[Milton-L] 'Myth' of "Unfallen" language

carl bellinger 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 
meaning assignment?

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 
running."

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?

-Carl

----- 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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