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hellog〜英語史ブログ / 2016-12-04

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2016-12-04 Sun

#2778. Joseph Priestley --- 慣用重視を貫いた文法家 [lowth][priestley][prescriptive_grammar][academy]

 18世紀には様々な文法家や「言語評論家」というべき人々が登場した.Samuel Johnson (1709--84), Robert Lowth (1710--87), John Walker (1732--1807), Lindley Murray (1745--1826) 等がとりわけ有名だが,もう1人の重要な登場人物として Joseph Priestley (1733--1804) の名前を挙げないわけにはいかない.理性を重視した Lowth に対し,Priestley は慣用を重視した文法書を著わしている.Priestley はこの時代の慣用派の代表的論客といってよい.
 例えば,1761年に出版された Rudiments of English Grammar という文法書で,Priestley は,でっち上げで恣意的な文法規則ではなく,自然に育まれてきた慣用に基づく文法規則を打ち立てるべきだと論じている.

It must be allowed, that the custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language. We see, in all grammars, that this is sufficient to establish a rule, even contrary to the strongest analogies of the language with itself. Must not this custom, therefore, be allowed to have some weight, in favour of those forms of speech, to which our best writers and speakers seem evidently prone . . . ?" (qtd. from Baugh and Cable 277)


The best and the most numerous authorities have been carefully followed. Where they have been contradictory, recourse hath been had to analogy, as the last resource. If this should decide for neither of two contrary practices, the thing must remain undecided, till all-governing custom shall declare in favour of the one or the other. (qtd. from Baugh and Cable 277)


 また,Priestley は同じ Rudiments のなかで,アカデミーについても発言しており,そのような機関を設けるよりは慣用に従うほうが妥当だもと述べている.

As to a public Academy, invested with authority to ascertain the use of words, which is a project that some persons are very sanguine in their expectations from, I think it not only unsuitable to the genius of a free nation, but in itself ill calculated to reform and fix a language. We need make no doubt but that the best forms of speech will, in time, establish themselves by their own superior excellence: and, in all controversies, it is better to wait the decisions of time, which are slow and sure, than to take those of synods, which are often hasty and injudicious. (qtd. from Baugh and Cable 264)


 1762年の Theory of Language でも,同趣旨が繰り返される.

In modern and living languages, it is absurd to pretend to set up the compositions of any person or persons whatsoever as the standard of writing, or their conversation as the invariable rule of speaking. With respect to custom, laws, and every thing that is changeable, the body of a people, who, in this respect, cannot but be free, will certainly assert their liberty, in making what innovations they judge to be expedient and useful. The general prevailing custom, whatever it happen to be, can be the only standard for the time that it prevails. (qtd. from Baugh and Cable 277)


 Priestley の言語観には,実に先進的で現代的な響きが感じられる.この言語観は,酸素を発見した化学者としての Priestley の名言の1つ「ひとつの発見をなしとげると,必ずそれまで考えつきもしなかった別の不完全な知識を得ることになる……」(すなわち,知識は常に発展する)とも共鳴しているように思われる.

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

Referrer (Inside): [2017-01-10-1] [2016-12-22-1]

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