关于what’s the matter在宾语从句中的语序

关于what's the matter在宾语从句中的语序问题的探讨和澄清。

关于whats the matter在宾语从句中的语序

 

■倪肖丁(西安)

 

葛传槼教授的《英语惯用法词典》(上海译文出版社2002)认为the matter有形容词性质,所以What is the matter?里的what 通常被看作主语,而且习惯说 He asked me what was the matter,不说 He asked me what the matter wasHe asked me what the matter was 的意思通常是“他问我那物质是什么”或“他问我那事件是什么”。

国内还有一些著述也持有与《英语惯用法词典》相同的观点,比如《英语相似词语辨析词典》(华中师范大学出版社2004, P.770))就断言:What’s the matter with…结构用作宾语从句或表语从句时,其语序不得改变。赵振才《英语常见问题解答大词典》(世界图书出版公司2016P.1634)也沿袭了这一论点。

但实际上在宾语从句中,what is/was the matterwhat the matter is/was两种语序均可表示相同的意思。 Michael SwanPractical English Usage(2005)中说的很清楚:直接的疑问句What's the matter?在间接引述时有以下两种语序:

I asked what was the matter.

I asked what the matter was.

前一种语序的补充例句如下:

The baby grunted again, and Alice looked very anxiously into its face to see what was the matter with it. (SIEG)

He gave us no indication as to what was the matter. (OCD2)

而被《英语惯用法词典》和《英语相似词语辨析词典》等国内辞书否定的后一种语序实际使用更为普遍。例如:

Mike asked what the matter was. OGEG

You know perfectly well what the matter is.CALD3

They kept asking what the matter was.AVC

I enquired what the matter was.CCEU

I have no idea what the matter is.MEGIC

I don't know what the matter is with the car, but it won't start.CALD3

Well, that was the one I liked better myself- but there was something so oddly reluctant in his voice that I looked at him sharply and asked him what the matter was. Different Seasons by Stephen King

Suddenly Tom heard a door slam. It was from the front of the house. Had his father come downstairs to look around and see what the matter was? (Tom Swift And His Electric Locomotive by Victor Appleton)

没有理由认为上述例句中的what the matter is/was意为“那物质是什么”或“那事件是什么”。尤其是后三句,上下文语境明确告诉我们其意思与what is/was the matter完全一致。

其实,不仅what is the matter如此,其它询问焦点是主语的“what/who/which+be+名词”结构在宾语从句中也都可以有两种语序(PEU)。例如:

Who's the best player here? 在间接引述中的语序为:

She asked me who was the best player.

或:She asked me who the best player was.

Which is my seat? 在间接引述中的语序为:

She wondered which was her seat.

或:She wondered which her seat was.

同理,Who is your roommate?在间接引语中也可以是 You want to know who my roommate is. (UUEG)

因此,《英语惯用法词典》的说法与现代英语的实际使用情况不相符,国内持有相同观点的其他一些著述的理据多源于《英语惯用法词典》,也存在同样的问题。

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