#1762. as it were[phrase][subjunctive][ormulum]


 標記は「いわば」の意味で用いられる,よく知られた成句である.成句なので共時的には統語分析するのも無意味だが,歴史的な関心からいえば無意味ではない.were が仮定法過去を表わしているということは想像がつくかもしれないが,as という接続詞の導く節内で仮定法が使われるというのも妙なものではないだろうか.
 結論を先に述べれば,この asas if の代用と考えてよい.以下の OED の as, adv. and conj. の P2 の語義説明にあるとおり,"as if it were so" ほどの表現が原型となっていると考えられる.

P2. a. as it were: (as a parenthetic phrase used to indicate that a word or statement is perhaps not formally exact though practically right) as if it were so, if one might so put it, in some sort.

 句としての初出は,1200年辺りの Ormulum (l. 16996) で,"Þatt lede þatt primmseȝȝnedd iss..iss all alls itt wære ȝet I nahhtess þessterrnesse." とある.
 as = as if としての用法は,OED の語義6にも挙げられているし,近現代英語でも「〜ように」と訳せるようなケースにおいて意外とよく現れている.後続するのは節の完全な形ではなく,省略された形,しばしば前置詞句などとなることが多い.細江 (446--47) の挙げている例文を示そう.

 ・ It lifted up it head and did address / Itself to motion, like as it would speak.---Shakespeare.
 ・ And all at once their breath drew in, / As they were drinking all.---Coleridge.
 ・ Our vast flotillas / Have been embodied as by sorcery.---Hardy.
 ・ Boadicea stands with eyes fixed as on a vision.---Binyon.
 ・ She is lost as in a trance.---ibid.
 ・ I have associated, ever since, with the sunny street of Canterbury, dozing as it were in the hot light.---Dickens.
 ・ He fixes it, as it were in a vice in some cleft of a tree, or in some crevice.---Gilbert White.
 ・ Every man can see himself, or his neighbour, in Pepy's Diary, as it were through the back-door.---George Gordon.

 例えば "She is lost as in a trance." を厳密に展開すれば,"She is lost as (she would be if she were) in a trance." となるだろう.このくどさを回避する便法として,as = as if の用法が発達してきたものと思われる.
 なお,"as (it would be as if) it were (so)" においては,it は漠然とした状況の it と考えられる.対応する直説法の成句 as it is (= as it happens) も参照.

 ・ 細江 逸記 『英文法汎論』3版 泰文堂,1926年.

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