東京外国語大学 2003 大問Ⅰ

   The benefits which would flow from the existence of a global language are considerable, but some commentators have pointed to possible risks. Perhaps a global language will hasten the disappearance of minority languages, or ― the ultimate threat ― make all other languages unnecessary. That would of course place at risk those minorities who speak them.


   Will the emergence of a global language hasten the disappearance of minority languages and cause widespread language death? To answer this question, we must first establish a general perspective. The process of language conquest and loss has been known throughout language history, and exists independently of the emergence of a global language. No one knows how many languages have died since humans became able to speak, but there must be thousands. In many of these cases, the death has been caused by an ethnic group coming to be absorbed within a more dominant society, and adopting its language along with its other social practices. The situation continues today, though the matter is being discussed with increasing urgency because of the unprecedented rate at which native languages are being lost, especially in North America, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and parts of Africa. Some estimates suggest that perhaps 80 per cent of the world's 6, 000 or so living languages will die out within the next century.


   The emergence of any one language as global, however, has little to do with this unhappy state of affairs. Recently, the emergence of English as a truly global language has, if anything, had the reverse effect ― stimulating a stronger response in support of a local language than might otherwise have been the case. Movements for language rights, alongside civil rights in general, have played an important role in several countries: the Maori language in New Zealand, the aboriginal languages of Australia, the Native American languages of Canada and the USA, and some of the Celtic languages. Although often too late, in certain instances the decline of a language has been slowed, and occasionally halted.


   The existence of vigorous movements in support of language minorities, commonly associated with nationalism, illustrates an important truth about the nature of language in general. The need for mutual understanding, which is part of the argument in favor of a global language, is only one side of the story. The other side is the need for identity, and people tend to underestimate the role of identity when they express anxieties about language injury and death. Language is a major means of showing where we belong, and of distinguishing one social group from another.


   Arguments about the need for national or cultural identity are often seen as being opposed to those about the need for mutual understanding. But this is misleading. It is perfectly possible to develop a situation in which understanding and identity happily co-exist. This situation is the familiar one of bilingualism, but it is a bilingualism where one of the speaker's two languages is a global language, providing access to the world community. The two functions can be seen as complementary, responding to different needs. And it is because the functions are so different that a world of language variety can continue to exist in a world united by a common language.


   None of this is to deny that the development of a global language can influence the structure and most assuredly the vocabulary of other languages.  A global language provides, for example, a fresh source of borrowed words for use by these other languages. Such influences can be welcomed, in which case, people talk about their language being "varied" or "enriched," or opposed, in which case, the metaphors are those of "injury" or "death." For example, in recent years, one of the healthiest languages, French, has tried to protect itself by law against what is widely perceived to be the malignant influence of English. In official contexts, it is now illegal to use an English word where a French word already exists, even though the usage may have widespread popular support: computer for ordinateur. Patriotic speakers from several other countries have also expressed concern with the way in which English vocabulary, especially that of American English, has come to be used on their streets and on their TV programs.


   The arguments are carried on with great emotional force. Even though only a tiny part of the vocabulary is ever affected in this way, that is enough to arouse the anger of the patriotic speakers. They often forget that English itself, over the centuries, has borrowed thousands of words from other languages, and constructed thousands more from the elements of other languages ― including computer, incidentally, which derives from Latin, the mother language of French. Few languages are as "pure" or uncorrupted by foreign words as their defenders believe.











 (とはいえ,)このことは,地球語の発達が,他の言語の構造と,最も確実には他言語の語いに影響を及ぼしうるということを否定するものではない。地球語はたとえば,これら他言語が使用するための新たな借用語源を供給してくれる。そのような影響は歓迎されることもあり,その場合,人々は自分たちの言語が「変化した」とか「豊かになった」ことについて語る,またあるいは,そのような影響は反対されることもあり,その場合は,使用される隠喩は「損傷」とか「死」といったものになる。たとえば,近年では最も健全な言語の1つであるフランス語は,英語の有害な影響と広く認められているものから自らを法律によって守ろうとしてきた。公式の文書の中では,フランス語がすでに存在しているものに英単語を使用することは,現在は違法である。たとえその用法が広く一般の支持を得ているとしても(たとえば, ordinateurという語があるのにcomputerを使用するというように)。他の数力国の愛国的話者もまた,英語の語い,特にアメリカ英語の語いが自国の街やテレビ番組で使われるようになった事態に懸念を表明してきた。

 この議論を続行させるのは,感情に基づいた大きな力である。このようにして影響を受けるのは,語いのほんの一部でしかないものの,愛国的な話し手の怒りを喚起するには十分である。彼らはしばしば,英語そのものも,何世紀にもわたって他の言語から幾千もの単語を借用し,他の言語の要素からは, computerを含むさらに何千もの語を組み立ててきたことを忘れている。ついでながら, computerという語はフランス語の母体語であるラテン語に由来している。擁護論者たちが思いこんでいるほど「純粋」であったり,外国語によって乱れたりしていない言語はほとんどないのである。