Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 24

Language and Literature

http://lal.sagepub.com/

The language of felt experience: emotional, evaluative and intuitive


William Downes
Language and Literature 2000 9: 99
DOI: 10.1177/096394700000900201

The online version of this article can be found at:


http://lal.sagepub.com/content/9/2/99

Published by:

http://www.sagepublications.com

On behalf of:
Poetics and Linguistics Association

Additional services and information for Language and Literature can be found at:

Email Alerts: http://lal.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts

Subscriptions: http://lal.sagepub.com/subscriptions

Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav

Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav

Citations: http://lal.sagepub.com/content/9/2/99.refs.html

>> Version of Record - May 1, 2000

What is This?

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 99

A RT I C L E
The language of felt experience: emotional,
evaluative and intuitive
William Downes, University of East Anglia, UK

Abstract

The problem analysed is how the phenomenology of feelings is linguistically expressed


as opposed to simply reported. Three kinds of felt experience are distinguished:
emotion and evaluation, which are classed as affect, and intuition, which is the
compulsive sense of a non-propositional meaning. It is argued that these are extra-
linguistic semiotic or cognitive systems. Emotions are construals of bodily arousal;
evaluations are construals of experiences on scales from positive to negative; and
intuitions are construals of properties of language itself. These are said to be socio-
historical. Higher level discourse and lexical resources for expressing affect are
presented. Then, drawing from Halliday, Labov, Martin and Lemke, it is suggested that
felt experiences are expressed iconically, but either concretely or abstractly. The
iconicity is on the dimensions of intensity and prosody, and also intertwines different
types of experience. Any linguistic feature that can express this iconicity can be
deployed; for example, gradability. Five classes of linguistic realization are discussed.
These are exemplified through the analysis of a passage of religious writing, Julian of
Norwichs Showings. The importance of analysing texts as linguistic expressions of
complex felt experiences is suggested.

Keywords: affect; emotion; evaluation; felt experience; intuition; Julian of Norwich;


phenomenology of feeling; religious writing; semiotics of emotion

1 Language and experience

How do felt experiences relate to language? For me, this problem has arisen in the
study of religious language. In section 4, I will discuss examples drawn from
Julian of Norwichs Showings, a late 14th or early 15th century mystical and
theological work of great religious depth (Jantzen, 1987). It is the first book that
we know of written in English by a woman. The texts are reproduced in the
Appendices. I shall examine two short passages from Chapters 4 and 54 of the
authoritative modernization by Colledge and Walsh (1978b), Appendices I (b) and
II (b). Middle English versions of the same passages edited and collated from
extant manuscript sources by Colledge and Walsh (1978a) are included for
comparison, Appendices I (a) and II (a).
It is commonly agreed that language has an ideational function which
represents the speakers experience, including inner mental experience (Halliday,
1994: 1067; Jakobson, 1960: 363). There is a representational stance towards
experiences which analyses them as abstracted and encoded by language in
propositional, truth conditional terms. That is, language represents experiences as

Language and Literature Copyright 2000 SAGE Publications


(London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi), Vol 9(2): 99121
[09639470 (200005) 9:2; 99121; 012469]
Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014
Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 100

100 WILLIAM DOWNES

thoughts. Certainly, the phenomenological experience of the objective only


becomes available through representation.
Take emotion as an example. One might say that the ideational function of
language gives us the lexical and grammatical resources for representing emotion
in mental and behavioural processes (Halliday, 1994: 1067); for example, I feel
jealous or Nature amazes me. These categorize the experience in the way
mentioned earlier. But surely such statements do not adequately express the felt
reality of jealousy or amazement as they appear to consciousness?
The standard treatment is to postulate a speaker-intrusion function. There are
two aspects of meaning: the representation and the attitude to it. Thus, in
relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1995: 1803, 24654), the process that
leads to the inference of a propositional form also leads to an assumption schema
expressing an attitude to it: epistemic attitudes such as belief, motivations such as
desires, speech act attitudes or a wider range in the cases of echoic and ironic
utterances. There are clues to these provided by such linguistic categories as
mood, which serve as input to inferences.
Halliday (1994) grants equal status to the interpersonal function. But his
interpersonal function is mainly concerned with actions as the expression of roles
in verbal exchanges and the attitudes of polarity, yes and no, and modality, the
area between yes and no. These are attitudes to propositions, about
information, and proposals, about goods and services. In practice, Hallidays
interpersonal only represents a narrow range of speaker attitudes to propositions
and proposals. As we shall see, other linguists in this tradition, Lemke (1992,
1998) and Martin (1992, 2000) have gone further towards classifying a much
fuller range of speaker attitudes and how they are realized (see Martin, 1992:
5336 and references). Jakobsons (1960: 354) functionalism also recognizes the
so-called EMOTIVE or expressive function, which focused on the
ADDRESSER, aims a direct expression of the speakers attitude toward what he
is speaking about. This function flavours all utterances on their phonic,
grammatical, and lexical level. Here attitude is seen to have linguistic expression
throughout language. This article attempts to develop this area.
Linguistics traditionally does not do justice to non-thought experiences, those
that are not expressed by propositional form, reasoning or speech acts, but which
nevertheless can be manifested in language use. Emotions, evaluations and
intuitions together constitute a complex and various felt world of experience.
Here is the issue. Does language have systematic resources for treating emotion,
evaluation, intuition, sui generis, as an experience? One has a felt experience as a
meaning. What linguistic resources are there for constituting, shaping and
expressing this experience; realizing it in linguistic form and expounding it in
speech or writing?

2 Three types of experience

One reason why felt experiences elude language is that they are, partly, outside

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 101

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 101

language. In fact, the experiences of emotions, evaluations and intuitions are


separate semiotic phenomena, which connect with language because their
content planes are the same as those in language. (They are a separate cognitive
phenomena in a broad sense. I shall clarify what I mean by semiotic and cognitive
below, in section 2.1.) As far as expression goes, emotion is just as often realized
by gesture as by language. This is a point often made: see for example, Darwin
(1872), Argyle (1975) and Ekman (1982). Damasio (1996: 134) speaks of the
muscles designing in a face the picture of an emotion.
Having said this, it is important to realize that both thought and behaviour are
also outside language. The representational theory of mind postulates thoughts to
which language is merely a means of expression, an output system. Similarly, in
conceptions based on strata, the higher discourse semantic level connects non-
language behaviour with linguistic meaning potential, which projects downward
into lower strata. And just as emotion is expressed by gesture, thought is
expressed by action. Language is a matrix which functions to realize and express
a number of higher-level semiotic dimensions, from propositional forms, to
intended communicative acts, to social situations and identity, to these non-
thought experiences.
I distinguish three types of felt experience; emotions, evaluations and
intuitions. The first two I classify as affect, following some pyschologists
practice, while the third has a different status. I shall consider these in turn. Figure
1 below displays definitions of the three types in the columns. (ii). Certainly, there
are other felt experiences, for example, motivation and intention, but their relation
to language is in the pragmatic explanation of communicative acts (Downes, 1998).

