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How human nature turned one word into history's longest thesaurus entry

人类的拖延本性造就最长词条Immediately

中文 英文 双语 2009-10-27    来源:The Times      阅读数:56232
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导读:一部耗时44年的新版《牛津英语历史同义词词典》(Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary)终于揭开了它的神秘面纱。英语单词"immediately"凭借它265种表达方法成为该词典中最长的词条。之所以有这么多表达法的原因竟在于人类拖延时间的本性。
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词典
Internet

Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary
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词典
Internet

A Historical Thesaurus 巨型历代同义词词典
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Professor
courtesy University of Glasgow

Professor Micharl Samuels.

The longest entry in the new Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, a work that has been 44 years in the making, is for the word "immediately".
新出版的《牛津英语历史同义词词典》的编纂工作历时44年时间,其中最长的词条是英语单词"immediately"。

The reason why there are 265 different ways of saying immediately? According to Professor Christian Kay, who has worked on the project for the past 40 years, it is down to the human tendency to procrastinate. (Procrastinate: foreslow, adjourn, proloyne, protract, tarry, defer, delay ... ) "A lot of the words that once meant ’immediately’ came to mean ’soon’, so you then needed another word that really meant ’immediately’. "
为什么会有265种方法表达"immediately"的意思呢?过去40年间一直致力于该项目的克里斯琴-凯教授认为,其原因在于人类拖延时间的本性。(Procrastinate: foreslow, adjourn, proloyne, protract, tarry, defer, delay ... )“很多词曾经有'immediately'(立即)的含义,后被用来表示'soon'(马上)。因此,需要找另一个真正表示'immediately'(立即)的词汇。”

As in (to pick another random example), "Yes, yes, we know you want it immediately. We’re working very hard here. We’ll get it done soon."
随便摘选一个例子:“是的,是的,我们知道你要马上拿到它。我们正在奋力赶工,马上就能完工了。”

It was in 1969 that Professor Kay, now 69, arrived at the University of Glasgow to work as a research assistant on a project that had been started four years earlier by the Professor of English Language, Michael Samuels.
英语语言学教授迈克尔-塞缪尔斯于1965年启动该项目。4年后(1969年),凯教授(现年69岁)来到格拉斯哥大学并成为该项目的研究助理。

The result, which took its team of 230 editors, research assistants, postgraduate students, staff and volunteers the equivalent of 176 man-years to complete, is a two-volume, 3,952-page thesaurus, with 800,000 meanings and 236,000 categories and sub-categories - and a surprisingly large number of words for nose. (Nose: nib, proboscis, snot-gall, smeller, trunk, conk, sneezer, scent-box, snoot, horn, spectacles-seat, razzo, beezer, schnozzle ... )
共有230名编辑、科研助理、研究生、工作人员和志愿者参与该项目。整个编纂项目等同于176人年的工作量。新词典共分2卷,多达3952页,含80万释义、23.6万个类别和子类别--其中还包括大量和nose相关的词汇。(Nose: nib, proboscis, snot-gall, smeller, trunk, conk, sneezer, scent-box, snoot, horn, spectacles-seat, razzo, beezer, schnozzle ... )

It is not just noses, either. "It is amazing to see how many words there were in Anglo-Saxon times for diseases of the feet," said Professor Kay, who took over the running of the project in 1989. "I assume in those days conditions of the hands and feet were very important and also, medical knowledge in those times only consisted of the outer body."
其实,不仅仅是nose。1989年开始接管该项目的凯教授说:“在盎格鲁撒克逊人时代,有很多和脚病相关的词汇。这让人很吃惊。我猜测,在那个年代人们很看重手和脚的健康状况。而且,那时的医疗知识也仅限于一些身体的外表。”

Ever since Homo sapiens moved beyond the basic grunt, people have been rude about each other and the thesaurus includes a rich compendium of the different ways that man has found to express his contempt for his fellow man.
自从现代人创造了自己的语言,人们对彼此愈发粗鲁无礼。因此发明了一系列词汇来表达对他人的鄙夷。辞典对这些五花八门的词汇一一进行了收录。

In Anglo-Saxon times a person might be called an earming, wyrmlic or hinderling. By Shakespeare’s time that had broadened to include dogbolt, drivel, marmoset, skitbrains and shack-rag. Later insults included fitchcock, muckworm, whiffler, ramscallion, squinny and snool, not to mention such 20th-century additions as tripe-hound, shite-poke, roach and lug.
在盎格鲁撒克逊人时代,一个人可能被称为earming, wyrmlic 或 hinderling。到了莎士比亚时代,又有一些新词出现。其中包括:dogbolt, drivel, marmoset, skitbrains 和 shack-rag。后来,人们用fitchcock, muckworm, whiffler, ramscallion, squinny 和 snool来侮辱彼此。到了20世纪,此类词汇又有了新成员加入:tripe-hound, shite-poke, roach 和 lug。

The historical thesaurus, the first of its kind, also highlights when words became common parlance. Shakespeare, for instance, would not have used the word "pink" to describe the colour because the word entered the language only in 1828. Instead he would have used "carnation".
除了上面的同义词,这部《历时同义词词典》还首次着重介绍了一些单词变为通用语的时间。比如说,莎士比亚是不会用"pink"这个词来形容粉红色的,因为该词在1828年才被录入英语。莎士比亚会用"carnation"。

Chaucer would not have called that familiar root vegetable a "carrot", because the word comes from the French carotte and is not recorded until 1533. He would have said "tank".
同样的,英国作家乔叟也不会用"carrot"来表示常见的根茎类蔬菜胡萝卜,因为该词源于法语carotte,最早记录于1533年。他会用"tank"。

Professor Kay said that one of the main differences from Roget’s Thesaurus was that the new volumes go back to the origins of English.
凯教授表示,这部词典与《罗格同义词词典》主要区别在于,它追溯了英语的起源。

"We include obsolete words which are no longer in use or are only found in very special contexts."
“词典中还包括一些已经过时、永远不会被使用的词汇,或者只在特定上下文中出现的词汇。”

"Words have different survival rates so there are maybe 7,000 words which have been in English since the very early days and there are other words that maybe only lasted for a few years. For the first time ever the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary puts these in context."
“每个词的存活率不同。从早期到现在一直持续使用的英文词汇大约有7000左右,其他一些词汇可能只持续使用了几年的时间。《牛津英语历时同义词词典》首次将这类词汇整理在一起。”

How did Professor Kay feel when she finally completed the work of a lifetime? "I just felt triumphant," she said. "I sometimes doubted that we would ever finish it. "
终于完成了这部一生难得的著作,凯教授有什么感受呢?“我只是有种获胜的感觉。"她说,"之前,我有时会怀疑我们是否能完成它。(但是现在,我们做到了。)”

21英语网站版权说明  (Translator & Editor: Sylvie AND Grace)


辞海拾贝
Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary牛津英语历史同义词词典 entry 词条
procrastinate延迟  Homo sapiens 智人(现代人的学名)
thesaurus同义词 obsolete 已废弃的,过时的



 


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