A Phrase unto Itself

Discussion in 'English Only' started by HSS, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    I suspect the 'one unto itself' below is a derivative of 'a law unto oneself.' Do the bold words mean 'only as an expression as an entity'? I can't seem to fully understand it though I read related threads (re: unto) in WR forums (I will put up the message to one of the threads if need be. Please delete the thread here or advise so if that's the case. Thank you)
    The expression (as one unto itself) is not unknown in Japan, but I don't think they use it very much. They are more likely to include it in a bit longer phrase. However, the meaning isn't quite the same. ​
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  2. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    I am confused. Who are they? English speakers in Japan?
     
  3. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    They are Japanese speaking Japanese. This is about a certain Japanese phrase, explained in English for non-native speakers of Japanese.
     
  4. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Please point us to the thread. I can't find it.
     
  5. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
  6. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    You're right to be confused: it doesn't mean anything intelligible. 'Unto itself' is fossilized, not part of modern English. We know 'a law unto itself', but I can't work out what the quoted expression is meant to mean.
     
  7. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    I can only conjecture that as long as "unto itself" implies reference to, interest in or concern with itself, and in idiomatic usage you provided indicates thing or person that comes into conspicuous contrast with the way things ordinarily are, i'd think it describes phrase's uniqueness or peculiarity. "American heritage dictionary" has this example: "a place unto itself, quite unlike its surroundings."
    I doubt that was helpful.

    Oh, i got topic title as a whole passage. So it'd be one's uniqueness or peculiarity, whoever this one may be. Maybe.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  8. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    This is not taken from a thread. It was found in a personal communique that I received from a friend:
    Hi, Hiro. How about explaining it this way: The expression, X, as one unto itself, is not unknown or uncommon in Japan, but I don't think they use it very much. They are more likely to include it in a bit longer phrase, such as '... X ....' However, the meaning isn't quite the same. You may not have to know this expression for your own composition, but you may come across it sometime in the future.
    (note: 'They' should be 'we' if I wrote it because I'm a native speaker of Japanese)
    He may have mistakenly used 'unto.' Maybe it should have been 'in' ....
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  9. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    Maybe he simply meant "on its own"?
     
  10. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Or, by itself? Does it make sense?
     
  11. morbo Senior Member

    Русский
    To me - yes, but I'm in no way a reliable source.
     

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