[Milton-L] Word and Thing

Horace Jeffery Hodges horacejeffery at gmail.com
Thu Oct 10 19:07:20 EDT 2013


Thank you, Professor Fleming, for the information -- and for directions on
further study of this issue.

Jeffery Hodges

Ewha Womans University
Seoul, South Korea


Novella: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KW0K (*The Bottomless Bottle of Beer
*)


Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bottomless-Bottle-of-Beer/204064649770035
 (*The Bottomless Bottle of Beer*)

Blog: http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ (*Gypsy Scholar*)


Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
Texts"


Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University


Home Address:


Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
Sangbong-dong 1
Jungnang-gu
Seoul 131-771
South Korea


On Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 12:17 AM, JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca> wrote:

> The topic of 16th- and 17th-century language reform is complex but
> well-researched. On the larger European tradition, as flowing from the
> Lullian version of the art of memory, see Paolo Rossi, *Logic and the Art
> of Memory: The Quest for a Universal Language, *trans. Stephen
> Clucas (Chicago 2000). On the English Baconian tradition specifically, see
> Rhodri Lewis, *Language, Mind and Nature: Artificial Languages in England
> from Bacon to Locke (*Cambridge 2007). Several points: while the notion
> of recovering a non-arbitrary language of Adam, or identifying it with a
> surviving natural language (eg Chinese or Hebrew or a Native American
> tongue) was current in the period, including in England, it was not the
> main idea of the language reformers associated with the Royal Society,
> whose work culminates in John Wilkins's *Essay towards a real character*. Rather,
> working from Bacon, they assumed (actually on an Aristotelian basis) that
> the oral diversity of human languages expressed a commonality of human
> notions. If one could craft a sign system—arbitrary, but effective—to
> indicate these notions directly, one might thereby achieve a script that
> could be “read off” in any language. Arabic numerals and Chinese
> characters, both graphic scripts utterable in many different oral forms,
> suggested the plausibility of such a scheme.  Insofar as human notions
> were about things in the world, the Baconian script of notions would
> constitute a “real character” (from the Latin *res*): a language of
> things, not mere words. If based on a complete scientific taxonomy, a real
> character might be made “philosophical”: each of its terms constituting a
> scientific definition of a fact, while the structure of the
> language—orthography, syntax, and so on—expressed the interrelations
> between the facts.
>
> It is not accidental that some of the language reformers, notably, I
> believe, Dalgarno, also actively sought a theoretical semantics of minimal
> primitives: an account of language that is, in which only nouns (and maybe
> a few other elements) really count.
>
> There's a lot to think about here; but also a lot of books, from a lot of
> disciplines, to help. No need to wonder. JD Fleming
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *From: *"J. Michael Gillum" <mgillum at ret.unca.edu>
> *To: *"John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> *Sent: *Thursday, 10 October, 2013 07:09:34
>
> *Subject: *Re: [Milton-L] Word and Thing
>
> 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
> names"?
>
>
>
>
> 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
>>
>>
>> Novella: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KW0K (*The Bottomless Bottle of
>> Beer*)
>>
>>
>> Facebook:
>> https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bottomless-Bottle-of-Beer/204064649770035
>>  (*The Bottomless Bottle of Beer*)
>>
>> Blog: http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ (*Gypsy Scholar*)
>>
>>
>> Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
>> Texts"
>>
>>
>> Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
>> M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
>> B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
>>
>>
>> Home Address:
>>
>>
>> Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
>> Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
>> Sangbong-dong 1
>> Jungnang-gu
>> Seoul 131-771
>> South Korea
>>
>> _______________________________________________
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>>
>> Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
>>
>
>
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>
>
> --
> James Dougal Fleming
> Associate Professor
> Department of English
> Simon Fraser University
> 778-782-4713
>
> "Upstairs was a room for travelers. ‘You know, I shall take it for the
> rest of my life,’ Vasili Ivanovich is reported to have said as soon as he
> had entered it."
> -- Vladimir Nabokov, *Cloud, Castle, Lake*
>
>
>
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