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  • There are a lot of ways this marvelous language of ours, English, doesn't make sense.

    我們了不起的語言——英語,有許多方面都不太合理。

  • For example, most of the time when we talk about more than one of something, we put an "s" on the end.

    舉例來說,當我們說到一個以上的東西時,會在字尾加上「s」。

  • One cat, two cats.

    一隻貓是「cat」,兩隻貓則是「cats」。

  • But then, there's that handful of words where things work differently.

    但還是有一些不遵守這個規則的字。

  • Alone you have a man, if he has company, then you've got men, or probably better for him, women too.

    一個人為「man」,如果他有同伴的話,就要稱作「men」,加入的如果是幾位女士,會被稱為「women」。

  • Although if there were only one of them, it would be a woman.

    但如果只有一位女性,則會被稱為「woman」。

  • Or if there's more than one goose, they're geese, but why not lots of mooses, meese?

    或是如果超過一隻鵝 (goose) ,就要稱作「geese」,但為什麼麋鹿 (moose) 的複數不是「meese」呢?

  • Or if you have two feet, then why don't you read two beek instead of books.

    既然腳 (foot) 的複數是「feet」,那為什麼書 (book) 的複數不是「beek」而是「books」呢?

  • The fact is that if you were speaking English before, about a thousand years ago, beek is exactly what you would have said for more than one book.

    事實上,如果你在大約 1000 年前說英語的話,的確會用「beek」這個字表示超過一本的書。

  • If Modern English is strange, Old English needed therapy.

    如果說現代英語有點奇怪,那麼古英語則怪到需要治療的地步了。

  • Believe it or not, English used to be an even harder language to learn than it is today.

    你相信嗎?與現代的英語相比,古英語是更難學的語言。

  • Twenty-five hundred years ago, English and German were the same language.

    2500 年前,英語和德語曾經是相同的語言。

  • They drifted apart slowly, little by little becoming more and more different.

    它們慢慢的漸行漸遠,一點一點地變得越來越不同。

  • That meant that in early English, just like in German, inanimate objects had gender.

    也就是說,早期的英語跟德文一樣,無生命的物體也有性別。

  • A fork, gafol, was a woman; a spoon, laefel, was a man; and the table they were on, bord, was neither, also called neuter.

    叉子 (德文: gafol) 為陰性,湯匙 (德文: laefel) 為陽性,擺這些餐具的桌子 (德文: bord) 則兩者都不是,又叫做中性。

  • Go figure!

    多奇怪啊!

  • Being able to use words meant not just knowing their meaning but what gender they were, too.

    要會使用這些單字代表,不只是要知道字的意思,還要弄清楚它們的性別。

  • And while today there are only about a dozen plurals that don't make sense, like men and geese, in Old English, it was perfectly normal for countless plurals to be like that.

    雖然現代英語中,有許多字的複數沒有規則可言,例如人 (men)、鵝 (geese),但古英語中,這種情況十分常見,有數不清的複數毫無規則可言。

  • You think it's odd that more than one goose is geese?

    你覺得鵝 (goose) 的複數是「geese」很奇怪嗎?

  • Well, imagine if more than one goat was a bunch of gat, or if more than one oak tree was a field of ack.

    想想看,如果一隻山羊 (goat) 的複數變成了一群「gat」,或者一棵橡樹 (oak) 的複數變成了一片「ack」。

  • To be able to talk about any of these, you just had to know the exact word for their plural rather than just adding the handy S on the end.

    要能在說話時用到這些字,必須確實記住它們的複數型態,而不能直接在字尾加 S。

  • And it wasn't always an S at the end either.

    更別說字尾加的不一定是 S 了。

  • In merry Old English, they could add other sounds to the end.

    在愉快的古英語中,還有別的字可以加在字尾。

  • Just like more than one child is children, more than one lamb was lambru, you fried up your eggru, and people talked not about breads, but breadru.

    如同孩子 (child) 的複數是「children」一樣,小羊 (lamb) 的複數為「lambru」,鍋裡炒的蛋是「eggru」,人們也不把麵包叫做「breads」而是「breadru」。

  • Sometimes it was like sheep is today -where, to make a plural, you don't do anything.

