MyOOPS開放式課程
請加入會員以使用更多個人化功能
來自全球頂尖大學的開放式課程,現在由世界各國的數千名義工志工為您翻譯成中文。請免費享用!
課程來源:TED
     

 

Anne Curzan 談如何使詞彙成「真」?

Anne Curzan: What makes a word "real"?

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Anne Curzan

2014年3月攝於TEDxUofM

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恒

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後制:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

MAC及手持裝置版本請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講

人們或許認為某些俚語,例如「hangry」(餓到一肚子火)、「defriend」(刪好友)和「adorkable」(傻的可愛)填補了英語中某些意義的空白,儘管它們不曾出現在辭典中。但究竟是誰決定哪些詞彙能被收錄於辭典中?語言史學家Anne Curzan藉由引人入勝的演講,讓我們一窺辭典背後的編輯者及他們所做的選擇。

 

關於Anne Curzan

英語教授Anne Curzan鼓勵學生在課堂中使用俚語。身為語言史學家,她對人們如何使用語言及語言如何因此改變深感興趣。

 

為什麼要聽她演講

Anne Curzan是俚語收集者、通用語剖析者及語言演進審核者。簡單來說,她是密西根大學英語教授,研究英語的使用及演進方式。正如她在演講中所言,「英語豐富多彩、生機勃勃,充滿使用者的創意。」

 

除了於2005年獲選為美國傳統辭典用法專家小組,Curzan也是一位作家-她的最新著作為《修正英語:規約主義和語言史》(Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History)。她也是密西根電台節目《That’s What They Say》共同主持者,內容是探討語言和語法。她定期為《高等教育紀事報》通用語部落格(Lingua Franca)寫稿。

 

Anne Curzan的英語網上資料

University of Michigan

Anne Curzan on Lingua Franca

That's What They Say

 

[TED科技‧娛樂‧設計]

已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Anne Curzan 談如何使詞彙成「真」?

 

首先我得稍微談一下我的社交生活。我知道這看似與今天的主題無關,事實上大有關係。當人們在派對上遇到我,發現我是一名專攻語言學的英語教授時,他們通常會有兩種反應。有一種人會露出驚恐的表情,他們通常會想:「喔,我說話得謹慎點,我敢肯定你會聽出我犯的每一個錯。」於是他們乾脆閉嘴,等我離開後才開始與別人交談。另一種人會眼睛一亮說:「你正好是我想交談的人。」然後告訴我他們認為英語中存在的問題。

 

幾星期前,我參加一場晚宴,我右邊的男士開始向我述說網路如何降低英語水準,他以Facebook為例,他說:「defriend(刪好友)?我是指,這算是真正的詞彙嗎?」我想討論一下這個問題:怎樣才算真正的詞彙?我和那位先生都知道「defriend」這個動詞是什麼意思,那麼像「defriend」這樣的新詞何時會成為真正的詞彙?究竟誰有權替詞彙進行這類官方認定?這就是我今天要談的問題。我認為當大部分人說某個單字並非真正的詞彙時,他們的意思是這個詞彙並未收錄在標準辭典裡。當然,這衍生出諸多其他問題,例如辭典是誰編寫的?進一步闡述之前,我先說明一下我在其中的角色。我並非辭典編寫者,但我確實從事收集新詞彙的工作,相當類似辭典編輯者。身為英語語言史學者的好處在於,我可稱之為「研究」。當我教導英語語言史時,我要求學生在開始講課前教我兩個新俚語。藉由這種方式,這些年來我學到一些美妙的新俚語,例如「hangry」(hunger 飢餓 + angry 生氣),意思是你因為饑餓而一肚子火。還有「adorkable」(adorable 可愛 + dorky 呆蠢),意思是傻得可愛。顯然這些精妙的詞彙填補了英語重要的空缺。

 

但這些詞彙有多少真實意義,如果我們僅將它們作為俚語使用,但尚未收錄到辭典中?因此我們回到辭典的問題。請各位舉手表示,有多少人仍有查字典的習慣,印刷或網路版本都行?好,似乎大多數人都有。第二個問題,請舉手表示,有多少人曾經查看誰編輯了你使用的字典?好,不是很多。以某程度來說,我們知道辭典背後必定有人為操作,但我們不甚瞭解他們是何方神聖。我對這一點十分感興趣,即使是最挑剔的人也不會對辭典太吹毛求疵,不會將它們互相比較,不會對編輯者身分追根究底。

