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hellog〜英語史ブログ / 2016-11-15

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2016-11-15 Tue

#2759. Swift によるアカデミー設立案が通らなかった理由 [swift][prescriptivism][academy][lowth][johnson]

 Swift による A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue (1712) は,英語のアカデミー (academy) 設立に向けて最も近いところまで迫る試みだった.すでに17世紀前半には英語アカデミーを求める声は上がっており,18世紀初頭の Swift の提案においてピークを迎えたにせよ,その後の18世紀中もアカデミー設立の要求はそう簡単には消滅しなかった.しかし,歴史を振り返ってみれば,Swift の提案が通らなかったことにより,アカデミー設立案が永遠に潰えることになった,とは言ってよいだろう.では,なぜ Swift の提案は流れたのだろうか.
 そこには,個人的で政治的な論争や Anne 女王の死という事情があった.Baugh and Cable (262) に次のように述べられている.

   Apparently the only dissenting voice was that of John Oldmixon, who, in the same year that Swift's Proposal appeared, published Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter to the Earl of Oxford, about the English Tongue. It was a violent Whig attack inspired by purely political motives. He says, "I do here in the Name of all the Whigs, protest against all and everything done or to be done in it, by him or in his Name." Much in the thirty-five pages is a personal attack on Swift, in which he quotes passages from the Tale of a Tub as examples of vulgar English, to show that Swift was no fit person to suggest standards for the language. And he ridicules the idea that anything can be done to prevent languages from changing. "I should rejoice with him, if a way could be found out to fix our Language for ever, that like the Spanish cloak, it might always be in Fashion." But such a thing is impossible.
   Oldmixon's attack was not directed against the idea of an academy. He approves of the design, "which must be own'd to be very good in itself." Yet nothing came of Swift's Proposal. The explanation of its failure in the Dublin edition is probably correct; at least it represented contemporary opinion. "It is well known," it says, "that if the Queen had lived a year or two longer, this proposal would, in all probability, have taken effect. For the Lord Treasurer had already nominated several persons without distinction of quality or party, who were to compose a society for the purposes mentioned by the author; and resolved to use his credit with her majesty, that a fund should be applied to support the expense of a large room, where the society should meet, and for other incidents. But this scheme fell to the ground, partly by the dissensions among the great men at court; but chiefly by the lamented death of that glorious princess."


 つまり,Swift の提案の内容それ自体が問題だったというわけではないのである.アカデミー設立は多くの人々の願いでもあったし,事は着々と進んでいた.ただ,政治的な点において Swift に反対する人物が声高に叫び,意見の不一致が生まれたということ,そして何よりも,アカデミー設立に向けて動き出していた Anne 女王が1714年に亡くなったことが,Swift の運の尽きだった.
 「上から」の英語アカデミーがついに作られなかったことにより,18世紀からは「下から」の言語規範の策定が進んでいくことになる (see 「#2583. Robert Lowth, Short Introduction to English Grammar」 ([2016-05-23-1]), 「#1421. Johnson の言語観」 ([2013-03-18-1]), 「#141. 18世紀の規範は理性か慣用か」 ([2009-09-15-1])) .イギリスは,アカデミーを作る意志がなかったわけではなく,半ば歴史の偶然で作るに至らなかった,と評価するのが適切だろう.

 ・ Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 6th ed. London: Routledge, 2013.

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