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hellog〜英語史ブログ / 2015-05-28

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2015-05-28 Thu

#2222. 言語学における音象徴の位置づけ (2) [sound_symbolism][onomatopoeia][phonaesthesia][arbitrariness][history_of_linguistics]

 オノマトペ (onomatopoeia) や音感覚性 (phonaesthesia) といった音象徴 (sound_symbolism) の例は,言語記号の恣意性 (arbitrariness) の反例としてしばしば言及される.言語記号がしばしば恣意的でなく,自然の動機づけをもっているらしいことは,古くから議論されてきたし,信じられてもきた.古代ギリシアでは「#1315. analogist and anomalist controversy (1)」 ([2012-12-02-1]) と「#1316. analogist and anomalist controversy (2)」 ([2012-12-03-1]) でみたように,大きな論争となったし,古代日本では「#1876. 言霊信仰」 ([2014-06-16-1]) として信じられた.
 音象徴を擁護する言語学者は,現在でも跡を絶たない.本ブログでも,これまで「#242. phonaesthesia と 遠近大小」 ([2009-12-25-1]),「#243. phonaesthesia と 現在・過去」 ([2009-12-26-1]),「#800. you による ye の置換と phonaesthesia」 ([2011-07-06-1]),「#1269. 言語学における音象徴の位置づけ」 ([2012-10-17-1]) で事例を紹介したり,議論してきた通りである.一方で,このような議論に反対する者も少なくない.
 擁護派は常に分が悪い.たやすく例外がみつかるからだ.反対派は,頑張らずとも攻める材料が手に入る.しかし,事はそれほど単純ではないはずだ.現代の音象徴の擁護派は,言語のすべてが音象徴で説明できるなどとは主張しておらず,音象徴の事例が(たいてい思いのほか多く)あると主張するにとどまるからである.擁護派は最初から「例外」が大量にあることは暗黙裏に認めているのであり,反対派がそのような「例外」を持ち出してきたところであまり応えていないのである.かくして論争は平行線をたどり,生産的な議論に発展せず,尻すぼみで閉じることになる.古代ギリシアから続くパターンだ.
 この状況については,Ullmann (87) が妥当な見解を示している.

   The principle of harmony between sound and sense explains some apparent anomalies which have often perplexed students of onomatopoeia. It is, for instance, generally agreed that the vowel |i| is admirably adapted to convey an idea of smallness and is frequently found in adjectives and nouns of that meaning: little, wee, French petit, Hungarian kicsi; bit, tit, whit, jiffy and many more. Yet this tendency seems to be contradicted by the adjectives big and small, and also by such examples as German Riese 'giant' and Hungarian apró 'tiny'. The explanation is quite simple: where a sound happens to occur with a meaning to which it is naturally attuned, it will become onomatopoeic and will add its own expressive force to the sense by a kind of 'resonance' effect. Where there is no intrinsic harmony the sound will remain neutral, there will be no resonance, the word will be opaque and inexpressive.
   It has often been suggested that the vitality of words may be affected, among other things, by phonetic motivation The Latin word for 'small', parvus, for example, was ill fitted by its form to convey that meaning and was therefore replaced by more expressive rivals such as French petit, Italian piccolo, Rumanian mic, etc. This sounds plausible enough, but the undiminished vitality of English small, which must have suffered from the same handicap and has yet withstood the pressure of its more expressive synonym little, is a warning that too much importance should not be attached to such factors.


 音象徴の議論のもう1つの難しさは,ある音が自然に何らかの意味を喚起するか否かの感受性が個人によって異なるものであり,同じ個人でも環境や文脈によって異なるものであることだ.要するに,主観が入らざるを得ない.Ullmann (88--89) 曰く,

More than half a century ago, Maurice Grammont enunciated an important principle concerning onomatopoeia: 'Un mot n'est une onomatopée qu'à condition d'être senti comme tel.' This introduces a subjective element into the study of phonetic motivation. While there would be a fair measure of agreement on the more obvious types of onomatopoeia, such as imitative interjections, the more subtle and more interesting cases will often be a matter of personal opinion; their evaluation will depend on the speaker's sensitivity, his imagination, his cultural background, and other imponderables. It might be possible to devise some statistical method . . . to establish a kind of average reaction to specific words, but there would still be the influence of context to reckon with, and one may wonder whether the statistical net would be fine enough to catch these delicate and elusive phenomena.


 ・ Ullmann, Stephen. Semantics: An Introduction to the Science of Meaning. 1962. Barns & Noble, 1979.

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