昨日の記事「#3400. 英語の中核語彙に借用語がどれだけ入り込んでいるか？」 ([2018-08-18-1]) で取り上げた Durkin の論文では，英語語彙史の実証的調査は，OED と HTOED という2大ツールを使ってですら大きな困難を伴うとして，方法論上の問題が論じられている．結論部 (405--06) に，諸問題が要領よくまとまっているので引用する．
One of the most striking and well-known features of lexical data is its extreme variability: as the familiar dictum has it 'chaque mot a son histoire', and accounting for the varied histories of individual words demands classificatory frameworks that are flexible, nonetheless consistent in their approach to similar items. Awareness is perhaps less widespread that the data about word histories presented in historical dictionaries and other resources are rarely 'set in stone': sometimes certain details of a word's history, for instance the details of a coinage, may leave little or no room for doubt, but more typically what is reported in historical dictionaries is based on analysis of the evidence available at time of publication of the dictionary entry, and may well be subject to review if and when further evidence comes to light. First dates of attestation are particularly subject to change, as new evidence becomes available, and as the dating of existing evidence is reconsidered. In particular, the increased availability of electronic text databases in recent years has swollen the flow of new data to a torrent. The increased availability of data should also not blind us to the fact that the earliest attestation locatable in the surviving written texts may well be significantly later than the actual date of first use, and (especially for periods, varieties, or registers for which written evidence is more scarce) may actually lag behind the date at which a word or meaning had already become well established within particular communities of speakers. Additionally, considering the complexities of dating material from the Middle English period . . . highlights the extent to which there may often be genuine uncertainty about the best date to assign to the evidence that we do have, which dictionaries endeavour to convey to their readers by the citation styles adopted. Issues of this sort are grist to the mill of anyone specializing in the history of the lexicon: they mean that the task of drawing broad conclusions about lexical history involves wrestling with a great deal of messy data, but the messiness of the data in itself tells us important things both about the nature of the lexicon and about our limited ability to reconstruct earlier stages of lexical history.
語源情報は常に流動的であること，初出年は常に更新にさらされていること，初出年代は口語などにおける真の初使用年代よりも遅れている可能性があること，典拠となっている文献の成立年代も変わり得ること等々．ここに指摘されている証拠 (evidence) を巡る方法論上の諸問題は，英語語彙史ならずとも一般に文献学の研究を行なう際に常に意識しておくべきものばかりである．OED3 の編者の1人である Durkin が，辞書は（OED ですら！）研究上の万能なツールではあり得ないと説いていることの意義は大きい．
・ Durkin, Philip. "The OED and HTOED as Tools in Practical Research: A Test Case Examining the Impact of Loanwords in Areas of the Core Lexicon." The Cambridge Handbook of English Historical Linguistics. Ed. Merja Kytö and Päivi Pahta. Cambridge: CUP, 2016. 390--407.
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