Admittedly, apparent differences is now playing an important part in distinguising someting or someone out, especially in the tense competition field concerning business.” 作为主语的differences和作为谓语的is 在单复数上显得不一致,应改成“highlighting apparent differences is …”或“apparent differences are…”。“distinguising”拼写有误,应改成“distinguishing”;“something”同样拼写有误,应改成“something”。此外,“distinguish…out”显示受到了中文“将…区分开来”的影响,应将“out”去掉。最后,“the tense competition field concerning business”表述不规范,应改为“the field of tense business competition”。

2.“A free market ecomony is where this rule takes effect and works most well.” “ecomony”拼写有误,应改成”economy”。“takes effect“ 是“生效”的意思,这里实际应该表达“适用”的意思,所以应该用“applies”一词。后面的“works most well”极为别扭,可改为“works best”或“works most effectively”。

3.“Equipped with modern technology, many other countries are now able to manufact automobiles almost as the same to American's time-honored superior cars, in almost every way: the fashion style, the comfortable seats, energy-effective process, high-quality materials, and the like.”首先“manufact” 存在拼写错误,应改成“manufacture”,“as the same to”是受中文干扰后杜撰出来的表达方式,实际应该是“the same as…”。另外,“American’s”应改成“America’s”或“American”,“the fashion style”应改成“the fashionable styles”以便与其后的表达方式一致。最后,“process”应改成复数“processes”。

4.“In this situation, American manufactures established and estinguished their automobiles by creating an attractive emotion image of their cars: masculine, owning money and time to drive cars, enjoy life and so on.”文章作者本来想借助“in this situation”来表达“在这种情况下”,但受到了中文表达方式的干扰。这里最好用“Under such circumstances”或 ”Faced with this situation”,或者更明确一点,用“Faced with challenges of increasing resemblances / similarities”。其次,“manufactures”用词有误,应该用“manufacturers”来表示“制造商”。再次,文章作者或许原本希望通过“established and estinguished”来追求某种押韵或谐音的效果,但“estinguished”存在拼写错误,如改成“extinguished”(“灭火,使…熄灭”),则意思严重失误。应改成“distinguished”才为正确。另外,“emotion image”应改为形容词修饰名词的结构“emotional image”。最后,用“masculine”来形容汽车是可以的,但紧接着又将无生命之物的汽车形容为“owning money and time”是不恰当的。可加上这一动作的形式执行者“their owners”(并且为避免重复,将“owning”改成“having”为好),构成一独立组合结构。

5. “One of the most clever use of emotion to differ itself is seen in the old Volvo slogan, ‘Volvo, the car for people who think’”。首先,“differ”为不及物动词,不能后接宾语,故应改成“differentiate (…from…)。其次,反身代词“itself”严重失误,因为按照语法规则它在这里只能指代主语,即“the use of emotion”。实际上,文章作者想指代的是“Volvo”汽车,但由于反身代词不可能出现在所指代的对象之前,故这里可改成“to differentiate one product from similar products”。

6.“The suggested reason for buying the car is obvious: it is the intelligent choice, and this is where the unique idea appeals to people----they want to be included in the group of intelligent, thoughful people.”既然文章作者引用的是“Volvo”的一个“old slogan”,故为了做到严谨,所有动词应改成过去时态。此外,“this”应改成“that”,“where”应改成“how”,“thoughful”拼写有误,应改成“thoughtful”。

7.“So we can conclude that when you've got something special, you stand out and go ahead of your competitors.”用“go ahead of”来表示“超过,胜出”有失恰当,应改成“get ahead of…”或“get the upper hand of…”。

8.“However, overemphasizing apparent differences may mask the meaningful similarities between things, which would do harm to the meaningful and constructive communication not only between individuals but also even between different cultures.” “not only…but also…”已含有递进关系,故“even”是多余的。

9.“First of all, too much focus on apparent differences may narrow ones eyesight and blind him from the basic and foundamental similarity in common with others, which is the very element that understanding, helpful discussion, and potential cooperation necessaries to develop.” 首先,“ones”应改成所有格的形式“one’s”。其次,“eyesight”表示生理上的视力,而文章所需要的看问题的“眼光”,故应改成“sight”或“vision”或“perspective”。词组“blind sb. from sth.”是有误的,应改成“blind sb. to sth.”;“foundamental”拼写有误,应改成“fundamental”,“similarity”应改成复数的“similarities”;在“similarity”后面使用“in common with…”是重复的,应改成介词“to”。“that”引导的定语从句有误,“necessaries”是凭空捏造的动词,根本没有这个词汇,应改成“…that is necessary for…to develop”,此外,“discussion”应采用复数形式。

