向英语学习者讲话 | Double Negatives in Current English 当代英语中的双重否定

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Double Negatives1 in Current English
当代英语中的双重否定

An English editor of a famous classic says in his notes to the book: “Double negatives in Elizabethan2 grammar amount, not to an assertion as they do3 in current English, but to4 an emphatic negation”.
一本著名经典著作的英国校订人在他为这本书作的注解中说道:“在伊丽莎白时代的语法中双重否定并不像当代英语中那样等于一个肯定,而是等于一个加重语气的否定”。

It is true that in Elizabethan literature, a double negative amounts to an emphatic negation, rather than to an assertion, as the man in the street5 may think. Thus, “I don’t want nothing” is only an emphatic form for I don’t want anything or I want nothing. This sounds6 quite unreasonable, but it is the fact.
的确如此,在伊丽莎白时代的文学中,一个双重否定等于一个加重语气的否定,并非像一般人认为的那样等于一个肯定。例如“I don’t want nothing”只是“I don’t want anything”或“I want nothing”的着重式而已。这点听来十分不合理,但这是事实。

What I wish to tell you is that this unreasonable fact is not peculiar to7 Elizabethan literature. It exists at present. Double negatives used as an emphatic assertion may be said to be found in current English, unless by current English is meant English current among educated people alone8.
我要告诉你的是:这个不合理的事实并不仅限于伊丽莎白时代的文学。它现在也存在。只要所说的当代英语不是指只通行于受过教育的人们中间的英语,那么被用作加重语气否定的双重否定在当代英语中也是见得到的。

Have you ever found such double negatives in your reading, reader? I believe you have, if you have read a modern novel or drama or short story. I do not want you to use this unreasonable construction (I want you to talk and write like an educated person). But I believe every learner of English should know it.
读者,你在阅读中曾经见到过这种双重否定吗?假使你读过现代的章回小说、剧本或者短篇小说,我想你是见到过的。我不要你使用这个不合理的结构(我要你讲得和写得像一个受过教育的人)。但是我相信每个英语学习者都应该知道它。

There are several English usages that every learner of English should know, but which many, or even most, Chinese learners do not know, because these are not to be understood by means of mere logic9 and are not to be found in ordinary grammars10. The double negative is one of them.
有一些英语习惯用法,每个英语学习者都该知道,可是有许多,或者竟然可以说大多数,中国学习者并不知道,因为它们并非只靠逻辑就能被理解,而且在一般语法中是见不到的。双重否定就是其中的一个。

NOTES

  1. Double Negatives 双重否定。
  2. Elizabethan 英国女王伊丽莎白一世(1533—1603)时代的。(现在英国女王的名字也是伊丽莎白,一般称作伊丽莎白二世(1926 — )。
  3. do=amount to
  4. amount, not to …, but to … 不等于……而等于……
  5. man in the street 一般人
  6. sounds 听来似乎
  7. peculiar to ……所独有的
  8. by current English is meant English current among educated people alone 所说的当代英语就是指只通行于受过教育的人们中间的英语
  9. are not to be understood by means of mere logic 并非只靠逻辑就能被理解

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