現代英語評註-6

[a friend of mine, etc] [firstable (and secondable)] [habitable or inhabitable?] [inflict or afflict?] [beg the question] [irregardless] [the idea of or the idea to?] [pussyfooting around] [unspectacular] [prevaricate and procrastinate] [reticent or reluctant?] [homogeneous or homogenous?] [consist of or consist in?] [adhesion or adherence?] [security blanket]

Back to Commentary on Current English


a friend  of mine, etc

我們經常見到 "a friend of mine" 及類似的用法,如 "a book of mine","a car of mine" 等等。這種用法是所有英文字典及文法專家公認正確的用法。有關此用法的例句在英文字典中俯拾即是:

  • One friend of mine told me that she had a bad pain in her neck for several days.
  • I found I had two albums of yours at home.
  • Would you have been happy to send a child of yours to boarding school?
  • You're a relative of his, I understand?
  • She brought friends of hers to meet us in our home.
  • The George Hotel had long been a favourite of ours.
  • They brought me some items of theirs: a glove, a lipstick, some pieces of clothing.

在這種句子結構中,friend 是最常見的名詞;而且,大體而言,指人的名詞比指事物的名詞還常見。

除了所有格代名詞如 mineyours 之外,名詞的所有格 (名詞加 's) 也是這樣用:

  • She admitted being a fan of the group's.
  • ...Bruce Jacobs, a long time friend and colleague of Austin's.
  • They are the neighbors of the Smiths'.

為何會有這樣的用法呢? 一個簡單的答案是,這種結構有一無法以任何其他方式來表達的特殊意思。my, your, his, her, its, our 以及 their 叫做所有格限定詞 (有時也稱為所有格形容詞)。而且,它們是確定的限定詞,因為它們都是指已經知道或先前已提過的特定人事物。例如:

my friend = 我已提過的朋友或我唯一的朋友

your shirts = 你已提過的襯衫或你的所有襯衫

his hands = 他 ( 僅有) 的兩隻手

請注意所有格限定詞與含有 the (定冠詞 -- 最簡單,也是最常見的確定的限定詞) 的片語放在一起的情況。英語系國家的本土人士直覺上都知道 my, your, his 等都是確定的限定詞,所以 "the my friend""the your shirts" 等片語係屬限定詞重複,所以是錯誤的用法。

然而,還有一類限定詞叫做不確定的限定詞,它們包括 a, an, some 以及數詞。在此,我們所提到的人事物的確切「身份」不明或不重要。例如:

a woman = 許多婦女中的一位或任何一位

some shirts = 一披襯衫中數目不確定的襯衫,或數目較多的那一類型的襯衫

with one hand = 左手或右手

現在,讓我們將「所有」和「不確定」這兩個意思結合在同一片語中,也就是說,以一個片語來表達這兩個意思。在日常生活當中,你經常會跟人家說「你的 (多位) 朋友中有一位怎樣跟怎樣」。你不能說 "a my friend",因為這是矛盾的 -- my 是表示確定的意思,而 a 是不確定的意思。你也不能只是說  my friend,因為這暗示你只有一個朋友,或你是指你已提過的那位特定的朋友。唯一的選擇就是說成 a friend of mine。所以,現在你應該可以分辨下列各對句子之間意思的差異了吧!

  • I found I had two albums of yours at home.
  • I found I had your two albums at home.

  • She brought friends of hers to meet us in our home.
  • She brought her friends to meet us in our home.

  • The George Hotel had long been a favourite of ours.
  • The George Hotel had long been our favourite.

