In 1653, the Jesuit priest António Vieira gave a sermon that spoke of the tongue’s nature as both an organ and a conceit for language itself. Throughout the century, it was possible to think speculatively about the relationship between two concepts, tongue and language, wherein the terms are sometimes synonymous but often alternatives or foils to one another. For Vieira, tongue absorbed all the properties associated with language, as self-conscious, artificial, and potentially human. This chapter takes the relation between tongue and language and reconstructs the conversation or apparent symposium surrounding these terms that spans more than one hundred years and travels across languages and societies. It is through the reconstruction and recall of this virtual conversation that an understanding of Vieira’s attraction to these terms can be achieved.
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