 

想想這句話:「請查閱辭典」,這暗示著所有辭典都一樣。想像你走進學校圖書館的閱覽室,其中有一本未經刪減的大辭典被放在莊嚴崇高的臺座上,敞開的書頁等待我們上前尋找答案。別誤會我的意思,辭典是很棒的資源,但它們是人為產物,它們會隨時間而改變。令身為老師的我感到困惑的是,我們教導學生對任何瀏覽過的文章或網頁進行批判性思考,除了辭典。我們往往將它視為沒有作者的工具書,彷彿它們無中生有地提供我們關於詞彙真正含義的答案。事實上,如果你詢問辭典編輯者,他們會告訴你他們只是盡量試著跟上大眾的腳步,追隨語言變更的潮流。他們持續觀察我們說話和寫作的用語,試著決定何者會持續使用、何者不會,他們得賭上一把,因為他們希望展現自己走在時代尖端,選用能展現這一點的詞彙。例如LOL(大笑),但他們不想趕時髦地收錄曇花一現的詞彙。我認為他們目前關注的一個詞彙是YOLO,人生只有一次。

 

我經常與辭典編輯們接觸,我們會面的地點之一或許會令各位大吃一驚。每年一月份我們會參加美國方言協會年會,除了其他活動之外,我們會票選出年度詞彙。與會者大約200至300人,包括美國最知名的語言學家。稍微說明一下會議的氛圍:它開始於減價供應飲料時段前一小時,凡是前來的人都可投票。最重要的規則是:你只能舉一隻手投票。過去的年度詞彙獲選者包括2009年的「tweet」(Twitter網站上的消息);2012年的「hashtag」(主題標籤);2000年度詞彙是「chad」(選票打孔後掉下的紙片),因為2000年之前沒人知道chad是什麼。2002年度詞彙是「WMD」(大規模殺傷性武器)。現在投票增加了其他類別,我最喜歡的類別是年度最具創意詞彙,這個類別過去的獲選者包括「recombobulation area」,這是指密爾沃基機場安檢後旅客的整裝區(笑聲),你可在那裡繫好皮帶、把電腦放回手提包。這次投票中我最喜歡的詞彙是「multi-slacking」(笑聲),multi-slacking是指電腦螢幕同時開啟多個視窗,看似正在工作,其實是不務正業地在網路上亂逛。

 

這些詞彙都會歷久彌新嗎?當然不。我們也曾做過一些具爭議性的決定,例如2006年,年度詞彙是「Plutoed」,意思是降級(譯註:原列九大行星的Pluto冥王星被除名,降級為矮行星)。但過去有些獲選詞彙如今似乎已司空見慣,例如「app」(應用程式),「e」作為前綴,還有「google」(搜尋)作為動詞。現在距今年投票還有幾週時間,蘇必略湖州立大學發佈了年度禁用語清單。令人驚訝的是,這張清單與協會的年度詞彙候選名單有相當多的雷同處,這是因為我們都注意到同樣的事,我們注意到那些逐漸嶄露頭角的詞彙,事實上這是態度問題。

 

語言的日新月異令你困擾,還是令你感到有趣,是值得研究的生活語言?蘇必略湖州立大學的清單延續了英語中長久以來排斥新詞彙的傳統,這是1875年Henry Alford校長的看法,他認為「desirability」(期望)這個詞彙糟透了。1760年,班傑明.富蘭克林在寫給大衛.休謨的信中說應棄用「colonize」(開拓殖民地)這個不當的詞彙。多年來,我們也曾目睹對新發音的擔憂。1855年,Samuel Rogers認為一些流行的發音令人反感,他說:「如果contemplate還不夠糟的話,那balcony簡直令我作嘔。」(笑聲)這個詞彙源於義大利語,它的發音是bal-COE-nee(譯註:重音在第二部分),這些抱怨如今看來相當可笑,如果不是adorkable(傻得可愛)。(笑聲)

