現代英語評註-10

[meister] [to have/get a sense that] [fraternity] [nailing your colours to the mast] [blue skies] [chips and chippies] [As far as X] [home in on or hone in on?] [they, them and their with singular subjects] [monger] [twocking] [Far be it from me to...] [to have finished or to be finished?] [take a walk, have a walk, or go for a walk?] [out of pocket]

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meister

不久前我們曾討論了借自德文的字首 "uber",意為「超級」(super);這次我們再來探討一個也是來自德文,而且也已成為英語的單字 Meister (其中ei 發英文字母 I 的音) -- 但在英文中通常小寫為 "meister"。這個字的意思與發音與拼法都很相近的 "master" (大師;專家) 幾乎相同,但在專業知識和技術等方面比 "master" 更甚一籌。

在網路英文資料庫中,meister 有 80 個引句 (不包括人名或頭銜以及德文資料在內),它們幾乎都是小寫,且有半數以上以連字號與其他字結合成複合字;這些引句有 79  個是來自新聞界。與 meister 形成複合字的名詞絕大多數都是媒體、通俗藝術和政治領域的用字,如 rock meister (搖滾大師 -- 流行音樂)、horror meister (恐怖片大師 -- 電影)、 gag meister (諧星、插科打諢的表演人 -- 喜劇) 以及 spin or image meister (受雇來為政黨或候選人塑造正面形象或粉飾缺點的人士 -- 政治):

  • The film - tautly directed by horror-meister Sam Raimi and co-starring Bill Paxton and Bridget Fonda - is almost assured an Oscar nomination. (澳洲報紙)
  • Kerbdog have been in the studio with rock meister Jack Endino to record the first of the three tracks here, the title track. (英國雜誌)
  • Many provincial towns now boast mega-comedy-clubs attached to restaurants and bars which demand an exclusive menu of gag-meisters. (英國大報)
  • And the Tories. What can we say about the Tories? They can't even afford their own spin-meister. (英國小報)

值得一提的是,spin-meister 與美國當紅的流行用語 spin doctor 意思相同。

唯一的口語引句來自美國「全美公共電台」(National Public Radio),指的是該電台的填字遊戲專家:

  • Our puzzle meister, Wil Shortz, joins us once again from New York. Hi, Wil. WIL SHORTZ, Puzzle Expert: Hi, Liane. (全美公共電台)

to have/get a sense that

你知道標題的這個片語的意思嗎? 這個片語的應用深度與廣度可謂與日劇增,或許有人已經聽過或見過這個片語的應用場合。其實,它的意思就是 "to think (that)"。它都是出現在廣播新聞中,尤其是在新聞記者在敘述新聞事件之外還針對該事件發表意見,或事件現場民眾詢問採訪記者有關事件發生的真實情況時:

  • Do you get the sense that after Los Angeles, more Americans are trying to come to grips with the problems of the cities or they're trying to evade them? (全美公共電台 -- NPR)
  • I get the sense that the administration is holding onto its chair and hoping that it can maintain this position--this public position that it's not going to negotiate.  (全美公共電台 -- NPR)

但這個片語絕非只有廣播人員才有在用:

  • Do you have a sense that the purchaser-provider relationship and the general changes are acting in a way that's supportive of the development of hospice and palliative care? (英國會話)
  • I kind of get a sense that maybe we could converge on this, although I think there's still a couple of questions. (美國會話)
  • I got the sense that they were very pleased I had come to try their way of cooking. (泰晤士報)

意思相同,但比較不正式的說法是 "Do you think" 或 (比較不確定時) "Do you get the feeling", "I think","I get the feeling"。

我想上述的這些片語都是在表達一種暫時性的看法,以免太直接或太果斷而在後續的發展中沒有轉圜的餘地;換言之,就是以一種「模糊、曖昧的方式」來發表意見;「我認為....」、「我覺得....」等等。


fraternity

最近一則英文新聞報導提到 "criminal fraternity" 這個用語,讓人不禁想要知道,fraternity 這個一向正面的字眼為何淪落到與犯罪為伍的境地。根據字典的解釋,這個字的第一個意思是「博愛;兄弟之情」:

  • French President Jacques Chirac described Menuhin as 'one of the century's great virtuosos. His violin was also an instrument of peace and fraternity.' (澳洲報紙)

當然,「博愛」可說是它最著名的意思,與 "liberty" (自由) 和 "equality" (平等)都是法國革命追求的目標:

  • ... the stirring motto of the French Revolution: "Liberty. Equality. Fraternity." (美國書籍)

你也可以稱呼同業、同行、同好的人以及他們所組成的團體為 fraternity

(美國大學男學生所組成的團體也叫做 fraternity,意為「兄弟會」,但在此我們不想更深入的討論。)

根據網路英文資料庫,racing fraternity, yachting fraternity, hunting fraternity 或甚至 rock fraternity (賽車、划艇或賽艇、狩獵、搖滾同好),以及 legal fraternity, medical fraternity 或 banking fraternity (法界、醫界、金融界同人或同業) 出現的頻率都非常高,但除了 racing... 和 legal.....等字之外,最常與 fraternity 搭配的字竟是 "criminal":

  • In Brazil, I understand that certain elements of the criminal fraternity are better armed than the military or the police. (泰晤士報)
  • But it wasn't just a gathering of the legal fraternity, Ambassadors and representatives of foreign embassies, including a delegation from the Chinese embassy were present. (英國雜誌)
  • We stopped for refreshments at The Bell perched on the village green. Popular with the racing fraternity, it has been known to host many a rowdy party following a big race winner at Cheltenham. (衛報)

我們在此將最常與 fraternity 搭配的字 (都放在 fraternity 的前面) 臚列如下,供大家參考:

criminal, racing, legal, medical, yachting, hunting, boating, rock, sailing, football, fishing, rugby, golfing, critical, club, occult, footballing, musical, cycling, gardening, boxing, swimming, shooting, banking, tennis, writing, building.

