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Doublespeak in ancient Greek and modern Ethiopian satire

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September 13, 2022

Event Subtitle / Short Description

Speaker & Affiliation

Sarah Derbew, Stanford University


4:30 pm - 6:00 pm


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.