#1403. drift を合理的に説明する Ritt の試み[drift][teleology][unidirectionality][causation][language_change][functionalism]


 昨日の記事「#1402. 英語が千年間,母音を強化し子音を弱化してきた理由」 ([2013-02-27-1]) で取り上げた論文で,Ritt は歴史言語学上の重要な問題である drift駆流)にまとわりつく謎めいたオーラを取り除こうとしている.drift の問題は「#685. なぜ言語変化には drift があるのか (1)」 ([2011-03-13-1]) と「#686. なぜ言語変化には drift があるのか (2)」 ([2011-03-14-1]) でも取り上げたが,次のように提示することができる.話者個人は自らの人生の期間を超えて言語変化を継続させようとする動機づけなどもっていないはずなのに,なぜ世代を超えて伝承されているとしか思えない言語変化があるのか.あたかも言語そのものが話者を超越したところで生命をもっているかのような振る舞いを見せるのはなぜか.この問題を Ritt (215) のことばで示すと,次のようになる.

[S]ince individual speakers are normally not aware of the long-term histories of their languages and have no reason to be interested in them at all, it is difficult to see why they should be motivated to adjust their behaviour in communication or language acquisition to make the development of their language conform to any long-term trend.

 この謎に対し,Ritt (215) は言語と話者についての3つの前提を理解することで解決できると述べる.

First, . . . the case can be made that even though whole language systems do not represent historical objects, their constituents do, because they are transmitted faithfully enough among speakers and thereby establish populations and lineages of constituent types which persist in time. Secondly, when speakers make choices among different variants of a linguistic constituent, they are not completely free. Instead their choice is always limited (a) by universal constraints on human physiology and (b) by socio-historical contingencies such as the relative prestige of different constituent variants. Since it would be against the self-interests of individual speakers to resist them, their choices can be expected to reflect physiological and social constraints more or less automatically. Thirdly, a speaker never chooses among isolated pairs of constituent variants. Instead constituent choice always occurs in the context of actual discourse, where any constituent of a linguistic system is always used and expressed in combination with others.

 そして驚くべきことに,話者は上記の前提に基づく言語行動において,生理的,社会的な機械として機能しているにすぎないという見解が示される (215--16) .

In such interactions between constituents the role of speakers will be restricted to responding --- unconsciously and more or less automatically --- to physiological and social constraints on their communicative behaviour. In other words, speakers will not figure as autonomous, active and whimsical agents of change, but merely provide the mechanics through which linguistic constituents interact with each other.

 このモデルによれば,話者は,個々の言語項目が相互に組み立てているネットワークのなかを動き回る,生理的よび社会的な機能を付与された媒質ということになる.話者が言語変化の主体ではなく媒介であるという提言は,きわめて controversial だろう.

 ・ Ritt, Nikolaus. "How to Weaken one's Consonants, Strengthen one's Vowels and Remain English at the Same Time." Analysing Older English. Ed. David Denison, Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero, Chris McCully, and Emma Moore. Cambridge: CUP, 2012. 213--31.

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