10.“In addition, without the acknowledge of the common share between different cultures in human nature , such as desire, love, hate, jealousy, etc., and in its function to cultivate its peopel and to serve the power of its nation, one may find it really hard to understand another culture's customs and values deviating from his own, and that is where his bias and prejudice toward that culture starts and forms.”该句前半部分,即主句之前的所有内容不知所云,表述严重含混不清。首先,“the acknowledge of”有误,整个应改成“acknowledging”,最起码也应该改成”the acknowledgement of…”。 作为单数的所有格“its”只能指“the common share”或“human nature”, 但照此理解将引起巨大混乱。据推断,应是指复数的“cultures”,故应改成”their”。此外,“peoel”拼写有误,应改成“people”。主句中的“deviating from his own”应改成“(that are)different from his own”。前半部分所要表达的意思可能是:“此外,如果不承认不同文化分享着人性的某些共同的侧面,如欲望,爱憎,嫉妒等情感,并且每一种文化都起着教育其民众,增强该民族力量的作用的话,那么,…”。原文应彻底重新组织(见后面的“改后稿”)。

11.“And this illustrates how culture gap develops, in a much simpler process, of course. From the two reasons above, we can see the importance of encouraging people to study and seeking the meaningful similarities to cultural communications as well as individuals.” 本句中,“culture gap”应改成“cultural gap”;“to study and seeking”应改成“to study and (to) seek”;“the meaningful similarities to cultural communications as well as individuals”应改成“meaningful similarities to promote / facilitate communications between cultures as well as between individuals”。

12.“In conclusion, similarities and differences are both equally important and indispensable to our society.” “both”和“equally”存在重复,应删除“both”。

13.“Without differences and varieties, we risk of making a dull world, without diversity and variety.” “risk of doing sth.”用法有误,应改成“risk doing sth.”;此外,在“without diversity and variety”中“variety”属于重复,因为前面已经有“varieties”一词了。

14.“Without similarities and conformity, we risk ourselves of losing our willingness and ability to communicate efficiently between both individuals and different cultures. ” 句中,“conformity”一词常带有贬义色彩,表示“雷同,人云亦云式的顺从,因循守旧”等意思,这里改成“shared values”为好。“risk ourselves of losing”应改成“risk losing”,反身代词“ourselves”不必要。“efficiently”(效率高的)应改成“effectively”(有效地);“between both individuals and different cultures”应改成“both between individuals and between cultures”。

15.“We should therefore get out to make apparent differences and personality on the foundamental basis of sharing and acknowledging the meaningful similarity between we human beings.” 这里,“get out to…”应改成“go all out to…”表示“全力以赴做某事”的意思,“make apparent differences and personality”应改成“strive for differences and individuality”,“foundamental”拼写有误,应改成“fundamental”,“similarity”应由单数改为复数;“between we human beings”应改成“between us human beings”,因为介词后面是不允许出现代词的主格的。

10-4: 改后稿

整篇文章经过修改、调整、润色后,全文如下:

Some people maintain that differences and individuality play a crucial role in our society in many  aspects, whether in human thoughts, individual behavior, or group activities, for, amidst the increasing output in our society of both new high-tech products and elite people and groups, it is extremely necessary to stand out in order not to be obliterated in the sea of overwhelming similarities. On the other hand, there exists an opposite belief that assuming excessive differences from others can result in people's failure to see meaningful similarities among related things. As far as I am concerned, however, pursuing differences or individuality and seeking similarities among apparently different entities are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and a combination of both can be possibly or necessarily realized if handled properly, which will considerably benefit our society with an appropriate proportion of each of them to maintain a state of balance or equilibrium.

It must be acknowledged that highlighting apparent differences is now playing an important part in distinguishing something or someone, especially in the field of tense business competitions. A free market economy is where this rule applies and works most effectively. Take American automobile industry for an example. Equipped with modern technology, many other countries are now able to manufacture the automobiles which are almost the same as America's time-honored superior cars, in almost every way—the fashionable style, the comfortable seats, energy-effective processes, high-quality materials, and the like. Faced with the challenges of increasing resemblances, American manufacturers have tried to establish and distinguish their automobiles by creating a uniquely attractive emotional image of their cars: masculine, their owners having the money and leisure to drive those cars, to enjoy life, and so on. One of the classical examples of using an emotional image to differentiate one particular product from similar products is seen in the old Volvo slogan: "Volvo, the car for people who think." The suggested reason for buying the car was obvious: it was the intelligent choice. This was how the unique idea appealed to people—they wanted to be included in the group of intelligent, thoughtful people. So we can conclude that, whenever you've got something special, you are bound to stand out and get the upper hand of your competitors.

