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2022-11-23 Wed

#4958. stand on the shoulders of giants 「巨人の肩の上に立つ」 [proverb][idiom][sobokunagimon]

 学問にせよ何にせよ,人類は先人から得た知識を蓄積し,その上にさらなる知識を付け加えるという形で文明を進歩させてきた.このことを西洋では to stand on the shoulders of giants 「巨人の肩の上に立つ」と表現する.
 以下は「1人の巨人の左肩(のみ)に乗る小人」という状況のエッチングで,厳密には "a dwarf on a shoulder of a giant" というべき状況だが,この辺りはご愛敬で.

A Dwarf on the Shoulders of a Giant

 さて,この慣用句OED の shoulder, n. のもとに挙げられているのだが,実は2022年3月の OED の定期更新の際に新たに加えられたホヤホヤのエントリーなのである.この新エントリーについて,OED の広報記事 "Content warning: may contain notes on the OED March 2022 update" が次のようにコメントしている.

A new phrase entry in shoulder examines the use of to stand on the shoulders of giants to refer to the process of building on the discoveries and achievements of great predecessors, first recorded in the early seventeenth century in a variation on the proverb a dwarf (or child) standing on the shoulders of a giant sees farther than the giant, itself based on a twelfth-century Latin phrase attributed to Bernard of Chartres.


 OED に加えられたエントリーそのもの,および最初の3つの例文まで引用しておきたい.

   to stand on the shoulders of giants (and variants): to build on the discoveries, achievements, and understanding of the great scholars and thinkers of the past. Hence to stand on the shoulders of (any person or group): to benefit from the knowledge of one's predecessors.
      The phrase standing on the shoulders of giants is strongly associated with Sir Isaac Newton (1642--1727): see quot. 1676. Earlier in proverbial phrase a dwarf (also child, etc.) standing on the shoulders of a giant sees farther than the giant (now rare; in quot. 1608 as a simile).

[Originally after post-classical Latin nanos gigantium humeris insidentes dwarves sitting on the shoulders of giants (12th cent.; attributed by John of Salisbury to Bernard of Chartres).]

   1608 J. White Way to True Church 325 Doctors of these later times..insisting in the steps of the ancient Fathers..are like children standing on the shoulders of giants,..they see further then they [sc. the Fathers] themselues.
   1628 R. Burton Anat. Melancholy (ed. 3) To Reader 8 Though there were many Giants of old in Physick and Philosophy, yet I say with Didacus Stella, A Dwarfe standing on the shoulders of a Giant, may see farther then a Giant himselfe.
   1676 I. Newton Let. to R. Hooke 5 Feb. in Corr. (1959) I. 416 What Des-Cartes did was a good step. You have added much in several ways... If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants.


 この慣用句,ここまで調べてさすがに私のなかに定着しました.

(後記 2022/11/24(Thu)):今回の hellog 記事を受けて,翌11月24日に Voicy の heldio にて関連する話題をお届けしました.英語学習者からの質問に答える形で,おもしろい回になっていると思います.こちらよりお聴きください.)


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