Jonathan Swift & philosophical languages

When my freshman honors English class in high school tackled Gulliver's Travels, I recognized something my teacher did not:

Gulliver's Travels. Part III. A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan. Chapter V (extract) by Jonathan Swift

I knew what Swift was satirizing here, but the class persisted in its Pavlovian literary conditioning.

As it turns out, Swift was deeply engaged in the linguistic issues of his time. Here are some juicy references on the subject:

Bishop, Julie Alexandra. Language at Work in Jonathan Swift. PhD thesis, Dept. of English Literary and Linguistic Studies, University of Newcastle, December 1998.

Francus, Marilyn. The Converting Imagination: Linguistic Theory and Swift's Satiric Prose. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1994.

McKenny, John. "Swift's Prescience: a Polite Precursor of Corpus Linguistics," Journal of Language and Literature, Volume 2, Number 1, 2003.

Mulhall, Anne. "Gulliver’s Travels and the Language Debates of Swift’s Time," in Les voyages de Gulliver: Mondes lointains ou mondes proches, ed. Daniel Carey and François Boulaire (Caen: Presses universitaires de Caen, 2002), pp. 63-79.

And sure enough, Swift, Wilkins, and Borges are cited in connection with ars combinatoria:

Het combinatorisch perspektief op de wereld en de kunst (@ Institute of Artificial Art, Amsterdam)

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