    有的字就像現今的綿羊 (sheep) 這個字一樣,變成複數時,什麼字也不必加。

  • One sheep, two sheep.

    一隻綿羊是「sheep」,兩隻綿羊還是「sheep」。

  • And Old English, one house, two house.

    而古英語中,一間房子為「house」,兩間也是「house」。

  • And just like today, we have oxen instead of oxes, Old English people had toungen instead of tongues, namen instead of names.

    而就像現代英語中公牛 (ox) 的複數是「oxen」而不是「oxes」,古英語中舌頭的複數是「toungen」而不是「tongues」。

  • And if things stayed the way they were, today we would have eyen instead of eyes.

    如果這些古代字保持原樣到今日,我們要稱眼睛為「eyen」而不是「eyes」。

  • So, why didn't things stay the way they were?

    那為什麼這些字沒有保持原樣呢?

  • In a word, Vikings.

    簡而言之,就是因為維京人。

  • In the 8th century, Scandinavian marauders started taking over much of England.

    西元八世紀時,這些來自斯堪地納維亞的掠奪者開始佔領英國大部分的領土。

  • They didn't speak English, they spoke Norse.

    他們說的不是英語,而是古北歐語。

  • Plus, they were grown-ups, and grown-ups aren't as good at learning languages as children.

    而且他們已經是成人了,成人學語言的能力沒辦法像小孩一樣好。

  • After the age of roughly 15, it's almost impossible to learn a new language without an accent and without slipping up here and there as we all know from what language classes are like.

    人類大約在 15 歲後,學新語言想要不帶口音幾乎是不可能的,也會在各個地方犯錯,就像是我們在語言課上會看到的情形一樣。

  • The Vikings were no different, so they had a way of smoothing away the harder parts of how English worked.

    維京人也不例外,所以他們找出了方法,克服英語中較困難的部分。

  • Part of that was those crazy plurals.

    其中包含了令人抓狂的複數。

  • Imagine running up against a language with eggru and gat on the one hand, and then with other words, all you have to do is add 's' and get days and stones.

    想像一下,如果遇到一種語言,有些字的複數為不規則如「eggru」和「gat」,但有些字卻只要加上 S 就變成複數,例如:很多天是「days」、很多石頭是「stones」。

  • Wouldn't it make things easier to just use the 's' for everything?

    兩者相較之下,直接加上 S 不是簡單多了嗎?

  • That's how the Vikings felt too.

    維京人就是這麼想的。

  • And there were so many of them, and they married so many of the English women, that pretty soon, if you grew up in England, you heard streamlined English as much as the real kind.

    維京人的人數眾多,且大多數的人娶了英國女性,於是短時間內,生活在英國的人聽到簡化英語的機會和正統英語一樣多。

  • After a while, nobody remembered the real kind any more.

    再過一段時間後,就沒有人記得正統英語了。

  • Nobody remembered that once you said doora instead of doors and handa instead of hands.

    沒有人記得門的複數曾經是「doora」而不是「doors」,很多隻手是「handa」而不是「hands」。

  • Plurals made a lot more sense now, except for a few hold-outs like children and teeth that get used so much that it was hard to break the habit.

    現在的複數型態合理多了,不過還有一些字沒改,像是「children」和「teeth」,這些字太常用了,所以要把它們改掉相當困難。

  • The lesson is that English makes a lot more sense than you think.

    我們學到了,英語其實比我們認為的還要合理。

  • Thank the ancestors of people in Copenhagen and Oslo for the fact that today we don't ask for a handful of pea-night instead of peanuts.

    感謝哥本哈根人和奧斯陸人的祖先,因為他們,我們今天想吃花生不必記得「pea-night」只要記「peanuts」。

  • Although, wouldn't it be fun, if for just a week or two, we could?

    但如果能幫花生改名幾個禮拜應該會滿好玩的,對吧?

There are a lot of ways this marvelous language of ours, English, doesn't make sense.

我們了不起的語言——英語,有許多方面都不太合理。

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B1 中級 中文 TED-Ed 複數 英語 維京人 語言 綿羊

【TED-Ed】複數字尾 S 的由來 (A brief history of plural word...s - John McWhorter)

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    wikiHuang 發佈於 2020 年 12 月 23 日
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