#4995. 動名詞構文 there is no ---ing 「---することはできない」は中英語期から[gerund][construction][negative][proverb][be][syntax][existential_sentence]


 昨日の記事「#4994. There is no accounting for tastes 「蓼食う虫も好き好き」」 ([2022-12-29-1]) で取り上げた諺は,よく知られた there is no ---ing 「---することはできない」の動名詞構文の例となっている.One cannot account for tastes.It is impossible to account for tastes. と言い換えられる意味だ.
 この諺は18世紀末に初出し,後期近代の比較的新しいものといえるが,there is no ---ing の動名詞構文そのものは,どのくらい古くまで歴史を遡れるのだろうか.OED の no, adj. によると,13世紀の修道女マニュアル Ancrene Riwle に初出する.構文としては it is no ---ing などの変異形もみられる (cf. 「#4790. therethey に相当する中英語の it の用法」 ([2022-06-08-1])) .以下 OED からの引用だが,構文上興味深い部分を赤で示してみた.

4. Modifying a verbal noun or gerund used as the predicate, denoting the impossibility of the action specified. Chiefly with non-referential there (also †it) as subject.

   [c1230 (?a1200) Ancrene Riwle (Corpus Cambr.) (1962) 149 Hwen þe delit iþe lust is igan se ouerforð þet ter nere nan wiðseggunge ȝef þer were eise to fulle þe dede.]
   a1400 (a1325) Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) 23812 (MED) Quen we it proue þat es to late, Es þar na mending þan þe state.
   1523 Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart Cronycles I. ccclxxxvi. 657 It is no goynge thyder, without ye wyll lose all.
   1560 Bible (Geneva) Nahum iii. 19 There is no healing of thy wounde.
   a1593 C. Marlowe Edward II (1594) sig. D4v Cosin it is no dealing with him now.
   a1616 W. Shakespeare Two Gentlemen of Verona (1623) ii. i. 146 Val. No, beleeue me. Speed. No beleeuing you indeed sir.
   a1643 J. Shute Sarah & Hagar (1649) 108 So the people were so impetuously set upon their lusts, that there was no speaking to them.
   1719 D. Defoe Farther Adventures Robinson Crusoe 39 There was no keeping Friday in the Boat.
   1753 Gray's Inn Jrnl. No. 54 There is no going any where without meeting Pretenders in this Way.
   1820 W. Irving Sketch Bk. vii. 117 Do what they might, there was no keeping down the butcher.
   1849 W. M. Thackeray Pendennis (1850) I. xv. 138 There's no accounting for tastes, sir.
   1895 A. I. Shand Life E. B. Hamley I. ii. 21 There was no mistaking the meaning of the invitation, and there was no declining it.
   1954 A. Thirkell What did it Mean? 87 There would be no getting hold of the girls as the evenings got longer.
   1975 Times 6 Dec. 8/5 Try Village Prospects..R 3 again, I fear, but no avoiding it.
   2001 Financial Times 27 Jan. 8/4 There is no mistaking African anger at the external barriers they confront.

 古英語からすでに発達していた存在文 (existential_sentence) と,中英語期にようやく発達し始めた動名詞が,合体して生まれた構文といってよいだろう.存在文については「#1565. existential there の起源 (1)」 ([2013-08-09-1]) と「#1566. existential there の起源 (2)」 ([2013-08-10-1]),「#4473. 存在文における形式上の主語と意味上の主語」 ([2021-07-26-1]) を参照.

Referrer (Inside): [2023-01-20-1]

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