 

但事實上語言的變化仍令我們感到不安,我辦公室裡有一大疊新聞報導表達了對不符慣例之詞彙的擔憂,認為它們不該收錄於辭典中,包括已收錄於牛津英語辭典中的「LOL」和已收錄於牛津美語辭典中的「defriend」。還有文章表達了各式各樣的擔憂:以「invite」(邀請)作為名詞,以「impact」作為動詞,因為只有牙齒會發生impacted(阻生)現象。「incentivize」(物質激勵)被描述成「粗俗、官僚的錯誤說法」。並非辭典編輯們忽略了這種語言觀點,他們試著提供某些關於俚語、非正式語或冒犯詞的指引,通常藉由用法注釋,但他們也會遇上困境,因為他們試圖概括一般人使用詞彙的方式,他們知道人們常藉助辭典獲得如何正確或適當使用某個詞彙的資訊,因此美國傳統辭典附加了用法注釋。用法注釋往往附加於某方面令人產生困擾的詞彙,令人困擾的原因之一是它們的詞義不斷改變。用法注釋主要涉及人為認定,我認為身為辭典使用者,我們往往不曾注意這些不該忽視的人為認定。

 

為了說明這一點,我們先來看一個例子,但在此之前,我想解釋一下辭典編輯如何處理用法注釋。想想這個詞彙「peruse」,以及你如何使用這個詞。我猜很多人會聯想到瀏覽、掃視、迅速閱讀,有些人甚至會聯想到走路,因為你會peruse(瀏覽)雜貨店貨架或類似的事。你或許會感到驚訝,如果你查閱大多數標準辭典,第一個定義是「仔細閱讀」或「伏案」,美國傳統辭典把它列為第一個定義,第二個定義才是「瀏覽」。接下來他們說這是「用法問題」(笑聲),然後他們附加一條用法注釋,值得看一下。用法注釋是這麼寫的:「Peruse長期以來的含義是『精讀…』,但這個詞彙的用法通常較不嚴謹,僅意味著『閱讀…』,進一步延伸為『略讀、瀏覽』,這在傳統上被認為是錯誤的用法,但我們的表決結果顯示這種用法似乎逐漸為大眾所接受。當被問到以下句子的含義:『I only had a moment to peruse the manual quickly』(我只迅速瀏覽了這本手冊一會兒),1988年無法接受這種用法的用法專家小組成員佔66%;1999年佔58%;2011年佔48%。」啊,用法專家小組,受人信賴的語言權威組織對這個用法越來越寬容了。

 

我希望你們現在思考的問題是:「等等,用法專家小組有哪些成員?我該如何看待這份聲明?」如果你翻閱美國傳統辭典扉頁,就能找到用法專家小組成員名單。但誰會翻閱字典扉頁?用法專家小組成員大約200人,包括學者、記者、作家、最高法院法官和一些語言學家。2005年,我也被列入這份名單。(掌聲)以下是我們可以為你們做的事。我們可以讓你們瞭解對於爭議性用法的不同意見,這是我們的職責範圍。我們並非語言學術機構,大約每年一次,我會拿到一張投票單,詢問我是否能接受新用法、新發音、新含義,以下就是我填寫選票的方法。我參考其他人說話與寫作用語,並非以我對英語用法的好惡為標準。我得坦白告訴各位,我不喜歡「impactful」(有影響力的)這個詞彙,但這並不影響「impactful」這個詞是否會普遍用於散文寫作中或廣為大眾接受。為了負責,我會觀察詞彙使用情況,這通常包含查閱網路資料庫,例如Google圖書。如果你在Google圖書中搜尋「impactful」,就會找到這些資訊。看來「impactful」對一定數量的作家來說確實有實用價值,過去20年當中使用頻率逐漸增加。

 

