Re: forked tongues

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 11:07:01 EST

At 10:55 AM -0500 2/17/00, Bart Ehrman wrote:
>QNANATOU hH DIGLWSSIA. This translates into something like: "you shall
>not be of two minds nor xxx; for xxx is a snare of death."
> I'm trying to come up with an English phrase for DIGLWSSOS/DIGLWSSIA.
>I don't much like keeping the parallel with "two minds" by saying "two
>tongued (or double-minded/double-tongued)." I could use
>"equivocate/equivocation," but that gets rid of the metaphor.
> What would you think of my using "forked tongue," as follows: "You
>shall not be of two minds nor speak with a forked tongue. For a forked
>tongue is a snare of death" ?
> I must admit, it vaguely reminds me of a Smothers Brothers routine I
>used to listen to as a kid; but otherwise I kind of like it. But is it a
>phrase people still understand?

What it makes me think of is "White man speak with forked tongue" (as of
course men of other colors also do, but I always associate this with
American pidgin English from old western movies.

There's "two-faced" of course, which is meaningful but doesn't quite fit
this context; you could invent a new word that would probably be readily
understood (well... more or less), like "schizoglottic." But it seems to me
that the problem might be solved more naturally with something like, "You
shouldn't be ambivalent either in your thinking or in what you say"... or
more economically, "Don't be ambivalent in thought or speech."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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