大母音推移 (gvs) については，英語史で学ぶべき定番事項であり，本ブログでも多く取り上げてきた．だが，大母音推移の英語史上の意義は何だろうか．1つには，英語音韻史上，大規模かつ体系的に起こった変化であるという評価はもちろんあるだろう．だが，それに加えて，現代英語における発音と綴字の乖離の主要因としてとらえる見方も定着しているように思う．本記事では，「#775. 大母音推移は，発音と綴字の乖離の最大の元凶か」 ([2011-06-11-1]) に引き続き，綴字体系への衝撃という観点から大母音推移を評価すべく，主要な英語史概説書などからこの点に関する箇所を抜き出して提示したい．
It will be noticed that the Great Vowel Shift is responsible for the unorthodox use of the vowel symbols in English spelling. The spelling of English had become fixed in a general way before the shift and therefore did not change when the quality of the long vowels changed. Consequently our vowel symbols no longer correspond to the sounds they once represented in English and still represent in the other modern languages. (Baugh and Cable 197)
. . . the Great Vowel Shift further confused English spelling. In Old and Middle English, the spellings of stressed vowels in English correspond reasonably well to their pronunciations. The arrival of the printing press in England in the late fifteenth century standardized spelling and fixed orthography to late Middle English conventions. When the long vowels shifted in the subsequent centuries, the spelling system did not change to record the new pronunciations. The spelling currently used for stressed vowels, then, is the spelling appropriate for the unshifted vowels. We no longer have a close correspondence between the spelling and the sounds. (Brinton and Arnovick 313)
It is a particular irony that, at the same time as printing was being introduced, the vowel sounds of London speech were undergoing the greatest change in their history. If printing had come a century later, or the Great Vowel Shift . . . a century earlier, the present-day spelling system would be vastly more regular than it has turned out to be. As it is, the spelling of thousands of words now reflects the pronunciation of vowels as they were in Chaucer's time. (Crystal 274)
The Great Vowel Shift radically altered most of the English long vowel system, and although spelling had been pretty much fixed by Johnson's time, more recent phases of the Great Vowel Shift have rendered the spelling system of English less phonetic in character. (Fennell 158)
The spelling of vowel sounds was disrupted in the period 1500--1700 by the most dramatic sound change in the history of English, what is now known as the Great Vowel Shift. . . . The change had far-reaching consequences for the spelling system too, as traditional spellings began to represent new sounds. . . . So where Middle English had a more straightforward system whereby a letter represented long and short values of a single vowel sound, this pattern was disrupted and replaced with a much less predictable system. (Horobin 158--59)
Over the last 500 years or so the relationship between sound and spelling has been further obscured in all varieties of English by changes in the long vowels which have come to be known as the Great Vowel Shift . . . . (Knowles 83)
The Great Vowel Shift (GVS) is the name given to a number of important and related pronunciation changes which affected these long vowels during the 15th, 16th and perhaps early 17th centuries and which resulted both in the differences between the sound-spelling correspondences of the continental European languages and those of Modern English . . . (e.g. French dame /dam/, English dame; French lime /lim/, English lime) and in the differences in pronunciation of the stressed vowels of pairs of words such as divine/divinity and serene/serenity, and also ultimately, though not directly, in (i) Modern English words such as meet and meat being alike in sound, and (ii) the difference in pronunciation of the OO of food, good and blood, etc. (Upward and Davidson 176--77)
すべての論者が大母音推移の綴字体系への影響を認めているし，なかにはその影響の大きさを強調する者もある．しかし，「#775. 大母音推移は，発音と綴字の乖離の最大の元凶か」 ([2011-06-11-1]) でも示唆したように，「最大の元凶」とみなしてよいかどうかは疑問である．最後の Upward and Davidson からの引用が的確に指摘しているとおり，大母音推移は，その後に生じた他の種々の音韻変化と手を携えて，発音と綴字の差を開いてきたと評価するのが妥当だろう．唯一の主犯として扱うわけにはいかないように思われる．英語史概説書において，大母音推移が伝統的に綴字の混乱を招いた主犯級として扱われてきた背景には，<a> = /a/ のようなラテン語の母音字とその母音の対応を "orthodox" とする西洋の文字体系観も大きく関与しているだろう．いずれにせよ，私は大母音推移を少しく減刑処分してあげたいと常々考えている．歴史的にはちょっとした罪人かもしれないが，共時的には評判ほど悪いヤツではない（ただし，積極的に良いヤツと評価する理由も，もちろんない）．
・ Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 6th ed. London: Routledge, 2013.
・ Brinton, Laurel J. and Leslie K. Arnovick. The English Language: A Linguistic History. Oxford: OUP, 2006.
・ Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2003.
・ Fennell, Barbara A. A History of English: A Sociolinguistic Approach. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001.
・ Horobin, Simon. Does Spelling Matter? Oxford: OUP, 2013.
・ Knowles, Gerry. A Cultural History of the English Language. London: Arnold, 1997.
・ Upward, Christopher and George Davidson. The History of English Spelling. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
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