即使我們不喜歡語言的改變,改變依然會發生。改變依然會發生,即使你想著:「真的嗎?語言真的會發生這樣的變化嗎?」我的意思是,我們不要急於認定改變是不好的,我們不要急於把個人對語言的好惡強加給他人,我們不該有「英語出問題了」的想法。並非如此,它豐富多彩、生機勃勃、充滿使用者賦予的創意。回顧以往,我們認為「nice」(好,善良)代表「愚蠢」,令人不可思議;「decimate」(驟減)代表殺死十分之一;我們認為班傑明.富蘭克林擔心「notice」(注意)被當作動詞相當愚蠢。你知道嗎?一百年後,我們也會被認為同樣愚蠢,因為擔心「impact」(撞擊)被當成動詞,「invite」(邀請)被當成名詞。

 

語言的改變不會快得讓我們跟不上,語言不會以這種方式變化。我希望你們能瞭解語言的變化並非令人擔憂之事,而是有趣、迷人的事。就像辭典編輯們一樣,我希望你們樂於成為語言創意的一份子,持續塑造我們的語言,使它更加生機勃勃。

 

那麼,一個詞彙如何進入辭典?它進入辭典是因為我們使用它不斷使用它,辭典編輯注意到我們的使用。如果你心想:「但這相當於我們所有人共同決定詞彙的含義。」我會說:「確實如此,而且一向如此。」辭典是相當棒的指南與資源,但並不存在所謂的客觀辭典權威對一個詞的真正含義進行最終判定。如果一個群體使用一個詞彙並瞭解它的含義,它就是真實的。這個詞彙或許是俚語,這個詞彙或許不正式,這或許是你認為不合邏輯或沒有必要的詞彙,但只要我們使用這個詞彙,它就是真實的。

 

謝謝。(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

 About this Talk

One could argue that slang words like ‘hangry,’ ‘defriend’ and ‘adorkable’ fill crucial meaning gaps in the English language, even if they don't appear in the dictionary. After all, who actually decides which words make it into those pages? Language historian Anne Curzan gives a charming look at the humans behind dictionaries, and the choices they make.

About the Speaker

English professor Anne Curzan actually encourages her students to use slang in class. A language historian, she is fascinated by how people use words—and by how this changes. Full bio

Transcript

I need to start by telling you a little bit about my social life, which I know may not seem relevant, but it is.

When people meet me at parties and they find out that I'm an English professor who specializes in language, they generally have one of two reactions. One set of people look frightened. (Laughter) They often say something like, "Oh, I'd better be careful what I say. I'm sure you'll hear every mistake I make." And then they stop talking. (Laughter) And they wait for me to go away and talk to someone else. The other set of people, their eyes light up, and they say, "You are just the person I want to talk to." And then they tell me about whatever it is they think is going wrong with the English language. (Laughter)

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a dinner party and the man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the Internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook, and he said, "To defriend? I mean, is that even a real word?"

I want to pause on that question: What makes a word real? My dinner companion and I both know what the verb "defriend" means, so when does a new word like "defriend" become real? Who has the authority to make those kinds of official decisions about words, anyway? Those are the questions I want to talk about today.

I think most people, when they say a word isn't real, what they mean is, it doesn't appear in a standard dictionary. That, of course, raises a host of other questions, including, who writes dictionaries?

Before I go any further, let me clarify my role in all of this. I do not write dictionaries. I do, however, collect new words much the way dictionary editors do, and the great thing about being a historian of the English language is that I get to call this "research." When I teach the history of the English language, I require that students teach me two new slang words before I will begin class. Over the years, I have learned some great new slang this way, including "hangry," which -- (Applause) — which is when you are cranky or angry because you are hungry, and "adorkable," which is when you are adorable in kind of a dorky way, clearly, terrific words that fill important gaps in the English language. (Laughter) But how real are they if we use them primarily as slang and they don't yet appear in a dictionary?

With that, let's turn to dictionaries. I'm going to do this as a show of hands: How many of you still regularly refer to a dictionary, either print or online? Okay, so that looks like most of you. Now, a second question. Again, a show of hands: How many of you have ever looked to see who edited the dictionary you are using? Okay, many fewer. At some level, we know that there are human hands behind dictionaries, but we're really not sure who those hands belong to. I'm actually fascinated by this. Even the most critical people out there tend not to be very critical about dictionaries, not distinguishing among them and not asking a whole lot of questions about who edited them. Just think about the phrase "Look it up in the dictionary," which suggests that all dictionaries are exactly the same. Consider the library here on campus, where you go into the reading room, and there is a large, unabridged dictionary up on a pedestal in this place of honor and respect lying open so we can go stand before it to get answers.

