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2014年5月14日 (水)

英語の冠詞の小ネタ an mmap

英語の授業でa appleじゃなくってan appleだというのは中学生のときに勉強しますね。冠詞の変化というやつです。

いま、numpyのドキュメンテーションのnumpy.memmapの項を読んでたら一瞬目を疑った面白いものを発見。

This class may at some point be turned into a factory function which returns a view into an mmap buffer.

ん?an mmap?メモリーマップの略でmmapだけど最初のmはアルファベットで発音して、エムマップか。ならば「エ」は「あいうえお」の母音なので冠詞の「a」は「an」にならなきゃならないから合ってる。

これを応用すると

an M&M chocolate

とかになりますね。

他にもスペルからはanじゃないだろうってときに実際の発音が母音だと、anになるケースが結構あります。結局、発音し易いようにするための変化なので、スペルじゃなくって発音が重要なんですね。

面白いのでこの解説をよんで、ちょっと掘り下げて見ましょう。

hが単語のはじめにあると発音しなかったり、弱く発音したり、ちゃんと発音したりするのだそうで、hから始まってるのに発音されないhである場合、

an honor

an honest man

のようになったりするのも同じ理由ですね。アワーだから「あ」で母音で始まるからです。

弱く発音される場合、

an historic

でも

a historic

どちらもOKだったりするらしいので、曲者ですね。

アルファベットのF、L、Rもエフ、エル、アールなので

an f

というふうにできます。

Food and Drug Administration略してFDAからの指示は

an FDA directive

気をつけたいのはUS ambassador(アメリカ大使)の場合、

an US ambassador

は間違いで、ユーエスアンバサダーなのでユーはyuであいうえおじゃないので、a US ambassadorになります。まじかー。

でも、an uniqueはオーケーなんだそうです。yuじゃん。まあ、歴史的に使われていたけど、使用頻度が減ってきているようです。

面白いケースを見つけました。wの音は日本語の音では、「わゐうゑを」、または「わ うぃ う うぇ うぉ」っとなって「う」だけは日本人の感覚だとUとWUの間に差がないということになります。しかし、

an window

というのは、間違いで

a window

が正しいことがからも、wの音はたぶん母音とは区別されることがわかります。

似たようなのにもoneなら「わん」で、音的にはwで始まりますが、

a one

が正解です。

いやー、例外があって難しいですね。

まあ、実際英語話すときは気にしなくても理解の妨げになるようなことはまずありません。文章にするときはちょっと目立ってしまうので、実際の発音を頭に浮かべながら書くといいと思います。

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