先日見ていたDVD （‘Medium 2’）の会話の中で、面白い表現を見つけました。霊能力を持つアリソンが、旦那の同僚と握手をしたときに、彼が心臓発作で亡くなるシーンが見えたのですが、自宅でそのことを夫に伝える場面の表現が興味深かったので、紹介しておきます。その表現とは、’It is his heart. It is going to quit on him soon.’ というものです。私にとって、英語の ‘to quit’ という単語は、「～を辞める」とか「～から脱退する・抜ける」という印象がとても強いです。この同じ単語は、「心臓が停止する」という意味で、前述のようなコロケーションで使われるのを聴くのは、初めてで新鮮でした。受身の語彙として ‘quit’ の理解範囲が広がったと思っています。
The other day I was watcing one of the episodes of ‘Medium 2’ which I rented online from Tsutaya. I came across one interesting expression using the word ‘to quit’. Spritually-minded Alison (the main character) gave a lift to her husband to his workplace on that particular episode. When Alison met one of her husband’s colleagues, she shook hands with him. Immediately, Alison saw a vision where the man she was shaking hands with was lying on the floor of the ambulance, suffering from a massive heart attack and almost dying. Back home, Alison told what she saw in the morning to her husband, saying ‘It is his heart. It is going to quit on him soon.’ I do not know about you, but personally this expression sounded quite interesting to me. It is not because I did not know the word in question; I can give you as many examples as possible using the word ‘to quit’. It was the collocation or perhpas the usage of ‘quit’ in that particular phrase. It sounded quite fresh to me. Before I had never come across anyone using the word in that manner. Since then, I can definitely say that my understanding on ‘quit’ has been enriched as a passive vocabulary.
このように、単語の意味は辞書を通して身に付くことはあまりません。ある単語の様々な用例を通して、その単語の持っている意味が浮き彫りになっていくのを理解することで、その単語に関する豊富な運用知識が身について行く事は、皆さんも覚えておくと良いでしょう。一見、日本語と英語のリストを作成し、単語と和訳の一対一の関係を暗記していく方が、短期間に語彙を増やせそうな気がします。しかし、そのようにして身につけた単語は、active vocabulary にはなりにくいのです。「覚えた単語を応用して使うことができない」と言い換えても良いでしょう。
My personaly experience above is probably a good example of how the meaning of a given word is NOT going to be enriched by simply using a English-Japanese dictionery. I believe it is by observing the actual usages of a given word for a certain period that you come to grasp the meaning of it. So please remember this: ‘Dictioneries cannot tell you the actual meanings of a given word. They just tell you the definitions of it!’ In a way, some of you may think it is more effective to creat a bilingual vocabulary list where one English entry is coupled with Japanese translation. This kind of vocabulary learning is probably only effective the night before the school’s term examination, but in the long run it does not pay! Why is this the case? This is because any word you memorize through a translation without accompanying the actual usages of it is not likely to remain in the brain for a long time. Without the period of observing or coming across the actual usages of a given word, you are not very likely to use such word as your active vocabulary. In other words, you will not be able to use the word under many different situations if you do not know how to apply the knowledge you acquired from a bilingual dictionery.