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Speaks with a forked tongue

Posted by Pamela on March 14, 2007

In Reply to: Speaks with a forked tongue posted by Smokey Stover on March 14, 2007

: : "speaks with a forked tongue". There is only one definition for me to read and I would like to read another. Does anyone think that it may mean "speak with venom because of its connection to snakes?
: : Thanks, Fee.

: Well, as far as I know, all snakes have forked tongues, which they use for smelling their environment, but only a few have poison glands. I guess we'll just have to try to find that Indian guy who allegedly accused white man of forked tongue, and ask him what he meant. In all the forked tongue anecdotes (all fictitious as far as I know) the expression seems to mean deceitful, mendacious. That's not quite the same thing as poisonous, even if it seems almost as bad. I don't think many people will buy the poison theory.
: SS

I think the image of the forked tongue works well for deceit - if you have a regular mono-tongue (unitongue? There must be a word, I'm sure) then this might suggest only one utterance can come from you mouth at a time. A forked tongue suggests that there are two things being spoken - that which is said (the lie) and that which is secretly meant (the truth). I think it's similar in this way to "two faced". Pamela

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