2.1 Emotion
I am proposing a semiotic theory of emotion. This is not original, since C.S.
Peirces theory is of this type (Savan, 1981). Psychological and neuroscientific
theories, such as those of Mandler (1984) and Damasio (1996), and social con-
structivist views like those of Rom Harr (1986) can be interpreted as semiotic.
My definition is: emotions are construals of bodily states of arousal in
contexts of situation and culture (Figure 1, 1.ii, column A). Emotions are
semiotic because they are systematic relationships between meanings and
physical substance in contexts of culture and situation, as presented at the top of
Figure 1 (1.i). The physical substance is a state of the body. By meanings, I mean
interpretations of that physical state. The relation of signifier and signified can be
coded, making an arbitrary Saussurean sign, but interpretations of the signifier
do not have to be of this type. The relation can be a causal link or a contextual
inference. Thus, the semiotic can include what Sperber (1975) calls the
cognitive. Emotions are usually context-dependent inferential signs and thus
cognitive in Sperbers sense.
Consider jealousy as a relatively simple example. What is it? It is a bodily
arousal, perhaps felt as a pounding heart, a sick sinking in the stomach, an urgent

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 102

102 WILLIAM DOWNES

1.i Emotions as semiotic phenomena


content plane signified systems of emotions in contexts of
= =
expression plane signifier changes in bodily state situation and culture

1.ii Three types of non-thought experiences


(A) EMOTIONS (B) EVALUATIONS (C) INTUITIONS
Emotions are construals of Evaluations are construals of Intuitions are construals of
bodily states of arousal in experiences on various scales properties of language itself
contexts of situation and of positive and negative, e.g. which are formed in context
culture good vs bad; desirable vs by felt urge
primary emotions are undesirable; lovely vs to unify, generalize,
innate hideous; etc. which are analogize
secondary emotions are moral to specify normative
socially constituted by aesthetic principles
semantic resources of a or of representations to specify presuppositions/
culture modality (true vs false) principles of basic
modulations (obligations linguistic practices
vs inclination) which are the result of
being unable to establish
full or clear propositional
forms (truth conditions)

1.iii Emotions versus feelings (after Damasio and Peirce)


1. EMOTION (public) = categorization of the correlation of bodily arousal and situation.
2. FEELING (private) = phenomenological construal of qualia of bodily arousal in
consciousness using resources of emotional categorization.

Figure 1 Semiotics of Felt Experience

tightness in the chest urging one to do something. To be jealousy, this arousal


must also at the very moment of experience be interpreted as such in the context
of situation and culture (Sperber and Wilsons [1995] mental encyclopaedia or
Damasios [1996] dispositional response): namely, where some role relationship
which should be exclusive to me is threatened by a competitor. When my very felt
experience is integrally constituted as an experience by the category jealousy,
then I understand myself as experiencing the emotion. Language meets felt
experience. The concept of jealousy is phenomenologically an integral part of my
consciousness of my experience. The same concept is the sense or signified of the
word jealousy. This is a first stab at how we represent emotions. The body in
context is itself the signifier in a higher-level semiotic.
Emotions and feelings can be distinguished as at the bottom of Figure 1.iii.
The former term refers to the public aspect of the sign and thus answers
Wittgensteins (1953) requirement that the language of inner states be public. An

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 103

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 103

emotion categorizes bodily arousal with respect to public situations. We can


reserve the term feeling for the actual presentation to consciousness of the
qualia of this bodily arousal, when it has simultaneously been categorized as an
emotion. The feeling is thus comprehended as the feeling of an emotion.
To conclude this section on emotions and to illustrate alternative semiotic
approaches, it is worthwhile examining the neuroscience theory of Damasio in
Descartes Error (1996) and C.S. Peirces semiotic theory described in Savans
Peirces Semiotic Theory of Emotion (1981). Both authors distinguish natural
or basic emotions which are not learned. Savan (1981: 330) writes, The natural
emotions include our natural fears, rages, and revulsions, joy in warm bodily
contact, and grief over loss These natural emotions find their objects without
learning or conditioning. Their final interpretant, the ultimate object at which
they aim, is security, rest, a state of satisfaction that is not threatened with
disruption. Damasio (1996: 133 ff.) views the innate pre-wired primary emotions
happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust as the result of activity in the limbic
system, the amygdala and anterior cingulate. They are the basis on which the
cultural secondary emotions are constructed. In semiotic terms, such instinctual
emotions are biologically coded responses to situations, especially useful to
motivate immediate responses because they bypass thought.
From the linguistic point of view, the culturally constructed secondary
emotions (Damasio) or moral emotions (Peirce) are more important. Savan (1981:
3301) writes that these are acquired not through instinct but through social
experience of moral life. Examples are indignation, resentment, benevolence and
agape, contempt, guilt and pride. Note that these emotions also have the sort of
evaluative dimension to be discussed in section 2.2 following.
For Damasio, three aspects are involved in a secondary emotion: a triggering
situation, a mental evaluation and a massive bodily response. In his analysis, the
bodily response is to the image or mental evaluation of the situation and
depends on a disposition formed from previous experiences. One suspects that in
some cases the relation can become so regular as to be viewed as virtually coded:
this would be true in the case of conditioning. An emotion is a dispositional
memory of previous experiences which both bypasses and unconsciously guides
reasoning. We feel instantly how to respond to the arousing stimuli. By contrast,
Mandlers (1984) theory of emotion suggests that the stimulus situation produces
arousal of the autonomic nervous system, which is then discoursally
comprehended in terms of the culturally given repertoire of emotions according to
the situation. Mandlers ANS arousal is differentiated by language. In Damasio,
the bodily response is also relatively undifferentiated, the secondary emotion
being constructed on top of one of the small set of primary emotions. If the bodily
arousal is very general, the actual emotion established between situation, image
and response can be part of a culturally given social code. For example, the
nationalist feels a surge of pride (national feeling) when faced with the image of
long lines of refugees, his ethnically cleansed enemies. In Damasio, the bodily
response is massive. It involves the autonomic nervous system (viscera), the

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 104

104 WILLIAM DOWNES

motor system (skeleton and musculature), endrocrine and peptides (chemical


signals) and the release of neurotransmitters. It is this that gives emotion its wave
like shape and effects its linguistic realizations.
Peirces theory involves three relations which constitute any sign. For him, an
emotion is a sign. The dynamic object, the triggering situation, elicits the
representamen which is the arousal of the nervous system, felt as qualia. In
order to become a sign, this relation must also simultaneously generate an
interpretant, which is the same quale construed as a simplifying or primitive
hypothesis about the situationfeeling pair. The triadic sign relation is the
emotion. For example, a situation which can be interpreted as a threat to my role
causes a bodily arousal which I feel and which is simultaneously interpreted as
jealousy. This sign demands further interpretation, and so on in the process of
infinite semiosis.
All these views, I maintain, show us how the system of emotions interacts with
language by sharing the system of meanings made available through linguistic
categorization. It is thus similar to the way that non-linguistic modes of cognition,
for example, perception and inference, also make use of linguistically given
predicates. The two systems operate in parallel in dealing with experience, each
with different, equal and mutually interdependent functions, and as Damasio
argues, both crucial to normal action. In section 3 later, we shall see how the
emotional function is realized in language.

2.2 Evaluations
The second felt experience is evaluation. In this case my definition is:
evaluations are construals of experiences in context on binary scales between
positive and negative: good (plus value) vs bad (minus value), desirable vs
undesirable, important vs not important, lovely vs hideous etc. (See also
Figure 1, 1.ii, column B.) Evaluations are semiotic because again a meaning, the
positive or negative, is mapped onto the substance of an experience in contexts of
situation. There is the same pairing of publicly determinable category (good vs
bad) and a phenomenologically private experience (positive vs negative
judgement) as discussed earlier with respect to emotion. In this case, the
experience is not of bodily arousal, although it can be. Emotions always also
simultaneously involve evaluation on one or more of the scales. For example,
jealousy is bad and undesirable. But I can evaluate without expressing an
emotion. Consider a response to a perception or a memory. I look at or remember
a building, the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, England. And that perceptual or
memory experience is inextricably involved with negative evaluations which I
must conceptualize using the semantic resources of language, morally, as such a
waste of resources, or aesthetically, as an engineering marvel. But my language
is not necessarily expressing an emotion, but simply an evaluation. I do not have
to admit to feeling a labelled emotion, or indeed anything; no frustration or

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 105

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 105

disgust or pleasure, although of course I can so admit. In itself, evaluation is only


a pairing of judgement and situation.
However, modality is different from other evaluations. In this case, it is the
truth or falsity, or inclination or obligation, with respect to a proposition that is
being evaluated. Modalities are propositional attitudes. Although all evaluations
can be represented as propositional attitudes, they are not really attitudes to
propositions but to memories or perceptions. By contrast, in non-modal cases, the
evaluative experience is not separable from the representation which
interpretatively constitutes it. The valuation is intrinsic to, It is a waste. I do not
assess the moral or aesthetic value of a proposition about the Dome. Rather, I
have an evaluative experience of the Dome itself, which is then expressed by
moral and aesthetic evaluative language.

