人々が言語変化をどう理解してきたか，その3種類の立場について「#432. 言語変化に対する三つの考え方」 ([2010-07-03-1]) で紹介した．そこでも参照した Brinton and Arnovick より，"Attitudes Toward Linguistic Change" と題する節の一部を引用したい (20--21) ．くだんの3つの立場が読みやすくまとめられている．
Attitudes Toward Linguistic Change
Jean Aitchison (2001) describes three typical views of language change: as slow deterioration from some perfect state: as slow evolution toward a more efficient state; or as neither progress nor decay. While all three views have at times been held, certainly the most prevalent perception among the general population is that change means deterioration.
To judge from many schoolteachers, authors of letters to editors, and lay writers on language (such as Edwin Newman or William Safire), language change is always bad. It is a matter of linguistic corruption: a language, as it changes, loses its beauty, its expressiveness, its fineness of distinction, even its grammar. According to this view, English has decayed from some state of purity, its golden age, such as the time when Shakespeare was writing, or Milton, or Pope. People may interpret change in the language as the result of ignorance, laziness, sloppiness, insensitivity, weakness, or perhaps willful rebellion on the part of speakers. Their criticism is couched in moralistic and often emotionally laden terms. For example, Jonathan Swift in 1712 asserted that 'our Language is extremely imperfect; that its daily Improvements are by no Means in Proportion to its daily Corruptions; that the Pretenders to polish and refine it, have chiefly multiplied Abuses and Absurdities; and that in many Instances, it offends against every Part of Grammar' (1957: 6). Such views have prompted critics to try to prevent the decline of the language, to defend it against change, and to admonish speakers to be more careful and vigilant.
Given the inevitability of linguistic change, attested to by the records of all known languages, why is this concept of deterioration so prevalent? One reason is our sense of nostalgia: we resist change of every kind, especially in a world that seems out of our control. As speakers of our language, we feel that we are the best judges of it, and furthermore that it is something that we, in a sense, possess and can control.
A second reason is a concern for linguistic purity. Language may be the most overt indicator of our ethnic and national identity; when we feel that these are threatened, often by external forces, we seek to defend them by protecting our language. Tenets of linguistic purity have not been influential in the history of the English language, which has quite freely accepted foreign elements into it and is now spoken by many different peoples throughout the world. But these feelings are never entirely absent. We see them, for example, in concerns about the Americanization of Canadian or of British English.
A third reason is social class prejudice. Standard English is the social dialect of the educated middle and upper-middle classes. To belong to these classes and to advance socially, one must speak this dialect. The standard is a means of excluding people from these classes and preserving social barriers. Deviations from the standard (which are non-standard or substandard) threaten the social structure. Fourth is a belief in the superiority of highly inflected languages such as Latin and Greek. The loss of inflections, which has characterized change in the English language, is therefore considered bad. A final reason for the belief that change equals deterioration stems from an admiration for the written form. Because written language is more fixed and unchanging than speech, we conclude that the spoken form in use today is fundamentally inferior.
Of the other typical views towards language change, the view that it represents a slow evolution toward some higher state finds expression in the work of nineteenth-century philologists, who saw language as an evolving organism. The Danish linguist Otto Jespersen, in his book Growth and Structure of the English Language (1982 ), suggested that the increasingly analytic nature of English resulted in 'simplification' and hence 'improvement' to the language. Leith (1997: 260) also argues that the historical study of English was motivated by a desire to demonstrate a literary continuity from Old English to the present, resulting in the misleading impression that the language has steadily evolved and improved toward a standard variety worthy of literary expression. The third view, that language change represents the status quo, neither progress nor decay, where every simplification is balanced by some new complexity, underlies the work of historical linguistics in the twentieth century and forms the basis of our text.
第1の堕落観と第2の進歩観については，「#1728. Jespersen の言語進歩観」 ([2014-01-19-1])，「#1839. 言語の単純化とは何か」 ([2014-05-10-1])，「#2527. evolution の evolution (1)」 ([2016-03-28-1]) を参照．第3の科学的な立場については「#448. Vendryes 曰く「言語変化は進歩ではない」」 ([2010-07-19-1])，「#1382. 「言語変化はただ変化である」」 ([2013-02-07-1])，「#2525. 「言語は変化する，ただそれだけ」」 ([2016-03-26-1])，「#2513. Samuels の "linguistic evolution"」 ([2016-03-14-1]) を参照されたい．
・ Brinton, Laurel J. and Leslie K. Arnovick. The English Language: A Linguistic History. Oxford: OUP, 2006.
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