#3678. 英語は文法的性がないからこそ擬人法が生きてくる[gender][personification][lowth][rhetoric][style]


 英語以外の印欧諸語はほとんど文法的性をもっているが,英語にはそれがない.古英語にはあったのだが,中英語以降に完全に消失してしまった.しがって,現代英語には文法的性 (grammatical gender) はなく,あるのは,それに取って代った自然的性 (natural gender) にすぎない.
 歴史的な文法的性の消失により,現代英語は言語習得上のメリットを得たといわれるが,それによって印欧語やゲルマン語のプロトタイプから大きく逸脱した「変わった言語」となったこともまた事実である.英語が歴史的に獲得したこの特徴について,規範文法の権化ともいえる Robert Lowth (1710--87) がその重要著書 A Short Introduction to English Grammar において,たいへんおもしろい見解を述べている.すっかり感心してしまったので,すべて引用しておきたい (27--28) .

The English Language, with singular propriety, following nature alone, applies the distinction of Masculine and Feminine only to the names of Animals; all the rest are Neuter: except when, by a Poetical or Rhetorical fiction, things inanimate and Qualities are exhibited as Person, and consequently become either Male or Female. And this gives the English an advantage above most other languages in the Poetical and Rhetorical Style: for when Nouns naturally Neuter are converted into Masculine and Feminine [3], the Personification is more distinctly and forcibly marked.

 Lowth (27--28) は,上に引用した箇所で [3] として注を与えており,そこで具体例を出しながら,このことを丁寧に説明している.

   [3] "At his command th'uprooted hills retir'd
          Each to his place: they heard his voice and went
    (18) Obsequious: Heaven his wonted face renew'd,
          And with fresh flowrets hill and valley smil'd." Milton, P. L. B. vi.
          "Was I deceiv'd or did a sable cloud
          Turn forth her silver lining on the Night?" Milton, Comus.
   "Of Law no less can be acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God; her voice, the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage; the very least, as feeling her care; and the greatest, as not exempted from her power." Hooker, B. i. 16. "Go to your Natural Religion: lay before her Mahomet and his disciples, arrayed in armour and in blood:---shew her the cities which he set in flames; the countries which he ravaged:---when she has viewed him in this scene, carry her into his retirements; shew her the Prophet's chamber, his concubines and his wives:---when she is tired with this prospect, then shew her the Blessed Jesus---" See the whole passage in the conclusion of Bp. Sherlock's 9th Sermon, vol. i.
      Of these beautiful passages we may observe, that as in the English if you put it and its instead of his, she, her, you confound and destroy the images, and reduce, what was before highly Poetical and Rhetorical, to mere prose and common discourse; so if you render them into another language, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, or German; in which Hill, Heave, Cloud, Law, Religion, are constantly Masculine, or Feminine, or Neuter, respectively; you make the images obscure and doubtful, and in proportion diminish their beauty. This excellent remark is Mr. Harris's , HERMES, p. 58.

 上記は,このたび Lowth を漫然と読みながら気付いたポイントなのだが,やはり一家言ある文法家のセンスというのは,ときにまばゆく鋭い.言語における文法的性と自然的性の議論に,新鮮な光を投げかけてくれた.

 ・ Lowth, Robert. A Short Introduction to English Grammar. 1762. New ed. 1769. (英語文献翻刻シリーズ第13巻,南雲堂,1968年.9--113頁.)

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