2.3 Intuitions
This is the hardest of the experiences to talk about. I am trying to characterize our
ordinary sense of the word intuition as a compulsive felt sense of the correctness
of some view or a feeling of comprehending something which neither consciously
involves reasoning nor is empirical in the normal way. It is a jumping to an
insight. This puts intuition into the arena of felt experience. (It also differs from
the technical uses of the term in, for example, Kant [1954] or Sperber [1996].) I
argue that intuitions are construals of the system of representation itself. This
includes, in particular cases, information already represented in it. But we have an
intuitive sense of meaning potentials which come from properties and problems
intrinsic to our semiotic systems themselves and the reality they presuppose (see
Figure 1, 1.ii, column C).
One class of such intuitions are the hypotheses (implicated premises) which
mysteriously pop into mind in the process of thinking about experience. These
serve to connect new experiences with previous inductive generalizations, from
which the former may be deduced. Sperber and Wilson (1995) argue that this
process is governed by relevance. A related kind of intuition is being struck by
an analogy. This is another case of hypothesis. It is the process of judging that
there are structural similarities between the representations of otherwise dissimilar
domains. It also reflects the urge to unify. I would suggest that the principle of
simplicity, Occams Razor, is a higher-level intuition. In intuitions, the semiotic
treats representations as signifiers, and searches for new unifying signifieds. The
norm of simplicity is one consequence of this search.
More important for religious language are a second major class of intuitions.
These are the class which when asserted lead to paradox or contradiction, and yet
are felt to be true. There are discussions of similar phenomena in Kants
transcendental dialectic (Kant, 1954: 208 ff; see also Krner, 1955: ch. 5) and in
Kenneth Burkes The Rhetoric of Religion (1961). Another analysis, one which is
rigorously naturalistic in outlook, leads Sperber (1975) to treat such symbolic
utterances as creating an evocational field. In his later work, Sperber (1996)

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 106

106 WILLIAM DOWNES

distinguishes between reliable, empirically or innately grounded intuitive beliefs


and reflective beliefs. The latter gain their authority socially from sources such
as teachers. They are not (fully) understood and are therefore mysterious. In the
case of religious beliefs, they violate some intuitions. Yet they are open to
constant re-interpretation in many contexts over time and are therefore highly
relevant. Epidemiologically, this leads us to have a susceptibility to the spread
of reflective beliefs, these speculative forms of representation. (They are involved
in literary as well as religious representations.) In the literary domain, Fabb
(1994) also proposes that there is a class of aesthetic texts which create an intense
propositional attitude, yet one which is detached from any proposition.
Other thinkers circle around the notion of intuition as understood here. Karl
Rahner, the Catholic theologian, insists that we do have experiences of the
Kantian transcendent in everyday life, intuitions which are very difficult to
verbalize (see Weger, 1980: 46 ff.). Further examples are Wittgensteins concept
of showing (see Hacker, 1972: 18 ff.; Kenny, 1973: 218) and the Romantic
conception of the imagination, which derives from post-Kantian German
philosophy, for example in Coleridge (see Wimsatt and Brooks, 1962: 393) and in
symbolist thinking. These all propose the existence and meaningfulness of non-
propositional signs.
In Kants analysis, there are Ideas of Reason, a priori meanings of a
metaphysical nature, which do not originate in and are not applicable to
experience. These are the illusions of absolute metaphysics, such as the notion of
a substance which is the object of our experience of the self (Illusion of
Speculative Psychology) or the notion of God which is the perfection of all
categories (Illusion of Speculative Theology). These cannot be objects of
experience. Kant shows that these are implicit in the properties of reasoning itself.
In our terms, these illusory non-propositional signs are properties of semiosis
itself. When this occurs, we can deduce contradictions from the postulated
metaphysical propositions. This is because, although meaningful, they are
unempirical and ultimately lead to paradox. Thus they cannot have consistent
truth conditions. This is what makes them non-propositional signs.
But these meanings have compulsive intuitive force. They are not optional.
Absolute metaphysics ... is no ordinary illusion It can be recognized as
illusion but is irremovable (Krner, 1955: 106). Kant argues that these notions
have a legitimate normative use, compelling our understanding towards goals of
unifying generalization. And in his aesthetic, Kant associates such Ideas with the
Sublime linking it with affect and positive evaluation. The intuitive is thus
accompanied by the emotional and evaluative.
The whole notion is perhaps best understood by examples. One example is the
familar and incorrigible meaning of a unique substance which is ourself, the
traditional soul, within each one of us, and which accounts for the self-conscious
unity of our experience. But for Kant this subject cannot be an object of
experience. It is an illusion of absolute metaphysics. Nevertheless, we behave as
if we had access to such an object, which can become more coherent, better or

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 107

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 107

worse, has rights, potential authenticity and so on. We try to get in touch with
our true selves.
We can try to apply such ideas to more contemporary generalizations about
semiosis or representation. The correspondence notion of truth and its relation to
inquiry is a good example. It is easy to think of propositions in practical domains
which can clearly be true or false. We have methods of inquiry which allow us to
assign a definite truth value in such cases. For example, we can find out whether
the back door is locked or whether water boils at 100C. It is then possible to
generalize this process and arrive at a notion of absolute truth, which would
define reality. This would be the totality of true propositions at the end of all
inquiry. Reality would be a determinate state of the world the state that makes
those propositions true. But such a state cannot empirically exist or ever be or be
humanly discovered without paradox, because of the temporal nature of inquiry.
Nevertheless, considered as an ideal or normative principle, such a conception of
truth is compulsive and motivates inquiry. After all, if there is no final
determinate reality, what is the status of science? One position is to accept
absolute truth as a normative principle governing our practices of inquiry.
I conclude this section by briefly examining lines 79 from Chapter 54 of the
modernized long text of Showings which illustrates how intuition is
characteristically realized (see Appendix I[b] for the full text):
Greatly ought we to rejoice that God dwells in our soul; and more greatly
ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is created to be Gods
dwelling place, and the dwelling of our soul is God, who is uncreated.
In this passage, two distinct Kantian Ideas of Reason, God and our soul, are
linguistically presented as having spatio-temporal location. But the two entities
dwell each within the other, which is impossible. A cannot dwell, be enclosed,
within B and at the same time B dwell, be enclosed, within A if A, B and
dwell have constant senses. But this paradox is hardly felt as a paradox at all.
This is because God is also believed to be omnipresent; that is, present at all and
any spatio-temporal locations including the location of our substantial self (also of
course, as the Creator, not in space and time at all, another contradiction). If God
is everywhere, our substantial self must be in God and God in us. And this
resolution then both forces us to try to conceive of an impossible object, one that
is everywhere, and also its relation to an another object, our substantial self,
within us. It follows that the two will be at the same place at the same time. In
naturalistic language, they are therefore the same thing. They are not just the same
thing under different descriptions, they are two distinct things which are
paradoxically the same thing. The Ideas of Reason involved are the most perfect,
unifying generalization possible, of one absolute substance or Being, which is
God, and which is identical with the true substance of ourself, our soul. Clearly,
neither of these are normal objects of the sort which language presupposes as
individuals, or objects of empirical experience, that can be inside or outside
particular places at particular times. The space-time location of such things has

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 108

108 WILLIAM DOWNES

broken down; they are transcendent. But the inference that these two things are
at the same place at the same time, are thus logically the same individual, makes
us try to grasp at a sense of their unity. This felt intuition of unity is thus
symbolically expressible through the paradox of mutual indwelling.