從這些字來看,它們明顯地分成兩大類:一是同業或同行,另一是特定運動或活動的同好。至於 "criminal fraternity",應該是指「犯罪同好」、「犯罪團體」。

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nailing your colo(u)rs to the mast

英國一名現為歐洲聯盟行政委員會成員的前政界人士,日前譴責英國財政大臣布朗 (Gordon Brown) 對於英國是否採用歐元的問題 "nailing his colours to the fence"。

然而,經查成語字典及搜尋網路英文資料庫後發現,這個成語大多寫成 "to nail one's colors to the mast",而且有多種「變形」。根據 Cobuild Dictionary of Idioms,這成語有兩個關係密切的意思:

  1. nail one's colours to the mast -- 公開明確地陳述自己對某事的意見或看法;明確表達自己的想法:
    Let me nail my colours to the mast straight away. I both like and admire him immensely.

  2. nail one's colours to the mast of a particular person, idea, or theory -- 公開明確地表示自己對某人、某構想或論調的支持:
    In the Thatcher years, the young MP nailed his colours to Mrs T's mast more firmly than many.

與英文中許多華麗生動的詞藻一樣,這個語詞也是根基於英國的航海或海軍歷史。根據上述成語字典的解釋,"colours" (複數形名詞) 指的是船艦所懸掛的「國旗」。主力艦降下國旗就是表示投降;有時艦上官兵為了宣示寧死不屈的決心,於是將國旗釘在船桅上。

再者,這個語詞也是「變化多端」。你可以將「國旗」(colours) 和「船桅」(mast) 予以抽象化或用於比喻的說法:

  • The first question was about how we would enforce discipline in schools, so I thought I would nail my religious colours to the mast (I am a born-again agnostic) by suggesting that instilling the fear of God worked wonders. (英國雜誌)
  • Wal-Mart, having nailed its colours to the mast of low cost, must always lead on price. (獨立報)

你可以使用意思相近的 "pin" 來取代 "nail":

  • Some of the most intelligent republicans, like Tom Nairn, pin their colours to the nationalist mast. (衛報)

此外,你也可以完全不提 "mast":

  • The debate is quickly polarising between voluntary and compulsory savings for these second pensions. The Government has nailed its colours to the voluntary strategy. (獨立報)

這個詞幾乎都是出現在非美語 (亦即英國、澳洲和加拿大的英語) 的資料庫中。在網路英文資料庫中,我們只找到兩個美國引句,其中一句還是引述一名英國人士的話。下面為另一句:

  • If the Democrats want to nail their colors to the Clinton mast yet again, let them go ahead. (美國宣傳品)

但那位抨擊布朗的人士是使用 "fence" 而不是 "mast"。這個 "fence" 是從何而來呢? 他是說布朗對於英國是否採用歐元的問題故意不講清楚,也不說明白,而抱著一種騎牆的態度,亦即不明確說出他是支持還是反對英國採用歐元。由這項意思來看,他講的是 "(sit) on the fence"。當你說某人是 "sitting on the fence" 時,那是說你對某人不願明確地對某事表達他們的意見或在某一衝突中明確地表達他們支持誰或選邊站感到不滿、無法苟同。下面為該成語字典中的例句:

The commission has chosen, extraordinarily, to sit on the fence, murmuring that schools must decide for themselves.


blue skies

英國首相布萊爾最近邀請一些民間人士針對英國日益破敗的運輸系統提出若干新穎的構想。這個提出新穎構想的過程被形容為 "blue skies 或 blue sky (兩字中間加連字號的情況亦相當常見) thinking"。

吾人實在不容易理解這個片語的真正意思。blue skies 「藍天」通常是受到喜愛的 (除非是像台灣不久前的乾旱缺水,我們才希望見到 gray skies) 。但一般而言,blue skies 都被視為好事,尤其是在藍天比較少見的英國。藍天的天氣可以讓我們看得比較清楚,看得比較遠 -- 或許這就是此一片語所暗示的意思:光明、樂觀以及看得比較遠,也就是「高瞻遠矚」。

網路英文資料庫中有多個在表達 "blue skies" 或 "blue sky" 這項意思的引句。其中若干引句是在指美國的一種商業法律,下面我們會討論到。然而,這個片語也修飾 "research"、"ideas"、"thinking" 和 "potential" 等名詞。

blue-skies (or blue-sky) research 是指未基於眼前的 -- 或甚至長期的 -- 任何實際用途或實用目的所進行的純理論的研究

  • The Indian company NIIT has two departments, one of which employs 20 academics to conduct pure research, with the idea that from this blue-skies research great ideas will emerge which may find some commercial application. (泰晤士報)
  • ROPAs (Realising Our Potential Awards) are grants that allow academic researchers currently funded by industry to pursue additional 'blue-sky' research ideas of their own. (泰晤士報)

"blue skies thinking" 似乎是借自上述研究領域,因為布萊爾想要超越政府部門的框框,從外界將新穎觀念或構想引入政府:

  • The unit, which will be headed by Geoff Mulgan, a senior official, will draw up private papers for the Prime Minister on 'blue skies' thinking in any policy area. (泰晤士報)

這個語詞也用在商業領域,指的是「未來可能的成功」或「未來預期的成功」:

  • CSL's commitment to research and development expenditure and its strategy of forging alliances with leading international pharmaceutical groups provides plenty of 'blue sky' potential for investors. (澳洲報紙)

