#4822. something of a(n) は後期近代英語に初出した口語表現[lmode][clmet][corpus]


 昨日の記事「#4821. something of a(n) は「ちょっとした」なのか「かなりの」なのか?」 ([2022-07-09-1]) に続いて,この成句に関する話題.今回はその歴史に迫りたい.
 OED によると,something, n. (and adj.) and adv. の語義2cにこの用法が挙げられている.初出は1711年で,比較的新しい.

c. something of a(n), to a certain extent or degree a (person or thing of the kind specified).
   1711 J. Addison Spectator No. 106. ¶6 Sir Roger, amidst all his good Qualities, is something of an Humourist.
   1780 Mirror No. 70 As he was something of a sportsman, my guardians often permitted me to accompany him to the field.
   1801 M. Edgeworth Prussian Vase in Moral Tales III. 46 I am something of a judge of china myself.
   1826 B. Disraeli Vivian Grey I. ii. xiv. 195 Dormer, who was..something of an epicure, looked rather annoyed.
   1931 R. Campbell Georgiad iii. 55 Even the devil dwindles to a duiker, Who prides himself as something of a spiker.
   1939 R. G. Collingwood Autobiogr. iv. 27 I had become something of a specialist in Aristotle.
   1959 Listener 17 Dec. 1083/3 It had been, I admit, something of a party.
   1978 Lancashire Life Sept. 51/1 During the last war he became something of a legend, working incredible hours and doing general and orthopaedic surgery, as well as obstetrics.

 1711年の初出と分かった以上は,まさに1710--1920年の英語をカバーするコーパス CLMET3.0 の出番である.早速 CLMET で something of a(n) を検索し,こちらのコンコーダンスラインを得た.第1期 (1710--80) から24例,第2期 (1780-1850) から59例,第3期 (1850--1920) から80例と,時間とともに着実に用例が増加している.
 コンコーダンスラインをざっと眺めて,something of a(n) の意味が何ともいえずよく伝わってくる第1期からの例を見つけたので,挙げておこう

When we hear the Epithets of a fine Gentleman, a pretty Gentleman, much of a Gentleman, Gentlemanlike, something of a Gentleman, nothing of a Gentleman, and so forth; all these different Appellations must intend a Peculiarity annexed to the Ideas of those who express them; though no two of them, as I said, may agree in the constituent Qualities of the Character they have formed in their own Mind.

 ここでは,昨日の記事で論じたように,nothing of a(n) との対比を前提に something of a(n) が理解されていることがよく分かる.

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