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易誤用的on the contrary, in contrast 與on the other hand

在學術英文寫作,常常會用到「比較」,有時候是比較大小 (magnitude),這時候常用比較句型 more than,有時候是正反面比較,有時候是提出另外一種看法。「比較大小」這部分大家比較熟悉,不容易犯錯,但是正反面比較,或是提出另外一種看法,就有三個 phrases 可供選擇:on the contrary, in contrast, 與 on the other hand,這三種就很容易搞混了。

下面三個phrase的解釋,是從兩本有代表性的字典所列出來的,一本是 Collins Cobuild English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (以下簡稱柯),另一本是 Macmillan dictionary (麥克米蘭字典,以下簡稱)。雖然麥克米蘭字典似乎在台灣較少為人知,但它的定義真的有它的獨到之處,簡短、清晰、有力是我對它一貫的印象,有時候在仔細分辨詞義時,麥克米蘭字典給我的幫助很大

下面是三個詞語的解釋,如果嫌英文太多,可讀麥克米蘭的解釋即可

in contrast:

柯的解釋是 you say by contrast or in contrast, or in contrast to something, to show that you are mentioning a very different situation from the one you have just mentioned.

麥的解釋也相同:used when you are comparing two things or people and saying that the second one is very different from the first。

on the contrary:

柯: you use on the contrary when you have just said or implied that something is not true and are going to say that the opposite is true.

麥:used for emphasizing that something is true, even though it is the opposite of something that has been said.

on the other hand:

柯: you use on the one hand to introduct the first of two contrasting points, facts, or ways of looking at something. It is always followed later by on the other hand or on the other.

麥:used for giving two different opinions about something

我當然不會這麼不負責任的列出來打發各位讀者,這就太對不起各位了。

先來讓大家想想這個例子,在空格之中要填入什麼呢?是 On the contrary, in contrast, 還是 on the other hand?

The American house is casual, and opens to a patio for outdoor living. ________, the Dutch house is more formal, and because of hard winters, is closed against the cold outside. (例句摘自 http://mail.scu.edu.tw/~cynthiay/4-15.htm)

答案是 in contrast。我們可以用消去法來討論,不用 on the contrary 是因為在這裡並沒有反對前面所脫的,而且 on the contrary 通常有點主觀與個人色彩,認為後面才是對的,可是在這只是兩個事實的陳述。on the other hand 通常是在說同一件事情的兩個方面,也不適用於這裡。用 in contrast 是因為意思是對照 (不一定是相反,非常不一樣即可),而且是比較兩件事情

再來看下一個例子。

甲:You’ll get tired of it.
乙:________, I shall enjoy it.

答案是什麼呢?這裡填的是 On the contrary,主要原因是講完全相反的有個人意見在裡面 (反對前面說的),而且在講同一件事、同一個人(指的是乙)。

I’d like to eat out, but _________ I should be trying to save money.

這裡是 on the other hand,是講同一件事情,不同的意見。

到這裡,大家應該都清楚了。難的地方在下面

It doesn’t seem ugly to me; _________, I think it’s beautiful.

這裡要填的是什麼呢?不是 in contrast,因為該句有主觀色彩,而且在講同一件事;不是 on the other hand,因為這不是講一件事情的兩個方面。這裡要填的是 on the contrary。

你的問題可能跟我一開始一樣:not ugly 不就是 beautiful 嗎?哪裡相反了呢?這問題我也百思不得其解,雖然字典上都有解釋,但這實在是太詭異了。我的疑惑直到看到 Lake (2004) 這篇文章討論 on the contrary 這個詞才恍然大悟。文中指出,對不少亞洲學生來說,這樣的句子是非常 confusing 的,因為我們認為 not ugly 就是 beautiful ,所以把這整個句子拆成兩個部分,就看不出那裡相反了。

Lake 提出了一個看法:在這情況下,其實不是 contradict,而是 complement (補足)。這解決了我的疑惑,不過我覺得我的解釋更好。在上面的例子,我們把它分成三個部分:

(People think that it is ugly). It doesn’t seem ugly to me; on the contrary, I think it’s beautiful.
                  A                                         B                                                                C

括號起來的 (People think that it is ugly) 是我補上的,如果沒有這個句子A,是不會跳到後面的 B 與 C 的。或許句子稍有不同,但意思應是大同小異。C 是補充說明 B,這是無庸置疑的,B 與 C 是與 A 相反,這點大家也看得出來。在我詢問幾個母語者的結果,他們認為 B 是委婉地說明不同意 A,有點像是設定立場到了 C 才是強烈反對,這時候為了強調,才加上 on the contrary,就成了這個樣子。從語用學 (pragmatics,語言學的一個課題,討論語言的用法) 的角度來看,似乎也解釋得通。

看了這麼多,bottom line 就是:在寫文章的時候,如果你已經預設了立場,但發現與預期相反的結果,可以用 on the contrary;如果是作文獻探討,當然是要立求客觀,要比較時就用 in contrast;on the other hand 則是說明一件事情的兩面,或是不同的看法,這應該不容易與前兩者搞混才是。

這是我個人的理解,歡迎大家提出不同的看法。

References
Lake, J. (2004). Using ‘on the contrary’: The conceptual problems for EAP students. ELT J, 58(2), 137-144. doi: 10.1093/elt/58.2.137

In contrast, On the other hand, On the contrary ~表示「相反、對比」的用法~ http://mail.scu.edu.tw/~cynthiay/4-15.htm

Contrary/contrast  http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/contrary.html

http://www.englishforums.com/English/OnTheContraryInContrast/dnqxw/post.htm

http://www.slideshare.net/dsturgess/week-8-comparison-contrast-essay

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