However, overemphasizing apparent differences may mask meaningful similarities between things, which would do harm to the constructive communications not only between individuals but also between cultures. First of all, too much focus on apparent differences may narrow one’s vision and blind one from the basic and fundamental similarities among apparent different things, and similarities are the very element necessary for mutual understandings, helpful discussions, and potential cooperation to develop. In addition, without acknowledging the fact that different cultures share common aspects of human nature such as desire, love, hate, jealousy, etc. and that each culture has the function to cultivate its people and enhance the power of the nation of which it is a part, one may find it really hard to understand another culture's customs and values. This failure to understand another culture is where one’s biases and prejudices toward that culture start to form. And this illustrates how cultural gap develops. From the two reasons above, we can see the importance of encouraging people to study and to seek meaningful similarities to facilitate communications between cultures as well as between individuals.

In conclusion, similarities and differences are equally important and indispensable to our society. Without differences and varieties, we risk making a dull world without diversity. Without similarities and shared values, we risk losing our willingness and ability to communicate effectively both between individuals and between cultures. We should therefore go all out to strive for differences and individuality on the fundamental basis of sharing and acknowledging meaningful similarities among us human beings. (628 words)


10-5: 审题失误

然而,此文最大的失误还在于审题这一环节上的失误。重读一下题目,它的含义应该是: “人们在如此大的程度上被社会鼓励去专注于表面上的差异,以致以人们无法看到不同的思想之间、个人之间和群体之间有意义的相似之处。”作者在文章中大书特书个性与共性的同等重要性和不可偏废性,并力图举例说明。但题目所要求考生回答的,实质上是这样两个问题,一是社会有没有竭力(且片面地)鼓励人们去追求表面上的差异和与众不同?二是人们是否因为社会的这种肤浅的鼓励而无法认识到不同事物深层次的相似,或是否已造成了不同思想之间、不同个体之间、不同群体之间沟通和交流上的障碍?比如说,在涉及到计划经济和市场经济这两个概念时,我们的社会有没有向我们灌输这样一种思想,即它们是属于两种完全不同的意识形态,是两种完全不同的社会体制的产物,一种追求井然有序,另一种则鼓励自由竞争?我们有没有因为这样的思想灌输而无法看到这两种经济模式深层次的共同点,即它们都追求一种最佳的经济运行模式(至少在理论上是如此),并且每一种经济模式都有可能在实践中向着它的对立面演变——计划经济一旦陷入僵化就会造成严重的无序,而健康的自由竞争则能实现资源的最佳配置,促使经济进入良性有序的状态?

一篇切题的作文应对这些问题作出充分的回答。但我们所读到的文章内容却是围绕着“个性与共性孰轻孰重,是否可以偏废其中一个”的命题所展开的讨论,不能不说在相当程度上答非所问,偏离题意了!这一问题才是考生最应该加以防范的。现在看来,审题的失误可能与作者没能确切把握“apparent”一词的精确含义有关。这里,“apparent”显然与“meaningful”是相反的,带有贬义色彩,《英汉大词典》的释义是“表面上的,貌似(真实)的,未必真实的。”与此相同用法的还有“obvious”一词。


10-6::可供汲取的几点教训

正如前面“总体评价”中所指出的那样,作者有着较好的结构意识和词汇基础。但通过上述对每个句子的逐一解析,我们还是发现了这样一个触目惊心的事实,即全文除了二个句子以外,其他所有句子都存在不尽相同的语法与修辞问题,有些甚至是极为严重的。这是令人极为遗憾的。细究起来,中国考生不仅仅要解决“写什么”的问题,更要解决“如何写”的问题。象GRE作文这种高层次写作所要考察的,一方面是严谨的逻辑思维能力,另一方面是语言文字功底。

从上述点评的文章中,我们大致可汲取以下几个方面的教训。

1. 文章的主体部分应围绕自己所提出的立论展开,不能只提出立论却又不加论证,遁入其他主题。

2. 审题时应在全面正确理解题意的基础上捕捉主题的侧重点,不能望文生义,断章取义,只抓住局部的个别词汇而将自己的主观臆测强加于题目而妄自发挥。

3. 对复杂的篇章结构、句式、词组、或词汇的应用须限定在自己语言能力所能驾御的范围之内,切忌失控。绝不能自已无中生有,胡乱杜撰或编造。

4. 杜绝低级错误,写作时必须做到忙而不乱,不能将自己平时耳熟能详的各种表达方式、句式、词组与短语等修辞手段,以及拼写方法、标点符号等弄错、弄乱!

5. 不要受中文思维模式的干扰。一旦受到干扰,所写出来的英文要么晦涩费解,不知所云,要么在客观上所表达的意思与作者主观上原本想表述的内容相去甚远,甚至南辕北辙,背道而驰,结果是自相矛盾。

6. 规范的英语是压倒一切的首要因素。宁肯将文章写得朴实无华,也要确保语言文字上的绝对精确性。只要语言规范,层次清晰,逻辑连贯,结构分明,言之有物,就一定能立于不败之地。考试时所写下的每一个词汇、每一个短语、每一个句子,都应该是自己有绝对把握的。没有把握的东西应严加避免。

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