#4879. あらためてイディオムとは何か?[terminology][idiom]


 一般に,イディオム (idiom) とは,その意味が各成分の意味の総和からは出てこないような表現であるといわれる.このイディオムの定義は,これまでの hellog 記事でも前提としてきたものである.

 ・ 「#22. イディオムと英語史」 ([2009-05-20-1])
 ・ 「#910. 語の定義がなぜ難しいか (1)」 ([2011-10-24-1])
 ・ 「#1357. lexeme (語彙素)とは何か?」 ([2013-01-13-1])
 ・ 「#1990. 様々な種類の意味」 ([2014-10-08-1])
 ・ 「#3526. イディオムとは?」 ([2018-12-22-1])

 しかし,Cruse (37) によるとこの定義は循環論法的であり注意を要するという.おもしろい議論なので,こちらに引用したい.

A traditional definition of idiom runs roughly as follows: an idiom is an expression whose meaning cannot be inferred from the meanings of its parts. Although at first sight straightforward, there is a curious element of circularity in this definition. Does it indicate that the meaning of an idiom cannot be inferred from (or, more precisely, cannot be accounted for as a compositional function of) the meanings the parts carry IN THAT EXPRESSION? Clearly not --- so it must be a matter of their meanings in other expressions. But equally clearly, these 'other expressions' must be chosen with care: in considering to pull someone's leg, for instance, there is little point in referring to pull in to pull a fast one, or leg in He hasn't a leg to stand on. The definition must be understood as stating that an idiom is an expression whose meaning cannot be accounted for as a compositional function of the meanings its parts have when they are not parts of idioms. The circularity is now plain: to apply the definition, we must already be in a position to distinguish idiomatic from non-idiomatic expressions.
   Fortunately it is possible to define an idiom precisely and non-circularly using the notion of a semantic constituent. We shall require two thing of an idiom: first, that it be lexically complex --- i.e. it should consist of more than one lexical constituent; second, that it should be a single minimal semantic constituent.

 ちなみに引用内の pull someone's leg は「~をからかう」を意味するイディオムである.また,pull a fast one は「だます」,He hasn't a leg to stand on は「彼は拠って立つべき基礎を欠く」の意のイディオムである.
 結果として,循環論法にならないイディオムの端的な定義は "a lexical complex which is semantically simplex" (Cruse 37) ということになる.

 ・ Cruse, D. A. Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: CUP, 1986.

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