混淆之源與修正之道
Confusion: Its Sources and Remedies

 


一些旅行者宣稱他們不在乎迷路;他們甚至喜歡迷路,因為那是一種發現新道路、新地方的方法。然而,沒有人喜歡在閱讀文章時「迷失了」。讓讀者迷失的主要來源包括混淆不清的句子和用字等。就句子而言,有許多地方容易造成讀者丈二金剛摸不著頭緒。問題是,我們往往看不出會造成讀者混淆的地方 -- 這與寫完文章後,重新閱讀一遍以檢視錯置的逗點和拼錯的字是不一樣的情況。這一頁我們將以句子結構的層次提出混淆之源及其修正之道。至於發音相似、亦經常讓我們混淆不清的單字,各位可參見「容易混淆的字」。

不適配的混合結構

把一個句子想像為一種數學結構,一個需要兩個部分的方程式:主詞 (這是任何一個句子的中心所在) 和述語 (這是敘述主詞的部分)。有時我們分開建立這兩個部分時,它們的結構還算正確,甚至完美,但當它們放在一起時,它們就不適配了。

丈二金剛 Although the season has not yet begun has caused the public to get over anxious for information about the team.
修路工人 Although the season has not yet begun, the public is overly anxious for information for information about the team.

這個句子以副詞子句做開頭,這是一種常見的開始一個句子的方法,但副詞子句不能當做名詞,亦即它不能做為主詞。在修正的句子中,我們讓副詞子句執行其正常的修飾工作,並使 "public" 成為獨立子句的主詞。除副詞子句外,這種問題也可能發生在其他結構中,如介系詞片語。

丈二金剛 In its attempt to spark sales of season tickets broke several rules about pre-season publicity.
修路工人甲 In its attempt to spark sales of season tickets, the basketball program broke several rules about pre-season publicity.
修路工人乙 The basketball program's attempt to spark sales of season tickets broke several rules about pre-season publicity.

  

介系詞片語並非不能當主詞用,但在正式文章中相當罕見,而在本例句中更是不可能。我們可以讓例句中的介系詞片語來修飾獨立子句,或者產生一個新主詞 "basketball program" 來擁有介系詞片語所表達的意思。

有時一個句子會出現實際上只需一個主詞,但卻有兩個主詞的「雙主詞」情況。

丈二金剛 The new system of student registration, we began to use it in the fall.
修路工人 We began to use the new system of student registration in the fall.

另一種混合結構也會產生類似的混淆之源,那就是把一個完整的句子拿來做為另一個句子的主詞。

丈二金剛 Beginning in the fall of 1997, we began to use the system called Banner, was the responsibility of the registrar's office.
修路工人 Beginning in the fall of 1997, we began to use the system called Banner. The Registrar's office was responsible for this initial project.

另一種混淆之源來自把副詞片語 (通常是介系詞加動名詞組合而成的片語) 當做句子的主詞。

丈二金剛 By devising carefully worded forms ahead of time made the registrar's job much easier.
修路工人 Devising carefully worded forms ahead of time made the Registrar's job much easier.

副詞子句也不被允許當句子的主詞。

丈二金剛 Even if students' records are lost in the shuffle of registration does not mean they will have to start the process over.
修路工人甲 Even if students' records are lost in the shuffle of registration, they will not necessarily have to start the process over.
修路工人乙 Students do not have to start the process over if their records are lost in the registration shuffle.

"the reason is because" 和 "the reason why is because" 是兩個累贅的片語,但卻有不少人使用。reason 這個字的意思就是 whybecause,所以在主詞-述語方程式中,如果主詞指的是跟它本身意思相同的東西,那就是累贅。我們可以使用 "the reason that" 來解決這問題。

丈二金剛 The reason they were so eager to sell tickets is because they're trying to refurbish the old fieldhouse.
修路工人甲 The reason they were so eager to sell tickets is that they're trying to refurbish the old fieldhouse.
修路工人乙 They were so eager to sell tickets because they're trying to refurbish the old fieldhouse.

還有兩個片語會造成不佳的主詞-述語方程式,它們是 is whenis where;尤其是,當我們在做事物的定義時,經常會發生這種情況。一項定義必須在以 be 動詞代表等號的方程式兩邊都有名詞,而非一邊是名詞,另一邊是副詞子句。

丈二金剛一號 Libel is when you print something that can ruin someone else's reputation.
丈二金剛二號 Libel is where you've printed something that can ruin someone else's reputation.
修路工人 Libel is the publication of material that can ruin someone else's reputation.

代名詞的問題

在討論這問題之前,你可能想先複習代名詞與先行詞的一致性

當代名詞與其先行詞不一致,或者代名詞所指的先行詞不明確時,就會造成混淆。切勿讓一個代名詞同時指一個以上的先行詞。在下面的句子中,"them" 是指 recruits (新進球員) 還是 veteran players (資深球員) 還是兩者呢?

