The blessing of Babel

I am in Palermo, sitting on the floor of the puppet museum with a circle of teenagers. Around us hang gaudy, dormant marionettes of characters from the Orlando Furioso: the valiant Orlando and his
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I am in Palermo, sitting on the floor of the puppet museum with a circle of teenagers. Around us hang gaudy, dormant marionettes of characters from the Orlando Furioso: the valiant Orlando and his horse Brigliadoro, his rival Rinaldo, his beloved the beautiful Angelica. Their stories are amazing, the stuff of epic and romance; but in fact the teenagers around me, all boys, have been through adventures no less extraordinary, though harsh and real. They have travelled to Palermo from many parts of Africa including Guinea, Libya, Mali, and Sudan; they have crossed the Mediterranean via smugglers’ boats, shipwreck and rescue, and it is only a few months since Sicily became their sanctuary. Together, we are sharing words and clapping rhythms, making poems and stories. There are several different languages in the room: a lot of French; bits of English and Italian; African languages such as Xhosa, Bambara and Malinké which I do not know. So, inspired by the nonsense writing of Carroll and. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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