#1340. Strang の英語史の遡及的記述[historiography][teleology]


 昨日の記事「#1339. インドヨーロッパ語族の系統図(上下反転版)」 ([2012-12-26-1]) および「#253. 英語史記述の二つの方法」 ([2010-01-05-1]) で,Strang による英語史の名著とそこで採用されている「遡行的記述」について簡単に触れた.私見によれば,歴史を現在から過去へ遡って記述する方法の利点の一つとして,「現代的な視点に基づく好奇心をくすぐる」ことができる点を指摘したが,本家 Strang の主張を聞いてみよう.少々長いが,Strang (20--21) を引用する.

The principle of chronological sequence once adopted still leaves a choice --- to move forward from the earliest records to the present day, or back from the present day to the earliest records. Most historians have preferred to move towards the present day. Yet this is an enterprise in which it is doubtfully wise to 'Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.' The most important reasons for this are clear in the very formulation of the King's directive to the White Rabbit, in the implication that there is a beginning and an end. Something begins, of course; the documentation of the language. But, however carefully one hedges the early chapters about, it is difficult to avoid giving the impression that there is a beginning to the English language. At every point in history, each generation has been initiated into the language-community of its seniors; the form of the language is different every time, but process and situation are the same, wherever we make an incision into history. The English language does not have a beginning in the sense commonly understood --- a sense tied to the false belief that some languages are older than others. / At the other terminal it is almost impossible to free oneself from the teleological force of words like 'end'. The chronological narrative comes to an end because we do not know how to continue it beyond the present day; but the story is always 'to be continued'. Knowing this perfectly well, one is yet liable to bias the narrative in such a way as to subordinate the question 'How was it in such a period'? to the question 'How does the past explain the present?' Both are important question, but the first is more centrally historical. / In addition, the adoption of reverse chronological order imposes on us the discipline of asking the same questions of every period; this is salutary even where it does no more than force us to acknowledge our ignorance.


 (1) 英語に "beginning" 「始まり」がないという事実を強調することができる.
 (2) 英語に "end" 「終わり」(あるいは「目的」)がないという事実を強調することができる.
 (3) 同じ質問を各時代の記述において繰り返すことを余儀なくさせ,現在の時点における我々の限界(無知)を思い起こさせてくれる.

 これは,言語史記述の1つの方法論であるという以上に歴史哲学の世界へと一歩踏み込んだ議論だろう.遡及的記述のほうが "more centrally historical" であるという認識は,Strang が説明 (why の探究)よりも記述(how の探究)を重視した英語史家であることを物語っている.著書の英語史記述そのものは構造言語学に基づいた硬派路線なのだが,遡及的記述の採用によって,独特の歴史観が漂っていることは確かである.

 ・ Strang, Barbara M. H. A History of English. London: Methuen, 1970.

Referrer (Inside): [2016-10-07-1] [2016-02-01-1]

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