昨日の記事 ([2020-01-29-1]) に引き続き，なぜギリシアとローマが，それ以前の地中海世界で普通に行なわれていた分かち書き (distinctiones) を捨て，代わりに続け書き (scriptura continua) を作用したかという問題について．
Saenger によれば，この問題に迫るには，読むという行為に対する現代的な発想を脇に置き，古代の読書習慣とその社会的文脈を理解する必要があるという．端的にいえば，現代人はみな黙読や速読に慣れており，何よりも「読みやすさ」を重視するが，古代ギリシアやローマの限られた人口の読み手にとって，読む行為とは口頭の音読のことであり，現代的な「読みやすさ」を追求する姿勢はなかったのだという．以下，Saenger の解説を聞いてみよう (11--12) ．
. . . the ancient world did not possess the desire, characteristic of the modern age, to make reading easier and swifter because the advantages that modern readers perceive as accruing from ease of reading were seldom viewed as advantages by the ancients. These include the effective retrieval of information in reference consultation, the ability to read with minimum difficulty a great many technical logical, and scientific texts, and the greater diffusion of literacy throughout all social strata of the population. We know that the reading habits of the ancient world, which were profoundly oral and rhetorical by physiological necessity as well as by taste, were focused on a limited and intensely scrutinized canon of literature. Because those who read relished the mellifluous metrical and accentual patterns of pronounced text and were not interested in the swift intrusive consultation of books, the absence of interword space in Greek and Latin was not perceived to be an impediment to effective reading, as it would be to the modern reader, who strives to read swiftly. Moreover, oralization, which the ancients savored aesthetically, provided mnemonic compensation (through enhanced short-term aural recall) for the difficulty in gaining access to the meaning of unseparated text. Long-term memory of texts frequently read aloud also compensated for the inherent graphic and grammatical ambiguities of the languages of late antiquity.
Finally, the notion that the greater portion of the population should be autonomous and self-motivated readers was entirely foreign to the elitist literate mentality of the ancient world. For the literate, the reaction to the difficulties of lexical access arising from scriptura continua did not spark the desire to make script easier to decipher, but resulted instead in the delegation of much of the labor of reading and writing to skilled slaves, who acted as professional readers and scribes. It is in the context of a society with an abundant supply of cheap, intellectually skilled labor that ancient attitudes toward reading must be comprehended and the ready and pervasive acceptance of the suppression of word separation throughout the Roman Empire understood.
引用の最後に示唆されているように，古代人は続け書きにシフトすることで，読みにくさをあえて高めようとした，という言い方さえできるのかもしれない．この観点は，中世後期に再び分かち書きへと回帰していく過程を理解する上でも示唆的である．関連して「#1903. 分かち書きの歴史」 ([2014-07-13-1]) も参照．
・ Saenger, P. Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1997.
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