  • She admitted being a fan of the group's.
  • She admitted being the group's fan.

firstable (and secondable)

你曾經見過 "firstable" 這個字嗎? 也許有,也許沒有?! 雖然我心裡想這個字現在不可能在字典中查得到,但我還是盡最大努力去查閱數本公認的權威字典 -- 其中一本還是在 1999 年才出新版 -- 果不其然,firstable 的芳蹤杳如黃鶴。然而,使用這個字的例句在網路上多如過江之鯽 (底下的代表性例句即是取材自網路,不過例句中有些專有名詞頗為艱深,可以不必深究):

  • Firstable I need a model for the proton where can be it fixed in formula 6.
  • Hello, I am newly connected to the list, so I firstly present myself : - firstable, excuse my awful frenchy english.
  • I find [your argument] a little flawed. Firstable a sixteen or seventeen year old at that age has not expirienced much in terms of life expirience.
  • What are the PIP benefits? Firstable a PIP insurance is...
  • Is this the right place for me to ask some questions about the network simulator (ns)?
    Firstable, I would like to know if there are methods to set a node, a link, or even an agent to randomly drop some packets.
  • Our protocol, which is compatible with the IETF standard, provides two main improvements over the IETF solution. Firstable, it is hierarchical and differentiates micro-mobility from macro-mobility.

從上述例句中可以明顯地看出,firstable 意為 "first" 或 "firstly" (首先;第一),我猜想它是 "first of all" 的變形。雖然寫這些例句的人有若干是非英語系國家人士,但 "firstable" 亦被母語為英語的人士所採用,而且似乎比較常出現在有關科技和科學的句子中。走文至此,有人可能想知道,既然有 firstable,那麼應該也有 secondable 才對?! 沒錯,網路上也不乏這樣的例句:

  • Firstable my /opt/bb13a/etc/bbdef.sh was not executable so I did a chmod to make it executable.
    Secondable after typing "set | grep DISP" I got nothing for output. Just a blank line.

這個例句說明了英語正受到網際網路影響而發生變化的事實;網際網路可以在極短的時間內創造出新字新詞並廣為流行。此外,母語為英語的人士不再具有創造英文新字新詞的壟斷權。

"firstable" 這個字顯然是存在的,而且正被使用著,只是我不知道它的應用有多廣泛 -- 我尚未在印刷出版品中見過這個字。它是否為一個因誤解而產生的字 (一個標準英文字因誤聽而產生的結果),或是一個有效且有用的字,抑或介於兩者之間,目前尚未可知,但可以肯定的一點的是, 如果有足夠多的人開始使用它,那麼它最後將變成英語的一部份。


habitable or inhabitable?

你應該說 "habitable" 還是 "inhabitable" 呢?

如果一棟建築物、房子或一個房間適合居住,你是說 habitable 還是 inhabitable 呢?

  • The hut has been done up as a perfectly habitable cottage. (報紙的文章)
  • A house considered to be inhabitable fetched 180 dollars a week. (報紙的文章)

如果一個地區或區域可居住的,你是說 habitable 還是 inhabitable 呢?

  • The plateau is accessible only by helicopter and is habitable for only three months of the year. (報紙的文章)
  • Reykjavik is the world's most northerly capital, right on the edge of inhabitable Europe. (報紙的文章)

傳統的觀點是,房子或房間應以 habitable 來表示「適合居住」的意思,而地區或區域應以 inhabitable 來表示「可居住」的意思。

證據:

證據顯示,就這兩種意思而言,"habitable" 現在都比 "inhabitable" 來得常見許多。在英文資料庫中,建築物和房間被形容為 "habitable" 的次數有 111 次,而 "inhabitable" 只有 4 次。地區和區域 (包括星球) 被形容為 "habitable" 的次數有 109 次,而 "inhabitable" 只有 7 次。

證據顯示,"habitable" 的反義字幾乎都是 "uninhabitable"。在英文資料庫中,"uninhabitable" 出現 111 次,"unhabitable" 3 次,而 "non-habitable" 4 次

建議:

建築物、房間、地區或星球「適合居住的」、「可居住的」最好都使用 habitable,而不要使用 "inhabitable"。"habitable" 的反義字是 uninhabitable

top.gif (1110 bytes)

inflict or afflict?

你應該說 "inflict" 還是 "afflict" 呢?

