連日，黒死病 (black_death) の話題を取りあげている．昨日の記事「#3054. 黒死病による社会の流動化と諸方言の水平化」 ([2017-09-06-1]) では Gooden の英語史読本を参照したが，黒死病を手厚く扱っているもう1つのポピュラーな英語史読本として，Bragg (60--61) を挙げよう．黒死病の英語史における意義に関して特に目新しことを述べているわけではないが，さすがに読ませる書き方ではある．
In 1348 Rattus rattus, the Latin-named black rodent, was the devil in the bestiary. These black rats deserted a ship from the continent which had docked near Weymouth. They carried a deadly cargo, a term that modern science calls Pasteurella pestis, that the fourteenth century named the Great Pestilence and that we know as the Black Death.
The worst plague arrived in these islands, and much, including the language, would be change radically.
The infected rats scaled out east and then north. They sought out human habitations, building nests in the floors, climbing the wattle and daub walls, shedding the infected fleas that fed on their blood and transmitted bubonic plague. It has been estimated that up to one-third of England's population of four million died. Many others were debilitated for life. In some places entire communities were wiped out. In Ashwell in Hertfordshire, for instance, in the bell tower of the church, some despairing soul, perhaps the parish priest, scratched a short poignant chronicle on the wall in poor Latin. "The first pestilence was in 1350 minus one . . . 1350 was pitiless, wild, violent, only the dregs of the people live to tell the tale."
The dregs are where our story of English moves on. These dregs were the English peasantry who had survived. Though the Black Death was a catastrophe, it set in train a series of social upheavals which would speed the English language along the road to full restoration as the recognised language of the natives. The dregs carried English through the openings made by the Black Death.
The Black Death killed a disproportionate number of the clergy, thus reducing the grip of Latin all over the land. Where people lived communally as the clergy did in monasteries and other religious orders, the incidence of infection and death could be devastatingly high. At a local level, a number of parish priests caught the plague from tending their parishioners; a number ran away. As a result the Latin-speaking clergy was much reduced, in some parts of the country by almost a half. Many of their replacements were laymen, sometimes barely literate, whose only language was English.
More importantly, the Black Death changed society at its roots --- the very place where English was most tenacious, where it was still evolving, where it roosted.
In many parts of the country there was hardly anyone left to work the land or tend the livestock. The acute shortage of labour meant that for the first time those who did the basic work had a lever, had some power to break from their feudal past and demand better conditions and higher wages. The administration put out lengthy and severe notices forbidding labourers to try for wage increases, attempting to force them to keep to pre-plague wages and demands, determined to stifle these uneasy, unruly rumblings. They failed. Wages rose. The price of property fell. Many peasants, artisans, or what might be called working-class people discovered plague-emptied farms and superior houses, which they occupied.
引用中に，聖職者が特にペストの餌食となったことにより，イングランド社会におけるラテン語の影響力が減じたとある．含意として，相対的に大多数の人々の母語である英語が影響力を増したと読める．しかし，聖職者がとりわけ被害を受けたというのが本当なのかどうかについては論争があり，真実は必ずしも明らかにされていない．とはいえ，「聖職者というのは，埋葬に立ち会い，終油の秘蹟をさずけ，あるいは救助活動に身を捧げたりで，患者や死者との接触度が一般人よりもはるかに大きく，それだけ危険度も高かった」（村上，p. 131）というのは，理に適っているように思われる．なお，聖職者は教育者でもあったことも付け加えておこう (cf. 「#1206. 中世イングランドにおける英語による教育の始まり」 ([2012-08-15-1])) ．
・ Bragg, Melvyn. The Adventure of English. New York: Arcade, 2003.
・ 村上 陽一郎 『ペスト大流行 --- ヨーロッパ中世の崩壊 ---』 岩波書店〈岩波新書〉，1983年．
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