#1998. The Embedding Problem[language_change][causation][methodology][sociolinguistics][variety][variation][sapir-whorf_hypothesis]


 昨日の記事「#1997. 言語変化の5つの側面」 ([2014-10-15-1]) に引き続き,Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog の言語変化に関する先駆的論文より.今回は,昨日略述した言語変化の5つの側面のなかでもとりわけ著者たちが力説する The Embedding Problem に関する節 (p. 186) を引用する.

   The Embedding Problem. There can be little disagreement among linguists that language changes being investigated must be viewed as embedded in the linguistic system as a whole. The problem of providing sound empirical foundations for the theory of change revolves about several questions on the nature and extent of this embedding.
   (a) Embedding in the linguistic structure. If the theory of linguistic evolution is to avoid notorious dialectic mysteries, the linguistic structure in which the changing features are located must be enlarged beyond the idiolect. The model of language envisaged here has (1) discrete, coexistent layers, defined by strict co-occurrence, which are functionally differentiated and jointly available to a speech community, and (2) intrinsic variables, defined by covariation with linguistic and extralinguistic elements. The linguistic change itself is rarely a movement of one entire system into another. Instead we find that a limited set of variables in one system shift their modal values gradually from one pole to another. The variants of the variables may be continuous or discrete; in either case, the variable itself has a continuous range of values, since it includes the frequency of occurrence of individual variants in extended speech. The concept of a variable as a structural element makes it unnecessary to view fluctuations in use as external to the system for control of such variation is a part of the linguistic competence of members of the speech community.
   (b) Embedding in the social structure. The changing linguistic structure is itself embedded in the larger context of the speech community, in such a way that social and geographic variations are intrinsic elements of the structure. In the explanation of linguistic change, it may be argued that social factors bear upon the system as a whole; but social significance is not equally distributed over all elements of the system, nor are all aspects of the systems equally marked by regional variation. In the development of language change, we find linguistic structures embedded unevenly in the social structure; and in the earliest and latest stages of a change, there may be very little correlation with social factors. Thus it is not so much the task of the linguist to demonstrate the social motivation of a change as to determine the degree of social correlation which exists, and show how it bears upon the abstract linguistic system.

 内容は難解だが,この節には著者の主張する "orderly heterogeneity" の神髄が表現されているように思う.私の解釈が正しければ,(a) の言語構造への埋め込みの問題とは,ある言語変化,およびそれに伴う変項とその取り得る値が,use varieties と user varieties からなる複合的な言語構造のなかにどのように収まるかという問題である.また,(b) の社会構造への埋め込みの問題とは,言語変化そのものがいかにして社会における本質的な変項となってゆくか,あるいは本質的な変項ではなくなってゆくかという問題である.これは,社会構造が言語構造に影響を与えるという場合に,いつ,どこで,具体的に誰の言語構造のどの部分にどのような影響を与えているのかを明らかにすることにもつながり,Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (cf. sapir-whorf_hypothesis) の本質的な問いに連なる.言語研究の観点からは,(伝統的な)言語学と社会言語学の境界はどこかという問いにも関わる(ただし,少なからぬ社会言語学者は,社会言語学は伝統的な言語学を包含する真の言語学だという立場をとっている).
 この1節は,社会言語学のあり方,そして言語のとらえ方そのものに関わる指摘だろう.関連して「#1372. "correlational sociolinguistics"?」 ([2013-01-28-1]) も参照.

 ・ Weinreich, Uriel, William Labov, and Marvin I. Herzog. "Empirical Foundations for a Theory of Language Change." Directions for Historical Linguistics. Ed. W. P. Lehmann and Yakov Malkiel. U of Texas P, 1968. 95--188.

Referrer (Inside): [2015-04-03-1] [2014-10-30-1]

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