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淺談英文代名詞的用法
撰文者: Wayne 發表日期: December 14, 2012 – 9:16 am

版主在清大上課時分享過下面的個人心得:

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小雜誌逆轉勝

Mini-Mags Score in a Tough Environment
– August 2012 Taiwan Panorama (光華雜誌)

「要害一個朋友,就勸他去辦雜誌。」這是在文化界流傳已久的一句玩笑話。辦雜誌向來被視為「燒錢的事業」,除非擁有廣大的讀者與豐厚的廣告收入,否則極難長久經營。

A long-running joke in cultural circles warns that “the surest way to do a friend wrong is to suggest they start a magazine.” It is seen as a “money burner,” and unless you have a huge readership and piles of advertising revenue, it’s extremely hard to keep such a venture going for long.

【原文出處】小雜誌逆轉勝

translation

上面的老美譯文有兩個奇怪的地方:

1. to suggest they start a magazine… => they 是複數,可是前面的主詞卻是 a friend (單數)。

2. It is seen … => It 根本是有問題的寫法。照文法規則來看,it 是指 joke 而不是指 starting a magazine 。這樣一來,英文譯文就跟中文原文有出入。

translation

版主修訂了英譯,順便美容一下,使其更加優雅:

In the cultural circle, there is a long-running joke that goes like, “The surest way to do a friend wrong is to suggest he or she start a magazine.” Publishing a magazine has long been seen as a “money burner.” Unless you have a wide readership and enjoy immense advertising revenue, it’s extremely hard to keep such a venture going for long.

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版主明天要出版的英文文法書《Woe Is I》討論過代名詞的用法,現在節錄一段給網友「鼻香」一下:

Their 不成功便成仁(Their is But to Do or Die*)

His newest book, Monster Truck, is written especially for the child with machinery on their mind.
(他的最新力作《怪物卡車》是專為熱愛機械的小朋友所寫的。)

呃…這裡可用 their 嗎?希望這本童書不會像前面的廣告詞那樣彆腳。單字 their 是 they 的所有格,經常被人誤用,拿去取代 his 或 her,譬如:

No one in their right mind pays retail.
(腦筋正常的人都不會多付錢。)

天啊!no one是單數,它的所有格也應該是單數:

No one in her right mind pays retail.
(腦筋正常的人都不會多付錢。)

我猜想,如果不是專指某個人,許多人都不想用 his 或 her。不過,除非英語有公認的中性所有格,否則大家還是得用 his 或 her,甚至是笨拙的複合詞 his or her,這樣才算正確。使用 their 雖可以避免性別歧視,但這仍然算文法的錯誤,寫作時尤其要避免。

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