"blue skies thinking" 顯然需要有利的經濟條件:

  • Companies and executives want to make sense of the here and now to secure tomorrow's advantage. They don't want blue sky thinking when there are real rain clouds gathering overhead. (泰晤士報)

若干人士 (可能包括布萊爾) 認為改革必須仰賴一些喜歡幻想的人士:

  • Lots of people dream about the Web. Sueltz's job is to make it real. Every transformation needs its seers - blue-sky visionaries who plant the seeds of change. (新科學家雜誌)

在美國,許多州都有所謂的「青天法」或稱「藍天法」(blue sky law),這是一種規範證券發行和出售的限制法令,亦即一種股票買賣控制法,旨在保護投資人。American Heritage Dictionary (AHD) 對 "blue sky law" 的定義是這樣的:

一種在保護大眾免於買到詐欺性證券的法律。

 blue sky 在此顯然是一種正面的意思。然而,blue skies 或 blue sky 在許多情況的意思是「不切實際的」、「純理論的」(正如 blue-sky research 中 blue sky 的意思)。AHD 給予 blue-sky 的另一意思正是這個負面意思:"unrealistic and impractical",如 blue-sky marketing plans; blue-sky corporate planners

然而,布萊爾心中所想的顯然不是「不切實際的構想」,而且這個負面意涵在英國對此片語的解釋似乎沒有這麼強烈。「新牛津英語辭典」(New Oxford Dictionary of English) 對 blue-sky 的定義如下:

尚未實用的;尚未用於商業用途而獲利的,如 blue-sky research

Collins English Dictionary 的定義則是:

純理論的研究 -- 其研究結果未來是否做實際的應用並不重要,如:a blue-sky project

當然,研究結果未來也有可能用於商業用途而獲利。根據網路英文資料庫的引句,我們並沒有足夠的證據來分辨這個片語在美國是否仍帶有某種負面的含意,或者在英國是否一定表示正面的含意,但從手邊的資料來看,它在英式英語的用法中似乎已沒有這種負面的意思。


chips and chippies

chip (炸薯條 -- 這是英國的用法,美國是叫做 "French fry") 是個大家耳熟能詳的字,因為絕大部分的人都吃過 chips。但對於 chippy 這個字,我想認識它的人可能不是很多。

chippies 和 chips 的意思幾乎完全不同,唯一意思相關的地方是在英格蘭北部:chippy 在當地的俚語中是指賣炸魚和炸薯條的商店 (a fish and chip shop)。在英國大多數地區,chippy 是木工 "carpenter" 的另一稱呼 (但在現實生活中,這個字的意思在英國不同地區的區分並不很明顯,所以必須視上下文來決定它的真正意思):

  • Matthew Harding is both an artist and a carpenter/joiner by trade, and to say that he is wasted as a 'chippy' would be an understatement. (英國雜誌)
  • Burnage was and is a respectable working-class area. It's got a Spar, a bank, a chippy, a pub. It's not the worst bit of Manchester. (泰晤士報)
  • I knew I'd really made it when a woman in the local chippy asked me for my autograph. I was so chuffed! (太陽報)

然而,令人驚訝的是,根據「新牛津英語辭典」,在大西洋對岸的美國,chippy 指的是「雜交的年輕女子;妓女」。所以,在使用這個字時要特別注意所在的國家以及談話的對象。

chippy 也當形容詞用:

  • There are only two reasons why I might send my sons to Eton. One is that whatever else they might be chippy about, they won't be chippy about not going to Eton. The other is that if you send your son to Eton he can always pull the birds. (英國雜誌)
  • Boyle comes from a tenement on the south side of Glasgow but refuses to play the chippy Scot: 'My dad was an electrician, I went to a comprehensive and I lived up a close'. (獨立報)
  • Television executives realised Parsons' polemics would make a lively half-hour on air. And he did turn out to be good on television: chippy but cheeky, saying his usual liberal unsayables in wide-boy trousers and a winning smile. (衛報)

這個形容詞的意思是「好生氣的;易怒的」。它源自成語 "have a chip on one's shoulder"。根據 「Cobuild 成語辭典」(Cobuild Dictionary of Idioms) 的解釋,"have a chip on one's shoulder" 是說某人因種族、性別和背景的關係受到不公平待遇,心生委屈而感到憤怒、生氣。但「Cobuild 英語辭典」(Cobuild English Dictionary) 的解釋略有不同:某人覺得受到不公平待遇、被人瞧不起而產生憤恨不平的情緒。後者應該比較接近事實,因為這個成語與社會階級 (或假想的社會階級) 有關,而與種族和性別無關。一般而言,當一個人覺得在社會上處於弱勢,被人瞧不起時,他通常會有不滿、怨懟的情緒和行為反應出現,尤其是對那些他認為比較幸運或優勢或有特權的人更會有這種反應:

  • I've had a big chip on my shoulder all my life. I've still got it but now it's not weighing me down. (泰晤士報)
  • He had a tremendous aura and a great talent for surrounding himself with an audience. He was also very aggressive, with an enormous chip on his shoulder about his childhood. His mother and father had split up when he was four and he was brought up by his Aunt Mimi.  (澳洲報紙)
  • It's Ayckbourn's lack of political engagement which riles some critics. When I met him in his Docklands loft last week, he suggested that, after 60 years, he can live with the state of his reputation: 'I used to be a bit chip-on-the-shoulder about it. I'm popular, which is always very suspicious.' (獨立報)

