Dictator by Philip Terry
Published 25th October 2018
Dictator recreates Gilgamesh using the 1,500-word vocabulary of Globish, put together by Jean-Paul Nerrière. Globish is a business language, appropriate to translate cuneiform which emerged from the need to record business transactions. Nerrière considered it the world dialect of the third millenium; likewise Akkadian, the language of Gilgamesh, was the lingua franca of communications in the Near East. This link between script, language and business is there in the substance of the poem. An underpinning theme involving trade, here trade in hard wood and access to forests for building materials, links the poem to recent wars in and around Iraq, where the contemporary commodity is oil. This in turn links the poem to related issues such as migration and the refugee crisis. Working with refugees in Palermo in 2017, Terry was involved with putting on a puppet version of Gilgamesh where the children related viscerally to the story, particularly the boat scenes.