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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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officeには「(政府の)要職」の意味も

 
先日紹介したEconomistのThe Future of the Bookはローマの思想家・政治家キケロのde Officiis (“On Duties”、 日本語では「義務について」)という書籍をキャッチとして使っていました。

In 44BC Cicero, the Roman Republic’s great orator, wrote a book for his son Marcus called de Officiis (“On Duties”). It told him how to live a moral life, how to balance virtue with self-interest, how to have an impact. Not all his words were new. De Officiis draws on the views of various Greek philosophers whose works Cicero could consult in his library, most of which have since been lost. Cicero’s, though, remain. De Officiis was read and studied throughout the rise of the Roman Empire and survived the subsequent fall. It shaped the thought of Renaissance thinkers like Erasmus; centuries later still it inspired Voltaire. “No one will ever write anything more wise,” he said.

de Officiis (“On Duties”)というタイトルに興味を持ったので、語源を調べてみるとラテン語の
officiumには「service, kindness, favor; official duty, function, business; ceremonial observance」という意味があるようです。

office (n.)
mid-13c., "a post, an employment to which certain duties are attached," from Anglo-French and Old French ofice "place or function; divine service" (12c. in Old French) or directly from Latin officium "service, kindness, favor; official duty, function, business; ceremonial observance," (in Ecclesiastical Latin, "church service"), literally "work-doing," from ops (genitive opis) "power, might, abundance, means" (related to opus "work;" see opus) + stem of facere "do, perform" (see factitious). Meaning "place for conducting business" first recorded 1560s. Office hours attested from 1841.

前回のTOEICで、市長がmayor=city officialという言い換えが登場したようですが、公式問題集で使われているのはほとんどが「事務所」「オフィス」の意味でした。

(ケンブリッジビジネス)
office
[C] WORKPLACE a room or building in which people work, especially sitting at desks with computers, phones, etc., as a part of a business or other organization:
The meeting is at their offices in San Diego.
local/regional/overseas office It would be so much easier if they delegated the authority to the regional office.
set up/open an office The company has just set up an office in New York.
Firms eligible for the fund are those that have a branch office in the region.
office jobs/work
office staff/workers
office supplies/equipment/furniture
A large open plan office can be made up of one main room with tens or hundreds of people working in the same space.

ただ、officeには「要職」の意味で使われることがあるようなので、この語感をつかめている人なら「市長mayor=city official」も違和感無く受入れられたのだと思います。基本語の語感は難しいです。

(ウィズダム)
office
(主に行政の)要職, 役職, 重要ポスト; 在任期間
take [come into] office 就任する, 政権をとる
while President Kennedy was in office ケネディ大統領の在任中
hold office as Secretary of State 国務長官を務める
go out of [leave] office 退任する, 辞職する
run [ <英> stand for ] office 立候補する.

英英辞典でも英和辞典と同じような説明をしています。「政府の要職」を指すことが多いようです。

(ケンブリッジビジネス)
office
[C or U] GOVERNMENT a position of authority and responsibility in a government or other organization:
be in/out of office The new president has now been in office for over a year.
hold/leave/take office In the five years she's held office, she has initiated many changes within the Department of Justice.
He's held various offices during his time as minister.
public/executive/corporate office

(オックスフォード)
office
important position
6 [uncountable, countable] an important position of authority, especially in government; the work and duties connected with this
She held office as a cabinet minister for ten years.
How long has he been in office?
The party has been out of office(= has not formed a government) for many years.
The present government took office in 2009.
to seek/run for office
(British English) to stand for office
the office of treasurer


本の歴史でキケロの『義務について』を例としてあげています。日本でギリシアローマだと圧倒的にギリシアが扱われることが多いですが、英語文化ではラテンローマ的な影響の方が大きいのではと思いました。このあたりの指摘は以下の岩波新書でもなされていましたが、Eoconomistでも使われていたことで一層そんな思いを強くしました。


キケロ―ヨーロッパの知的伝統 (岩波新書)キケロ―ヨーロッパの知的伝統 (岩波新書)
(1999/08/20)
高田 康成

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