说说out of question这个短语

很多人都在诠释 out of the question 和 out of question的意思区别,但是这样的诠释真的靠谱吗?

 说说out of question这个短语

 

倪肖丁


张鑫友先生《英语相似词语辨析词典》(华中师范大学出版社2004)认为: out of question, out of the question这两个短语只有一个the之差,但意思却几乎完全相反。...out of question毫无疑问的意思,out of the question不可能的意思。有关out of question,张先生给出了例句如下:

Out of question, this plan can be fulfilled ahead of time. 毫无疑问,这个计划可以提前完成。

It is out of question that he will be appointed Chief Engineer of the railway.毫无疑问,他将被任命为那条铁路的工程师。

的确常有人谈到out of the questionout of question上述区别。除了《英语相似词语辨析词典》以外,《薄冰英语常见共性问题解答》(商务印书馆2008)也说:out of the questionout of question的意义大不一样,前者意为根本不可能,后者意为不成问题

至于中学英语教参教辅资料和一些国内在线词典,则更习惯于使用网络上的所谓例句来证明两者的区别;还有大学教师专门以此为题写起了论文。

但上述辞书和教参的诠释存在的通病是:既没有给出靠谱的理论依据,而且每个例句都是在先入为主的固有观念基础上自己编写的。

从历史角度看,out of question这个短语曾被一度被人用过,但仅作副词。F.T. Wood曾在早年出版的English Prepositional Idioms中给出一例:He is out of question the greatest authority on this subject now living.  Wood同时专门提醒:在现代英语中很少见。

其实,当代英语中已经不用out of question表示“毫无疑问,毋庸置疑”。所以在朗文、牛津、剑桥、柯林斯、麦克米兰和Webster等系列词典中均未见到这种用例。即使作为存量,这一用法也已难觅其踪。当然,如果从包罗万象、鱼龙混杂的网络上去找,out of question用法自然能找到。但在类似TIME Magazine这类出版物语料库中,没见到out of question表示毫无疑问、毋庸置疑这种用法。即使在BNC这种未经编辑的、非精选的语料库中,目前为止也没见到。在COCA语料库中虽有少量out of question的用例,但其中大部分是网文博客之类,文字很不严谨,而且通过上下文语境可知,它们基本上都是out of the question的笔误。

试举两例如下:

1. After losing all five starters to NBA off last year's title team, Williams has done terrific job to get here. Don't underestimate peaking Heels. Elite Eight isn't out of question.

此句的大概意思是:威廉姆斯在这个去年冠军队丧失五个首发后,现在表现得非常棒。所以别小看了这个弹跳高手,进入八强并非不可能。假如out of question的意思是毫无疑问,没问题,那么原句就成了“...进入八强不是没有问题,正好跟前文意思矛盾。显然,此例中out of question实际上是out of the question,只是说话的人漏掉了一个the

2.  I remembered the day of May 15th, when he flew from New York to Florida. We could not follow him to the airport and I could only pray that he really got on his plane. That he did not trade the plane ticket for a hit. Trust was completely out of question. By that time my boy has lost all human appearance. Not only did he look terrifying (the look of a hunted beast, sickly thinness, and an awful skin condition), but his mental state has deteriorated to such a level, that sometimes I thought that he no longer knew how to read. His transformation was so powerful that sometimes I really thought him to be a monster.

这段文字是一个家长回忆吸毒成瘾的儿子独自前往康复中心戒毒时的心情:因为不能把他送到机场,只能祈祷他登上飞机,只能祈祷他不会把机票退了再去买毒品过瘾!那时候儿子已经没有人样了:看上去吓人,瘦骨嶙峋,严重肤疾,困兽般惶恐,精神衰败,以至于我有时候感觉他就是个怪物。

这样的儿子,家长放心不放心呢?显然是不放心、不信任!所以,句中的out of question实际上是out of the question,意为不可能信任他,只是漏掉了一个冠词the,这在口语体中并不罕见

鉴此,我认为当代英语中已不再用out of question表示毫无疑问、毋庸置疑,尤其不用于作表语。所以,建议英语教师在教学中慎用out of question。如要表达毫无疑问,不容置疑” ,可向学生推荐beyondallquestion。例如:

Her loyalty is beyond question. (OALD)

Her efficiency and intelligence are beyond question. (LDOCE)

The new evidence establishes his innocence beyond (all) question.WALD

以上只是本人一己之见,仅供读者参考。

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