#1233. 言語変化は風に倒される木である[language_change][causation][sociolinguistics]


 昨日の記事「#1232. 言語変化は雨漏りである」 ([2012-09-10-1]) に引き続き,言語変化の内的要因の外的要因の話題.Aitchison は,外的要因(あるいは社会言語学的要因)として,昨日触れた借用のほかにも,流行と社会的必要性という項目を挙げている.
 流行といえば,[2012-06-25-1]の記事で取り上げた「#1155. Postal の言語変化観」が思い出される.また,「流行語」という現象がよく知られているように,部分的に流行によって駆り立てられる言語変化は確かにある.社会的必要性は,これも語の借用の原動力としてしばしば話題にあがるので,説明する必要はないだろう([2009-06-13-1]の記事「#46. 借用はなぜ起こるか」や[2011-10-16-1]の記事「#902. 借用されやすい言語項目」を参照).語彙のほか語形成の変化においても,一種の社会的必要性を反映した densification という傾向が指摘されており([2011-01-12-1]の記事「#625. 現代英語の文法変化に見られる傾向」),より一般的に,言語変化の外的要因の一つとしてとらえることは妥当である.
 しかし,Aitchison の観点では,流行や社会的必要性という外的要因も借用と同様に,内的要因に「つけいる」役割を果たすにすぎない.内的要因が変化のお膳立てをし,外的要因が変化のスイッチを入れる,ということだろう.Aitchison では,雨漏りの比喩に引き続き,ニレの木とオークの木の比喩が展開される.

When a gale blows down an elm tree, but leaves an oak standing, we do not believe that the gale alone caused the elm to fall. The gale merely advanced an event that would probably have occurred a few months or years later in any case. However, the gale dictated the direction in which the elm fell, which might in turn set off a further chain of events. If the elm fell against another tree, it might weaken this tree, and leave it vulnerable in another gale. Sociolinguistic causes of language change are similar to this gale. They exploit a weak point or potential imbalance in the system which might have been left unexploited. This exploitation may create further weak points in the system. (151)

 Aitchison は,内的要因と外的要因のどちらが重要かという問題についても,的確な議論を展開している.

Note . . . that a number of linguists might disagree with the judgment that sociolinguistic causes are 'superficial' and other types 'deep'. It might be more accurate, perhaps, to replace the terms 'superficial' and 'deep' with the words 'immediate' and 'long-term', which do not imply that one type is more important than the other. It is clear that no long-term cause can take effect without an immediate trigger. It is equally clear that sociolinguistic factors do not set off changes randomly. The language must be ready to move in that particular direction.


Change is likely to be triggered by social factors, such as fashion, foreign influence and social need. However, these factors cannot take effect unless the language is 'ready' for a particular change. They simply make use of inherent tendencies which reside in the physical and mental make-up of human beings. Causality needs therefore to be explored on a number of different levels. The immediate trigger must be looked at alongside the underlying propensities of the language concerned, and of human language in general. (197)

 「#443. 言語内的な要因と言語外的な要因はどちらが重要か?」 ([2010-07-14-1]) の議論と合わせて考えたい.

 ・ Aitchison, Jean. Language Change: Progress or Decay. 3rd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2001.

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