Now, don't get me wrong, dictionaries are fantastic resources, but they are human and they are not timeless. I'm struck as a teacher that we tell students to critically question every text they read, every website they visit, except dictionaries, which we tend to treat as un-authored, as if they came from nowhere to give us answers about what words really mean. Here's the thing: If you ask dictionary editors, what they'll tell you is they're just trying to keep up with us as we change the language. They're watching what we say and what we write and trying to figure out what's going to stick and what's not going to stick. They have to gamble, because they want to appear cutting edge and catch the words that are going to make it, such as LOL, but they don't want to appear faddish and include the words that aren't going to make it, and I think a word that they're watching right now is YOLO, you only live once.

Now I get to hang out with dictionary editors, and you might be surprised by one of the places where we hang out. Every January, we go to the American Dialect Society annual meeting, where among other things, we vote on the word of the year. There are about 200 or 300 people who come, some of the best known linguists in the United States. To give you a sense of the flavor of the meeting, it occurs right before happy hour. Anyone who comes can vote. The most important rule is that you can vote with only one hand. In the past, some of the winners have been "tweet" in 2009 and "hashtag" in 2012. "Chad" was the word of the year in the year 2000, because who knew what a chad was before 2000, and "WMD" in 2002.

Now, we have other categories in which we vote too, and my favorite category is most creative word of the year. Past winners in this category have included "recombobulation area," which is at the Milwaukee Airport after security, where you can recombobulate. (Laughter) You can put your belt back on, put your computer back in your bag. And then my all-time favorite word at this vote, which is "multi-slacking." (Laughter) And multi-slacking is the act of having multiple windows up on your screen so it looks like you're working when you're actually goofing around on the web. (Laughter) (Applause)

Will all of these words stick? Absolutely not. And we have made some questionable choices, for example in 2006 when the word of the year was "Plutoed," to mean demoted. (Laughter) But some of the past winners now seem completely unremarkable, such as "app" and "e" as a prefix, and "google" as a verb.

Now, a few weeks before our vote, Lake Superior State University issues its list of banished words for the year. What is striking about this is that there's actually often quite a lot of overlap between their list and the list that we are considering for words of the year, and this is because we're noticing the same thing. We're noticing words that are coming into prominence. It's really a question of attitude. Are you bothered by language fads and language change, or do you find it fun, interesting, something worthy of study as part of a living language?

The list by Lake Superior State University continues a fairly long tradition in English of complaints about new words. So here is Dean Henry Alford in 1875, who was very concerned that "desirability" is really a terrible word. In 1760, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to David Hume giving up the word "colonize" as bad.

Over the years, we've also seen worries about new pronunciations. Here is Samuel Rogers in 1855 who is concerned about some fashionable pronunciations that he finds offensive, and he says "as if contemplate were not bad enough, balcony makes me sick." (Laughter) The word is borrowed in from Italian and it was pronounced bal-COE-nee.

These complaints now strike us as quaint, if not downright adorkable -- (Laughter) -- but here's the thing: we still get quite worked up about language change. I have an entire file in my office of newspaper articles which express concern about illegitimate words that should not have been included in the dictionary, including "LOL" when it got into the Oxford English Dictionary and "defriend" when it got into the Oxford American Dictionary. I also have articles expressing concern about "invite" as a noun, "impact" as a verb, because only teeth can be impacted, and "incentivize" is described as "boorish, bureaucratic misspeak."

Now, it's not that dictionary editors ignore these kinds of attitudes about language. They try to provide us some guidance about words that are considered slang or informal or offensive, often through usage labels, but they're in something of a bind, because they're trying to describe what we do, and they know that we often go to dictionaries to get information about how we should use a word well or appropriately. In response, the American Heritage Dictionaries include usage notes. Usage notes tend to occur with words that are troublesome in one way, and one of the ways that they can be troublesome is that they're changing meaning. Now usage notes involve very human decisions, and I think, as dictionary users, we're often not as aware of those human decisions as we should be. To show you what I mean, we'll look at an example, but before we do, I want to explain what the dictionary editors are trying to deal with in this usage note.

