#2255. 言語変化の原因を追究する価値について[causation][language_change][methodology][history]


 言語変化研究に限らず,研究対象に関する5W1Hの質問のなかで最も難物なのが Why であることは論を俟たないだろう.一般に,学問研究において,最終的に知りたいのは Why の答えである.しかし,一昨日の記事「#2253. 意味変化の原因を論じるのがなぜ難しいか」 ([2015-06-28-1]) でも話題にしたように,意味変化はもとより言語変化の諸事例の原因を探り,論じるというのは想像以上の困難を伴う.論者によって,「言語変化の原因は原則として multiple causation である」とか,「言語変化に原因などない」いなど様々な立場がある (cf. 「#1986. 言語変化の multiple causation あるいは "synergy"」 ([2014-10-04-1]),「#2143. 言語変化に「原因」はない」 ([2015-03-10-1])).
 言語変化の原因の追究に慎重な立場を取る者もいることは了解しているが,いかに難しい問いであろうとも,歴史言語学や言語史において Why という問いかけをやめてしまうことを弁護することはできないと私は考えている.基本的には「#1123. 言語変化の原因と歴史言語学」 ([2012-05-24-1]) で引用した Smith の態度を支持したい.Smith は,音変化に関する著書の前書き (ix--x) でも,Why を問うことの妥当性と必要性を力説している.

Some levels of language, of course, are easier to discuss in 'why?' terms than others. With regard to the lexicon, for instance, it seems fairly undeniable that the presence of French-derived vocabulary in English relates to the geographical proximity of the two languages and to historical events (the Norman Conquest, for instance), while most scholars---not of course all---hold that inflectional loss during the transition from Old to Middle English relates in some way to contact developments such as the interaction between English and Norse. Sound change, as has been acknowledged by many scholars, is perhaps a trickier phenomenon to discuss in 'why?' terms. However, this book argues that it is nevertheless possible to develop historically plausible and worthwhile accounts of the changes which have taken place in the history of English sounds, bearing in mind all necessary caveats about the status of such explanations. After all, historians of politics, economics, religion, etc., have all felt able to ask 'why?' questions: Why did the Roman Empire collapse? Why did the Reformation happen? Why did the Jacobites fail? Why did the French Revolution or the First World War take place? Why did the Russian Revolution happen when it did? Why did the Industrial Revolution take place when and where it did? All these questions are considered entirely legitimate in historiography, even if no final, unequivocal, answers are forthcoming. If historical linguistics is a branch of history---and it is an argument of this book that it is---then it seems rather perverse not to allow historical linguists to address 'why?' questions as well.

 まったく同じ趣旨で,私自身も Hotta (2) で,次のように述べたことがあるので,引用しておきたい.

In historical linguistics, the importance of asking not only the "how" but also the "why" of development must be stressed. In my view the question "why" should be a natural step that follows the question of "how," but linguists have long refrained from asking "why" through academic modesty. I believe, however, that it is allowable to speak less ambitiously of conditioning factors, rather than absolute causes, of language change.

 おそらく言語変化に "the cause(s)" を求めることはできない."conditioning factors" を求めようとするのが精一杯だろう.後者の追究のことを指して,私は "Why?" や「原因」という表現を用いてきたし,今後も用いていくつもりである.

 ・ Smith, Jeremy J. Sound Change and the History of English. Oxford: OUP, 2007.
 ・ Hotta, Ryuichi. "The Development of the Nominal Plural Forms in Early Middle English." PhD thesis, University of Glasgow. Glasgow, November 2005.

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