現代英語評註-11

[somewhat of a mystery] [Are you up for it?] [discombobulate]

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somewhat of a mystery

一些人對 somewhat of  這個片語 (如 "somewhat of a mystery") 的正確性感到好奇或質疑;他們一直認為標準的用語應該是 "something of" (something of a mystery) -- 這等同於 "somewhat + 形容詞 ",即 "somewhat mysterious"。

在網路英文資料庫中,"somewhat of" (意為「有點,有幾分」) 約有 200 個引句,其中最常見的搭配詞是 somewhat of a mystery, a surprise, a shock, a risk。這個片語在美國和加拿大的英文資料庫中出現的次數最多。再者,幾本著名的英文字典都有收錄這片語,顯示這樣的用法由來已久且是標準英語。以下為其中的幾個引句:
 

  • Hayek's silence on The General Theory remains somewhat of a mystery. (英國書籍)
  • The BBC correspondent in Pakistan says the election is basically a referendum on Miss Bhutto, who has made somewhat of a comeback. (BBC)
  • Having been in and out of assorted jails over the past four years, the British television writer (Prime Suspect, Widows) considers herself somewhat of an expert on criminal rehabilitation. (澳洲報紙)

至於 something of ,意思大致一樣 --「有點,有幾分;可以說是,可以算是」:"He is something of an expert on playing online games." (他可說是玩線上遊戲的專家」)。


Are you up for it?

近年來英國的廣播電台和電視經常使用 "to be up for something" (例如:Are you up for it?) 這樣的結構。它的意思似乎是準備做某事。或許有人跟筆者一樣很想知道這是否為英文的新詞;若是,它出自何處呢?

據查,這個片語最早是出現在 90 年代末期出版的字典中,但個人推測,在此之前它應該已存在一段時間。它在網路英文資料庫中頗為常見,約有 700 個引句,其中許多是來自新聞報導。這些引句絕大部分都屬於兩個主題:體育與性愛。它有兩個 -- 甚至三個 -- 意思。主要意思是大多數字典所列的「願意、想要、甚至渴望參與某一活動」。

It's a big challenge and I'm up for it. (Collins English Dictionary)

We're going clubbing tonight. Are you up for it? (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

"What do you feel like doing?" "I'd be up for just about anything." (Macmillan English Dictionary)

這一意思在下列引句中甚為明顯:

  • I wasn't really up for it but my agent persuaded me. He reckoned I was destined for No 1 but it didn't happen. (英國廣播公司 BBC 訪問一名流行歌手)
  • You can tell immediately if an interviewee is "up for it" and Delia was breezy and welcoming from the start. (泰晤士報)

這片語亦相當常用於運動比賽,但它的意思略有不同,因為它似乎意謂「已做好充分準備,準備迎戰並擊敗對手」。

  • We are a fully professional outfit, so the guys were really up for it; but we just couldn't retain the ball in the second half. (BBC)

不僅選手或球員可以 "up for it",球迷也可以「有備而來」:

  • The fans will be up for it and I know I definitely will be. I really can't wait. (英國小報)

由於「粉絲族」(fans,球迷) 並未參與賽事,他們的 "up for it" 必定是指他們準備給予他們最喜愛的球隊或球員熱烈的支持。

第三個意思是,「想要做愛」;而它似乎大多用在女性身上 -- 至少英國小報界以及它們的讀者都是這樣使用及這樣認知:

  • We'd been guzzling champagne like water. We were just having a great day at the races and it was clear she was up for it . (英國小報)
  • Most girls are normally a bit shy but she was well up for it , her hands were everywhere. (英國小報)

這個片語有時亦被用做形容詞 (在各字中間加連字號) 來修飾其後的名詞:

  • On this occasion, there were no video cameras or threesomes with up-for-it blondes at 7am in the morning. (英國小報)
  • It is amazing how quickly one can go from up-for-it lager-lass to censorious, self-righteous kill-joy. (泰晤士報)

查閱許多資料後仍無法得知這片語起源於何時或出自何處,不過根據一些資料所做的推測,它可能是在 20 世紀末期開始出現在英國人的談話中。


discombobulate

美國「時代」(TIME) 雜誌在其一篇對美國前第一夫人、現任聯邦參議員希拉蕊‧柯林頓的回憶錄「活出歷史」(Living History) 所做的評論中使用了這個字。由於這個字並非每本字典都有收錄,且沒有 "combobulate" 或 "bobulate" 等相關的動詞,因此筆者認為有提出來討論的必要。根據 Webster's Third New International Dictionary,discombobulate (重音在第三音節,即劃底線之處) 為一及物動詞,意為「擾亂,使混亂,使困惑」(upset, confuse)。

又根據 Collins English Dictionary,這個字主要是美國和加拿大的口語,意為「使陷入混亂」(to throw into confusion),且可能是從 discompose (使不安,使心煩意亂) 或 discomfit (使狼狽,使困窘) 變化而來。然而,頗令人驚訝的是,在網路英文資料庫找到的 63 個引句中,有 29 個是出自英國資料 -- 大多用於新聞報導中。American Heritage College Dictionary (第4版) 也有收錄這個字,同時列出了它的名詞 "discombobulation" -- 在網路英文資料庫中有 10 個引句。

除上面提到的名詞外,它還有 (分詞) 形容詞 (discombobulated, discombobulating),甚至副詞:

  • Just as adult children begin to rub along with their parents, midlife crisis strikes. Some get religion or HRT, develop a drink problem or chase pubescent skirt. My mother has discombobulated me by discovering line dancing - and thus whooping noises, sequins and tassles, and industrial quantities of rum and Coke. (倫敦泰晤士報)
  • Well, to tell the truth I am totally discombobulated by his actions because, in a way, they are encouraging students to have sex. (美國會話)
  • Much to the discombobulation of respectable and tedious parents, their children quite like the idea of a mysterious uncle, and, given the choice, they will always pick the wicked one. (英國雜誌)
  • In the wee small hours you are still likely to come across discombobulating blasts of avant-jazz that will make you worry that you've accidentally woken up in 1971. (泰晤士報)
  • He is funny enough on the page, on the air and on the screen, but in the flesh he is discombobulatingly funny, as only the greatest comedians are. (泰晤士報)

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