#5284. 単数の we --- royal we, authorial we, editorial we[personal_pronoun][pronoun][singular_they]


 昨今,英文法では「単数の they」 (singular_they) が話題に上ることが多いが,「単数の we」については聞いたことがあるだろうか.伝統的な英文法で "royal we", "authorial we", "editorial we" などとして知られてきた用法である.
 OED, we, pron., n., adj. の I.2 に関係する2つの語義と例文が記されている.いずれも古英語から確認される(と議論しうる)古い用法である.最初期の数例とともに引用する.

I.2. Used by a single person to denote himself or herself.

I.2.a. Used by a sovereign or ruler. Frequently defined by the name or title added.
The apparent Old English instances of this use are uncertain, and may rather show an inclusive plural use of the pronoun; see further B. Mitchell Old Eng. Syntax (1985) §252.

OE Witodlice we beorgað þinre ylde, gehyrsuma urum bebodum & geoffra þam undeadlicum godum. (Ælfric, Catholic Homilies: 1st Series (Royal MS.) (1997) xxix. 420)
OE Beowulf maþelode..: 'We þæt ellenweorc estum miclum, feohtan fremedon.' (Beowulf (2008) 958)
1258 We hoaten all vre treowe in þe treowþe þet heo vs oȝen þet heo stedefesteliche healden and swerien. (Proclam. Henry III (Bodleian MS.) in Transactions of Philological Society 1880-1 (1883) *173 (Middle English Dictionary))
. . . .

I.2.b. Used by a speaker or writer, in order to secure an impersonal style and tone, or to avoid the obtrusive repetition of 'I'.
N.E.D. (1926) states: 'Regularly so used in editorial and unsigned articles in newspapers and other periodicals, where the writer is understood to be supported in his opinions and statements by the editorial staff collectively.' This practice has become less usual during the 20th cent. and is limited to self-conscious and humorous contexts.

eOE Nu hæbbe we scortlice gesæd ymbe Asia londgemæro. (translation of Orosius, History (British Library MS. Add.) (1980) i. i. 12)
OE We mihton þas halgan rædinge menigfealdlicor trahtnian. (Ælfric, Catholic Homilies: 1st Series (Royal MS.) (1997) xxxvi. 495)
?a1160 Nu we willen sægen sum del wat belamp on Stephnes kinges time. (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Laud MS.) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1137)

 we の指示対象は何か,あるいは含意対象は何か,という問題になってくるだろう.この点では昨日の記事「#5283. we の総称的用法は古英語から」 ([2023-10-14-1]) で取り上げた we の用法に関する問題にもつながってくる.
 今回取り上げた we の単数用法については,「#1126. ヨーロッパの主要言語における T/V distinction の起源」 ([2012-05-27-1]),「#3468. 人称とは何か? (2)」 ([2018-10-25-1]),「#3480. 人称とは何か? (3)」 ([2018-11-06-1]) でも少し触れているので参考まで.

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