英文字典里的“鬼词”是什么?

2021.09.18

遇见不认识的单词,我们首先会想到查字典。但是如果你不知道“dord”的意思,不要在字典里找答案,除非你拥有1934年的第二版《韦氏新国际词典》。

实际上,“dord”仅在这版的韦氏词典里出现过,这类词汇在英语中还有一个特殊的名字——“ghost words”,直译成中文就是“鬼词”。听起来阴森森的,但其实“鬼词”和妖魔鬼怪毫无关系。

 

[Photo/Unpslash]

Coined by philologist Walter William Skeat in 1886, ghost words are often the result of misreadings and typographical errors.
1886年,语言学家沃尔特·威廉·斯盖特创造了“鬼词”这种说法,通常指被看错或印刷错误的单词。

The Oxford Dictionary defines ghost word as “a word recorded in a dictionary or other reference work which is not actually used.” Merriam-Webster says a ghost word is “a word form never in established usage.”
《牛津词典》将“鬼词”定义为“记录在词典或其他参考文献中但未实际使用过的词”。韦氏词典称,“鬼词”指“从未使用过的单词形式”。

有时,一些字典会故意录入鬼词作为“防伪标志”,这样的词汇还有一个名称:nihilartikel。

Nihilartikels are deliberately phony words included to ward off would-be plagiarists.
Nihilartikel是指为了防止有人剽窃而故意编造的假词。

下面来看看曾出现在《牛津词典》和《韦氏词典》里的5个“鬼词”:

1. DORD

Dord is perhaps the most famous of the ghost words. First appearing in the 1934 second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary, dord was said to mean “density.”
Dord是最有名的“鬼词”。第一次出现在1934年的第二版《韦氏新国际词典》中,指“密度”的意思。

The phantom phrase hung out until 1939, when an editor finally noticed its lack of etymology. He checked the files and found the original slip: "D or d, cont/ density,” which was actually referring to abbreviations using the letter D. At the time, words to be entered in the dictionary were typed with spaces between letters so “d or d” might have been interpreted as “d o r d.”
这个虚幻的单词一直流传到1939年,当时一位编辑终于注意到它缺乏词源。这位编辑检查了文档,发现原稿是:“D or(或) d,cont/density”,实际上是指使用字母D的缩写。当时,字典里的单词在字母之间有空格,所以“d or d”可能被理解为“dord”

Despite having proved its non-existence, it would take until 1947 before Webster’s pages were dord-free.
尽管这个词是不存在的,但直到1947年,《韦氏词典》才将其删除。

 

2. ABACOT

Abacot made its debut in the second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles, edited by Abraham Fleming and published in 1587. It then found its way into Spelman’s Glossarium (1664), and every major dictionary since. Almost 300 years later, James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), discovered that the wordy wraith was actually a misprint of bycoket, a cap or head-dress.
Abacot首次出现在由亚伯拉罕·弗莱明编写并于1587年出版的《霍林什德编年史》第二版中。随后,这个词在1664年被收录进斯佩尔曼的词汇库,并出现在此后的每一部主要词典中。近300年后,《牛津英语词典》主编詹姆斯·默里发现,这个“鬼词”实际上是bycoket的印刷错误。Bycoket表示帽子或头饰。

By then, abacot had taken on a life of its own, referring to not just any cap but a “Cap of State, made like a double crown, worn anciently by the Kings of England.”
此时,abacot已经有了更多含义,不仅指帽子,还指“古代英格兰国王佩戴的国王帽,形似双层王冠。”

3. PHANTOMNATION

A ghostly word in more than one way, phantomnation was defined by Webster’s 1864 American Dictionary of the English Language as an “appearance as of a phantom; illusion,” and was attributed to Alexander Pope’s translation of The Odyssey:
Phantomnation是一个名副其实的“鬼词”。1864年出版的《韦氏美语词典》将“phantomnation”定义为“鬼魂;幻觉”,并将其归因于亚历山大·波普对《奥德赛》的翻译:

“These solemn vows and holy offerings paid
“这些庄严的誓言和神圣的祭品已经兑现

To all the phantomnations of the dead.”
致所有死者的鬼魂。”

The real word? The no less creepy phantom-nation, a society of specters. We can blame scholar Richard Paul Jodrell for this gaffe, who, in his book The Philology of the English Language, left out hyphens in compound words.
这里正确的原文是phantom-nation(幽灵国家),一个同样令人毛骨悚然的幽灵社会。这个错误是学者理查德·保罗·约德雷尔制造的,他在《英语语言学》一书中将这个复合词的连字符省略了。

 

4. CAIRBOW

The curious cairbow was mentioned in an early 20th-century proof of the OED in an example sentence of “glare”: “It [the Cairbow] then suddenly squats upon its haunches, and slides along the glare-ice.”
20世纪初出版的《牛津英语词典》中,“glare”的例句中提到了“好奇的cairbow”:
“它(cairbow)突然蹲坐下来,沿着刺眼的冰面滑行。”

Cairbow? No one had heard of such thing. Was it some kind of polar creature with an affinity for ice? Did it have a big rainbow on its back?
Cairbow?没人听说过这个词。它是某种喜欢冰的极地生物吗?它的背上有一道大彩虹吗?

Nope. Cairbow was merely a misreading of caribou.
不,cairbow只是拼写错误的caribou(驯鹿)。

5. ESQUIVALIENCE

The one faker by design, this spurious term, meaning “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities,” materialized in the second edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD).
这是一个故意编造的假词,意思是“故意逃避自己的职责”,出现在《新牛津美语词典》第二版中。

The word was invented by Christine Lindberg, one of the NOAD editors. The whole thing was part of the dictionary’s strategy for copyright protection.
这个词是由《新牛津美语词典》的编辑克里斯汀·林德伯格发明的。此举是该词典的一种版权保护策略。

 

来源:Grammarly,Mental Floss
编辑:董静

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