Think about the word "peruse" and how you use that word. I would guess many of you are thinking of skim, scan, reading quickly. Some of you may even have some walking involved, because you're perusing grocery store shelves, or something like that. You might be surprised to learn that if you look in most standard dictionaries, the first definition will be to read carefully, or pour over. American Heritage has that as the first definition. They then have, as the second definition, skim, and next to that, they say "usage problem." (Laughter) And then they include a usage note, which is worth looking at.

So here's the usage note: "Peruse has long meant 'to read thoroughly' ... But the word if often used more loosely, to mean simply 'to read.' ... Further extension of the word to mean 'to glance over, skim,' has traditionally been considered an error, but our ballot results suggest that it is becoming somewhat more acceptable. When asked about the sentence, 'I only had a moment to peruse the manual quickly,' 66 percent of the [Usage] Panel found it unacceptable in 1988, 58 percent in 1999, and 48 percent in 2011."

Ah, the Usage Panel, that trusted body of language authorities who is getting more lenient about this. Now, what I hope you're thinking right now is, "Wait, who's on the Usage Panel? And what should I do with their pronouncements?" If you look in the front matter of American Heritage Dictionaries, you can actually find the names of the people on the Usage Panel. But who looks at the front matter of dictionaries? There are about 200 people on the Usage Panel. They include academicians, journalists, creative writers. There's a Supreme Court justice on it and a few linguists. As of 2005, the list includes me. (Applause)

Here's what we can do for you. We can give you a sense of the range of opinions about contested usage. That is and should be the extent of our authority. We are not a language academy. About once a year, I get a ballot that asks me about whether new uses, new pronunciations, new meanings, are acceptable.

Now here's what I do to fill out the ballot. I listen to what other people are saying and writing. I do not listen to my own likes and dislikes about the English language. I will be honest with you: I do not like the word "impactful," but that is neither here nor there in terms of whether "impactful" is becoming common usage and becoming more acceptable in written prose. So to be responsible, what I do is go look at usage, which often involves going to look at online databases such as Google Books. Well, if you look for "impactful" in Google Books, here is what you find. Well, it sure looks like "impactful" is proving useful for a certain number of writers, and has become more and more useful over the last 20 years.

Now, there are going to be changes that all of us don't like in the language. There are going to be changes where you think, "Really? Does the language have to change that way?" What I'm saying is, we should be less quick to decide that that change is terrible, we should be less quick to impose our likes and dislikes about words on other people, and we should be entirely reluctant to think that the English language is in trouble. It's not. It is rich and vibrant and filled with the creativity of the speakers who speak it. In retrospect, we think it's fascinating that the word "nice" used to mean silly, and that the word "decimate" used to mean to kill one in every 10. (Laughter) We think that Ben Franklin was being silly to worry about "notice" as a verb. Well, you know what? We're going to look pretty silly in a hundred years for worrying about "impact" as a verb and "invite" as a noun. The language is not going to change so fast that we can't keep up. Language just doesn't work that way. I hope that what you can do is find language change not worrisome but fun and fascinating, just the way dictionary editors do. I hope you can enjoy being part of the creativity that is continually remaking our language and keeping it robust.

So how does a word get into a dictionary? It gets in because we use it and we keep using it, and dictionary editors are paying attention to us. If you're thinking, "But that lets all of us decide what words mean," I would say, "Yes it does, and it always has." Dictionaries are a wonderful guide and resource, but there is no objective dictionary authority out there that is the final arbiter about what words mean. If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it's real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we're using, that word is real.

Thank you.

(Applause)


留下您對本課程的評論
標題:
您目前為非會員,留言名稱將顯示「匿名非會員」
只能進行20字留言

留言內容:

驗證碼請輸入9 + 5 =

標籤

現有標籤:1
新增標籤:


有關本課程的討論

目前暫無評論,快來留言吧!

Creative Commons授權條款 本站一切著作係採用 Creative Commons 授權條款授權。
協助推廣單位: