#4152. アメリカ英語の -our から -or へのシフト --- Webster の影響は限定的?[webster][ame][spelling_reform][spelling][standardisation][prescriptivism][language_change]


 昨日の記事「#4151. 標準化と規範化の関係」 ([2020-09-07-1]) で引用した文章のなかに,Anson からの引用が埋め込まれていた.Anson 論文は,アメリカ英語における color, humor, valor, honor などの -or 綴字の発展と定着の歴史を実証的に調査した研究である.1740--1840年にアメリカ北東部で発行された新聞からのランダムサンプルを用いた調査の結果が特に信頼に値する.イギリス英語綴字 -our に対するアメリカ英語綴字 -or の定着は,一般に Noah Webster (1758--1843) の功績とされることが多いが,事はそれほど簡単ではない.以下が,Anson (47) による調査報告のまとめの部分である.

Most obvious is the appearance of both -or and -our through the century, but gradual change can be detected from the -our extreme in 1740 to the -or extreme in 1840. Only small and sporadic change occurred around the time of Webster's strongest influence, which suggests that if he did contribute to the dropping of -u, his contribution was slow to take effect.
    A key year appears to be 1830 --- after the appearance of Worcester's dictionary and the public attention, during the previous decade, to Webster's and Worcester's battle of dictionaries and spellers. . . .
    On the whole, then, the American usage chart shows a slow but steady movement toward the -or spelling. No doubt the movement spilled at least into the first quarter of the twentieth century, when sporadic cases of -our were still to be seen. Aided by later dictionaries, which have looked to usage or other American authorities, the shift to -or is now virtually complete.

 この調査報告を読むと,Webster (および彼と辞書編纂で争った Worcester)の当該語の綴字への影響は1830年以降に少し感じられはするが,決定的な影響というほどではなかったという.しかも -our から -or へのシフトの完成は,それから優に数十年も待たなければならなかったのである.Webster の役割は,せいぜいシフトの触媒としての役割にとどまっていたといえそうだ.
 この事例研究から,Anson (48) は言語変化の標準化と規範化の関係に関する次の一般論を導き出そうとしている.

. . . usage and authority work mutually and each tends to influence the other and be influenced by it. A highly respected dictionary may influence the way an educated public spells debated words; on the other hand, no authority --- even Webster --- can hope to change a firmly entrenched spelling habit among the general public. The chances are good that, had the public not been moving steadily toward -or forms, we might still be spelling in favor of -our, despite Webster. While Webster may have served as a catalyst for some spelling changes, he was not, for spelling reform, the cause celebre many have assumed. Most of his reforms never caught on. Curiously, spelling reform on a large scale, like Esperanto and other synthetic languages, has never appealed to the public as have changes introduced organically and from within. Proponents of spelling reform argue quite convincingly that their proposals meet a real public need for simplicity, precision, and uniformity; yet often the public allows linguistic changes that work in just the opposite direction. Usage, then, is a highly resistant strain when it comes to 'curing the ills' of the language, and it ultimately determines its own future.

  昨日の記事の趣旨に照らせば,この引用冒頭の "usage" を標準化と,"authority" を規範化と読み替えてもよいだろう.

 ・ Anson, Chris M. "Errours and Endeavors: A Case Study in American Orthography." International Journal of Lexicography 3 (1990): 35--63.

Referrer (Inside): [2020-11-12-1] [2020-09-17-1]

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