#3021. 帝国主義の申し子としての比較言語学 (2)[history_of_linguistics][comparative_linguistics]


 昨日の記事 ([2017-08-03-1]) で,帝国主義と比較言語学の蜜月関係について触れたが,このことは,世界的ベストセラーとなった Yuval Noah Harari による Sapiens (邦題『サピエンス全史』)でも触れられている.比較言語学の嚆矢となった William Jones の功績は,そのまま帝国主義のエネルギーとなったという論である.Harari (335--36) の議論に耳を傾けよう.

   Linguistics received enthusiastic imperial support. The European empires believed that in order to govern effectively they must know the languages and cultures of their subjects. British officers arriving in India were supposed to spend up to three years in a Calcutta college, where they studied Hindu and Muslim law alongside English law; Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian alongside Greek and Latin; and Tamil, Bengali and Hindustani culture alongside mathematics, economics and geography. The study of linguistics provided invaluable help in understanding the structure and grammar of local languages.
   Thanks to the work of people like William Jones and Henry Rawlinson, the European conquerors knew their empires very well. Far better, indeed, than any previous conquerors, or even than the native population itself. Their superior knowledge had obvious practical advantages. Without such knowledge, it is unlikely that a ridiculously small number of Britons could have succeeded in governing, oppressing and exploiting so many hundreds of millions of Indians for two centuries. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, fewer than 5,000 British officials, about 40,000--70,000 British soldiers, and perhaps another 100,000 British business people, hangers-on, wives and children were sufficient to conquer and rule up to 300 million Indians.

 この論によると,ある側面からみると William Jones は帝国主義的な学者であり,比較言語学も帝国主義的な学問分野であるということになる.
 上の文章は "The Marriage of Science and Empire" と題される15章から引いたものである.実のところ著者は(比較)言語学だけを取り上げて帝国主義の申し子とみなしているわけではなく,植物学,地理学,歴史学など当時の「科学」,すなわち諸学問が全体として帝国主義を支えたのだと論じている.言語学もそうした諸学問の1つだったという趣旨である.近代言語学をみる重要な視点だろう.

 ・ Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. 2011. London: Harvill Secker, 2014.

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