如果你 inflict something on upon someone,那就表示你使某人 (someone) 遭受痛苦、打擊 (something) 等:

  • A few weeks before, the French had inflicted a crushing defeat on the British. (歷史書籍)
  • The law reserves the right to inflict the heaviest punishment available upon those found guilty of this crime. (報紙社論)

有時我們會見到 inflicting someone with something 這樣的用法:

  • Successive governments have wasted our economy, inflicting us with unemployment at one time, inflation at another, and often with both at the same time. (報紙報導引述政治人士的話)
  • Union sources said that one in ten of the staff are likely to be inflicted with a salary freeze. (報紙報導)

這種用法通常被視為錯誤。一般認為,inflict 應該只能跟 on upon 連用,如最上面的例句。

我們有時也會聽到人家說 someone is inflicted with an illness or other physical problem,意思是說某人遭受疾病或其他身體毛病的折磨,亦即為疾病所苦:

  • We should not forget those millions inflicted with AIDS or its virus. (電台談話性節目)

這種用法亦被視為錯誤,因為正確的用字是 afflicted,而不是 "inflicted":

  • Her young son had become afflicted with a terrible disease. (報紙的報導)
  • He never learned to ride properly, as he was afflicted with a weak back. (訃文)

證據:

在英文資料庫中,inflict something "on" 或 "upon" someone 的例句有逾 2,000 個之多,而 inflict someone "with" something 的例句僅有 7 個。someone is "inflicted" (大多用被動態) with an illness or other physical problem 的例句只有區區 3 個,而使用 be "afflicted" with 的例句有 150 個。

建議:

你應該說 inflict something on someone,而不是 "inflict" someone "with" something:

  • Australia inflicted a 53-7 defeat on Argentina yesterday. (報紙的報導)
  • The rebels say they inflicted heavy losses on government troops. (電台的報導)

你應該說 someone is afflicted with an illness or other physical problem,而不是 "inflicted with" it:

  • About 20 million women are afflicted with osteoporosis. (報紙的文章)
  • As an adolescent he was afflicted with an appalling stammer. (報紙的文章)

beg the question

"beg the question" 該如何使用呢?

beg the question 這個片語最初是從拉丁文  petitio principii 翻譯而來,但卻是一項錯誤的翻譯。坊間英漢字典對此的解釋是「以未決定的問題做為論據進行討論」,「以未經證實的觀點做為立論根據」-- 這樣的解釋你們瞭解它的意思嗎? 才怪! 說得白話一點,它的意思就是「假設性的推斷」、「把未經證實的事情當做是真實」。目前有些人仍認為這是 "beg the question" 唯一正確的意思。然而,這個片語現在鮮少用來表達這個意思。

現今,如果有人說某一聲明或情況 beg the question, 那麼他們的意思是說,該聲明或情況顯示需要問 (並回答)某一特定的問題 -- 也就是說,該聲明或情況引發了某個不得不問的問題;然後,他們會說出是什麼問題:

  • We are told that the dispute is now over, which begs the question: "What was it all about?" (報紙的文章)
  • The success of these simple teacups does beg the question of why more notice is not taken of the splendour of their heritage by our own potteries. (雜誌的文章)

證據:

"beg the question" 在英文資料庫及網路相關參考資料中共出現 279 次。其中至少有  240 次,它的意思就是「引發某個不得不問的問題」。僅 10 種情況顯然是在表達其原始的意思。(若干英文用法書籍還提到第三種意思 -- 避開了直接了當回答問題,避免正面答覆。但在上述資料中,用做這個意思的 "beg the question" 僅出現 1 次。)

建議:

beg the question 現在的意思跟它原始的意思截然不同。它通常被用來表示一項聲明或情況引發了某個 (不得不問的) 問題:

  • There are some good deals around these days, which beg the question, have we been paying too much in the past? (保險宣傳品)
  • Your report on the fining of an airline for bringing 156 asylum seekers lacking a valid visa begs the question of what effect such a sanction will have on the opportunities for those fleeing persecution to reach the UK. (報紙的讀者投書)

然而,必須注意的是,有人仍認為這種用法是錯的。如果你擔心 beg the question 的這種用法會引起一些人的誤解,那麼你可以使用 prompt the question 來取代之:

