#2820. 言語の難しさについて[history_of_linguistics][generative_grammar][language_equality]


 標題の話題については,「#293. 言語の難易度は測れるか」 ([2010-02-14-1]) や「#1839. 言語の単純化とは何か」 ([2014-05-10-1]) などで扱ってきたが,改めて取り上げてみたい.
 Baugh and Cable (400--01) は,英語史の名著の第6版の "The Relative Difficulty of Languages" と題する節で,この問題について次のように解説している.

A popular and intrinsically interesting question---"Which languages are the most difficult to learn?"---was generally ignored by linguistic studies of the twentieth century beyond the claims that as a first language, all languages are of equal difficulty; and, obviously, as a second language, the degree of difficulty depends on the language the learner already knows. Until recently, the empirical evidence for assessing "difficulty" in language spread has been lacking. What has been called the the ALEC statement (All Languages are Equally Complex) or "the linguistic equi-complexity dogma" has its source in both structural linguistics reaching back to Edward Sapir and in the "universals" of Noam Chomsky's generative grammar. In a popular textbook of 1958, Charles F. Hockett crystallized an impression of languages that had been stated more cautiously by Sapir thirty years earlier, and which became the standard view for the rest of the twentieth century:

Objective measurement is difficult, but impressionistically it would seem that the total grammatical complexity of any language, counting both morphology and syntax, is about the same as that of any other. This is not surprising, since all languages have about equally complex jobs to do, and what is not done morphologically has to be done syntactically. [The Native American language] Fox, with a more complex morphology than English, thus ought to have a somewhat simpler syntax; and this is the case.

 なお,上で言及されている Hockett は Hockett, Charles F. A Course in Modern Linguistics New York: 1958. (p. 180--81) であり,Sapir は Sapir, Edward. Language: New York: 1921. (p. 219) である.
 Baugh and Cable はこの引用の後で,今後,この問題を論じるに当たって有用となり得る研究分野として,第2言語習得のほか,第1言語習得と関連する情報理論や数学モデルや形式言語学を挙げている.

 ・ Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 6th ed. London: Routledge, 2013.

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