Myth of "Unfallen" language Re: [Milton-L] swerving ...delayed

James Rovira jamesrovira at
Sat Sep 29 18:58:38 EDT 2007

I think the point is that within Milton's theology, all language is
postlapsarian.  There's no identifying distinguishing characteristics
because unfallen language doesn't exist, except perhaps in Paul's "If
I speak with the tongue of men or of angels..."--but even then, part
of the point is that the tongue of angels is humanly unintelligible.
The ubiquitous fallenness of human language seems like a quaint
theological dictum now, but I think it has significantly shaped
western/Protestant attitudes to the present day, through Adorno's
Negative Dialectics to Derrida.

By the way, the two languages that have a Tower of Babel story--Hebrew
and Sumerian--have also affirmed in their literature (respectively)
that, of course, Hebrew or Sumerian are the original, unfallen

Jim R

On 9/29/07, Carrol Cox <cbcox at> wrote:
> Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:
> >
> >
> > Of course, Milton himself is writing in a postlapsarian language,
> No, Milton is writing in 17th-c. English, and the many critics who speak
> of "fallen" and "unfallen" language have never demonstrated any verbal
> signs by which one could distinguish these two "languages" from each
> other or from 17th-c English.
> Carrol

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