本ブログで何度も取り上げてきた英語綴字の歴史を著わした Horobin は，著書の最終章の終わりにかけて，綴字改革への反対論を繰り広げている．綴字史を総括しながら著者が到達するのは，まさに学者的な保守主義である．Horobin はつくづく中世英語研究者であり（言語の）歴史研究者なのだなと感じ入った．とりわけ，それがよく読み取れる部分を2箇所引こう．
Etymological relicts like these have a further function in making visible the linguistic richness of the language and its varied history, thereby maintaining a closer relationship with texts of the past. While silent letters like those in knight are unhelpful for modern learners of English, they do enable us to retain a link with the language used by Chaucer, and before him by the Anglo-Saxons. When English speakers turn to Chaucer they may find much unfamiliar, but they will not be thrown by the line 'A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man' thanks to our preservation of the medieval spelling. Historical spellings like this preserve that link with the past, as well as standing as a monument to the language's history.
The English language has come into contact with numerous other languages throughout its history, all of which have left their mark, to a greater or lesser degree, on the language's structure, spelling, and vocabulary. To remove the idiosyncrasies that they have contributed to our spelling system would be to erase the evidence of that history. Our spelling system could be likened to a cathedral church, whose origins lie in the Anglo-Saxon period, but whose structure now includes a Gothic portico added in the Middle Ages, a domed tower added in the Early Modern period, and a gift shop and café introduced in the 1960s. The end result is an awkward mixture of architectural styles which no longer reflects the builders' original plan, nor is it the ideal building for the bishop and his clergy to carry out their diocesan duties. But, in spite of these practical limitations, it would be hard to imagine anyone suggesting that the cathedral be demolished to allow the rebuilding of a more functional and architecturally harmonious modern construction. Quite apart from the practical and financial costs of such a project, the demolition and reconstruction of the cathedral would erase the rich historical record that such a building represents. (Horobin 249)
Finally, there seems to me another reason for resisting any attempts to reform English spelling, and retaining traditional spellings, silent letters and all: such spellings are a testimony to the richness of our language and its history. This argument is harder to defend as it has no practical purpose, although it does help to maintain a connection between our present-day language and that of the past. Modern English speakers would surely find it more difficult to read the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare if our spelling system was to be radically reformed. Silent letters are silent witnesses to pronunciations that have since been lost, but which continue to be preserved in a spelling system that boasts a long and rich heritage. (Horobin 251--52)
・ Horobin, Simon. Does Spelling Matter? Oxford: OUP, 2013.
Powered by WinChalow1.0rc4 based on chalow