丈二金剛 To encourage the recruits to blend in with veteran players, the coaches let them play in summer leagues.
修路工人 The coaches let the recruits play in summer leagues so they'd be able to blend in with veteran players.

注意:別讓代名詞與其先行詞之間出現太多的字;這樣,讀者也難以得知代名詞是指那個先行詞。在下面的句子中,"who" 是指 recruits, friends 還是 team 呢?

丈二金剛 The recruits seemed to blend in with the team's master strategies and make friends on the team who played during the summer months.
修路工人 The recruits who played during the summer months seemed to blend in with the team's master strategies and make friends on the

注意以 which, that, itthis 等關係代名詞或指示代名詞做開頭的子句。這些代名詞所指的先行詞必須相當明確。在某些情況中,代名詞可能是指前面子句中某一特定的字,也可能是指整個子句。在下面的句子中,"which clause" (形容詞子句) 是在說記者對這支球隊的歷史知之甚詳,還是他們發現這位新教練對其球隊的歷史一無所知?

丈二金剛 The new coach seemed to know nothing about his team's recent history, which reporters seem to pick up on quickly.
修路工人 Reporters quickly picked up on the fact that the new coach knew nothing about his team's recent history.

在下句中,"it" 是指 spend extra hours 還是 strategy?

丈二金剛 The coaching staff agreed to spend extra hours devising strategy, but it wasn't necessary.
修路工人 It wasn't necessary for the coaching staff to spend those extra hours devising strategy.

在下句中,"this" 所指為何?

丈二金剛 The assistant coaches and the head coach seemed to know nothing about drawing up plays, and they couldn't agree on what their master strategy should be. This seemed to bother the press more than the players.
修路工人 The fact that the assistant coaches and the head coach seemed to know nothing about drawing up plays and couldn't agree on a master strategy bothered the press more than the players.

注意:"it" 一定要有定義明確、有意義的先行詞。

丈二金剛 Coach Espinoza made several recruiting trips around the country, but it came to no avail.
修路工人 Coach Espinoza made several recruiting trips around the country, but her efforts were not successful.

易造成混淆的比較

當我們在一群朋友聚會中說 "Taipei wants this activity more than Kaohsiung." (台北比高雄更想要這項活動) 等諸如此類的事情時,每個人都知道我們的意思。但在寫作時,我們應該寫成 "Taipei wants this activity more than Kaohsiung does." ;否則,有人一定會懷疑台北為何想要高雄。英文的比較 (comparisons) 必須做完整的敘述以避免混淆視聽。

丈二金剛 Coach Calhoun tends to analyze games more than his assistant coaches.
修路工人 Coach Calhoun tends to analyze games more than his assistant coaches do.

在做比較時,橘子要跟橘子比,蘋果要跟蘋果比,不可拿橘子來跟蘋果比,亦不可拿蘋果來跟橘子比。

丈二金剛 The stress of getting ready for a big basketball game is worse than a wedding.
修路工人甲 The stress of getting ready for a big basketball game is worse than the stress of getting ready for a wedding.
修路工人乙 The stress of getting ready for a big basketball game is worse than that of getting ready for a wedding.

請注意相同種類之間的比較。我們不能說 Michael Jordan was better than any basketball player (註:飛人喬丹已退出美國職藍),因為喬丹也是一名職藍球員。為了使這種比較合乎邏輯,我們必須說 Michael Jordan was better than any other basketball player. 你們可能看過這樣的英文廣告:"Car X is better and faster!" X 車比什麼更好、更快呢?

修飾語的問題

請參見錯置的修飾語不連結的修飾語,這兩項也是主要混淆之源。  

動詞時態與代名詞參照的改變

請參見時態及代名詞參照的一貫性。動詞時態與代名詞參照的改變可能也是一大混淆之源。以現在式做開頭的段落應自始至終保持現在式,而以過去式做開頭的段落則應保持過去式 -- 就這麼簡單。當有合乎邏輯的必要性時,你可以變換時態,你的讀者仍將與你常相左右;然而,如果你是沒有理由地變換時態,你的讀者將棄你而去。

代名詞參照的改變經常會使讀者懷疑你搞錯對象了。從第三人稱或第一人稱突然變換到 "you",可能使讀者心裡納悶:「喂! 我又招誰惹誰了,這跟我有什麼關係呢?!」

雙重否定

有人說,兩個否定詞放在一起負負得正就變成肯定了,但這並非永遠為真。在正式的文章中,使用雙重否定絕對不行,而且只會混淆大多數讀者的視聽,因為他們會試著以數學的方式來將兩個否定詞變成「負負得正」。另外,必須記住的是,hardly, barely, 和 scarcely 是否定詞,與 not 的縮寫 n't 是一樣的。

丈二金剛一號 The coach was unable to offer no reasons for his team's behavior.
丈二金剛二號 In fact, he was hardly able to say nothing at all.
修路工人甲 The coach was unable to offer any reasons for his team's behavior.
修路工人乙 In fact, he was hardly able to say anything at all.

Guide to Grammar and Writing