日本語には「雨」の種類を細かく区分して指し示す語彙が豊富にあり，英語には「群れ」を表わす語がその群れているモノの種類に応じて使い分けられる（「#1894. 英語の様々な「群れ」，日本語の様々な「雨」」 ([2014-07-04-1])，「#1868. 英語の様々な「群れ」」 ([2014-06-08-1]) を参照）．このような話しは，サピア＝ウォーフの仮説 (sapir-whorf_hypothesis) に関する話題として，広く興味をもたれる．実際には，このような事例が，どの程度同仮説の主張する文化と言語の密接な関係を支持するものなのか，正確に判断することは難しい．このことは，「#364. The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax」 ([2010-04-26-1])，「#1337. 「一単語文化論に要注意」」 ([2012-12-24-1]) などの記事で注意喚起してきた．
それでも，この種の話題は聞けば聞くほどおもしろいというのも事実であり，いくつか良い例を集めておきたいと思っていた．Wardhaugh (234--35) に，古今東西の言語からの事例が列挙されていたので，以下に引用しておきたい．
If language A has a word for a particular concept, then that word makes it easier for speakers of language A to refer to that concept than speakers of language B who lack such a word and are forced to use a circumlocution. Moreover, it is actually easier for speakers of language A to perceive instances of the concept. If a language requires certain distinctions to be made because of its grammatical system, then the speakers of that language become conscious of the kinds of distinctions that must be referred to: for example, gender, time, number, and animacy. These kinds of distinctions may also have an effect on how speakers learn to deal with the world, i.e., they can have consequences for both cognitive and cultural development.
Data such as the following are sometimes cited in support of such claims. The Garo of Assam, India, have dozens of words for different types of baskets, rice, and ants. These are important items in their culture. However, they have no single-word equivalent to the English word ant. Ants are just too important to them to be referred to so casually. German has words like Gemütlichkeit, Weltanschauung, and Weihnachtsbaum; English has no exact equivalent of any one of them, Christmas tree being fairly close in the last case but still lacking the 'magical' German connotations. Both people and bulls have legs in English, but Spanish requires people to have piernas and bulls to have patas. Both people and horse eat in English but in German people essen and horses fressen. Bedouin Arabic has many words for different kinds of camels, just as the Trobriand Islanders of the Pacific have many words for different kinds of yams. Mithun . . . explains how in Yup'ik there is a rich vocabulary for kinds of seals. There are not only distinct words for different species of seals, such as maklak 'bearded seal,' but also terms for particular species at different times of life, such as amirkaq 'young bearded seal,' maklaaq 'bearded seal in its first year,' maklassuk 'bearded seal in its second year,' and qalriq 'large male bearded seal giving its mating call.' There are also terms for seals in different circumstances, such as ugtaq 'seal on an ice-floe' and puga 'surfaced seal.' The Navaho of the Southwest United States, the Shona of Zimbabwe, and the Hanunóo of the Philippines divide the color spectrum differently from each other in the distinctions they make, and English speakers divide it differently again. English has a general cover term animal for various kinds of creatures, but it lacks a term to cover both fruit and nuts; however, Chinese does have such a cover term. French conscience is both English conscience and consciousness. Both German and French have two pronouns corresponding to you, a singular and a plural. Japanese, on the other hand, has an extensive system of honorifics. The equivalent of English stone has a gender in French and German, and the various words must always be either singular or plural in French, German, and English. In Chinese, however, number is expressed only if it is somehow relevant. The Kwakiutl of British Columbia must also indicate whether the stone is visible or not to the speaker at the time of speaking, as well as its position relative to one or another of the speaker, the listener, or possible third party.
諸言語間で語の意味区分の精粗や方法が異なっている例から始まり，人称や数などの文法範疇 (category) の差異の例，そして敬語体系のような社会語用論的な項目に関する例まで挙げられている．サピア＝ウォーフの仮説を再考する上での，話しの種になるだろう．
・ Wardhaugh, Ronald. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 6th ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2010.
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