那麼這個成語中的 "chip" 是何種 chip 呢? potato chip (洋竽片) 還是 wooden chip (木片) 呢? 他們到底為什麼要將 chip 放在肩膀上呢? 根據字典的說明,這是源自美國舊時習俗,尋釁打架的孩子常把一塊木片 (a chip of wood) 放在自己的肩膀上,哪個孩子膽敢擊落或弄掉這塊木片,他就和哪個孩子動手幹架。  

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As far as X

近年來,收看美國電視節目的人經常會聽到 "As far as X" 這個片語 -- 例如,"As far as X, I think that...."。有人可能會認為這是我們常見的附屬子句結構 "As far as X is concerned" 的省略。

無可否認地,"as far as X" 這個片語型態在北美人士日常生活的應用有越來越頻繁的趨勢,但它尚未成為標準用法。根據網路英文資料庫,在逾 5,000 個引句中,絕大多數是以 "'as far as X is concerned" 的型態出現,僅少數寫成「省略」形式:

  • I'm sorry about that, and damned sorry that guy Stavros got killed, but as far as what I did ain't no way I gon torture myself over that one. (美國書籍)
  • As far as trust, I don't trust either one of the candidates, but I like some of the things George Bush says. (全美公共電台 -- NPR)
  • The American people need to know that they've really got it good as far as what I've seen and experienced out here. (NPR)
  • I've taken incredible strides as far as accepting. I've matured. I'm educated. (NPR)
  • As far as receivables, I'll let Harry make a comment on it. (柯達公司商業會議)

在這些引句中,"as far as" 與 "as for" 或 "as regards" (關於) 的用法非常相似。是故,雖然省略 (ellipsis) 是英語的一項重要特色,但目前我們還不能說 "as far as X" 是 "as far as X is concerned" 的省略。


home in on or hone in on?

不同的英文謬誤會引發不同人士不同程度的情緒反應。有些人一看到分離的不定詞 (split infinitives -- 亦即在 to 與動詞之間插入副詞或其他詞,如 to easily win) 就「口吐白沫」,但其他人則認為分離的不定詞無傷大雅且有時對寫作有很大的幫助 (如果你曾閱讀國內的英文報紙 The China Post,你會發現該報使用這種被視為蹩腳的英文語法的頻率真是太頻繁了);有些人一看見介系詞被置於句末就「當場昏倒」,但其他人則認為這是一種正確的語法。有些人對於 flaunt 和 flout 或其他相似字被搞混感到「怒不可遏」,有些人則一看見發音非常相近的 honehome 被搞混 -- 主要是 hone 被用來取代 home -- 就「馬上翻臉」。hone 被用來取代 home  正是我們這次所要探討的主題。下例為英國「獨立報」的一項報導:

"Some conspiracy theorists will say that the plane was shot down by a missile, perhaps a heat-seeking missile that honed in on one of the plane's engines..." Fired by a sharpshooter, no doubt. (From "Unanswered questions: The mystery of Flight 93", The Independent, 13 August 2002.)

由於 m 和 n 在鍵盤上是比鄰而立,所以這有可能只是打錯鍵的結果,但從其經常發生的頻率來看,這顯然是有些人將 hone 和 home 搞混了,而不是多次打錯字所造成。在網路英文資料庫中,我們找到 53 個使用 "hone in on" 的引句,相對於 "home in on" 的 647 個引句。下面為這兩種寫法的若干實例:

  • With the Blitz on Britain then nearing its height, the highest priority was given to designing an airborne radar to help night fighters home in on German bombers. (「新科學家」雜誌)
  • For example, by using intelligence on criminal activity to home in on drug-dealers and burglars, car crime has been cut by half and burglaries by 80%. (「經濟學人」雜誌)
  • She quickly honed in on the legislature side of the Commons, avoiding the political milieu. (泰晤士報)
  • As divers appeared to hone in on the crash site, a man who had been surf fishing on Friday night said he was startled by a "loud explosion" off Martha's Vineyard. (澳洲報紙)
  • They don't emit any kind of electronic signal, normally, that would allow ... US forces to hone in on them. (全美公共電台)

home in on (在此 home 當動詞用) 有兩個意思:一是「針對某事找出.... ;把注意力集中於....」 (如:home in on the housing problem 把焦點集中於住屋問題上),另一是「(飛彈等的) 射向目標」(如:The missile homed in on its target.)。

hone 也有兩個意思:一是「(經過長時間的磨練或發展後) 使某一技術、技藝、觀念或產品更加純熟或完全適合某種用途」(如:to hone a skill);另一是「把 (刀劍或其他武器等) 磨光」(如:to hone a tool)。

"home in on" 被誤為 "hone in on" 可能是有些人潛意識裡面反對將 home 這個溫暖舒適的字與 missile 這種具有重大殺傷力的武器連結在一起。他們認為, missile 應該與磨光的尖銳武器產生關連,所以 "hone" 比 "home" 更適合來表達 "home in on" 的「瞄準和射向目標」意思。然而,截至目前,這仍是一項錯誤的英文寫法。


they, them and their with singular subjects

首先讓我們來看看下面的引句:

  • If a person is born of a ... gloomy temper ... they cannot help it.
  • It's enough to drive anyone out of their senses.
  • Everyone, man and woman, has done their duty.
  • A spokesman said: "A legal adviser has decided to leave over the past few days."
    Asked the reason, he said: "That is a matter for them."

