#4504. ラテン語の来し方と英語の行く末[future_of_english][latin][lingua_franca][history][world_englishes]


 かつてヨーロッパではリンガ・フランカ (lingua_franca) としてラテン語が長らく栄華を誇ったが,やがて各地で様々なロマンス諸語へ分裂していき,近代期中に衰退するに至った.この歴史上の事実は,英語の未来を考える上で必ず参照されるポイントである.英語は現代世界でリンガ・フランカの役割を担うに至ったが,一方で諸英語変種 (World Englishes) へと分裂しているのも事実もあり,将来求心力を維持できるのだろうか,と議論される.ある論者はラテン語と同じ足跡をたどることは間違いないという予想を立て,別の論者はラテン語と英語では歴史的状況が異なり単純には比較できないとみる.
 両言語の比較に基づいた議論をする場合,当然ながら,歴史的事実を正確につかんでおくことが重要である.しかし,とりわけラテン語に関して,大きな誤解が広まっているのではないか.ラテン語がロマンス諸語へ分裂したと表現する場合,前提とされているのは,ラテン語がそれ以前には一枚岩だったということである.ところが,話し言葉に関する限り,ラテン語はロマンス諸語へ分裂する以前から各地で地方方言が用いられていたのであり,ある意味では「ロマンス諸語への分裂」は常に起こっていたことになる.ラテン語が一枚岩であるというのは,あくまで書き言葉に関する言説なのである.McArthur (9--10) は,"The Latin fallacy" という1節でこの誤解に対して注意を促している.

Between a thousand and two thousand years ago the language of the Romans was certainly central in the development of the entities we now call 'the Romance languages'. In some important sense, Latin drifted among the Lusitani into 'Portuguese', among the Dacians into 'Romanian', among the Gauls and Franks into 'French', and so on. It is certainly seductive, therefore, to wonder whether American English might become simply 'American', and be, as Burchfield has suggested, an entirely distinct language in a century's time from British English.
   There is only one problem. The language used as a communicative bond among the citizens of the Roman Empire was not the Latin recorded in the scrolls and codices of the time. The masses used 'popular' (or 'vulgar') Latin, and were apparently extremely diverse in their use of it, intermingled with a wide range of other vernaculars. The Romance languages derive, not from the gracious tongue of such literati as Cicero and Virgil, but from the multifarious usages of a population most of whom were illiterati.
   'Classical' Latin had quite a different history from the people's Latin. It did not break up at all, but as a language standardized by manuscript evolved in a fairly stately fashion into the ecclesiastical and technical medium of the Middle Ages, sometimes known as 'Neo-Latin'. As Walter Ong has pointed out in Orality and Literacy (1982), this 'Learned Latin' survived as a monolith through sheer necessity, because Europe was 'a morass of hundreds of languages and dialects, most of them never written to this day'. Learned Latin derived its power and authority from not being an ordinary language. 'Devoid of baby talk' and 'a first language to none of its users', it was 'pronounced across Europe in often mutually unintelligible ways but always written the same way' (my italics).
   The Latin analogy as a basis for predicting one possible future for English is not therefore very useful, if the assumption is that once upon a time Latin was a mighty monolith that cracked because people did not take proper care of it. That is fallacious. Interestingly enough, however, a Latin analogy might serve us quite well if we develop the idea of a people's Latin that was never at any time particularly homogeneous, together with a text-bound learned Latin that became and remained something of a monolith because European society needed it that way.


 ・ McArthur, Tom. "The English Languages?" English Today 11 (1987): 9--11.

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