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#1082. なぜ英語は世界語となったか (1)[linguistics][language_myth]

2012-04-13

 標記の問いについては,拙著『英語史で解きほぐす英語の誤解』第9章で論じているが,その答えは端的に言って「英語が歴史のよいタイミングでよい位置につけていたから」である.決して,英語が言語として他の言語よりもすぐれているからではない.この点については,[2012-04-03-1]の記事「#1072. 英語は言語として特にすぐれているわけではない」でも論じたが,改めて別の引用により論を補強したい.以下は,Schmitt and Marsden の "How English Became a Global Language" と題する節からの抜粋である.

One can ask how English achieved its prominent place. It almost surely was not because English was intrinsically better than any other language. . . . Rather, a language usually rises in prestige and power in response to external factors. Languages are closely and unmistakably tied to the people who speak them, and when those people rise in power and begin spreading their influence, their language becomes involved in the process. . . . It has been said that "language is a dialect with a (sic) army and a navy." . . . Britain's naval and financial power allowed the British to become masters of both the Industrial Revolution and the largest empire the world has ever known. Another English-speaking giant, the United States, succeeded Britain. But it was not only military and industrial strength that bolstered the position of English. During this time, the most influential financial and investment centers (especially after Germany's defeat in 1918) were English speaking: New York and London. Likewise, English has been spread worldwide by popular Western culture, much of it in English---for example, Hollywood movies and pop music. Thus, English rose to prominence on the strength of centuries of unbroken dominance over large parts of the world by its speakers. (9)


 現在におけるこの議論の目立った擁護者は Crystal だろう.著書の pp. 7--10 で熱く主張している.長めではあるが,特に重要な部分を2カ所抜粋しよう.

Without a strong power-base, of whatever kind, no language can make progress as an international medium of communication. Language has no independent existence, living in some sort of mystical space apart from the people who speak it. Language exists only in the brains and mouths and ears and hands and eyes of its users. When they succeed, on the international stage, their language succeeds. When then fail, their language fails. (7)


   A language has traditionally become an international language for one chief reason: the power of its people --- especially their political and military power. The explanation is the same throughout history. Why did Greek become a language of international communication in the Middle East over 2,000 years ago? Not because of the intellects of Plato and Aristotle: the answer lies in the swords and spears wielded by the armies of Alexander the Great. Why did Latin become known throughout Europe? Ask the legions of the Roman Empire. Why did Arabic come to be spoken so widely across northern Africa and the Middle East? Follow the spread of Islam, carried along by the force of the Moorish armies from the eight century. Why did Spanish, Portuguese, and French find their way into the Americas, Africa and the Far East? Study the colonial policies of the Renaissance kings and queens, and the way these policies were ruthlessly implemented by armies and navies all over the known world. The history of a global language can be tranced through the successful expeditions of its soldier/sailor speakers. . . . (9)


 2つ目の引用で,Crystal は言語の力を生み出すのはひとえに軍事力だとしているが,原文ですぐ次の段落では,生み出された力を維持するのは経済力や技術力であるといっている.いずれにせよ,言語の特質ではなく話者集団の社会的な立場こそが決定的な要素なのだという考え方に揺るぎはない.私はこの意見に賛成である.
 一方で,そうではないという意見も出ている.これについては明日の記事で.

 ・ Schmitt, Norbert, and Richard Marsden. Why Is English Like That? Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan P, 2006.
 ・ Crystal, David. English As a Global Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2003.

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