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Doublespeak in ancient Greek and modern Ethiopian satire

Sarah Derbew, Stanford University

September 13, 2022 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · Zoom

Department of Classics

Abstract: In this talk, I treat satire as a site where Classics and African literature converge. Namely, I point out a particular type of linguistic wordplay, which I deem doublespeak, in Lucian’s (c. second century CE) “Trial of the Consonants: Sigma against Tau in the Court of the Seven Vowels” and Hama Tuma’s (1993) “The Case of the Traitorous Alphabet.” In these two temporally and geographically distant texts, language is on trial via its smallest component: an individual letter. In addition to analyzing linguistic manipulations, this talk aims to unsettle spatiotemporal divisions between two literary traditions.

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