3 Resources for felt experiences

3.1 Three kinds of resources


What resources does language make available for manifesting felt experiences?
The resources for the emotional and the evaluative overlap, in that emotion
always involves some sort of evaluation. On the other hand intuitions seem to
employ different resources. But they also are usually accompanied by emotion or
evaluation, as in the above example from Julian.
I will first examine discourse level resources for affect, then lexical, phonetic
and grammatical resources. I will briefly mention resources for intuition.

3.1.1 Situational or discourse resources A key concept in the functional analysis


of language is situation type. In Hallidays social semiotics the world relevant to
language is made up of recurrent social situations which are manifestations of
both social structure and a higher level context of culture (Halliday, 1978: 689;
the latter notion originates in Malinowski, 1923). The highest level specification
of affect is within social situations as a projection of the wider culture. I am
proposing that for each situation type, culture specifies what you are supposed to
feel. This is normative to the situation. For example, before an exam, one feels
nervous; at a wedding, one feels happy; on receiving a gift, one feels grateful;
when ones role is challenged by a competitor, one feels jealous. This connects to
Damasios analysis of emotion discussed in section 2.1 earlier. A secondary
emotion is a response to an acquired dispositional representation of a previously
experienced triggering situation. But it adds a normative aspect specified by the
culture as part of the representation. The culture shapes the interpretation of the
arousal. For example, in a warlike culture, a conflict situation might specify and
trigger the responses grouped under courage carelessness of ones safety,
determination etc. where another culture might normatively insist that the
desire for peaceful reconciliation be felt. In this sense, secondary emotions can
have a history. Secondary emotions are socio-historical phenomena. Genre is that
aspect of normativity that specifies linguistic form according to situation type. To
the degree that the emotional or evaluative aspects of the situation are
linguistically pre-specified, as a rhetoric of feelings, this will be part of the genre.
The points made in this section relate to the structure provided for concepts in the
mental encyclopaedia in pragmatic and cognitive theories, i.e. frames, scenarios
and so on. Each must specify the stereotypical affective dimension.

3.1.2 Semantic and lexical resources: discourse semantics Lexis provides


categories of affect in the form of folk taxonomies. The analysis of jealousy in

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 109

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 109

section 2.1 earlier shows the power of such categorization in constituting


emotions. Without the word, the emotion simply would not be a felt experience.
This is where the non-verbal and the lexical meet.
The work of Lemke (1992, 1998) and Martin (1992, 1999) provides analyses
of the discourse semantic resources which allow us to categorize evaluation
(Lemke) and appraisal (Martin). These systems specify the ways in which we can
evaluate propositions, proposals and other phenomenon. Lemke (1998: 367)
recognizes seven dimensions on which evaluation occurs. These include modality
under the headings of warrantability, normativity and perhaps usuality. Martin
(1999) focuses on three appraisal systems: affect, which construes emotions,
judgement, which construes moral evaluations, and appreciation, which construes
the aesthetic dimension. These three are simultaneous with other systems of
amplification or intensity and speakers engagement. Both researchers adopt a
perspective which analyses types of lexical resources for evaluation, the second
type of felt experience in Figure 1, 1.ii, column B. It is clear that these intersect
with the first type, emotions, in that emotions inherently involve evaluation.
However, I separate emotion and evaluation in Figure 1, since they have different
sources outside language. They are different semiotic phenomena. I would reject
an emotional theory of moral or aesthetic evaluation.

3.1.3 Connotation of lexical items It has long been claimed that individual lexical
items have affective connotations and language has an emotive use (Ogden and
Richards, 1923). In this case, in theories where there is a lexicon, each lexical
entry, for every content word, would possess a context-sensitive evaluative layer
with respect to its sense. This would be the result of its history. It would
determine its appropriateness for selection within a given genre, in a given
register and its place with respect to the systems of categorization discussed
above in section 3.1.2.

3.2 Iconicity of linguistic realizations


Those non-lexical aspects of language which are deployed for the realization of
emotional and evaluative meanings are those which can have iconic and indexical
relations to the semiotic situations in which affect is generated, either directly or
in imagination. Emotions are constituted from arousals in situations and these
have a particular pattern. They are susceptible to degrees of intensity; and they
rise and fall in time in phases expressing the arousal in a gestural way. Martin
talks about bursts. Evaluations are also on scales between poles and are
therefore essentially comparative (see discussion of grading later).
Figure 2 represents the dimensions of language which iconically express the
scaled nature of emotion and evaluation. On the vertical scale is the dimension of
amplitude (Martin, 1992: 533; 2000) or intensity (Labov, 1984: 43). On the
horizontal dimension is the prosodic nature of the phenomenon, working itself out
over time and space, and also its polyphonic nature, a metaphor expressing

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 110

110 WILLIAM DOWNES

various emotional and evaluative


realizations are interwoven
POLYPHONY
more or less
up or down
on some scale
over and against
an implied norm
in context
INTENSITY

time and space, duration and extent


in characteristic phases
PROSODY

Figure 2 Iconic Realization of Felt Experience of Emotion and Evaluation

emotions and evaluations as simultaneously interwoven throughout texts (Labov,


1972: 3689; Lemke, 1998: 47 ff.; Martin, 1992: 556 ff.). My hypothesis is that
any linguistic feature that can be construed as modelling scales of intensity,
whether concretely or abstractly, and can be extended or repeated prosodically,
can realize affect. This iconicity simultaneously produces a sympathetic or
rejecting arousal to itself in the hearer. We respond to language emotionally and
evaluatively since speech is itself a triggering situation.

3.3 Non-lexical linguistic realizations


There have been studies which bring together the wide diversity of linguistic
devices which express affect, for example, Labov (1984) and Ochs and
Schieffelin (1989). The fact that affect is non-verbally and paralinguistically
expressed and that the range of devices is both great and widely distributed had
led to the conclusion that affect is actually peripheral to language; in Labovs
words, that the peripheral systems are the primary means of conveying social and
emotional information, and the grammatical mechanism is the primary means for
conveying referential and cognitive information (1984: 43). But this is a matter
of perspective. If we examine the actual relation of syntax and propositions, we
see that the expression of the latter is not the sole function of the former. Indeed,
philosophers claim that natural language syntax and lexis obscure logical form.
Pragmatics shows that a great deal of contextual reasoning is required to
determine what has been cognitively conveyed. If we take the felt experiences and
see how they are iconically expressed, gesturally, in texts such as Julians, we see
that they equally pervade actual language in use. They are concentrated, as Labov
also says, in any textual mechanism which can operate on concrete or abstract

