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Funny Words in Plautine Comedy$
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Michael Fontaine

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195341447

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195341447.001.0001

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Parapraxis and Parechesis

Parapraxis and Parechesis

(p.37) 2 Parapraxis and Parechesis
Funny Words in Plautine Comedy

Michael Fontaine (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter develops the stylistic method for recovering Plautus’ “funny” words adumbrated in chapter 1. An investigation of the comedian's dramatic use of Freudian errors, including slips of the tongue and the mishearing of words, suggests that ancient scribes occasionally corrupted the less familiar word in a “parechesis,” or pun on two similar words, to an exact repetition of the more familiar word. Likewise, it is argued, scholars persistently misinterpret two homographs that Plautus intended as a pun on two different words as if they really were a repetition of the same word; reversal of both types of misapprehension clarifies psychology and consistency of characterization. Major proposals discussed at length include restoring the parasite names Curculio and Saturio (in Persa) to Gorgylio and Satyrio; evidence is again both textual and stylistic. It is then argued that vulgar Latin and medieval Latin sources may throw light on and enrich certain exchanges in Plautus; special attention is devoted to unnoticed puns in Pseudolus and to ghost words in Curculio(Gorgylio).

Keywords:   Curculio, Freudian errors, ghost word, Parechesis, Plautus, Pseudolus, repetition, slips of the tongue, Vulgar Latin

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