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假設語氣概論
撰文者: Wayne 發表日期: July 30, 2009 – 9:32 am

英語有所謂「假設」的動詞形式,用來說明某件事為「虛擬想法」而非「事件或事實」。說明實際事件或動作的動詞形式稱為「陳述式」。

版主日後會詳細講解假設的用法與觀念。假設語氣是中英文之間頗為詭弔的差異,許多補教名師號稱英文高手,卻從未以英文寫文章,因此無法正確掌握英文假設語氣的使用時機,那他們教出的徒子徒孫又怎能掌握假設語氣?

隨手檢閱一篇英語論說文都可以看到假設的句子,如下例:

My point is that language must take into consideration the user, and since there would be no need for Romanization without a foreign community unable to understand Chinese characters, perhaps it would be a good idea to consult the foreign community.

◎ there would be no need:這是假設用法,因為後面用了假設 (without a foreign community)。
◎ it would be a good idea :這是客氣的語氣,屬於 “Distancing” 用法,跟假設毫無關係 。

電影中也常見假設語氣的用法,下面是電影 “Proof” 《證明我愛你》的ㄧ段節錄:

Claire? Hi. Listen. When was the last time you spoke to Dad?

Tuesday? Oh, God.

It’s fine. It’s just that I normally talk to him every day, and I haven’t been able to get a hold of him.

Well, I’m glad that you’re sure everything’s fine.

I feel much more comfortable. Thank you.

What could have happened?
(會出什麼事嗎?!)

I mean, he could’ve had a car accident.
(你想,他可能會出車禍。)

He could’ve fallen and broken his hip.
(他還可能跌倒,摔傷了屁股。)

He could be running naked down the Midway for all I know.
(我知道他也可能光著身體跑到路上。)

Yes, Claire, I know that you care about Dad.

Yeah, as much as me. OK. Now can I please get off the phone?

電視影集也常見假設語氣,下面是 “Sex and the City” 《慾望城市》第四季第十八集的ㄧ段節錄:

Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate.

Without them, what would shape our lives?
(如果不犯錯,那改變我們生命的又是什麼?)

Perhaps, if we never veered off course… we wouldn’t fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are.
(也許,如果我們不曾走錯路,我們就不會談戀愛、生小孩,或者變成為眼下的樣子。)

After all, seasons change.

So do cities.

People come into your life and people go.

But it’s comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart…and, if you’re very Lucky…a plane ride away.

商業口號也常見假設語氣用法:

Waffle House

Thanks for great 55 years. We couldn’t have done it without you.

言歸正傳,版主先請網友聽一首名曲以及讀一則笑話,讓大家體會英美人士如何運用假設語氣。

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Tears in Heaven
《淚灑天堂》
by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings

Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?
Would you feel the same if I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on ’cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven.

倘若我們在天堂相遇,你會記得我的名字嗎?
倘若我們在天堂相遇,你能與我有相同的感受嗎?
我必須堅強起來,繼續我的人生旅程。
因為我知道,
我並不屬於天堂。

Would you hold my hand if I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand if I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day ’cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven.

倘若我們在天堂相遇,你會牽著我嗎?
倘若我們在天堂相遇,你會扶持我嗎?
我會找到生存的方法,
因為我知道,
我無法留在天堂。

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart, have you begging please…begging please.

時光能使人意志消沈,
時光能使人屈膝臣服,
時光能使人傷心欲絕,
讓人不停地哭告求饒。

Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven.

跨越那道門之後,我確信四周將一片祥和。
我也知道,不會再有人淚灑天堂。

translation

(歌曲解說)
「吉他之神」Eric Clapton (艾瑞克.萊普頓) 五十多歲方育得一子,然而造化弄人, 一九九一年三月,他四歲大的愛子康諾 (Conor) 不幸從紐約公寓意外摔死。艾瑞克喪子之後幾近崩潰,鎮日耽溺於毒品,所幸他後來走出陰霾,創作此曲悼念愛子。這首曲子於吉他的優雅的旋律中流露真摯情感,令人哀傷動容,感動成千上萬的歌迷。

這首歌使用的假設語氣,艾瑞克假設自己與亡兒在天堂相遇,因此用 “would” 和 “saw”來表示「非事實」的情況。

此外,網路有許多人錯譯 “have you begging please… begging please”,版主在此提出正確翻譯。關於 “have” 的正確用法,請參照:『英文 “have” 與 “got” 的促使語態』。

網友可能會問,在歌詞最後一句時,Eric Clapton 未何能確信不會再有人淚灑天堂 (And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven) 呢?因為 聖經的啟示錄 (Revelation) 寫道:
“And God shall wipe out every fear from theri eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall be anymore pain; for the former things are passed away.”

yellow-car

IF MICROSOFT BUILT CARS
《如果微軟製造汽車》

1. Each time they repainted the lines on the road, you‘d have to buy a new car.

2. Occasionally your car would just die on the motorway for no reason, and you‘d have to restart it. For some strange reason, you‘d just accept this, restart and drive on.

3. Occasionally, executing a maneuver would cause your car to stop and fail to restart and you‘d have to re-install the engine. For some strange reason, you‘d just accept this too.

4. You could only have one person in the car at a time, unless you bought a “Car 95” or a “Car NT”. But then you‘d have to buy more seats.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was twice as reliable, five times as fast, twice as easy to drive–but it would only run on five percent of the roads.

6. The Macintosh car owners would get expensive Microsoft upgrades to their cars which would make their cars go much slower.

7. The oil, engine, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced with a single “General Car Fault” warning light.

8. People would get excited about the “new” features in Microsoft cars, forgetting completely that they had been available in other cars for many years.

9. We‘d all have to switch to Microsoft gas and all fluids, but the packaging would be superb.

10. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

11. The airbag system would say “Are you sure?” before going off.

12. If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened.

13. They wouldn’t build their own engines, but form a cartel with their engine suppliers. The latest engine would have 16 cylinders (十六缸發動引擎), multi-point fuel injection and 4 turbos.

14. There would be an “Engine Pro” with bigger turbos, but it would be slower on most existing roads.

15. Microsoft cars would have a special radio/cassette player which would only be able to listen to Microsoft FM, and play Microsoft Cassettes.

16. Microsoft would do so well, because even though they don’t own any roads, all of the road manufacturers would give away Microsoft cars free, including IBM!

translation

(文法解說)
這則笑話流傳已久,從標題到內容完全使用假設語氣 (“Built” 和 “would”) ,藉此表示「非事實」情況。微軟從未生產過汽車,整則笑話全屬作者幻想,透過天馬行空的想像來戲謔微軟作業系統的專斷與落伍。

總而言之,假設式分成下列四種:

a. 「現在假設式」(擬請語氣) –>詳細解說

b. 「現在假設式」(條件句一型) –>詳細解說

c. 「過去假設式」(條件句二型) –>詳細解說

d. 「過去完成擬設式」(條件句三型) –>詳細解說

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