[Milton-L] 'Myth' of "Unfallen" language
bcarlb at comcast.net
Sun Sep 30 19:48:31 EDT 2007
When describing language Milton sometimes refers to eloquence and music and
style, "various style." I love Harold Skulsky's the succinct description of
language: "a grammar coordinating a vocabulary with a meaning assignment,"
and I am trying to understand where eloquence, music, and style attach to
language, granted such an initial definition. Or do they attach at all?
I've always read the radiant description of A&E's language "...for neither
various style nor holy rapture wanted they... ... fit strains...
pronounced or sung... such prompt eloquence... more tuneable than needed
lute or harp..." and so forth, as a frank declaration on Milton's part of
the nature of unfallen language. But what has this to do with grammar and
And "Voice" seems centrally important to Milton. In L'Allegro Milton doesn't
tell us what the words are themselves but the power they carry springs in no
small part from this thing he names "the melting voice through mazes
What happens to the "meaning" of words when the voice pronouncing them is in
either the state or the process of "melting?"
Could it be that --in Milton's view, or anyone's-- the 'fallenness' of
language, on one hand, and the pure, primitive, upspringing, vitality of
language, on the other, adhere ['inhere?'] not to grammar, vocab,
assignment of meaning, but to something else?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Harold Skulsky" <hskulsky at email.smith.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 3:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] 'Myth' of "Unfallen" language
> "But what was Milton's view?"
> I take it that Milton, who was not only a gifted linguist but a better
> than middling logician, could tell the difference between a vacuous notion
> ("corrupt language" as opposed to "corrupt use of language") and am
> interesting fact about the human condition. If there's anything in his
> text that indicates otherwise, I'd be grateful to have a look at it.
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