Posted by ESC on June 30, 2001
In Reply to: Forked tongue posted by Richard on June 30, 2001
: What is the original phrase and meaning? Is it he speaks out of both sides of his mouth? Is it also the same as he speaks with a forked tongue?
Those are two different expressions. I could not find the phrases in any of my references so I'll just give my opinion. SPEAK OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF YOUR MOUTH means be a hypocrite, say one thing to one person and another to a second person. The same as being "two-faced." I think it comes from the way a person talks out of a corner of his mouth when trying to speak quietly. SPEAKING WITH A FORKED-TONGUE means telling a lie. Snakes have forked-tongues so I guess that's where we got the expression. Snakes are often portrayed as deceitful in stories. Then there's the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Indians in old movies are always saying "white man speak with forked-tongue." Some scriptwriter probably thought the phrase had a nice ring to it.
Anybody have any other ideas?