初期近代英語の16--17世紀に綴字標準化の動きが活発化したが，従来，この潮流の背景には15世紀後半の印刷術の導入があったとされてきた．ところが，近年の研究によると，印刷術の導入は直接的には綴字の標準化に関与しなかったのではないかという可能性が持ち上がってきた．この議論に関しては，「#297. 印刷術の導入は英語の標準化を推進したか否か」 ([2010-02-18-1]) ，「#871. 印刷術の発明がすぐには綴字の固定化に結びつかなかった理由」 ([2011-09-15-1]) ，「#1312. 印刷術の発明がすぐには綴字の固定化に結びつかなかった理由 (2)」 ([2012-11-29-1]) で取り上げた．
Brengelman (333, 336) によると，印刷業者たちが綴字標準化に貢献したとする説は，おそらく20世紀初頭の George Philip Krapp に遡り，以降も多くの研究者に支持されてきた．しかし，Brengelman は，同説を積極的に支持する根拠は乏しく，むしろ17世紀の理論言語学者と教師の努力によるところが大きいとして，説得力のある議論を展開している．やや長いが，結論を引用しよう (Brengelman 354) ．
It thus seems clear that the extensive rationalization of English spelling which took place during the seventeenth century was the result of efforts by theoretical linguists and schoolmasters. There is no evidence at all that during the years when English spelling was being standardized the printing industry made any significant contribution to the process. The actual contribution of the printers to the evolution of English spelling seems to have been the following:
1. The elimination of most ligatures, abbreviatory symbols, and complementarily distributed letters. These spelling variants were eliminated in order to reduce the number of different sorts [type characters] constituting a particular alphabet.
2. Making possible the very wide distribution of texts exemplifying a particular selection of spellings. The English Bibles and Book of Common Prayer as well as certain school books issued by a very few publishing houses (a privilege granted by the King or Queen) may possibly have had an impact on the ultimate preference for certain spellings.
3. The reinforcement of modernizing, standardizing tendencies through the practice of bringing reprints and new editions into line with current spelling practice.
Thus English printers are seen to have played only an indirect role in the process of spelling rationalization that took place during the seventeenth century. In contrast, practically all of the spelling reforms urged by orthoepists and schoolmasters early in the century were adopted by authors during the middle years of the century. It is their effort which resulted in the vastly more rational spelling system that had become standard by the end of the century.
・ Brengelman, F. H. "Orthoepists, Printers, and the Rationalization of English Spelling." JEGP 79 (1980): 332--54.
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