#5412. 原初の言語は複雑だったのか,単純だったのか?[origin_of_language][language_change][evolution][history_of_linguistics][language_myth][sobokunagimon][simplification][homo_sapiens]


 言語学史のハンドブックを読んでいる.Mufwene の言語の起源・進化に関する章では,これまでに提案されてきた様々な言語起源・進化論が紹介されており,一読の価値がある.
 真の答えは分からない.いずれの立場についても論者がいる.例えば,前者を採る Jespersen と,後者の論客 Bickerton は好対照をなす.Mufwene (31) の解説を引用しよう.

His [= Jespersen's] conclusion is that the initial language must have had forms that were more complex and non-analytic; modern languages reflect evolution toward perfection which must presumably be found in languages without inflections and tones. It is not clear what Jespersen's position on derivational morphology is. In any case, his views are at odds with Bickerton's . . . hypothesis that the protolanguage, which allegedly emerged by the late Homo erectus, was much simpler and had minimal syntax, if any. While Bickerton sees in pidgins fossils of that protolanguage and in creoles the earliest forms of complex grammar that could putatively evolve from them, Jespersen would perhaps see in them the ultimate stage of the evolution of language to date. Many of us today find it difficult to side with one or the other position.

 両陣営ともに独自の前提に基づいており,その前提がそもそも正しいのかどうかを確認する手段がないので,議論は平行線をたどらざるを得ない.また,言語の複雑性と単純性とは何かという別の難題も立ちはだかる.最後の問題については「#1839. 言語の単純化とは何か」 ([2014-05-10-1]),「#4165. 言語の複雑さについて再考」 ([2020-09-21-1]) などを参照.

 ・ Mufwene, Salikoko S. "The Origins and the Evolution of Language." Chapter 1 of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics. Ed. Keith Allan. Oxford: OUP, 2013. 13--52.

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