#2631. Curzan 曰く「言語は川であり,規範主義は堤防である」[prescriptivism][historiography]


 昨日の記事「#2630. 規範主義を英語史(記述)に統合することについて」 ([2016-07-09-1]) で,Curzan による新しい英語史観を紹介した.規範主義を英語史記述の欠くべからざる要素としてとらえる視点は,もっと強調されてよい.その Curzan が,"the power of prescriptivism, regardless of its specific aims and desired outcomes, to shape the English language and the sociolinguistic contexts in which the English language is written and spoken" (3--4) を指摘した上で,言語を川に,規範主義を堤防になぞらえる秀逸な比喩を示している.古くから言語を川に喩える謂いは存在しており,「#449. Vendryes 曰く「言語は川である」」 ([2010-07-20-1]),「#1722. Pisani 曰く「言語は大河である」」 ([2014-01-13-1]),「#1578. 言語は何に喩えられてきたか」 ([2013-08-22-1]) で取り上げてきた通りだが,Curzan の比喩は従来のものとは視点が異なっている.

An analogy may be useful here. If we imagine a living language as a river, constantly in motion, prescriptivism is often framed as the attempt to construct a dam that will stop the river in its tracks. But, linguists point out, the river is too wide and strong, too creative and ever changing, and it runs over any such dam. However, if we imagine prescriptivism as building not just dams but also embankments or levees along the sides of the river to control water levels and breakwaters that attempt to redirect the flow of the river, it becomes easier to see how prescriptivism may be able to affect how the language changes. The river may flood the embankment or spill over the breakwater, but that motion will be different due to the sheer presence of the barriers. And even if prescriptivism is seen as only the dam, which is then overwhelmed by the power of the river, the sheer presence of the dam affects the flow of the river. In this way, the consciously created structures around or in the river, like prescriptive language efforts, constitute one of many factors that must be accounted for to understand the patterns of the river's movement --- or of a language's development over time. (Curzan 4)

 もちろん,比喩であるから,どこまでも通用するものではない.例えば,言語を川に喩えてしまうと,言語における話者の存在や役割が見えなくなってしまう.言語における話者は,川でいえば何に相当するのだろうか.また,英語という言語は1つの川ではないことに注意が必要である.この点では,多数の支流が同時に流れている複合的な大河を想像するほうが妥当だろう(「#1722. Pisani 曰く「言語は大河である」」 ([2014-01-13-1]) も参照).

 ・ Curzan, Anne. Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History. Cambridge: CUP, 2014.

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