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Indirect Communication by Riddles and Games




In a number of Royal courts during the period of the Enlightenment (around 1750) it was the habit to converse in French.  There was also a fascination with words and word-play, including pronunciation.  It was in this context that King Friedrich the Great of Prussia wrote to Voltaire the following:










Voltaire worked out that the message was Venez souper Sans Souci, i.e. the King was inviting him to a meal at Sans Souci, which was a castle near Potsdam.

Voltaire sent back the message: Ja

The King knew Voltaire was not saying Yes in German.  He deduced that Voltaire was replying that he was hungry - J'ai grande appetit.



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