6世紀にキリスト教がブリテン島にもたらされた．その後，古英語期には数百語のラテン単語が英語に流入したが，多くはキリスト教関係の用語である．これは，「#32. 古英語期に借用されたラテン語」 ([2009-05-30-1]) や「#1437. 古英語期以前に借用されたラテン語の例」 ([2013-04-03-1]) で話題にした通りである．
しかし，キリスト教関係ラテン単語の流入という外見だけをみていては，この時期のキリスト教化の言語的側面を十分に理解することはできない．Baugh and Cable (90) を引用しよう．
The words that Old English borrowed in this period are only a partial indication of the extent to which the introduction of Christianity affected the lives and thoughts of the English people. The English did not always adopt a foreign word to express a new concept. Often an old word was applied to a new thing and by a slight adaptation made to express a new meaning. The Anglo-Saxons, for example, did not borrow the Latin word deus, because their own word God was a satisfactory equivalent. Likewise heaven and hell express conceptions not unknown to Anglo-Saxon paganism and are consequently English words.
「#865. 借用語を受容しにくい語彙領域は何か」 ([2011-09-09-1]) で話題にした通り，なぜ deus を筆頭に，ある意味で最もキリスト教的といえるいくつかの語が借用されなかったのか．主要な参考図書2点から，この問題についての言及を見よう．まずは，Kastovsky (310) は次のように述べている．
Substitutive semantic borrowing is particularly frequent in the religious vocabulary, since in using a native ('heathen') word for a Christian concept, the pagan interpretation had to be replaced by the Christian concept and all its theological associations. A good example is the word God as used for Deus (cf. Strang 1970: 368). Originally it seemed to have meant 'that which is invoked', 'that to which libation is poured', was a neuter noun and could form a plural, since the Germanic peoples had a polytheistic religion. The missionaries, however, had to convey the notion of a single Deity, a Person or One of the persons of the Trinity. Instead of adopting the lexical item Deus, its meaning was substituted for the old meaning of god, which, in this case, even produced a grammatical change: God as a singular noun became masculine; if it occurred in the plural, it only referred to pagan gods and remained neuter.
次に，上の引用文で言及されている Strang (368) を当たってみる．Strang は，古英語の翻訳借用 (loan_translation) や意味借用 (semantic loan) について触れている箇所で，god の意味変化を以下のように論じている．
The best term to start with is the word god. This is an old neuter noun, the meaning of whose stem has been disputed. It may mean 'that which is invoked' or 'that to which libation is poured' (in which case, it represents the same stem as we find in the name of the Goths and the Geats . . .); OE shares the form with other Germanic languages, which have formations from the same stem with the same meaning. In its inherited form the noun has a plural, since the monotheistic idea was unfamiliar to the Germanic peoples. The missionaries need to convey to the English the conception of a single Deity, a Person, One of the Persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Creator of the Universe, etc. They have a choice of explaining all this, and adding that the word for it is Deus; or of saying that the English have hitherto misunderstood the nature of god --- not it, but He, not many but One, etc. They choose the latter course, and their usage, as well as their belief, prevails. The noun acquires a new meaning, or rather, the whole complex of Christian meanings, though it is still the term for the old gods. From this development follows a curious grammatical change, akin to the modern use of the capital letter. When singular the word becomes masculine; when plural (therefore pagan in reference) it remains neuter. Thus, even syntax enters into the pattern of adaptation.
標題は，互いに関連する2つの点で興味を引く．1つは，語を直接借用するよりも意味を取り入れるやり方のほうがじわじわ型であり，キリスト教の布教にあたって，ときに有効だった可能性があること．もう1つは，一般に，他言語からの語彙への影響を考える際には，外見（形態）だけでなく中味（意味）も重視しなければならないということだ．再度 Baugh and Cable (91) に戻って，次を引用しておこう．
It is important to recognize that the significance of a foreign influence is not to be measured simply by the foreign words introduced but is revealed also by the extent to which it stimulates the language to independent creative effort and causes it to make full use of its native resources.
関連して，借用の importation と substitution の区別について，「#901. 借用の分類」 ([2011-10-15-1]) を参照．
・ Strang, Barbara M. H. A History of English. London: Methuen, 1970.
・ Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 5th ed. London: Routledge, 2002.
・ Kastovsky, Dieter. "Semantics and Vocabulary." The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. 1. Ed. Richard M. Hogg. Cambridge: CUP, 1992. 290--408.
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