  • If the events over the last few days prove anything at all, it is that economic experts know very little. Which prompts the question: is economics a science or merely a set of opinions? (雜誌的文章)

irregardless

你曾經見過 "irregardless" 這個字嗎? 也許有,也許沒有?! 在英文資料庫中,它出現 9 次,不過其中有 3 次是來自專門講英文文體的書籍,它們警告讀者不要使用這個字。以下為這個字的兩個使用實例,皆來自美國電台的廣播:

  • I do think that, irregardless of Bush or Clinton, the people ... voted for change.
  • We would like to see it [the UN] being more proactive, but in a considered way, not simply saying, well, we'll just bash on in there irregardless.

新牛津英語字典指稱,"irregardless" 可能是由 regardlessirrespective 合併而成 -- 這項論點似乎是根據上面的引句。該字典也說這個字是個非正式用字,並說它的起源是在 20 世紀初葉 -- 起源之早委實令人驚訝。

"regardless" 和 "irrespective" (意思都是「不管;不顧;不拘」,當副詞用) 均相當常見,且似乎沒有被 "irregardless" 取代之虞。regardless 通常接 "of",但也可能出現在句末:

  • Londoners pride themselves on the spirit that carried them through the blitz of World War II. They just seem to carry on regardless. (美國電台)
  • It has enabled doctors and hospitals, at least until recently, to keep up their incomes regardless. (英國雜誌)
  • I've always wanted to do more 200s, but they pay me to run the 100 so that's what you do. But this year I'm going to do it regardless. (英國報紙)

irrespective 幾乎都是接 "of";不接 of 的情況非常少,通常是在口語中:

  • Well, it didn't matter what the reporters said because our commercial went out irrespective. (美國電台)
  • The basic principle of rates is to pay for services which everyone gets irrespective where they live. (英國電台)

在少數情況中,也就是在細心的寫作中,"irrespective" 的後面接疑問字或是以連接詞 "that" 引導的名詞子句:

  • The habit is to pursue the auditor for the totality, irrespective that they only had a small part in what went wrong. (英國報紙)

top.gif (1110 bytes)

the idea of or the idea to?

你應該說 "the idea of " 還是 "the idea to" 呢?

你是說 someone has the idea of doing something 還是 someone has the idea to do something 呢?

  • Director Jerome Robbins had the idea of placing the two ladies on stools in front of a plain backdrop. (有關戲院的文章)
  • Gow had the idea to devise a holiday around learning journalistic skills. (報紙的報導)
  • What gave you the idea of trying to develop a new style of engine in this particular way? (電台專訪)
  • What gave you the idea to start this multicultural school? (電台專訪)

一般通常認為 someone has "the idea to do" something 的說法是錯的。

證據:

在英文資料庫的英式英語中,having "the idea of doing" something 比 having "the idea to do" something 還常見或常用約 8 倍;而在美式英語中,having "the idea of doing" something 則比 having "the idea to do" something 常見或常用約 2 倍。

建議:

在英式英語中,我們最好說 someone has "the idea of doing" something,而不要說 someone has "the idea to do" something。

  • He then got the idea of mounting a circular saw onto a motor. (雜誌的文章)
  • McCrum had the simple idea of putting together the best stories from each volume. (雜誌的文章)
  • This is what gave the researchers the idea of using the enzyme to destroy viruses. (雜誌的文章) 

pussyfooting around

我們經常會聽到或用到 "foot the bill" (付帳) 這個成語,但你知道為何使用 foot 這個字嗎?

