Dead (adj.) / dead body / deadly, deathly

Dead 通常被視為極限形容詞 (limit adjective or absolute adjective),亦即它不能有比較級和最高級的形式。因此,每當有像 “more dead than alive” (累得要死) 這樣的寫法出現時,大多數文法學者都認為應改為 more nearly dead than alive才合乎語法。然而,這個誇張的成語或陳詞並未造成嚴重的問題,但它通常被侷限用於口語和非正式寫作,而不用在正式寫作中。

Dead body 此一慣用語有時被批評是贅述的新聞用語,因為這裡 body 就是 corpse (屍體),因此它已經死了。dead corpse (死屍) 無疑地是贅述 (死了的身體才叫做屍體,所以多了這個 dead,顯然是畫蛇添足),而 dead body 可能也是贅述,但 dead person (死人) 顯然不是。

Deadly 和 deathly 都可當形容詞和副詞用。當形容詞時,deadly 意為「致死的,致命的」,而 deathly 意為「死一般的」(deathlike)。例如:This is a potentially deadly disease. (這是一種可能致命的疾病);The police charged him with possession of a deadly weapon. (警方指控他擁有致命武器);A deathly silence followed her announcement. (她宣布之後一片死寂)。當副詞時,deadly 意為「極度地,非常」(extremely, very),而 deathly 意為「死一般地」。例如:It is a deadly dull/boring play. (那是一場極其枯燥乏味的演出);She was deathly pale/white. (她像死一般地蒼白/死白);Her hand was deathly cold. (她的手像死人般地冰冷);The room is/They are deathly silent. (這房間一片死寂/他們鴉雀無聲)。

根據上述,deadly 和 deathly 無論是當形容詞或副詞都看似兩個意思不同的字。然而,當形容詞用的 deadly 還意為「徹底的;十足的 (僅能用於名詞之前)」(complete),經常與 silence 搭配使用,此時它跟 deathly 是同義字,所以上面 A deathly silence followed her announcement. 這句亦可寫成 A deadly silence followed her announcement. – 有些字典認為 deadly 也有「死一般」的意思。

None the + 比較級 + for + 名詞/because + 子句 (或 because of + 名詞);(all) the + 比較級 + for + 名詞/because + 子句 (或 because of + 名詞)

這兩個句型的意思可謂正好相反,前者意為「不因…就…」,後者意為「正因…而…」,其中 none 做副詞用,意思是「絕不,一點也不」。例如:He spent two weeks in hospital but he’s none the better for it. (他的病情未因在醫院住了兩星期而有所好轉);He explained it to me, but I’m none the wiser. = He explained it to me, but I still don’t understand it. (他對我做了解釋,但我仍然不懂);My car is none the worse for the accident. = My car is not worse because of the accident. (我的車子沒因那次車禍而變得更糟糕);The country will be all the worse for that event. (這個國家將因該事件而變得更糟糕)。

下面再各舉一例來說明這兩種句型的運用:

She loves you none the less for your faults. (她沒有因為你的缺點就不愛你)
= She loves you none the less because you have faults.
= She does not love you the less because you have faults.
(注意:當 because 前面有 not 時,這個 not 是否定 because,即 not because,不是否定主動詞 love)
= Though you have faults, she loves you none the less.
= You have faults, but she loves you none the less.
= You have faults; nevertheless/nonetheless she loves you.

They became all the better friends for a misunderstanding. (他們因誤解而變成更好的朋友)
= They became all the better friends because there was a misunderstanding.
= As there was a misunderstanding, they became (all) the better friends.
= There was a misunderstanding, so they became the better friends.

隱含比較級 (implicit comparatives)

英文中有6個形容詞有時被稱為「隱含比較級」(implicit comparatives),它們是:major, minor, junior, senior, inferior, superior。這6個字 (原本在拉丁文中都是比較級形容詞) 均具比較級型態,但缺乏原級和最高級型態。

雖然它們隱含比較的功能,但在作用上其實就跟原級形容詞一樣。在現代英語用法中,major 和 minor 並不跟 than 搭配做比較,而 junior, senior, inferior, superior 雖可做比較,但其後的介系詞是接 to 而不是 than。例如:This restaurant is superior to the one we usually go to. (這家餐廳比我們常去的那家好);She is senior to everyone else in the company. (她在公司裡的年資比其他人都長)。

然而,事實上,由於在作用上就跟原級形容詞一樣,junior, senior, inferior, superior 有時仍可接 more 和 most 來形成比較級和最高級。例如:John is more senior than me. (約翰比我資深)。

極限形容詞的「最高程度」和「接近最高程度」

英文中有些形容詞是不可分等級的,因為其含義已包括了極限的意思,所以它們沒有比較級和最高級的形式。有些人稱之為極限形容詞 (limit adjectives),如 empty, impossible, perfect, unique 等等。

不過,我們還是可以在其前面加上 absolutely, completely, quite, thoroughly, totally, utterly, wholly 等副詞來表達「最高程度」。例如:

That’s completely (or thoroughly, totally, wholly…) impossible. (那是完全不可能的)
They were absolutely speechless. (他們簡直連一句話都說不出來)

再者,我們也可以使用 almost, nearly, practically, virtually 等副詞來表達「接近最高程度」。例如:

The classroom was virtually empty. (教室已幾乎空無一人)
It’s almost impossible to say that I love you. (要說我愛你幾乎是不可能的)

此外,amazed, amazing, disgusting, surprised, surprising, terrified, terrifying 等表示情緒反應的分詞形容詞也是屬於極限形容詞,所以也沒有比較級和最高級的形式。同樣地,我們可以在其前加上 absolutely, completely, quite, thoroughly, totally, utterly, wholly 等副詞來表達「最高程度」,如 utterly amazed (非常吃驚)、absolutely disgusting (討厭至極)、completely terrified (十分震驚)。然而,我們卻不能在這些分詞形容詞前面加上 almost, nearly, practically, virtually 等副詞來表達「接近最高程度」。