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June 27, 2007

第219話 溶け込む日本語

 日本語は一説によると世界の言語の中で最も語彙数が多いそうだ。欧米系の言語で比較的語彙が多いといわれるフランス語の倍以上あるそうだ。確かに「雲」ひとつとってみても、すじ雲、イワシ雲、羊雲、雷雲など状況で細かく使い分けている。

 私は言語学者ではないので、定かなことはわからないが、フィリピン中部のビサヤ語はオリジナルの語彙が少ないのではないかと感じることが多い。なぜかといえば彼らの会話の中に英単語が相当混ざっているからだ。特に抽象語や概念語は英語になっていることが多い。“反省”といえばreflectionというが、元々反省することも稀だからそのような言葉もなかったのだろう。

 そんな彼らの中でも会社では日本語もかなり幅を利かせてきていた。日系企業だから当然といえば当然だが、ある言葉を使えば相当広い意味で捉えることが出来る便利な概念語が日本語には多い。“カイゼン”などは最早国際語だが、アカジ、オセジ、変わったものではトウジシャイシキなど彼らにとっても便利な語彙のようだ。

 際どい話をするときに便利だからだろうが、中には隠語代わりに日本語を取り入れようとする輩もいて、こういうときは日本語でどう言うのだ、とよく聞かれたものだ。フィリピン人は言葉の記憶力は秀でている。“ヘソクリ”とか“ウワキ”とか“コイビト”とか、なかなか器用に使いこなしていた。

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