一般大多認為,這似乎是導源於付帳的人都是在帳單底端 (at the bottom 或 at the foot) 簽名,不過現今它的主要用法已與實體的帳單沒有什麼關係。

  • Schools are short of money because the Government refused to foot the bill for a teachers' pay increase awarded earlier this year. (英國報紙)

"foot" 是個很奇怪的動詞,僅出現在非常少數的複合字中。除了出現在 "foot the bill" 中,被當做成語看待外,若干字典甚至未單獨列出 "to foot" 的「付 (帳)」動詞用法;至於 "foot" 出現在其他場合的情況,則是用做兩個字的複合字中的第二個字。

然而,我們絕對不能說除了 bills 被 foot 外,再也沒有其他使用 "to foot" 來做「付 ...」的意思的場合了,因為經驗告訴我們,往往會有非典型的用法來給我們「吐糟」,證明我們是錯的。果不其然,根據英文資料庫,"to foot costs",甚至 "to foot compensation" 亦所在多有;可以料想得到的,這些用法全部來自新聞業:

  • It isn't clear, however, whether the White House is willing to foot the high cost of shipping refrigerated pork overseas. (美國報紙)
  • If anyone is ready to foot the production costs his operas normally entail, then there is no need to look beyond Swenson for the soprano lead. (英國報紙)
  • Mr Shirvington said that if the Australian Government cancelled ERA's contracts, taxpayers would foot the compensation  (澳洲報紙)

除了 bills 外,動詞 foot 也出現在少數相當生動的複合字中。hotfoot 意為「趕快、急忙」,他可以拼成一個字,兩個字或加連字號,後面幾乎都是接 "it"。

  • Our social lives began to disintegrate because we were hot-footing it up and down the country all the time. (英國雜誌)

其次是  wrongfoot,意為「使人處以劣勢、不利的地位」,可拼成一個字或加連字號:

  • He had the gift of wrongfooting opponents and reducing them to impotent, spluttering rage. (英國報紙)

足球用語 sidefoot 僅出現在英國和澳洲的新聞用語中,拼成一個字;顧名思義,它的意思是用腳的側邊踢球,即「(內外) 側踢」:

  • Frank Farina forced West Adelaide keeper Peter Blazincic to parry his header, and Brown was on hand to sidefoot it over the line. (澳洲報紙)

最後就是 pussyfoot (around) 這個在一般英文字典都可以查得到的動詞,所以就不必解釋了;它大多拼成一個字,但也可以加連字號:

  • If I feel a bit miserable, do I go pussy-footing around, being all nice to the lackeys or whoever? Do I hell! (英國報紙)

unspectacular

如果你曾經找過 "unspectacular" 的同義字,你可能會發現它們都是一些看起來負面的字,如 dull, uninteresting, unimpressiveunremarkable,中文的意思大抵是「不顯著的」、「不起眼的」、「無法引人入勝的」、「無法令人印象深刻的」。現在讓我們來看看幾個從網路字典中找到的例句:

  • ...a look into the minutiae of ordinary, unspectacular people's lives.
  • Overall very unspectacular for the amount it costs.
  • Its unspectacular showing in local elections should dispel any comfort it finds in its opinion-poll leads.

根據我們對 unspectacular 的分析,這個字通常跟   if, butthough 等連接詞一起出現。這顯示,它通常與另一個比較正面的字形成對比。以下為若干例句:

  • The result has been a solid, if unspectacular, return to economic growth.
  • ...a steady, if unspectacular, improvement in the extent and quality of the social services.
  • ...after such prolonged nurturing, which had brought steady if unspectacular progress.
  • ...an accurate slow-medium bowler, a sound if unspectacular batsman.
  • ...an efficient, if unspectacular, performance.
  • A good, but unspectacular, year then for the popular Argentinian.
  • ...an unspectacular but solid recovery.
  • ...a comfortable though unspectacular flat in London's Victoria.

從上面的例句我們可以看出,與 unspectacular 形成對比的形容詞以 solid, steadysound 的出現頻率最高,顯示這種句型所表現的「性質」只有普通到良好 (average to good) 的程度 ,尚未達到 "spectacular" 的程度。

因此,unspectacular 本身有時具有較上述 dull 等字更正面的意思:

  • After a year of spectacular upheavals the Germans are voting in a reassuringly unspectacular way.

