#3391. Johnson にも悩ましかった i/j, u/v の「四つ文字」問題[johnson][alphabet][u][v][j][grapheme]


 「#3049. 近代英語期でもアルファベットはまだ26文字ではなかった?」 ([2017-09-01-1]) で紹介したように,1755年に影響力のある辞書を世に送った Samuel Johnson (1709--84) は,アルファベットの文字数は理屈の上で26文字としながらも,実際の辞書の配列においては i/j, u/v の各々を一緒くたにする伝統に従った.I, V の見出しのもとに,それぞれ次のような説明書きがある.Crystal の抜粋版より引用する.

is in English considered both as a vowel and consonant; though, since the vowel and consonant differ in their form as well as sound, they may be more properly accounted two letters.
   I vowel has a long sound, as fine, thine, which is usually marked by an e final; and a short sound, as fin, thin. Prefixed to e it makes a diphthong of the same sound with the soft i, or double e: thus field, yield, are spoken as feeld, yeeld; except friend, which is spoken frend. Subjoined to a or e it makes them long, as fail, neight; and to o makes a mingled sound, which approaches more nearly to the true notion of a diphthong, or sound composed of the sounds of two vowels, than any other combination of vowels in the English language, as oil, coin. The sound of i before another i, and at the end of a word, is always expressed by y.
   J consonant has invariably the same sound with that of g in giant; as jade, jet, jilt, jolt, just.

Has two powers, expressed in modern English by two characters, V consonant and U vowel, which ought to be considered as two letters; but they were long confounded while the two uses were annexed to one form, the old custom still continues to be followed.
   U, the vowel, has two sounds; one clear, expressed at other times by eu, as obtuse; the other close, and approaching to the Italian u, or English oo, as obtund.
   V, the consonant, has a sound nearly approaching to those of b and f. With b it is by the Spaniards and Gascons always confounded, and in the Runick alphabet is expressed by the same character with f, distinguished only by a diacritical point. Its sound in English is uniform. It is never mute.

 各文字の典型的な音価や用法がわりと丁寧に記述されているのがわかる.ここでも明言されているように,Johnson はやはり ij, uv は明確に区別されるべき文字とみなしている.それでも,これまでの慣用に従わざるを得ないという立場をもにじませている.この辺りに,理屈と慣用の狭間に揺れるこの時代特有の精神がよく表わされているように思われる.
 この「四つ仮名」ならぬアルファベットの「四つ文字」の問題の歴史的背景については,「#373. <u> と <v> の分化 (1)」 ([2010-05-05-1]),「#374. <u> と <v> の分化 (2)」 ([2010-05-06-1]),「#1650. 文字素としての j の独立」 ([2013-11-02-1]),「#2415. 急進的表音主義の綴字改革者 John Hart による重要な提案」 ([2015-12-07-1]) を参照されたい.

 ・ Johnson, Samuel. A Dictionary of the English Language: An Anthology. Selected, Edited and with an Introduction by David Crystal. London: Penguin, 2005.

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