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 111

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 111

scales of more or less. Since intuitive experiences lead to contradiction, that is,
violations of the literal use of language, their main realizations lie within the
figurative.
The main systems are: (i) phonetic features, in particular prosodic features like
intonation and its written evocation; (ii) expression of propositional attitudes
through use of mental processes; (iii) grading: a complex of interacting systems
consisting of (a) intensifiers, (b) implicit and explicit comparison, (c) quantifiers,
(d) mood and modality, and (e) negation. The next is (iv), clause complexes,
mainly paratactic recursion (repetition) and speaker-intrusive interpersonal
metaphor, as discussed in Halliday (1994: 354 ff.). Finally, there is (v),
figurativeness and the poetic function which shows felt experiences and is
relevant to the intuitive as well as being affective.
I will comment on the less obvious (i), (iii), and (v). All five will be illustrated
below. As regards (i), studies have explored the systematic relation between
intonation and attitude (Bolinger, 1986; Crystal, 1969; Halliday, 1967; Tench,
1996). The meanings which are sytematically associated with tones relate to
communicative function, while secondary tones express finer ranges of speaker
attitude to propositions and to interlocutor (for summary see Tench, 1996: ch. 5).
According to Crystal (1969), not only primary and secondary tone but most non-
segmental phonation, pitch range, loudness, tempo, length, rhythm and pauses,
tension, degree and type of voicing are all incorrigibly adjusted to express attitude
in context (Crystal, 1969: 128 ff.). Just as there is systematicity in the case of
secondary tones, Jakobson (1960: 354) argues that in the case of vowel length
the contrast between [big] and [bi:g] iconicity takes on a coded dimension
symbolic of emotional arousal. More specifically, intonation has an intrinsic
iconic and gestural quality which is expressive. Bolinger (1986: 195) writes:
Intonation is part of a gestural complex whose primitive and still surviving
function is the signalling of emotion. He relates this to the cognitive orientational
metaphor of UP=good and DOWN=bad (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980: 14 ff.). UP
and DOWN are one aspect of the more general analogue of INCREASE and
DECREASE to the intensity (or absence and waning) of arousal and evaluation.
The ability of phonation to express relative intensity in an analogue way is the
origin of the system of focus or tonicity, the relative prominence of the tonic
syllable expressing what is evaluated as most important in communication.
Within this evaluation, further degrees of prominence (pitch change, loudness,
length) express intensity of arousal.
As regards (iii), phenomena graded on some scale, these areas of grammar are
closely interwoven. I will take the attitudinal nature of mood and modality for
granted and merely note the relationship with negation (for modality see Halliday,
1994; Lyons, 1977, vol. 2). As Halliday (1994: 356) remarks, modality refers to
the area of meaning that lies between yes and no the intermediate ground
between positive and negative polarity. It allows for a scale of epistemic and
deontic attitude between those poles. It is important to note that modality is
expressed in a variety of ways, not just by the modal operators.

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 112

112 WILLIAM DOWNES

Grading is also a scale having properties with respect to negation. It is possible


to distinguish between the element which is to be graded, which can be any
quantifiable, a participant or process, and the grader, the item which is used to
grade (Sapir, 1958: 123 ff.). Graders are predicates, adverbs (quickly, slowly) and
adjectives (bald, slow, good) although they can also be quantifiers (few, many,
more, less). Adjectives and adverbs can themselves undergo intensification by
amplifiers (complete, great, very) and downtoners (somewhat, sort of, rather)
(Quirk et al., 1985: 445 ff., 469 ff.). The crucial fact about grading is that the
graded item is placed on a scale which implies a comparison with other
possibilities between a positive and negative pole with respect to some
contextually specifiable norm. In many cases the contrasting poles are lexicalized
(good, bad, happy, unhappy). The comparison can be explicitly made. But it is
always implicit whenever any grader is used of a quantifiable term (Lyons, 1968:
465; Sapir, 1958: 123). Implicit grading is pervasive. In each positive case, the
inference to the negative pole is warranted, e.g. to say that X is happy implies a
negative sentence containing the antonym, that X is not sad. Grading usually
also implies sorites vagueness the sort of logical problem raised by graders
like bald or sinful applied to persons (Williamson, 1994). At what point does the
person become bald or sinful as hairs or sins are added or subtracted?
Evaluation, Figure 1, 1.ii, column B, always sets up an opposition between
positive and negative. Each is haunted by the other, in terms of which it gains its
evaluative significance. As Burke (1961: 19) writes, negation is a purely human
assessment, a peculiarly linguistic marvel, as there are no negatives in nature.
To evaluate anything positively involves raising only to exclude the possibility
that what does not exist might exist and vice versa. Evaluation involves grading
and negation. Negation is not only a form, it is also an evaluative, epistemic and
deontic action, forbidding, stipulating, evaluating affectively, as well as merely
affirming or denying. The negated may be in a repressed or dialectical relation to
what is asserted. But it is always there. It specifies the rejected opposite attitude,
the irrealis, that which is not, the mere possibility of the other with respect to what
is being graded. Its possibility is hence felt. The more intense the affect, the stronger
the negated alternative. The polarity scale can be used for very subtle attitudinal
biases: compare, for example, It is pretty bad, which does not imply that it is good,
with It is not too bad, which does imply that it is at the good end of the scale.
Figurativeness was feature (v). There is a long tradition within Romanticism of
the non-literal, the symbolic, as the vehicle for intuition in the sense described in
section 2.3 earlier. This follows from the transcendent nature of what is intuited. It
claims to manifest or point to some sort of truth, but truths which cannot be
expressed by a clear propositional form without implying paradox. Or the
utterance remains vague, partially understood. Related to this is the association of
the figurative with the affective in Romantic thought. (Within the non-literal,
other forms such as humour clearly involve affect and also play with properties of
semiosis itself. Berger [1970: 8992] proposes that humour is a signal of
transcendence; in my terms an intuitive sign.)

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 113

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 113

More important here is the poetic, as distinguished in Jakobson (1960: 356)


and Sperber and Wilson (1995: 217 ff.), including strong, creative metaphors
(Black, 1979: 27). Besides representing the intuitive, the poetic abstractly
satisfies the requirements of intensity, polyphony and iconicity. First, the mind
has increased workload. Defamiliarization or the evocational field (Sperber,
1975) caused by a range of weak implicatures sees to this. The intensity of effort
to establish ranges of unclear meanings itself causes degrees of affect. More
importantly, each reading accesses a number of diverse emotional scenarios,
associated both by dispositional responses and culturally with the concepts
involved. These are forced to intertwine and cause re-evaluation, sometimes
explosively. Second, in poetic metaphor, hypothetical analogue models (Black,
1962) are formed, which is an abstract form of iconicity. The domains of the
analogy each have emotional and evaluative scenarios which interact during the
mapping process, and perhaps guide it (see Damasio on somatic markers). It is
possible that Richardss (1936: 93) interaction operates more with respect to
affect than it does in terms of cognitive mapping. Third, the poetic makes the sign
palpable (Jakobson, 1960: 356). This physicality itself evokes emotion, in the
same iconic way that music does (Downes, 1994: 20).