這個字經常用於對比的事實,顯示了它具有起初看不出來或不明顯的 "spectacular" 特性:

  • At first sight it is an unspectacular landscape.
  • What, we wonder, is the Special Branch doing concerning itself with what on the face of it looks like a perfectly unspectacular murder?

top.gif (1110 bytes)

prevaricate and procrastinate

根據字典,這兩個字的意思相當類似,但應該還不到會引起混淆的程度。然而,越來越多人質疑 "prevaricate" 是否逐漸取代 "procrastinate" 呢?

這兩個字都是來自拉丁字根,to "procrastinate" 的意思是「拖延」或「延宕」去做某事,因為你不想做;而 to "prevaricate" 的意思是「支吾其詞」、「搪塞」、「推諉」、「不做正面或直接的答覆」或「不做確切的決定」。由於你拖延去做的事可能是「做答覆」或「做決定」,所以我們可以輕易地瞭解為何這兩個字有時會引起混淆。這兩個字並非很常見,根據字典及網路資料庫,所有詞類的 procrastinate (包括名詞 procrastinationprocrastinator) 共出現 438 次,而 prevaricate 總共僅出現 247 次。當 "prevaricate" 後面接 "over" 或 "about" 時 (通常如此),它的意思就不會或鮮少模稜兩可:

  • Ministers have been prevaricating over the matter since the outbreak of the crisis. (英國報紙)
  • It is, of course, the easiest thing in the world to make cheap fun of an actress's prevarication about her real age, and it is hardly chivalrous in an obituary notice to challenge her account. (英國報紙)
  • You have been trafficking in drugs for a very long time. I am satisfied you have prevaricated and lied at every opportunity. (英國報紙)

在上述例句中,部長們不願做決定,而女演員和毒梟則規避做正面答覆。

其他情況則比較模稜兩可:

  • This is the Government just prevaricating and delaying. (英國報紙)
  • While the politicians prevaricated, nature stepped in. (英國雜誌)

在此兩例中,它們可能是說相關人士拖延做某事,或規避做決定,或是兩者。

"procrastinate" 的意思比較明確:

  • I used to procrastinate terribly because of my desire for perfection. I would do weeks of research for an article but then couldn't bring myself to embark on the first paragraph because no sentence seemed absolutely right. (英國雜誌)
  • His dad told him to quit procrastinating and prune his neighbours' bushes. (英國書籍)
  • Britain is therefore well placed to get the work done cheaper - a strange reward for its procrastination over pollution. (英國雜誌)

在下面的例句中, procrastinate 的意思似乎是說,內閣部長不願或規避直接答覆或做決定。資料顯示, procrastinate 在使用上也含有 prevaricate 之意思的情況比  prevaricate 也含有 procrastinate 之意思的情況要來得常見許多。

  • John Humphrys, the scourge of procrastinating Cabinet ministers, has won the support of BBC governors for his aggressive interviewing style. (英國報紙)

reticent or reluctant?

最近在一個討論英文的場合,有位人士提到他見到 "reticent" 被誤用來取代 "reluctant" 的情況似乎越來越多。跟 prevaricate 和 procrastinate 一樣,這兩個字也都是來自拉丁字根,reticent 來自 "tacere" -- 「沈默」,所以這個字的意思為「保持沈默」,而 reluctant 來自 "luctari" -- 「抗爭」,所以這個字字面上的意思為「反抗」。因此,someone is reticent.... 是說某人不願談論某事;而 someone is reluctant....則是說某人不願做某事。就使用頻率而言,這兩個字 (都是形容詞) 實在不能做比較,因為 reluctant 相當常見 (在英文資料庫中出現 7,000 次),而 reticent 則不是很常見 (544 次):

  • Supermarkets are reluctant to take wild venison because of a lack of control over its quality. (英國報紙)
  • People are reluctant to send their kids to the state schools round here. (英國演說)
  • Though both sides were reticent about what had happened, the general impression has been: not much. (英國電台)
  • Shawn, a shy and reticent man, immediately liked him, particularly his good humor. (美國書籍)

