2013年9月12日 星期四

邏輯的謬誤

今天想說一種很多人會犯的英語錯誤,先看看以下的句子:

The price of the sports car is very expensive.

上句的意思人人都看得懂,語法上亦沒有出錯,不過很可惜句子不能成立,問題出在哪兒呢?

首先必須強調一點,語言的成立除了要符合語法、用詞妥當以外,還要合乎邏輯。以上的句子錯就錯在 price 一詞不能用 expensive 來修飾,因為價錢本身不分昂貴或便宜,只有高或低,至於昂貴或便宜是在於物品,所以上句有兩種改寫方式:
1. The price of the sports car is very high.
2. The sports car is very expensive.

這種常見的謬誤叫做 category mistake(範疇錯誤),是套用哲學邏輯的概念,意思是指把一種原有的屬性歸類到不應該擁有該屬性的對象,簡單一點來說,即表示人的思想誤把兩種不同類型或範疇(category)的東西放在一起,即使不影響理解,但事物本身是各不相干的。

再舉一些類似的例子:

*The temperature of last summer was hot.
應該改為:
1. The temperature of last summer was high.
2. It was hot last summer.

*The number of newborn babies is remarkably few.
應該改為:
1. The number of newborn babies is remarkably low.
2. There are remarkably few newborn babies.

*Brontë became a writer at a young age.
應該改為:
1. Brontë became a writer at an early age.
2. Brontë became a writer when she was young.

最後值得一提,英語可以說 old age,指人的老年,但這個 old 並不是解作「老」,而是「經歷了一段很長的時間」,正如 old friends 是指相識很久的老友,不是年老的朋友。

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