有些人 -- 包括我自己在內 -- 認為這些句子並沒有錯,但其他人則認為不對。有關主詞和動詞的意思明顯是單數,但人稱代名詞和所有格卻用複數型的問題,意見和看法可謂相當分歧。

「牛津英語辭典」(Oxford English Dictionary, OED) 對 "they" 的解釋是這樣說的:

「經常被用來指因 every, any, no 等字而變成整體,或指適用於任一性別 (he 或 she) 的單數名詞」

OED對 "them" 的解釋是:

「經常被用來代替 "him" 或 "her" 以指性別沒有說出的單數人稱,或指 anybody, nobody, somebody, whoever 等等」

OED對 "their" 的解釋,大意亦差不多。

著名的 "The New Fowler's Modern English Usage" 一書認為使用 they 和 their 來指單數主詞易引發爭議及遭到反對。該書亦指出女性似乎比較容易犯下這項錯誤,因為她們反對總是用 "him" 來指 "everybody"。

至於 "Cobuild English Grammar" 則是這樣說:「有時你可能不想指出你所談論的某個人是男性還是女性。有個方法可以讓你這樣做,那就是使用 "they" 或 "them"。這種用法在 "someone", "anyone" 等不定代名詞的後面非常常見。有些人認為使用 "they" 或 "them" 來指一個人是錯的。然而,一直使用 "he or she" 和 "him or her" 是很累贅的。有些人在整篇文章和談話中、或在不定代名詞之後都使用 "he" 和 "him",但許多人反對這樣的用法,因為那表示被指涉的人是男性」。

綜合而言,關於這個問題,至少有五種可能的用法。一是使用累贅的 "he or she","his or her" 等等:

  • The student should feel that the essay belongs to him or her.

另一種用法 -- Cobuild English Grammar 所建議的方法 -- 是將主詞變成複數來完全避免此問題:

例如,你可以用 "As soon as children go to school they are taught to read." 來取代 "As soon as a child goes to school he or she is taught to read."。

但這在某些句子中可能行不通,因為它們的主詞無法合理地被複數化。

第三種可能性也是 "The New Fowler's Modern English Usage" 一書比較喜歡的用法,那就是在所有情況中都使用男性的代名詞和所有格。然而,這有激怒一些女性之虞。

第四種選擇是全部使用女性的代名詞和限定詞,這是一些作家有時或一直採用的方法:

  • This method has been designed to minimise separation anxiety by teaching your child that she can fall asleep alone with confidence.

這與全部使用男性代名詞來表示女性和男性一樣會讓某些人感到不悅。

第五種可能性是接受 "they", "them" 和 "their" 來做為中性的單數型

  • The teacher is not responsible for the student's success or failure. They are only there to help the student learn.
  • I never saw anyone go in to buy. Whether they ever did I don't know.
  • If anyone wants to be a childminder, they must attend a course.
  • If I think someone may take an overdose, I spend hours talking to them.
  • It is up to the student to improve their own lot by regular and proper practice of yoga techniques.
  • Anyone looking for income from their investments is in a much worse state.

上面這些悉數取材自網路英文資料庫的引句,對我來說都是完全可接受的,但它們可能會讓某些人深感不以為然,其實這也是「沒法度的代誌」。

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monger

反戰人士譴責對伊拉克發動戰爭的美國總統布希為 "warmonger" (戰爭販子)。這使筆者不禁對 monger 產生了興趣。經過一番資料搜尋後發現,英文中除了 warmonger 外,以 monger 做字尾的字還真不少,但由於其意義不盡相同,因此大致可以分成兩類。第一類 (數量非常有限) 是指販賣東西、商品的人:這些目前仍然存在的販商包括 fishmonger (魚販),ironmonger (五金商) 和 cheesemonger (乳酪商),而在倫敦推車沿街叫賣水果和蔬菜的 costermonger 恐已成為人們記憶的一部份:

  • If you have a friendly fishmonger, ask him to save you some fish heads (gill removed) and bones, or use a good-quality fish stock cube. (英國雜誌)
  • ...the avenue's oldest shop, an ironmonger's with a beautifully moulded front... (英國「衛報」)
  • His father, Ernest, was a hard-drinking costermonger who dreamed of one day "having a stall in the market and being cucumber king of Leeds". I say it's a great word, "costermonger". It's a shame it's not widely used any more. Keith agrees. (英國「獨立報」)

第二類的數量多了很多,是指進行、推動、倡導或主張不好、負面或令人不快之事情的人。最常用的字如下所述 (雖然這裡都是將 monger 跟與它結合的字寫成一個字,但寫成兩個字以及寫成有連字號的複合字的情況亦所在多有):

scaremonger (scaremongering 可當名詞和分詞形容詞用) -- (為了引起社會恐慌而)「傳播駭人消息的人;危言聳聽者」-- 在網路英文資料庫中有 299 個引句。

warmonger (warmongering 可當名詞和分詞形容詞用) -- 「挑動戰爭的人;戰爭販子」-- 在網路英文資料庫中有 208 個引句。

  • The effect on small farmers will be less than the scaremongers suggest, because for many of them agriculture is just a handy way to supplement income from other sources. (「經濟學人」雜誌)
  • This is the sort of debate Howard can expect from Labor as it tries to muddy the waters and scaremonger on tax reform generally. (澳洲報紙)
  • He is no warmonger, having sought to give peace a further chance after the first Rambouillet talks. (倫敦「泰晤士報」)
  • Since the warmongering of the early 1990s, the world drugs trade has soared, now surpassing in estimated value that of motorcars and oil. (泰晤士報)
  • All it took was a few years of fierce, reckless, chauvinist, intolerant, expansionist, warmongering propaganda to create enough hate to start the fighting. (衛報)

比較不常見的字 (大多僅以名詞型態出現) 包括:

doommonger -- 「悲觀論者;唱衰者;認為劫數難逃者」(有 94 個引句)。

rumo[u]rmonger -- 「散佈謠言的人;造謠者」(93)。

gossipmonger -- 「喜歡搬弄是非的人;愛說別人閒話的人」(38)。

scandalmonger -- 「醜聞販子」(37)。

hatemonger -- 「仇恨製造者」(32)。

fearmonger -- 意思與 scaremonger 相近 (27)。

gloommonger -- 意思與 doommonger 相近 (12)。

  • They laughed at RKO for permitting Orson Welles (whom the gossipmongers sarcastically dubbed "Little Orson Annie") to spend 750,000 on a film that remained on the shelf for three months while studio executives debated whether to junk it. (美國書籍)
  • Doommongers have been saying his career was ruined after the tragedy - that is wrong. (英國小報)
  • The capital, Kigali, is under a dusk to dawn curfew, tensions are running high and rumour-mongering is rife. (BBC)

這些普遍負面、貶抑的字眼似乎有少數的例外,最值得注意的是 peacemonger  -- 「調停人;和事佬;主張、倡導和平的人」(意思與 peacemaker 相近;有 20 個引句)。然而,當我們仔細端詳,我們發現這些字仍被用做貶抑詞:

  • The New York Times dubbed this resolution the 'peacemongering' resolution and me a 'peacemonger'. (加拿大資料庫)

不常見的字包括 wordmonger, noisemonger, phrasemonger, angstmonger, riskmonger, stylemonger, mythmonger and kitschmonger。

monger 有一變體字 mongerer,在網路英文資料庫中出現 6 次:

  • Mr Turnbull asked him how the rumour mongerers would know about the details of the nude photographs and the use of the baton. (泰晤士報)
  • Tsunami desperately believe in the magic of the three minute single, and despite the grumbles of CD-pushing doom mongerers , a lot of others seem to care too. (英國雜誌)

twocking

這個字的原形是 "twoc"。你曾經見過這個字嗎? 它可是一個越來越常用的字。twoc 其實是一句警察用語 -- "taken without owner's consent" -- 的頭字語;這句話的意思是說「未經主人或物主的同意就拿走」,換言之就是「偷竊」、「竊取」(steal),但它僅與 cars 連用,也就是「偷車」的意思。所以,twocking 就是 "taking (a car) without owner's consent"。

Collins English DictionaryNew Oxford Dictionary of English 都有收錄這個字,不過前者把它當作動詞 (變形字為 twocced, twoccing),而後者把它當作名詞 (twoccing 或 twocking);不過,有人認為,根據英文字最後一個字母為 "C" 的字形變化,當這些字要加上以  e, iy 開頭的字尾時,"C" 的後面幾乎都還要插入一個 "K" (如 : panic, panicky; picnic, picnicker。這樣做的目的是要避免 "C" 被發成 s 的音),所以 twoc 的過去式和過去分詞應為 "twocked",而現在分詞或動名詞應為 "twocking"。在網路英文資料庫中,以不同字形出現的 "twoc" 共有 11 個引句,它們皆來自英國資料,且可追溯至 1992 年:

  • Incidents of juvenile twoccing, for example, have halved in the West End between January and October 1992, as compared with same period in 1991. (英國雜誌)
  • He met up with a car thief and that was that. He liked twocking (stealing) cars, he got a buzz out of it. (衛報)
  • When he first met them, they were already seasoned twoccers (car thieves), canny burglars and advanced standard drivers. (英國雜誌)

從引句我們可以總結說,twocking twoccing 就是 "stealing" (a car) 「偷 (車) 或 竊 (車)」,而 twockertwoccer 就是 "car thief" 「偷車賊」。


Far be it from me to...

這是個讓你比較不會得罪人的片語,意為「我決不想...」。當你想要提出批評或表示異議時,你就可以說 "far be it from me to criticize" 或 "far be it from me to disagree" 來降低敵意或表示沒有惡意:

  • Far be it from me to criticize, but shouldn't their mother take a share of the blame?

這個片語是當作一種警告信號:我接下來要說的話,你可能不喜歡聽,但這些話並沒有惡意,所以請不要覺得受到冒犯。然而,在網路英文資料庫中,此片語的引句僅有 50 多個而已,大多來自英國的資料;而且,最常見的動詞並非 criticize 或 disagree,而是 "suggest":

  • Far be it from me to suggest that the Senate would not be debating substantive issues or would be engaging in mere political play. (全美公共電台)
  • Far be it from me to set myself up as a cultural arbiter, but I fail to see the intrinsic value of the travelling community's modus operandi. (英國小報)
  • Far be it from me to complain, but I would love to know who has my $80,000. (澳洲報紙)
  • Well, far be it from me to argue with a medical man, especially Dr Thomas Stuttaford, former Tory MP, Times columnist and hammer of the health industry. (泰晤士報)

事實上,英文裡還有幾個片語的用法或意思與這個片語相當,其中之一就是 "While (or although) I don't wish/want to ..." 「雖然我不想...」,但此片語比較中立且比較正式。下面為網路英文資料庫中的若干引句:

  • Sir: While I do not wish to get into a detailed debate with Mr Pilger about his article "The world's worst terrorists are based in Washington" (Review, 25 August), I must point out that... (獨立報)
  • Now, while I don't want to get into an argument on abortion, I have difficulty following Wolf's new philosophy. (澳洲報紙)
  • Although I don't wish to criticise my team, we tried to do the same thing again but we couldn't. (泰晤士報)

另一片語是 "in my humble opinion"「依我個人淺見」。這個片語在網路英文資料庫中約有60個引句,但它的縮寫 "IMHO" 在電子郵件、新聞群組和簡訊中卻經常被使用。雖然它被視為一種強調自己意見或提出駁斥的禮貌性用語,但其實它一點也不讓人覺得「謙遜」(humble),而說話者本身亦絲毫不認為自己的意見是「淺見」:

