#449. Vendryes 曰く「言語は川である」[language_change]


 昨日の記事[2010-07-19-1]に引き続き,Vendryes の言語観を示すもう一つの印象深い一節を引きたい.言語は無常で「ゆく河の流れは絶えずして」という趣旨である.

The construction of a written language marks a stopping-place in the development of language. The forms crystallize and ossify, losing the elasticity natural to life. It is an illusion, however, to imagine that language can ever be arrested. What gives this impression of arrest is the fact that an artificial language is superposed on the natural one; the discrepancy between the two, slight at first, becomes increasingly greater in the course of time, until eventually the contrast becomes so marked that there is a break. This creation of written language may be compared to the formation of a film of ice on the surface of a river. The ice borrows its substance from the river, it is indeed the actual water of the river itself---and yet it is not the river. A child, seeing the ice, thinks that the river exists no more, that its course has been arrested. But this is only an illusion. Under the layer of ice the water continues to flow down to the plain. Should the ice break, one sees the water suddenly bubble up as it goes gushing and murmuring on its way. This is an image of the stream of language. The written tongue is the film of ice upon its waters; the stream which still flows under the ice that imprisons it is the popular and natural language; the cold which produces the ice and would fain restrain the flood, is the stabilizing action exerted by the grammarians and pedagogues; and the sunbeam which gives language its liberty is the indomitable force of life, triumphing over rules and breaking the fetters of tradition. (275--76)


 ・ Vendryes, J. Language: A Linguistic Introduction to History. Trans. Paul Radin. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1925.

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