然而,reticent 有時似乎被用在顯然是不願去做 (reluctant) 某事的場合:

  • If there's any political problem in voting for a particular bill, members are reticent to do it because it will not have the outcome that they want. (美國電台)
  • Back to those other parents, the ones reticent to inflict any form of discipline let alone a stinging hand. (澳洲報紙)

有時它的意思為「謹慎、膽怯、畏縮」:

  • The Great Depression frightened the conspicuous consumers among the rich into becoming discreet, almost reticent, in exhibiting their wealth. (美國書籍)
  • Some fans were a little reticent in approaching their hero. (澳洲報紙)

這些例句的出處提供了一項線索:英式英語和美式英語/澳洲英語的用法並不相同。查閱 American Heritage Dictionary 後得知,美式英語認可 reticent 的上述三種意思:除了「不願談論」外,這本字典還臚列了「謹慎、節制」和 "reluctant" 的意思。


homogeneous or homogenous?

你應該說 "homogeneous" 還是 "homogenous" 呢?

homogeneous 這個字的意思是「同質的」、「酷似的」,可用來指人或者事物,表示彼此之間在許多方面非常相似:

  • Mr Hobman argues that it is a grave mistake to treat pensioners as a homogeneous group. (報紙的報導)
  • The Institute says this is the only technique for achieving a homogeneous mixture of small grains. (雜誌的文章)

一些人有時亦使用 homogenous 來表達相同的意思:

  • Romania is not an ethnically homogenous state. (電台的報導)
  • The two-storey terraces are arranged in homogenous rows, each with its own little front garden. (報紙的文章)

homogenous 在生物學上可說是個專有名詞。如果動物或植物是 homogenous,那麼意思是說,牠們的構造相同,因為牠們擁有共同的祖先,是「同類的」。過去,這被視為 homogenous 唯一正確的用法。

證據:

證據顯示,"homogenous " 意思跟 "homogeneous" 一樣的用法很常見;不過,"homogeneous" 比它更常見。在英文資料庫中,當這兩個字的意思相同的,在英式英語中,"homogeneous" 出現 300 次,而 "homogenous" 98 次;在美式英語中,"homogeneous" 出現 158 次,而 "homogenous" 16 次。

建議:

在英式英語中,homogenous 現在常見的程度已足以被視為 "homogeneous" 的「分身」:

  • Dubuque has long had a reputation as a closed, homogenous community. (電台的報導)
  • Does this mean that the enormous richness and variation in human cultures will be replaced by a single homogenous world culture? (有關社會學的書)

top.gif (1110 bytes)

consist of or consist in?

你應該說 "consist of" 還是 "consist in" 呢?

consist of 意為「由 ... (人,事或物) 所組成」:

  • The new TV service will consist of five channels. (報紙的報導)
  • The Argentine delegation is believed to consist of three senators and a former envoy to Washington. (報紙的報導) 

consist of 有時做不同的用法,意為「在於;端賴」:

  • Inner righteousness consists of the purity and perfection of the heart. (宗教書籍)
  • Happiness does not consist of merely being clever. (戲劇的台詞)

過去,這種用法被視為是錯的。一般認為在表達「在於;端賴」的意思時應使用 consist in,而非 consist "of" :

  • Holiness consists in doing God's will joyfully. (宗教書籍)
  • Happiness does not consist in things but in thoughts. (雜誌的文章)

證據:

證據顯示,"consist of" 現在被廣泛用做跟 "consist in" 同義。在英文資料庫中,當 "consist of" 和 "consist in" 的意思一樣時,前者比後者還常用兩倍。

建議:

在現代英語中,你可以說某一性質或狀態 consist of / consist in (「在於」或「繫於」) 某一事物,但 consist of 比較常用:

  • Good leadership consists of not lagging behind one's team but not being so far ahead that they won't follow. (壓力團體發起人的談話)
  • Most people think that happiness consists in experiencing pleasure. (心理學書籍)

adhesion or adherence?

你應該說 "adhesion" 還是 "adherence" 呢?

