[Milton-L] Word and Thing

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Thu Oct 10 10:09:34 EDT 2013

I had thought what Sprat and those guys wanted was only one word for each
kind of thing (or matter, action, property, process)--a scientific
vocabulary free of ambiguity and literary ornament. I don't think it had
any connection with the idea of an Adamic language of essences--not that
words can be intrinsically right, just that each word should have one clear
agreed-upon meaning.

A sidebar--does anyone know what the Confucians meant by "rectification of

On Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 4:16 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <
horacejeffery at gmail.com> wrote:

> Prof. Martin Kuester sent me a copy of his book Milton's Prudent
> Ambiguities, which I read and briefly blogged upon:
> http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.kr/2013/10/professor-dr-martin-kuester-miltons.html
> Reading it led me to an expression of something that has puzzled me:
> I am especially interested in . . . what the seventeenth-century reformers
> of language meant by a direct correspondence between word and thing. (I
> note in passing that the Hebrew term *davar* means both "word" and
> "thing.") By "thing," did they mean something like a material object? Or
> rather anything at all? Whatever was meant, would the word for a thing be a
> name, i.e., a noun? I find this puzzling. While nouns *might* constitute
> the largest category among the parts of speech, they are a minority in most
> sentences. The previous sentence, for example, has only six nouns out of
> nineteen words -- and none of them, for that matter, naming material
> objects. Furthermore, words in a sentence have logical and grammatical
> relations to each other, a feature ignored by the reformers' emphasis upon
> the word-thing correspondence.
> I ask these questions in ignorance . . .
> Jeffery Hodges
> PS Prof. Kuester's book is available at Amazon:
> http://www.amazon.com/Miltons-Prudent-Ambiguities-Words-Poetry/dp/0761845283
> Ewha Womans University
> Seoul, South Korea
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> Blog: http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ (*Gypsy Scholar*)
> Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
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