4 The fourth chapter of Julians Showings

The first part of the fourth chapter, reproduced in Appendix II (a) and (b),
illustrates all the features. I will discuss II (b), the modernized text. Virtually
every detail organizes felt experience rather than developing an argument. The
text constructs a very complex epistemic and felt experience. The main feelings
are joy (line 7) and astonishment (line 14), the latter an epistemic attitude of
bafflement at warranted belief, stronger than surprise.
The two most obvious devices are the emotional and evaluative connotation of
specific lexical items and the overt expression of attitudes. Upon analysis, most
lexical items have either a positive (or neutral) stereotypical affect; only suffer
(line 4), sinful (line 15) and wretched (line 15) are stereotypically negative, and
these evaluations are transformed in this context. Consider the positive affect
associated with the following items: freely, copiously, living, stream, blessed, true,
powerful, show, revelation, fill, full, great, joy, understand, heaven and so on.
Julian also overtly specifies her propositional attitudes and mental states, for
example: I saw (line 1), I perceived, truly and powerfully (lines 34), who
showed it to me (line 5), the Trinity filled my heart (line 6), I understood (line
7), and so on. Halliday (1994: 354 ff.) terms examples like I perceived and I
understood interpersonal metaphors. This is a device for making the subjective
modality of the proposition, that is Julians modal stance, fully explicit. She is
overtly asserting that It is certain that he showed it to me. She is projecting this
evaluation into the text. This device is prosodic throughout. In lines 1213, we get
an overt exclamation, Benedicite dominus bursting out into Latin1 with its

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 114

114 WILLIAM DOWNES

sacred connotations, an expression of surprise at the presupposed truth of her


concept of Gods activity.
Interwoven in the same revelation (a nominalization of reveal, hence a
grammatical metaphor of the proposition God revealed that and the modality
is true) is another metaphor, suddenly the Trinity filled my heart full of the
greatest joy.2 This is a standard metaphor, a material process replacing a mental
process. It is construed as the Trinity causes I feel joy. But the metaphor is an
underlying analogue model between filling a physical container, the heart, to full
and intensely feeling an emotion. This is an icon of amplitude or intensity. We can
say that this feeling presents itself to consciousness as fullness in the chest. We
empathetically comprehend the highest possible amplitude of positive feeling in
physical terms. Now this intensity is simultaneous with the revelation (line 6).
The two parallel occurrences of suddenly (lines 1 and 6) mark the parallel onsets
of the same revelation as seen, I saw (line 1) and as felt, the Trinity filled
joy (lines 67).
Now consider this vision in Damasios terms, the emotion as a sign whose
objective triggering situation is Christs blood. (A memory or vision serves as an
effective trigger.) The primary emotions to this scene must be fear and disgust.
To witness pain and injury stereotypically requires those emotions. But the
Christian knows this is an atoning sacrifice, himself suffered for me (lines 45).
Absolute, perfect atonement satisfies our criteria for an intuition. This re-
evaluates the situation. It also constructs a secondary, socio-historical emotion as
a sign of this changed situation. But what should be felt? Julian represents it as
intense joy, the joy of heaven. Note how the intuitive knowledge of atonement and
the transformation of emotion and evaluation are absolutely integrated. The
feeling is as ideological as the belief.
The amplitude of the joy and positive evaluation accounts for the positive
linguistic devices used for Christs blood, hot and flowing freely, a living stream
(line 2), which is the reason for the joy which filled my heart full (line 6 and
note the parallel fs). The parallel positive intensity of the flowing blood and
filling heart is a physical model of the spiritual mechanism of her emotional
response to the image of the suffering Christ.
Gradability and its implicit comparisons represent the intensity or amplitude of
the conviction and the emotions throughout. She perceives truly and powerfully
(lines 34) a degree of modal evaluation. These are on the positive end of the
intensity scale. The heart is filled (line 6), not drained, nor nearly filled, and
full (line 6), not empty nor nearly full. This is an implicit superlative, the
extreme of fullness. The extreme intensity is of the greatest joy (lines 67). The
joy is gradable between greater and lesser, as well as on a scale with negative
emotions like grief or anger, alternative responses to Christs blood. This extreme
of joy is an overt superlative. It is important to note that logically this is an
abstract amplitude. Empirically, nothing is full of anything. Implicit comparison
pervades the text. The flowing is hot and freely (line 2), as opposed to less
hot and more retarded with regard to the norm of bleeding. We get the same

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 115

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 115

complex gradability in lines 13, 14 and 15 with greatly and so so in the


representation of the epistemic emotion of astonishment at the comparison.
Immediately after the joy, we get the new phase of rhapsodic repetition
running over lines 810, an example of the device of paratactic recursion.
Needless to say, the structures are rhetorical devices common in mediaeval prose.
As Colledge and Walsh (1978a: 4852, Appendix, 748) point out, Julian is
masterful in her deployment of the recognized figures. At the same time, the
repetition is also a music-like burst of intensity, where she raises the emotional
level of her writing by employing markedly metrical structures (Colledge and
Walsh, 1978a: 51). At the same time, lines 910 contain tacit gradable
superlatives, everlasting lover, endless joy and bliss. The joy is melding
into another emotion, maybe construable as love in response to being loved.
Although in written mode, the recursion has effects which depend on stress and
intonation. Cognitively, there will be quantity and quality implicatures to do with
the properties of the Trinity.
The repetition and reversal of the tautology, For the Trinity is God, and God is
the Trinity (line 8) is ultimately derivable from intuition (column C in Figure 1,
1.ii). The intuition is that of God and the Augustinian doctrine of the Trinity. The
clauses are reversible identifying ones like Alice is the teacher vs The teacher
is Alice (Halliday, 1994: 122 ff.). With different intonations, both can presuppose
either question, What is the Trinity? and What is God?. And the answer is the
same in each case: God identifies the Trinity and the Trinity identifies God.
Whether I am speaking about the Trinity or about God, I am speaking about the
same thing, but in different ways. Both can be equally given (presupposed) and
new (focus). On a related analytic dimension, the sentence For the Trinity is God,
and God is the Trinity (line 8) can be analysed as two TokenValue structures
(Halliday, 1994: 124 ff.). The purpose of this structure is to re-contextualize
technical terminology; to give a sign, the token, and assign it a signified, the
value. In the first phrase, the token the Trinity is clarified as having the value,
God. In the second case, the value God is construed or understood by the token
the Trinity.
Therefore, the two clauses are a linguistic model of two contextually distinct
ways of describing the same thing, God or the Trinity. This is done in such a
way that the two descriptions reveal two distinct ways of understanding, while at
the same time implying their exact equivalence or absolute, perfect identity. (This
is similar to but different from the relation of the soul and God, two distinct but
identical things, described in section 2.3 earlier.) Any two true descriptions of the
same thing in which the values are given by definition are analytic and are
therefore also tautologous. Revealed truths such as the Trinity is God, not being
empirical, must be definitionally true and therefore tautologous. On the surface,
the utterance seems to be the expression of the ecstatic feeling of the absolute
assurance of tautology. There is a perfection in such definitions. Tautology is a
model of absolute assurance and perfection in linguistic necessity. This beautifully
images the linguistic nature of the intuitive urge to perfect completeness.

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 116

116 WILLIAM DOWNES

But then, in a series of further identifying clauses, the four repeated tokens of
the Trinity (lines 89) are given a repetitive series of further new values relevant
to us, our maker, our protector, our everlasting lover, our endless joy and
our bliss, which explain the source of Julians joy. This rhapsodically defines the
three relationships we have with the perfections of the Trinity as maker (power),
protector (wisdom) and lover (goodness), which are the endless joy of heaven,
the revelatory experience of which Julian is trying to express. The Trinity, namely
God, transforms our basic affective response at the horror of blood into joy
because (one of it, he, they, she) suffers exactly because (all of it, he, they, she)
loves us. These intuitions do not have clear propositional forms, truth conditions
that do not lead to contradiction, let alone verification conditions. They are non-
propositional signs. But they manifest a most intense emotional, evaluative and
intuitive experience of unity in love, the experience of beatitude, which simply
saturates the text.
Much textual study is intellectualistic; it gives verbal interpretations. The
approach sketched here gives us a new way to understand language as also the
social and historical working out of complex felt experiences. The experiences of
nationalism, agapistic love, personal ambition, perhaps even happiness or the
concept of having fun provide examples. These all also have institutional
expression. It is not only thought which has a history. And we do not comprehend
texts only in propositional terms.
I have distinguished emotions, evaluations and intuitions as semiotic or
cognitive phenomena and attempted to begin to categorize the linguistic resources
for the expression of felt experience. These are not conveyed by propositional
forms, yet they are intensely meaningful. The third type, intuitions, were said to
be implicit in properties of representation itself, when it operates non-empirically.
Much more work is required to clarify all three types, especially the third and its
relation to the figurative. Affect and evaluation are clear features of many textual
genres, both literary and non-literary. Intuition as defined is clearly part of
language which expresses religious experience. More problematic is its relation to
literariness and the poetic. All three types were illustrated from the Showings of
Julian of Norwich.

