#3963. 「英語は時間とともに古英語から現代英語へ変化した」とは何がどう変化したことなのか?[language_change][meme]


 Ritt (37--38) は,物議を醸しかねない "selfish sounds" の言語観に基づいて,言語変化を次のように解説している.非常に丁寧な解説ではある.

What is usually called 'Old English' represents a heterogeneous (yet most probably inherently ordered) pool of competences 'in' Old English. These competences will each have been different from one another, but will have shared a sufficient number of properties for making communication among 'Old English' speakers possible. 'Present Day English' represents another pool of competences, once again heterogeneous in an orderly way. Importantly, the mix of competence properties that characterises the pool constituting 'Present Day English' differs considerably from the mix of properties that characterises the 'Old English' competence pool. Some properties that can be found in one pool are absent in the other, and of those which are present in both some will be distributed differently. We assume that these differences are due to 'language change'. This implies that some causal link can be established between the 'Old English' competence pool on the one hand and the 'Present Day English' pool on the other. Most probably, such a link is established via behavioural and textual manifestations of language, as well as by competences of 'intermediate' stages of English. It is supposed that temporally later competences assume their characteristic properties by interpreting the textual output produced on the basis of earlier competences. Linguistic change happens because later competences do not always appear to assume quite the same properties as earlier competences. Thereby, the mix of properties that characterises the competence pool of a speech community is continually altered --- albeit only slightly --- as one new competence after the other assumes first its adult, and ultimately its final state. At the same time earlier competences are continually removed from the pool as the speakers who host them die. Over time, these processes may amount to such differences as those which distinguish 'Present Day English' from 'Old English'. This, then, is what we refer to when we say that 'Old English' has become, or changed into 'Present Day English'.

 Ritt は「言語能力素の一溜まりが宿主である話者に寄生している」という言語観をもっている.ここから,言語変化についても独特な見方をもつに至った.言語項を "meme" に見立てる Neo-Darwinian 的な言語観については,以下の記事も参考にされたい.

 ・ 「#1402. 英語が千年間,母音を強化し子音を弱化してきた理由」 ([2013-02-27-1])
 ・ 「#1403. drift を合理的に説明する Ritt の試み」 ([2013-02-28-1])
 ・ 「#3215. ドーキンスと言語変化論 (1)」 ([2018-02-14-1])
 ・ 「#3216. ドーキンスと言語変化論 (2)」 ([2018-02-15-1])
 ・ 「#3217. ドーキンスと言語変化論 (3)」 ([2018-02-16-1])

 ・ Ritt, Nikolaus. Selfish Sounds and Linguistic Evolution: A Darwinian Approach to Language Change. Cambridge: CUP, 2004.

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