#2377. 先行する長母音を表わす <e> の先駆け (1)[final_e][grapheme][spelling][orthography][emode][mulcaster][spelling_reform][meosl][diacritical_mark]


 英語史において,音声上の final /e/ の問題と,綴字上の final <e> の問題は分けて考える必要がある.15世紀に入ると,語尾に綴られる <e> は,対応する母音を完全に失っていたと考えられているが,綴字上はその後も連綿と書き続けられた.現代英語の正書法における発音区別符(号) (diacritical mark; cf. 「#870. diacritical mark」 ([2011-09-14-1])) としての <e> の機能については「#979. 現代英語の綴字 <e> の役割」 ([2012-01-01-1]), 「#1289. magic <e>」 ([2012-11-06-1]) で論じ,関係する正書法上の発達については 「#1344. final -e の歴史」 ([2012-12-31-1]), 「#1939. 16世紀の正書法をめぐる議論」 ([2014-08-18-1]) で触れてきた.今回は,英語正書法において長母音を表わす <e> がいかに発達してきたか,とりわけその最初期の様子に触れたい.
 Scragg (79--80) は,中英語の開音節長化 (meosl) に言い及びながら,問題の <e> の機能の規則化は,16世紀後半の穏健派綴字改革論者 Richard Mulcaster (1530?--1611) に帰せられるという趣旨で議論を展開している(Mulcaster については,「#441. Richard Mulcaster」 ([2010-07-12-1]) 及び mulcaster の各記事を参照されたい).

One of the most far-reaching changes Mulcaster suggested was for the use of final unpronounced <e> as a marker of vowel length. Of the many orthographic indications of a long vowel in English, the one with the longest history is doubling of the vowel symbol, but this has never been regularly practised. . . . Use of final <e> as a device for denoting vowel length (especially in monosyllabic words such as mate, mete, mite, mote, mute, the stem vowels of which have now usually been diphthongised in Received Pronunciation) has its roots in an eleventh-century sound-change involving the lengthening of short vowels in open syllables of disyllabic words (e.g. /nɑmə/ became /nɑːmə/). When final unstressed /ə/ ceased to be pronounced after the fourteenth century, /nɑːmə/, spelt name, became /nɑːm/, and paved the way for the association of mute final <e> in spelling with a preceding long vowel. After the loss of final /ə/ in speech, writers used final <e> in a quite haphazard way; in printed books of the sixteenth century <e> was added to almost every word which would otherwise end in a single consonant, though the fact that it was then apparently felt necessary to indicate a short stem vowel by doubling the consonant (e.g. bedde, cumme, fludde 'bed, come, flood') shows that writers already felt that final <e> otherwise indicated a long stem vowel. Mulcaster's proposal was for regularisation of this final <e>, and in the seventeenth century its use was gradually restricted to the words in which it still survives.

 Brengelman (347) も同様の趣旨で議論しているが,<e> の規則化を Mulcaster のみに帰せずに,Levins や Coote など同時代の正書法に関心をもつ人々の集合的な貢献としてとらえているようだ.

It was already urged in the last quarter of the sixteenth century that final e should be used as a vowel diacritic. Levins, Mulcaster, Coote, and others had urged that final e should be used only to "draw the syllable long." A corollary of the rule, of course, was that e should not be used after short vowels, as it commonly was in words such as egge and hadde. Mulcaster believed it should also be used after consonant groups such as ld, nd, and st, a reasonable suggestion that was followed only in the case of -ast. . . . By the time Blount's dictionary had appeared (1656), the modern rule regarding the use of final e as a vowel diacritic had been generally adopted.

 いずれにせよ,16世紀中には(おそらくは15世紀中にも),すでに現実的な綴字使用のなかで <e> のこの役割は知られていたが,意識的に使用し規則化しようとしたのが,Mulcaster を中心とする1600年前後の改革者たちだったということになろう.実際,この改革案は17世紀中に根付いていくことになり,現在の "magic <e>" の規則が完成したのである.

 ・ Scragg, D. G. A History of English Spelling. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1974.
 ・ Brengelman, F. H. "Orthoepists, Printers, and the Rationalization of English Spelling." JEGP 79 (1980): 332--54.

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