Rire et pluralité des langues dans la Tour de Babel de Dimìtrios Vyzàntios

This entry is part 7 of 23 in the series Vol 3-2018

Abstract: The play The Tower of Babel (1837) is well known for using the full range of dialects existing in Modern Greece, for comic effect. In this article, after briefly introducing the author and outlining the plot, I shall examine whether the image the author gives of the different dialects is realistic. The effects produced by the multiplicity of spoken forms will be addressed in various terms: ethical and anthropological (the depiction of “national” character), linguistic (to what extent do the protagonists really understand each other), and political and cultural (what a character’s attitude to his neighbour’s “national” language tells us about this period’s desire for a single language and community in modern Greece). On the basis of my recent experience of translating the play into French, I shall also discuss the extent to which it is possible to export the issues this play addresses. An Appendix to the article contains short extracts of the original with their French translation, and a commentary.

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