[Milton-L] Word and Thing

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Thu Oct 10 19:32:20 EDT 2013


Check Book III of Gulliver's Travels.

Carrol

-----Original Message-----
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Horace Jeffery
Hodges
Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2013 6:07 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Word and Thing

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-milt
ons.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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	-- 
	
	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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