  • Sir Kenneth, born in Dunfermline, was one of this country's greatest choreographers (and, in my humble opinion, the most creative, outstripping Sir Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine) (泰晤士報)
  • In my humble opinion, you can't have that kind of fluctuation and feel confident that the accounting system that is in place is functioning properly. (加拿大資料)
  • The coins featured here are not the most costly but the most fascinating (in the columnist's humble opinion). (美國小冊子)

有些人不喜歡上述「表裡不一」的說詞,認為「單刀直入」的方式比較能夠表達自己的看法,因此常把 "in my not-so-humble opinion" (在 email 和 USENET 中被縮寫為 "IMNSHO")「恕我直言」掛在嘴邊:

  • In my not-so-humble opinion, the recent spate of Velvets worship in the press is the biggest lie you've been told in a while. (英國雜誌)
  • In my ever-so-humble opinion Archer always represented the sewer of British public life. (英國小報)

至於我們常見的 "in my opinion"「依我個人意見;依我看」,似乎也予人一種說話者傲慢、妄自尊大的觀感。英美人士認為,"It is my opinion (that)" 會顯得比較中立,也比較正式:

  • It is my opinion that games should be enjoyable for their own sake. (獨立報)
  • It was my opinion that the contamination occurred really somewhere between the 8th, the 14th -- the 9th to the 14th. (加拿大資料)
  • It's my opinion that a manager and his coaches can only be judged after being in the job for three seasons. (英國小報)

或許我們只要說 "I think" 就可以了?

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to have finished or to be finished?

這兩個片語用在句子中時,它們的後面大多接 with, 而形成 "someone has finished with something" 或 "someone is finished with something" 的句型。它們在英國和美國都很常用,但在美國,"be" 版似乎比 "have" 版更加常見;此外,兩者都屬於非正式用語,但 "be" 版似乎又比 "have" 版略微 informal。這兩個片語的意思大致上是一樣的:「完成了 (的)」、「結束了 (的)」、「終了 (的)」等等;因此,視情況而定,它們可以表達「吃/喝完了」、「做完了」、「用完了」、「好了」等等的意思:

  • As soon as I'm finished with the photocopies I'll be down. (加拿大資料)
  • We're finished with the sauces thank you. (英國會話)
  • When do you reckon you'll be finished with it? (英國會話)
  • Have you finished with my bicycle pump? (英國「衛報」)
  • If you've finished with your coffee, I need to take a look at the tennis court. (美國書籍)

"finished with" 還有其他意思,它的前面可以是 "have" 或 "be"。請看下面的引句:

  • Hasselbaink is not finished with the back of Premiership nets just yet. (英國「泰晤士報」)
  • Mr Sands is not finished with St Anton, however. (英國「獨立報」)
  • When she is finished with the BBC in Birmingham, it's back to New York to get ready for filming Cotton Mary. (衛報)
  • Even though the duo are both well into their forties, they haven't finished with pop music yet. (泰晤士報)
  • Good luck to them but I've finished with all that. (英國小報)

這裡有一點必須提出說明,那就是:這兩個片語的文法結構是不同的。在英文中,用來構成現在完成式的助動詞是 "have",不是 "be"。換言之,"have finished with" 是個動詞片語 (這裡 finished 是動詞),而 "be finished with" 是形容詞片語 (這裡 finished 是形容詞)。相同的情況亦發生在意思跟 "finished" 一樣的 "done" 身上;你可以說 "Have you done?" 或 "Are you done?" -- 兩者也都是非正式用語:

  • Are you done?" asked Karen. "I'm done." (美國書籍)

"be finished with" 似乎略帶加強語氣的作用。所以,當你說 "be not finished with something" 時,那表示你有一份持續下去、繼續做下去的決心,但如果你說 "be finished with something",那可能表示你感到厭倦、厭煩 (這是使用 "have" 時無法表達的意涵):

  • Last week Carr was in America to launch her life story, Land of a Thousand Hills, but now she has finished with publicity. (泰晤士報)
  • He's going to prepare some recommendations that will then go to the Chief of Staff that he will implement, but they are not finished with that yet. (美國會話)
  • He has spent three years desperately trying to win the friendship of his three children from his last marriage. But he now says he is 'finished' with them. (英國小報)
  • That's it, I'm finished with English football. (英國小報)

"finished with" 還有「(與某人) 斷絕關係、斷絕來往、絕交、分手」的意思;這裡 "finished" 是動詞,所以助動詞一定是 "have",不能用 "be"

  • He hadn't finished with me, I'd finished with him. (英國會話)
  • She has finished with her boyfriend of six years. (英國小報)

但當形容詞用的 "be finished" 也有一個特有的意思,那就是「完蛋了」

  • If it turned out that he had been lying about his sexuality, even now, he would be finished. (泰晤士報)
  • If you start making compromises, you are finished. (獨立報)
  • "This business is finished," he says sadly, mourning the hobby that has obsessed him since childhood. (英國雜誌)

take a walk, have a walk, or go for a walk? 