Acknowledgements

Grateful acknowledgement to E. Colledge and J. Walsh and The Paulist Press


for permission to reproduce portions of Chapters 4 and 54 of Julian of Norwichs
Showings, the long text, and to the same authors and the Pontifical Institute of
Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, for permission to reproduce the same passages from
A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich. Thanks also to
participants at ISFC 25, Cardiff University, July 1998, for comments on an earlier
version of this article. Particular thanks to James Benson, William Greaves,
Michael Cummings, Glen Stillar and Rupert Read for their suggestions and
assistance.

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 117

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 117

Notes

1 Benedicite Dominus is hard to interpret. The sentence appears grammatically ill-formed: the verb
is 2nd person plural imperative of benedicere, to praise or bless, and the noun is singular
nominative. If this was a salutation addressed to God, the noun should be vocative singular,
Domine. If God was the Goal, Range or Beneficiary, then it should be accusative, Dominum, or
perhaps dative, Domino. Colledge and Walsh (1978a: 211) think that it is hardly possible to
decide what Julian actually said, and whether it was a blessing, thanking or praising. But they
add that it is clear that this passage provides no evidence for or against her being a woman that
could not letter. The phrase is very similar to varying titles or beginnings to the Canticle of the
Three Young Men, which was a popular mediaeval devotion. The Oxford English Dictionary
(1989: Vol. II, 109) has an entry for Benedicite as an interjection either expressing a wish, Bless
you!, or expressing astonishment or remonstrance, Bless us! Good gracious. Citations for
these last readings are exactly at the time of Julians writing; for example, 1377, Langland, 1393,
Gower and 1374, Chaucers Troylus 1. 780 What? liveth not thy lady, benedicite?. The term is
clearly an English idiom, a loan word, used as an exclamation of astonishment. That is a
plausible use for it here. If so, then it is not the main verb of a Latin sentence and the issue of
cases is not relevant. Thanks to Michael Cummings for assistance with this problem.
2 the Trinity filled my heart full of the greatest joy (lines 67) is Colledge and Walshs
(1978a) interpretation of the Middle English, the trinitie fulfilled my hart most of joy,
Appendix II(a), line 6. Modern fulfilled does not retain the literal material sense of fill X full
of Y, from OE, fullfyllan. But this is preserved in Julians time. Middle English also applies this
to physiology, humours, and emotion, the Holy Ghost, wisdom (Kurath, 1952: 933). Both
Kurath and the OED (1989: Vol. VI, 2445) attest various abstract meanings in Julians time, for
example in the OED: 1290, To carry out or bring consummation. The question then arises
whether Julians ME sentence is beautifully ambiguous between a material physiological-
emotional and an abstract theological reading, whereby her soul reaches its destined state of
bliss, and this is lost in the translation. Julian does use the device of ambiguity. However, a
problem is that the abstract uses are not diatransitive, but simple transitive: X fulfilled Y, or
passive transitive, Y was fulfilled, and not X fulfilled Y of/with Z (although such a use is
attested in the poetic language of Tennyson). When all Julians uses of fulfill are examined, she
is seen to frequently use fulfill in the material sense, which seems its more fundamental
meaning for her. So Colledge and Walshs translation is justified on the grounds that the more
basic use should be assumed unless there is reason to the contrary. Again, I would like to thank
Michael Cummings for his help.

References
Argyle, M. (1975) Bodily Communication. London: Methuen.
Berger, P. (1970) A Rumour of Angels. Harmondsworth: Pelican.
Black, M. (1962) Models and Archetypes, in M. Black Models and Metaphors, pp. 21943. Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press.
Black, M. (1979) More about Metaphor, in A. Ortony Metaphor and Thought, pp. 1943.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bolinger, D. (1986) Intonation and Its Parts. London: Edward Arnold.
Burke, K. (1961) The Rhetoric of Religion. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Colledge, E. and Walsh, J. (eds) (1978a) A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich, Part
Two. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.
Colledge, E. and Walsh, J. (trans.) (1978b) Julian of Norwich, Showings. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Crystal, D. (1969) Prosodic Systems and Intonation in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Damasio, A. (1996) Descartes Error. London: Macmillan.
Darwin, C. (1872) The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. New York: New York
Philosophical Library.
Downes, W. (1994) Pragmatics of Music and Emotion, Language Forum 2(2): 127.
Downes, W. (1998) Language and Society, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 118

118 WILLIAM DOWNES


Ekman, P. (ed.) (1982) Emotion in the Human Face. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fabb, N. (1994) The Communication of Emotion in Aesthetic Experience and the Problem of Non-
discursive Aesthetic Knowledge, unpublished paper, University of Strathclyde.
Hacker, P. (1972) Insight and Illusion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Halliday, M. (1967) Intonation and Grammar in British English. The Hague: Mouton.
Halliday, M. (1978) Language as Social Semiotic. London: Edward Arnold.
Halliday, M. (1994) An Introduction to Functional Grammar, 2nd edn. London: Edward Arnold.
Harr, R. (1986) An Outline of the Social Constructivist Viewpoint, in R. Harr (ed.) The Social
Construction of Emotions, pp. 214. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Jakobson, R. (1960) Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics, in T. Sebeok (ed.) Style in
Language, pp. 35077. New York: MIT and Wiley and Sons.
Jantzen, G. (1987) Julian of Norwich. London: SPCK.
Kant, I. (1954) Critique of Pure Reason, trans. J. Meiklejohn. London: J.M. Dent. (Orig. pub. 1787.)
Kenny, A. (1973) Wittgenstein. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Krner, S. (1955) Kant. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Kurath, H. (1952) Middle English Dictionary. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Labov, W. (1972) The Transformation of Experience in Narrative Syntax, in W. Labov Language in
the Inner City, pp. 35496. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Labov, W. (1984) Intensity, in D. Schiffrin (ed.) Georgetown University Round Table on Language
and Linguistics, pp. 4370. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Lemke, J. (1992) Interpersonal Meaning in Discourse: Value Orientations, in M. Davies and L.
Ravelli (eds) Advances in Systemic Linguistics, pp. 82104. London: Pinter.
Lemke, J. (1998) Resources for Attitudinal Meaning: Evaluative Orientations in Text Semantics,
Functions of Language 5(1): 3356.
Lyons, J. (1968) Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lyons, J. (1977) Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Malinowski, B. (1966) (Orig. pub. 1923.) Coral Gardens and Their Magic, Vol. II, 2nd edn. London:
George Allen and Unwin.
Mandler, G. (1984) Mind and Body. New York: W.W. Norton.
Martin, J. (1992) English Text: System and Structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Martin, J. (2000) Beyond Exchange: APPRAISAL Systems in English, in S. Hunston and G.
Thompson (eds) Evaluation in Text, pp. 14275. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ochs, E. and Schieffelin, B. (1989) Language has a Heart, Text 9(1): 725.
Ogden, C. and Richards, I. (1923) The Meaning of Meaning. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Oxford English Dictionary (1989) 2nd edn, J. Simpson and E. Weiner (eds). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. and Svartvik, J. (1985) A Comprehensive Grammar of the
English Language. London: Longman.
Richards, I. (1936) The Philosophy of Rhetoric. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sapir, E. (1958) Grading: A Study in Semantics, in D. Mandelbaum (ed.) Selected Writings of
Edward Sapir in Language, Culture and Personality, pp. 12249. Berkeley and Los Angeles:
University of California Press.
Savan, D. (1981) Peirces Semiotic Theory of Emotion, in K. Ketner, J. Ransdell, C. Eisele, M. Fisch
and C. Hardwick (eds) Proceedings of the C.S. Peirce Bicentennial International Congress,
pp. 31933. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech Press.
Sperber, D. (1975) Rethinking Symbolism,. trans. A. Morton. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Sperber, D. (1996) Explaining Culture. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Sperber, D. and Wilson, D. (1995) Relevance, 2nd edn. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Tench, P. (1996) The Intonation Systems of English. London: Cassell.
Weger, K.-H. (1980) Karl Rahner: An Introduction to his Theology,. trans. D. Smith. London: Burns
and Oates.
Williamson, T. (1994) Vagueness. London: Routledge.
Wimsatt, W. and Brooks, C. (1962) Literary Criticism: A Short History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical Investigations, trans. G. Anscombe. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 119

