#2462. an angel of a girl (2)[metaphor][rhetoric][word_order][syntax][preposition][reanalysis][syntax]


 昨日に続いて標題の表現について,Quirk et al. (1284--85) にこの構文が詳説されている.以下に再現しよう.

   A special case of prepositional apposition is offered by singular count nouns where the of-phrase is subjective . . ., eg:

      the fool of a policeman
      an angel of a girl
      this jewel of an island

This structure consisting of determiner + noun (N2) + of + indefinite article + noun (N1) is not a regular prepositional postmodification, since N1 is notionally the head, as can be seen in the paraphrases:

      The policeman is a fool. [note the AmE informal variant some fool policeman]
      The girl is an angel.
      This island is a jewel.

The whole part N2 + of + a corresponds to an adjective:

      the foolish policeman
      an angelic girl
      this jewel-like island

The natural segmentation is reflected in variant spellings, as in the familiar AmE expression a hell of a guy (nonstandard spelling: a helluva guy).
   In this construction, the determiner of N1 must be the indefinite article, but there is no such constraint on the determiner of N2:

      ''a''    ─┐             ┌   ''a policeman''
      ''the''    │ ''fool of'' │  *''the policeman''
      ''this''   │             └  *''policeman''
      ''that'' ─┘

Also, N2 must be singular:

   ?*those fools of policemen

The possessive determiner actually notionally determines N1, not N2:

   her brute of a brother ['Her brother was a brute..']

Both N2 and N1 can be premodified:

   a little mothy wisp of a man
   this gigantic earthquake of a piece of music
   a dreadful ragbag of a British musical
   this crescent-shaped jewel of a South Sea island

 最後の this crescent-shaped jewel of a South Sea island のように,N1 と N2 の両方が前置修飾されているような例では,この名詞句全体における中心がどこなのかが曖昧である.はたして統語的な主要部と意味的な重心は一致しているのか否か.統語と意味の対応関係を巡る共時理論的な問題は残るにせよ,通時的にみれば,片方の足は元来の構造の上に立ち,もう片方は新しい構造の上に立っているかのようであり,その立場を活かした修辞的表現となっているのがおもしろい.

 ・ Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman, 1985.

Referrer (Inside): [2022-01-09-1] [2020-08-03-1]

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