這三個片語是同義詞,意為「散步」,但它們的使用率並不相同。它們在網路英文資料庫中出現的頻率如下:"go for a walk" 和 "have/take a walk" 都出現約 600 次;然而,"take a walk" 的出現率卻比 "have a walk" 高出約三倍。在約三分之一的引句中,"have/take a walk" 係以某種方式來修飾;這些修飾語不只包括形容詞 (long, little, short, brisk, nice, good 等等),如 "take a short walk",而且還包括名詞 (morning, Sunday, afternoon 等等),如 "take a morning walk"。"go for a walk" 僅在約六分之一的引句中有被修飾 -- 通常是被下列形容詞修飾:long, brisk, little, short, quiet, daily。

"go for a walk" 似乎在英國用得比較多,在比較非正式用語的資料庫中,此片語的使用率居冠,而 "have/take a walk" 則比較平均分佈在不同的用語類別當中。

若僅看口語部分,在英國口語中,"go for a walk" 和 "have/take a walk" 的使用率大致相等:兩者均約有 70 個引句。"have" 和 "take" 被形容詞如 "little, good, long, nice, quick" 所修飾,但 "go for" 僅被 "long" 修飾。

在數量有限 (因為手邊的資料不多) 的美國口語資料庫中,由於引句太少,因此無法做明確的判斷,不過在美國廣播用語資料庫中,"take"最常見,"go for" 居次,而 "have" 只有一個引句:

  • Parisians on the street often looked worried, hurried and unfriendly, even when walking their dogs. But try asking the dog if he's having a nice walk. (French spoken) And both owner and dog, especially if he's a mongrel, will beam with delight. (全美公共電台)

(這個引句的說話者或許不是美國人。) "take/have a walk" 和 "go for a walk" 似乎各有擁護者,鼎足而立、分庭抗禮。"take a walk" 在美式英語中甚受青睞;"go for a walk" 在英式英語中受歡迎的程度比在美式英語中高出很多。當使用 "take/have" 時,"walk" 這個名詞被修飾 -- 被形容詞或另一名詞修飾 -- 的機率比使用 "go for" 來得高。至於 "walk" 被修飾的 "take" 和 "have" 引句,兩者在數量上似乎相差不大。

在加拿大英文資料庫中,"take" 有 35 個引句,"go for" 有 24 個引句,但 "have" 則付諸闕如。在英國,這三個片語似乎也產生一種「代溝」現象,因為較年輕的一代比較喜歡使用 "go for a walk" (但美國年輕的一代則不然)。或許這只是個人偏好的問題。


out of pocket

英文中有若干與錢有關的成語使用了 "pocket" 這個字,如 "to dip/put one's hand in one's pocket" (掏腰包,花錢),"to line one's pockets/purse" (發橫財;中飽私囊) 等。至於本篇文章的主題 "out of pocket",也屬於其中之一;不過,由於這成語有數個不盡相同的意思 (儘管它們也都跟錢有關),我們特別提出來加以評註。

out of pocket 的第一個意思是 -- 根據 American Heritage Dictionary -- 「沒錢,沒資金,無資產」;第二個意思是「賠錢,虧本,輸錢」。在英式英語中,"out of pocket" 並無「沒錢,沒資金,無資產」的意思,但它有第二個意思 (根據 Cobuild Idioms Dictionary);英國人常說 "I'm left out of pocket."

這成語還有另一個當形容詞用的意思,此時它幾乎都是與 "expenses" 連用,指的是你先自掏腰包支付,然後通常可以獲得退還的費用。American Heritage Dictionary Cobuild Idioms Dictionary 都有這項意思,但後者也說,在美式英語中,"pay out of pocket" 指的就是這意思。

在網路英文資料庫中,"out of pocket" 最常見的句型是 "out of pocket expenses/costs"。至於這些費用是否可以退還,在美式英語中似乎有些模稜兩可,但在英式英語中則確定可以要回來:

  • Metropolitan acceptance has a special program that can save you even more money with absolutely NO OUT OF POCKET COSTS. (美國文件)
  • With so many new appliances in today's homes, from computers to jumbo-size TV's, the chances of at least one of them needing repair are greater than ever. And when that happens, you're not just in for out-of-pocket expenses for repair. (美國文件)
  • None of them receives a salary as such but they are reimbursed for all out of pocket expenses plus a small allowance to cover certain clothing costs. (英國書籍)

"pay out of pocket" 在美國資料庫中很常見,絕大部分都與健保醫療有關:

  • Most Americans pay out of pocket for their prescription drugs. In fact, for most of the elderly, prescription drugs are the highest out-of-pocket expense they have. (全美公共電台)
  • If that means getting them to a therapist, getting them to a treatment program, I'll be able to tell them exactly how much their insurance is going to cover, how much they have to pay out of pocket. (美國會話)
  • I'm covered under two different programs, and it's still out of pocket, you know, I mean. I still pay and pay and pay, and I would think, you know, two major carriers that you shouldn't have to pay anything out of pocket. (全美公共電台)

但上面的引句似乎表示所支付的金錢是自付額,沒辦法退還的。下面是另一個引句:

  • Since he first announced last spring, Perot's campaign has cost him $48 million, almost all of it out of pocket. (全美公共電台)

這句的意思大概也一樣,亦即他花了自己的錢,而這些錢是不能再要回來的。

"out of pocket" 另一常見的句型就是上面已提過的 "left out of pocket"。這意謂你損失了錢 (而且可以或不可以要回來):

  • Customers left out of pocket when Australia's largest direct marketing computer retailer, Business Boost, went into voluntary administration should receive either computers or cash under a creditors' agreement. (澳洲報紙)

你也可以說某人虧了、賠了或輸了多少錢:

  • The Manic Street Preachers are £50,000 out of pocket after charging just £30 a ticket for their New Year gig in Cardiff. (英國小報)

American Heritage Dictionary 也提到另一個相關的成語 "in pocket",意為「賺錢;手頭有錢」:

  • An instant access account with a direct debit would leave you in pocket. (英國小報)
  • Things invariably cost more than you expect. If they don't, you will be in the happy position of being unexpectedly in pocket. (英國雜誌)

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