動詞 adhere -- 更正確地說應該是 adhere to,因為它的後面通常接介系詞 "to" -- 有兩個主要意思。

第一個意思為「黏附、黏合、黏牢 (在 ... 之上)」:

  • The cholesterol adheres to the walls of the arteries. (有關健康食品的書籍)

另一個意思為「堅持 (規定、原則等)」:

  • He has refused to adhere to some of the rules set by FIFA. (報紙的文章)
  • We want to ensure that the best selling practices are adhered to. (報紙報導引述公司經理的話)

"adhere" 的名詞有兩種拼法:adhesion adherence。這兩個名詞指的是 adhere 的那個意思呢?

證據:

在英文資料庫中,"adhesion" 被用做「黏附、黏合、黏牢」的意思有 97 次, 而 "adherence" 被用做這個意思的情況僅兩次。 "adherence" 被用來表示「堅持」規定或原則的意思有逾 500 次,而 "adhesion" 僅 10 次。

建議:

在表達「黏附、黏合、黏牢」的意思時,應使用 adhesion,而非 "adherence":

  • The adhesion of the fibre to its matrix increases. (電台脫口秀)
  • It is difficult to achieve good paint adhesion. (雜誌的文章) 

如果要表達「堅持、堅守」的意思,那麼應使用 adherence

  • He has pledged firm adherence to the idea of a united Europe. (電台的報導)
  • China's communist party has called for stricter adherence to traditional communist values. (電台的報導)

security blanket

經查多本英英字典,發現 "security blanket" 的意思有二:第一是「小孩所抱持的毛毯或能夠讓他們心理上覺得有安全感或舒服感的類似物品」,第二是「給人保護感或安全感的人事物」-- 例如:"His wealthy uncle is his security blanket."。然而,在 "The New Shorter Oxford - English Dictionary (SOD), Thumb Index Edition" 的第 2,754 頁,它提供一個其他字典所沒有的意思「官方為保守秘密而對資訊或新聞所實施的封鎖,或基於安全因素所採取的措施」。根據英文資料庫,在 70 個使用到 "security blanket" 的句子中,它們絕大多數都是指第一或第二個意思:

  • They had put Sam to bed, with his ragged security blanket, which he always took to bed. (British novel)  (英國小說)
  • For most of us lists act as security blankets, telling us what to do and how long to spend doing it. (英國雜誌)

僅有一句是在表達基於安全理由所進行的鎮壓或封鎖 (security clampdown or blackout):

  • ...the paramilitary police who smothered Srinagar in a security blanket. (BBC 電台)

雖然 security blanket 等於 security clampdown 或 security blackout 的意思是 SOD 所獨有,那就表示這個意思是存在的,只是就目前的用法而言,它並不重要。不過,英文字或片語的比喻性意思往往變得比字面上的意思更常用,例如: "torrent" 或 "quagmire"。所以,我們不死心,決定從網路上搜尋相關的資料,果然讓我們找到較多有關 "security blanket" 表示「建立和維持全面安全」之意思的例句:

  • The size of the Regular Army is under a security blanket at present. (1955 年 2 月 5 號 「紐約客」雜誌第 88 頁第 2 行)
  • At Heathrow...there was a tight security blanket. (1972 年 9 月 13 號 「 時代」雜誌第 8 頁第 8 行)

有趣的是,英文中有一個跟 "security blanket" 非常類似的片語存在,那就是 "blanket security",意為「全面或滴水不漏的安全措施」。在英文資料庫中,這個片語出現在 6 個句子中,它們都來自英國報紙。典型的例句如下:

  • A weary-looking Pope arrived in the Philippines yesterday at the start of his Asia-Pacific tour to rapturous acclaim by crowds of up to a million and blanket security prompted by fears of a terrorist attack. (英國衛報)

另一個句子是說藉著部署秘勤人員來維持一場國際會議的秩序:

  • The operation could be described as `blanket security', except that the anti-personnel device will be the bedsheet. (英國獨立報)

top.gif (1110 bytes)

Commentary on Current English