in monosyllables, monosyllabic 「そっけない(返事)」 [読書と英語]

前回取り上げた reply with uninterested yeses and noes 「無愛想な返事」で連想したのが monosyllable(s) である。文字通りだと「単音節の語」だが、少し前に全巻ペーパーバックで読んだ007シリーズの原作でたびたび目にしたのを思い出した。


- ...he dismissed the subject and went on to describe what he had seen on his walk. But Vesper was distrait and commented only in monosyllables. She toyed with her food and she avoided Bond's eyes and gazed past him with an air of preoccupation.
(Ian Fleming: Casino Royale)

辞書を見ると、speak (answer) in monosyllables で「(そっけなく)YesとかNoとだけ言う、そっけない言い方(返事)をする」とある。日本語でいえば「ああ」とか「うん」とか「ふーん」といったごく短い言葉で、ぶっきらぼうに答えることを指すのだろう。

またこの部分には、他にも distrait avoid someone's eyes、また gaze past someone with an air or preoccupation と、「心ここにあらず」といった表現が並んでいておもしろい。

monosyllable の形容詞は monosyllabic, 副詞は monosyllabically となる。こちらは辞書の定義や用例を引用しよう。

- saying very little in a way that is rude or unfriendly: He grunted a monosyllabic reply.
(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

- The movie star was monosyllabic with newspaper reporters.
- The sullen teenager would give only a monosyllabic response to even the friendliest question.
(Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary)

- monosyllabic answers
- He was shy and monosyllabic.
(Macmillan Dictionary)

- a monosyllabic speaker 「ええ」とか「いいえ」とか言うだけの人

- Speaking monosyllabically is not going to get you very far.

ジェームズ・ボンドの原作にあった monosyllable の例をもう少し紹介しよう。

- Bond followed him into the house and across a comfortable hall to a door on which the butler knocked.
Bond smiled to himself at the harsh tone of the well-remembered voice and at the note of command in the single monosyllable.
(Ian Fleming: Moonraker)

- Bond sat between his host and Miss Brand. He made several attempts to engage her in conversation. He failed completely. She answered with polite monosyllables and would hardly meet his eye. Bond became mildly irritated. He found her physically very attractive and it annoyed him to be unable to extract the smallest responses.


- They spoke among themselves in whispers, which fell off into sibilant monosyllables, and then into nothing at all.
(Isaac Asimov: Foundation)

ただ、ここはむしろ sibilant 「シューシューいう」「シーッという音」「歯擦音(の)」を覚えるのが目的だったようで、この語を見出しとしてメモしていた。集まった人たちはひそひそと話し合っていたが、いっそう声をひそめ、ついには話をやめて静かになった、という様子を描いている。

・reply with uninterested yeses and noes 「気のない返事」 (ハメット「マルタの鷹」)

Moonraker: James Bond 007 (Vintage)

Moonraker: James Bond 007 (Vintage)

  • 作者: Ian Fleming
  • 出版社/メーカー: Vintage
  • 発売日: 2012/08/02
  • メディア: ペーパーバック

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