02 2009

In the firing line, again

Published by under 咬文嚼字

在同一期的读者反馈上,《泰晤士报》的Sally Baker说自从上周有读者指出 in the firing line 是指“开火”而不是“被打”之后,又有读者来信说,in the firing line 也可以用来形容“被打”,证据是在《牛津简明英语辞典》上:

The Concise OED definition of ‘in the firing line‘ is: ‘1. The front line of troops in a battle; 2. A position where one is subject to criticism or blame.’

但是显然Sally Baker的字典(Collins English Dictionary)上没有这种说法。《卫报》的“文字规范”(Style guide)显然支持她的观点。原因很简单:他们用的同一本字典。

firing line
the people who do the firing; if they are aiming at you, you are in the line of fire not in the firing line.

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02 2009

None of these

Published by under 咬文嚼字

我其实一直有这个疑惑,在适用 None of these 这样的词组时,后面跟的动词照理应该是单数形式,但是 None of them has this skill 这样的句子看上去不是太顺眼。这个星期六《泰晤士报》的读者反馈上 Sally Baker 对此进行了一番调查发现:

It is a mistake to suppose that the pronoun is singular only and must at all costs be followed by singular verbs or pronouns.

以及:

Use a singular verb where possible but if the notion of plurality is present a plural verb has been optional since the OE period and in some circumstances is desirable. The type ‘none of them have finished their essays’ is better than the clumsy ‘…has finished his or her essay’.

原来 None of these, None of them 这样的词组之后的动词,可以适用单数形式,也可以适用复数形式,取决于上下文。

我又查了《卫报》的“文字规范”(Style guide),同样写道:

none
It is a (very persistent) myth that “none” has to take a singular verb: plural is acceptable and often sounds more natural, eg “none of the current squad are good enough to play in the Premiership”, “none of the issues have been resolved”

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22 2009

In the firing line

Published by under BBC,咬文嚼字

《泰晤士报》负责读者反馈的编辑 Sally Baker 在星期六的专栏中有这么一段:

Allowed a front-page headline “Bankers in the firing line” when, as Robert Colbeck, among others, pointed out: “If you are in the firing line you are the one doing the shooting. If you are being shot at (presumably the image the headline-writer was striving for) you are either under fire or in the line of fire.”

原来我也一直以为 in the firing line 是指“面对炮火”,遭到攻击的意思。经以上这位读者解释,in the firing line 其实是指处于“射击线”上向目标开火。一个是被打,一个个打别人,意义大相径庭。

但是把这个意思搞错的不只《泰晤士报》一家,几个例子:

Forbes.com: Britain’s Bonuses in the Firing Line 说的是银行奖金遭攻击

Daily Mail: Defenc funding in the firing line 说得是国防开支缩减

但在 BBC网站上的新闻标题是用对了这个词组:

BBC: Child soldiers in the firing line 说得是非洲的未成年士兵参战

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