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 119

Appendix I(a)

Collated ME Text
The liiij Chapter

Ande for the grete endless loue that god hath to alle mankynde, he makyth
no depertyng in loue betwen the blessyd soule of Crist and the lest soule that shall
be savyd. For it is full esy to beleue and truste that the dwellyng of the blessyd
soule of Crist is full hygh in e glorious godhede; and truly as I vnderstode in oure
5 lordes menyng, where the blessyd soule of Crist is, there is the substance of alle the
soules that shall be savyd by Crist.
Hyely owe we to enjoye at god dwellyth in oure soule; and more hyly we
owe to enjoye that oure soule dwellyth in god. Oure soule is made to be goddys
dwellyng place, and the dwellyng of oure soule is god, whych is vnmade. A hye
10 vnderstandyng it is inwardly to se and to know that god, whych is oure maker,
dwellyth in oure soule, and a hygher vnderstandyng it is and more, inwardly to se
and to know oure soule that is made dwellyth in god in substance, of whych
substance by god we be that we be.
And I sawe no dyfference betwen god and oure substance, but as it were all
15 god; and yett my vnderstandyng toke that oure substance is in god, that is to sey
that god is god and oure substance is a creature in god. For the almyghty truth of
the trynyte is oure fader, for he made vs and kepyth vs in hym. And the depe
wysdome of e trynyte is our moder, in whom we be closyd. And the hye
goodnesse of the trynyte is our lord, and in hym we be closyd and he in vs. We be
20 closyd in the fader, and we be closyd in the son, and we are closyd in the holy gost.
And the fader is beclosyd in vs, the son is beclosyd in vs, and the holy gost is
beclosyd in vs, all myght, alle wysdom and alle goodnesse, one god, one lorde.
And oure feyth is a vertu that comyth of oure kynde substannce in to oure sensuall
soule by the holy gost, in whych vertu alle oure vertues comyn to vs, for without
25 that no man may receyue vertues, for it is nou^t eles but a ryght vnderstandyng
with trew beleue and suer truste of oure beyng, at we be in god and he in vs,
whych we se nott.

Julian of Norwich, A Book of Showings,


Edited by E. Colledge and J. Walsh

Appendix I(b)

Modernized Text
The Fifty-fourth Chapter

And for the great endless love that God has for all mankind, he makes no
distinction in love between the blessed soul of Christ and the least soul that will be
saved. For it is very easy to believe and trust that the dwelling of the blessed soul
of Christ is very high in the glorious divinity; and truly, as I understand our Lord
5 to mean, where the blessed soul of Christ is, there is the substance of all souls

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 120

120 WILLIAM DOWNES

which will be saved by Christ.


Greatly ought we to rejoice that God dwells in our soul; and more greatly
ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is created to be Gods
dwelling place, and the dwelling of our soul is God, who is uncreated. It is a great
10 understanding to see and know inwardly that God, who is our Creator, dwells in
our soul, and it is a far greater understanding to see and know inwardly that our
soul, which is created, dwells in God in substance, of which substance, through
God, we are what we are.
And I saw no difference between God and our substance, but, as it were, all
15 God; and still my understanding accepted that our substance is in God, that is to
say that God is God, and our substance is a creature in God. For the almighty
truth of the Trinity is our Father, for he made us and keeps us in him. And the
deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we are enclosed. And the high
goodness of the Trinity is our Lord, and in him we are enclosed and he in us. We
20 are enclosed in the Father, and we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in
the Holy Spirit. And the Father is enclosed in us, the Son is enclosed in us, and the
Holy Spirit is enclosed in us, almighty, all wisdom and all goodness, one God, one
Lord. And our faith is a power which comes from our natural substance into our
sensual soul by the Holy Spirit, in which power all our powers come to us, for
25 without that no man can receive power, for it is nothing else than right
understanding with true belief and certain trust in our being, that we are in God
and he in us, which we do not see.

Julian of Norwich, A Book of Showings,


Translated by E. Colledge and J. Walsh

Appendix II(a)

Collated ME text
The iiij Chapter

And in this sodenly I saw the reed bloud rynnyng downe from vnder the
garlande, hote and freyshely, plentuously and liuely, right as it was in the tyme that
the garland of thornes was pressed on his blessed head. Right so, both god and
man, the same that sufferd for me, I conceived truly and mightly that it was him
5 selfe that shewed it me without anie meane.
And in the same shewing sodeinly the trinitie fulfilled my hart most of ioy,
and so I vnderstode it shall be in heauen without end to all that shall come ther.
For the trinitie is god, god is the trinitie. The trinitie is our maker, the trinitie is our
keper, the trinitie is our everlasting louer, the trinitie is our endlesse ioy and our
10 bleisse, by our lord Jesu Christ, and in our lord Jesu Christ. And this was shewed
in the first syght and in all, for wher Jhesu appireth the blessed trinitie is

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014


Downes 10/4/00 7:37 pm Page 121

THE LANGUAGE OF FELT EXPERIENCE 121

vnderstand, as to my sight. And I sayd: Benedicite dominus.1 This I sayd for


reuerence in my menyng, with a mightie voyce, and full greatly was I a stonned for
wonder and marvayle that I had that he that is so reuerent and so dreadfull will be
15 so homely with a synnfull creature liueing in this wretched flesh.
Julian of Norwich, A Book of Showings,
edited by E. Colledge and J. Walsh

Appendix II(b)

Modernized Text
The Fourth Chapter

And at this, suddenly I saw the red blood running down from under the
crown, hot and flowing freely and copiously, a living stream, just as it was at the
time when the crown of thorns was pressed on his blessed head. I perceived, truly
and powerfully, that it was he who just so, both God and man, himself suffered for
5 me, who showed it to me without any intermediary.
And in the same revelation, suddenly the Trinity filled my heart full of the
greatest joy,2 and I understood that it will be so in heaven without end to all who
will come there. For the Trinity is God, and God is the Trinity. The Trinity is our
maker, the Trinity is our protector, the Trinity is our everlasting lover, the Trinity
10 is our endless joy and our bliss, by our Lord Jesus Christ and in our Lord Jesus
Christ. And this was revealed in the first vision and in them all, for where Jesus
appears the blessed Trinity is understood, as I see it. And I said: Blessed be the
Lord! This I said with a reverent intention and in a loud voice, and I was greatly
astonished by this wonder and marvel, that he who is so to be revered and feared
15 would be so familiar with a sinful creature living in this wretched flesh.
Julian of Norwich, A Book of Showings,
translated by E. Colledge and J. Walsh

Address

William Downes, School of Languages and Translation Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich
NR4 7TJ, UK. [email: w.downes@uea.ac.uk]

Language and Literature 2000 9(2)

Downloaded from lal.sagepub.com at Aston University - FAST on September 6, 2014