#3088. アメリカ英語の一様性に関する18--19世紀のコメント[ame][witherspoon]


 「#591. アメリカ英語が一様である理由」 ([2010-12-09-1]),「#2784. なぜアメリカでは英語が唯一の主たる言語となったのか?」 ([2016-12-10-1]) でアメリカ英語の一様性について論じたが,このアメリカ英語の特徴については,早くも18世紀後半から気づかれており,さらに19世紀には何度も言及されている.Baugh and Cable (347) に,それらの言及が引用されているので,ここで紹介しよう.
 まず,1781年にスコットランド出身でプリンストン大学の学長 John Witherspoon は,イギリス人と比較してのアメリカ人の mobility に言い及び,次のように述べている(Witherspoon については「#2802. John Witherspoon --- Americanism の生みの親」 ([2016-12-28-1]) も参照).

[B]eing much more unsettled, and moving frequently from place to place, they are not so liable to local peculiarities either in accent or phraseology.

 次に,1822--23年にアメリカを旅行したイングランド人 Isaac Candler は,次のように書いた.アメリカでは,広く「標準的な」英語が話されているという所感である.

The United States having been peopled from different parts of England and Ireland, the peculiarities of the various districts have in a great measure ceased. As far as pronunciation is concerned, the mass of people speak better English, than the mass of people in England. This I know will startle some, but its correctness will become manifest when I state, that in no part, except in those occupied by the descendants of the Dutch and German settlers, is any unintelligible jargon in vogue. We hear nothing so bad in America as the Suffolk whine, the Yorkshire clipping, or the Newcastle guttural. We never hear the letter H aspirated improperly, nor omitted to be aspirated where propriety requires it. The common pronunciation approximates to that of the well educated class of London and its vicinity.

 1828年には,アメリカ人 James Fenimore Cooper も同趣旨のことを述べている.

If the people of this country were like the people of any other country on earth, we should be speaking at this moment a great variety of nearly unintelligible patois; but, in point of fact, the people of the United States, with the exception of a few of German and French descent, speak, as a body, an incomparably better English than the people of the mother country. There is not, probably, a man (of English descent) born in this country, who would not be perfectly intelligible to all whom he should meet in the streets of London, though a vast number of those he met in the streets of London would be nearly unintelligible to him. In fine, we speak our language, as a nation, better than any other people speak their language. When one reflects on the immense surface of country that we occupy, the general accuracy, in pronunciation and in the use of words, is quite astonishing. This resemblance in speech can only be ascribed to the great diffusion of intelligence, and to the inexhaustible activity of the population, which, in a manner, destroys space.

 引用の最後で Cooper は,アメリカ英語の一様性の原因として知の伝播と人々の移動力を挙げている.Cooper のコメントには愛国主義的な響きも感じられるが,いずれにせよアメリカ英語の一様性が19世紀までに広く認識されるようになっていたことは確かなようだ.

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

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