还是那道94高考题:the first后接不定式被动式还是过去分词(续篇)

之前写过一篇“还是那道1994年高考题:the first后接不定式被动式还是过去分词”的文章,最近又看到一些例句,又有点新的理解,想再谈谈这个问题,顺便更正、补充某些国内语法书上的一些纷繁复杂的说法。

之前写过一篇“还是那道1994年高考题:the first后接不定式被动式还是过去分词”的文章,最近又看到一些例句,又有点新的理解,想再谈谈这个问题,顺便更正、补充某些国内语法书上的一些纷繁复杂的说法。

    翻查了很多国外语法资料,对于不定式用于后修饰的问题讨论相对别的书来说比较详细的还是要属Quirk名著“A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language”,只是对于我们来说讨论还不够深入,比如主谓关系下的不定式的被动式应该如何理解就只是一笔带过。以下是选自其P1269

17.32 Postmodifying to-infinitive clauses can have either a modal or a nonmodal sense, but the modal interpretation seems to be normal, as indicated by most of the examples given so far. If the antecedent corresponds to the object of the infinitive, the modal interpretation is the only possible one:

 The thing to do is . . . ['The thing we should do is . . .'; not = 'The thing we do is . . .' or 'The thing we are going to do is . . .']

 If the antecedent corresponds to the subject of the infinitive, the interpretation may be nonmodal, particularly if the antecedent has a 'restrictive' marker such as last and the infinitive is equivalent to a relative clause:

They were the last guests to arrive. ['They were the last guests who arrived.']

Such 'restrictive' markers include adjectives in the superlative degree, general
ordinals (next, last, only), first, or other ordinal numeral.

如上所述,动宾关系几乎都会用情态意义来解释,这一点没有争议。

Getting a work permit was the first hurdle to overcome.动宾关系

= Getting a work permit was the first hurdle that you should overcome.情态意义

 那道高考题如果写成:

The first textbooks to write for teaching English as a foreign language came out in the 16th century. 就是错的了,动宾关系表示情态的意义,这不符合句意。

这些很容易判断。比较复杂的主要是主谓关系,主谓关系可能是情态意义,也可能不是情态意义,这里的“不是情态意义”是指时态方面的意义,尤其当有限制性标记如最高级形式或序数词等时,非情态的意义即时态的意义这种理解更为多见。

[1]The first person to call us with the right answer will win 10 CDs of their choice.(主谓关系)

这一句用情态意义来解释...person that can call us with...

[2]Nobody wanted to be the first to take the floor.主谓关系解释为情态意义

[3]He is the first ( = very willing) to admit that much of his success is due to his good looks.情态意义

[4]Bannister was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.情态意义...that could run a mile in under four minutes

[5]They were the first people to travel east of the mountains.(=...people who travelled...)

[6]Amundsen was the first MAN to reach the South Pole. (‘...the first man who reached the South Pole.’)

[7]The last person to leave will have to turn out the lights.(=The last person who leaves...)

[8]You're the only student to sign up for the course.(=... the only student who has signed up for the course.)

[9]Ronald Reagan was the oldest man to become US President.(= the oldest man who became US President)

例句1-4是主谓关系,解释为情态的意义,而5-9这几句也都是主谓关系,但是解释为时态意义(这样的例子很多)

什么时候解释为“情态意义”,什么时候解释为“时态意义”主要是结合上下文看句子本身的意义才知道哪种解释是合适的,没有固定的判断标准。

卢盛莽编著的《英语非谓语动词疑难详解》P78

This is the best book on the subjects to appear this year. (= This is the best book on the subjects that will appear / has appeared this year.)主谓关系

这句理解成时态的意义,但由于没有上下文,我们无从知道该书是否已出版发行,所以改写成关系分句时,把它理解成用will appear/has appeared/appeared都可以。

这也表明:即使理解成时态的意义也要根据上下文结合句意才能知道理解成哪一种时态比较合适。

在主谓关系中也可以引入被动式,那道高考题就是这种情况,那到底是解释为时态意义还是解释为“情态意义”呢?Quirk并没有细谈这个问题,不过提示了我们分析的方法,就是分析大量的例句来得出结论。我们举些例子看看:

[10]Education is often the first to be squeezed at a time of cuts.(that may be squeezed)

[11] It is the first form of public transport to be powered by alternative energy. (that will be/is powered)

[12]This essay collection, the first to be devoted to the Book of the Duchess (hereafter BD), offers a range of approaches. (that will be devoted)

[13]Dogs were probably the first animals to be domesticated.that could be/were domesticated

[14]He is the best man to be chosen by us. = He is the best man that we can choose.解释为情态意义

[15]The first British monarch to be filmed was Queen Victoria.(=...that was filmed...)

