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hellog〜英語史ブログ / 2013-03-18

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2013-03-18 Mon

#1421. Johnson の言語観 [johnson][standardisation][spelling][spelling_reform][language_change][prescriptive_grammar][popular_passage]

 昨日の記事で「#1420. Johnson's Dictionary の特徴と概要」 ([2013-03-17-1]) を紹介した.Samuel Johnson (1709--84) は,英語辞書史上のみならず英語史上でも重要な人物である.理性の時代 (the Age of Reason) の18世紀,規範主義の嵐の吹きすさぶ18世紀をひた走りながらも,穏健な慣用主義の伝統に立ち,英語の書き言葉,とりわけ綴字にある種の標準化をもたらすことに成功した.時代が時代だったので,Johnson も多分に独断的な規範観や理性主義をのぞかせるところはあったが,歴史的にみれば穏健,寛容,常識,バランスといった美徳を持ち合わせた文人だった.
 以下では,The Plan of a Dictionary of the English Language (1747) 及び "The Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language" (1755) からの引用により,Dr Johnson の言語観の一端をのぞいてみたい.引用のページ数は,Crystal の選集による.
 Johnson は,2世紀半にわたる英語の綴字標準化の流れに事実上の終止符を打った人物とみてよいが,ここで彼が採用した方針は現実主義的な慣用重視の路線だった([2013-03-04-1]の記事「#1407. 初期近代英語期の3つの問題」の (2) を参照).次の一節がその態度を雄弁に物語っている.

When a question of orthography is dubious, that practice has, in my opinion, a claim to preference, which preserves the greatest number of radical letters, or seems most to comply with the general custom of our language. But the chief rule which I propose to follow, is to make no innovation, without a reason sufficient to balance the inconvenience of change; and such reasons I do not expect often to find. All change is of itself an evil, which ought not to be hazarded but for evidence advantage; and as inconstancy is in every case a mark of weakness, it will add nothing to the reputation of our tongue. ("Plan" 7)


 急進的な綴字改革の不可能を悟っており,すでに達観しているかのようだ.Johnson は,本質的に言語は自然の理性に従うものというよりは,人間の慣用の産物であると考えている.次の引用では,Quintilian を引き合いに出して,anomalist の立場を明らかにしている([2012-12-03-1]の記事「#1316. analogist and anomalist controversy (2)」を参照).

To our language may be with great justness applied the observation of Quintilian, that speech was not formed by an analogy sent from heaven. It did not descend to us in a state of uniformity and perfection, but was produced by necessity and enlarged by accident, and is therefore composed of dissimilar parts, thrown together by negligence, by affectation, by learning, or by ignorance. ("Plan" 11)


 Johnson が,"Plan" (1747) と "Preface" (1755) までの間に,言語を固定することの不可能を悟ったことはよく知られている.辞書の作業を通じて,より穏健な慣用主義へ傾斜していったのである.次の文章は,Johnson の言語変化観をよく示す箇所として,しばしば文献に引用されている.

Those who have been persuaded to think well of my design, require that it should fix our language, and put a stop to those alterations which time and chance have hitherto been suffered to make in it without oppositions. With this consequence I will confess that I flattered myself for a while; but now begin to fear that I have indulged expectation which neither reason nor experience can justify. When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, and clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and affectation. ("Preface" 37--38)


 穏健な慣用主義というよりは,言語の固定化という時代の理想に対する悲壮な諦念に近いところがある.

If the changes that we fear be thus irresistible, what remains but to acquiesce with silence, as in the other insurmountable distresses of humanity? it remains that we retard what we cannot repel, that we palliate what we cannot cure. Life may be lengthened by care, though death cannot be ultimately defeated: tongues, like governments, have a natural tendency to degeneration; we have long preserved our constitution, let us make some struggles for our language. ("Preface" 40)


 ルネサンス期の人文主義者たちの言語に純粋性を見いだし,そこに理性を加えることによって,移ろいやすい英語を固定化したいという希望は,きわめて18世紀的である.Johnson にも現われているこの言語観あるいは言語変化観は,19世紀に比較言語学が興るとともに,また異なった視点で置き換えられてゆくようになる.
 Johnson は,英語史のみならず言語学史上の1点をも占める人物だった.

 ・ Johnson, Samuel. A Dictionary of the English Language: An Anthology. Selected, Edited and with an Introduction by David Crystal. London: Penguin, 2005.

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