[16] He is the second man to be killed in this way. (the second man who was killed)

[17]He wasthe fifth person to be killed in sectarian violence. (the fifth person who was killed)

[18]He was the last man to be hanged for murder in this country.

[19]He was the fifth person to be killed in sectarian violence.

[20]You're not the first person to be tricked out of your savings.

[21]He is the sixth person to be arrested in relation to the coup plot.

[22]He is the third man to be murdered on the corner of the Donegal Road and the Falls Road in the past two years.

[23]He was one of the first to collect Picasso paintings.

[24]He's not the first politician to be caught with his pants down, and he won't be the last.

[25]In general, the first two branches to be established remain the most popular among students.

15-25均是时态的意义,若改成关系分句用的是过去时。

上面的例子表明:各种解释意义都有,有时还有可能两种意义均可(例1113),只是以时态意义的解释居多。这也说明到底取哪种解释还是要结合上下文看句意才能决定。国内书中提到的“先时”这个说法没有问题,问题是“是不是先时要看句意,有时确实是先时,有时未必是先时,也可能是情态意义”。有人说,看主句的谓语动词观察是否是先时,这个说法没有依据。如:

[16] He is the second man to be killed in this way. (the second man who was killed)

这一句改为:

[16a] He was the second man to be killed in this way. (the second man who was killed)

to be killed先时的意义几乎不受影响,用was还是is唯一的区别在于说话的语境。

 

小结一下:the first+名词+ to be done这样类似的结构表示的意义有两种:可以表示情态的意义,也可以表示时态的意义(多见), 主要是结合上下文看句子的意思来决定。如果是时态的意义,to be done的这个结构通常都是完成了的动作(注意并不是绝对的,比如句12和句14)。

大家对那道高考题的分歧就在于有人看到to be written这个选项就直接理解为情态的意义,结合句意发现不对,所以这个选项就直接排除了。另一些人认为选项to be written可以理解为先时的动作,因为The first textbooks to be written符合上面讨论的可以理解为是时态的意义表示已完成了的动作,而不是情态的意义,这样也就符合句意了,所以这个选项可以选。这就是大家争论这个高考题的核心。

我想出题人大概也没想到这个题目竟然带来了如此大的影响和争议。其实这题的不定式部分理解成时态的意义(即已完成的动作)完全是没问题的,问题出在另一个方面,我在前一篇提到过,这种不定式的结构不管理解为情态的意义也好还是理解成时态的意义也罢,几乎都是系表结构(这才是这个问题的关键,并不是大家争执的那样),而那道高考题却不是系表结构,所以还是比较勉强,句子看起来有点怪。有人说下面两句不是系表结构为什么可以用:

The first person to give the correct answer wins the contest.(麦克米兰高阶)主谓表情态

The first person to call us with the right answer will win 10 CDs of their choice.主谓表情态

我的理解是:表情态的意义似乎不受系表结构的影响,而表时态意义尤其是先时意义的情况下却都是系表结构,暂时没发现例外。只要加上ever(上一篇中有讲)后这种先时的意义就可以摆脱系表结构,我推测可能是想要让句子的意义表达明确,强调不定式的动作完成先于主句的谓语动词(不需要结合句意就能看出),而主句若是系表结构则不需要如此强调。

我把这道题改一下就很明显了:

[26]Those textbooks, the first to be written for teaching English as a foreign language, came out in the 16th century.  (正确)

例句26是正确的,因为这就变成系表结构或者说是同位语结构了,这就跟我们上面的说法对上了,当然没问题。意义等同于例句27

[27] The first textbooks, written for teaching English as a foreign language, came out in the 16th century.        (正确)

[28] The first textbooks written for teaching English as a foreign language came out in the 16th century.        (正确)

例句28也等同于例句27

[29] The first textbooks to be written for teaching English as a foreign language came out in the 16th century.(?不妥) 

[30] The first textbooks  ever to  be written for teaching English as a foreign language came out in the 16th century. (正确)

仔细比较思考例句262930,很有意思的句法现象。我认为例句26正确但例句29有些问题,这可能不是语法问题的范畴,而是属于惯用法的讨论范围。

2016年全国高考试卷第66题:

I was the first Western TV reporter ______ (permit) to film a special unit caring for pandas rescued from starvation in the wild.

这是很典型的系表结构。

如果不要求所填词的个数,只是从正确这个角度来填的话,横线上可以填permitted/to be permitted/to have been permitted/ever to be permitted都可以,意思很细微的区别而已。

  • 发表于 2021-08-31 18:38
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