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Puns and Wordplay


Seams
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He could hear the wind whistling through cracks in the rocks as they neared the ringwall. A voice called out a challenge. Jon stepped into the torchlight. "I need to fetch water for the Lord Commander."

"Go on, then," the guard said. "Be quick about it." Huddled beneath his black cloak, with his hood drawn up against the wind, the man never even looked to see if he had a bucket.

Jon slipped sideways between two sharpened stakes while Ghost slid beneath them. A torch had been thrust down into a crevice, its flames flying pale orange banners when the gusts came. He snatched it up as he squeezed through the gap between the stones. Ghost went racing down the hill. Jon followed more slowly, the torch thrust out before him as he made his descent. The camp sounds faded behind him. The night was black, the slope steep, stony, and uneven. A moment's inattention would be a sure way to break an ankle . . . or his neck. What am I doing? he asked himself as he picked his way down.

ACoK, Jon IV.

What is GRRM doing with the bucket and pale references here? Note that sharpened sticks or logs around a fort are called a palisade and a single sharpened stake for a fortification is called a pale. Pale can also mean fence. So we are getting a bucket and two pales in three consecutive sentences. 

When Jon Snow slips between the stakes to go outside of the fort, he is going "beyond the pale." 

In a previous Jon POV (AGoT, Jon VIII), Jon carried a bucket full of bloody meat. He used it to feed the ravens while Maester Aemon revealed that he (Aemon) is a Targaryen and said that he understood about Jon's conflicting loyalties to his family and to the Night's Watch. 

"Pale cold" seems to be a coded phrase the author uses as an alternative to "old place." Old places in ASOIAF seem to be special, magical locations. The Fist is one of the places identified as an "old place." 

But what does it mean that Jon Snow has no pail (bucket) or that he goes beyond the pale in this chapter? He is about to find the obsidian cache, and that may require going through a magical portal of some kind. 

 

 

Edited by Seams
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This has probably been discovered by others and discussed somewhere in this very long thread but a wordplay I find to be interesting is Merling vs Merlin and how it plays into Petyr's arc and the Vale.

When he steals Sansa away from Kings Landing, he travels to the Vale on a galley name the Merling King as in the sea creature. When he reaches the Vale, he marries Lysa, later kills her and usurp her rulership of the Vale.

What's interesting is that the sigil of House Aryn is a blue falcon and merlin without the "g" is the name of a blue falcon. So the ship that Petyr sailed to the Vale was basically announcing his intention to become the Merlin King or Lord of the Vale. It also implies that Ursula Upcliff who claimed to have been married to the Merling King might have been talking about the King of the Vale.

Another interesting wordplay I discovered recently, which also likely has been discussed is Oldstones being almost a full anagram for Lodestone. It's only off by one letter but if you consider that the archaic spelling of old is olde, is can be considered a full anagram.

Jenny of Oldstones was certainly a magnet for Duncan Targaryen but what does it mean. Is it simply telling us that it's not just certain locations that are hinges of the world, and that they are certain characters who serve the same purpose? If so, what was it about Jenny and the castle on the hill that made the lodestones?

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8 hours ago, Stormy4400 said:

This has probably been discovered by others and discussed somewhere in this very long thread but a wordplay I find to be interesting is Merling vs Merlin and how it plays into Petyr's arc and the Vale.

...

Another interesting wordplay I discovered recently, which also likely has been discussed is Oldstones being almost a full anagram for Lodestone.

Both very interesting observations and I don't think either has been discussed. So thank you for adding these to the thread. 

Of course, "Merlin" also has the connection to King Arthur's sorcerer/wizard mentor. I see a number of sorcery or warlock possibilities in Littlefinger's actions. I have tentatively put Littlefinger into the "kingmaker" category (along with Ser Criston Cole and Quentyn Ball). This would also fit with Merlin's role in some versions of the King Arthur story. 

As for Oldstones / Lodestones, I have found so many "almost" anagrams (off by one letter) that I think GRRM does use them in a number of situations. He may even have rules in his head about swapping out one letter, although I haven't entirely discerned what those rules might be - I suspect that identical letters can be repeated, so a word with one letter E can have two letters E if needed to make an anagram. A magnetic stone seems like a natural choice to add to the types of "magic" we see in ASOIAF - poisons, fires, a far eye, the metal in swords, rubies, obsidian, a bag of finger bones. It does seem like the kind of thing GRRM would subtly mention to explain the surprise "attraction" between two characters who become an unexpected couple.

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16 hours ago, Seams said:

rules might be - I suspect that identical letters can be repeated

Bah! Seeing it written out like this, makes me think of the old type face printers. Bacon’s cypher for surface use vv for w

I was just reading something a wile back
About the French guy, master in his citadel, he wrote Essay? 
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. 

Probably another rabbit hole but I’m going down it.


 

• I could have sworn there was mention of Jaime having difficulty reading. His eyes? are Jumbled/mixed  

(HBO corrupting my memory)

I need Pylos’s help :( 

Edited by Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe
I should not post at work
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TL:TR Theon’s fate began with the curse that Jon put on him.

I believe that uttering curses or swearing profanely means more than using obscene words in anger. They’re used for more than just emphasis. While conceived of as offensive they can invoke evil, cause disasters, injuries and destroy people or things. If a character utters impieties or speaks irreverently of a God or something sacred it could excommunicate or afflict them or things with a great evil. Should a priestly condemnation befall a person, doom and misfortune are sure to follow. Here’s a short list that I’ve started from AGOT Prologue and Bran 1:

 

  • Will hears Waymar say, “Gods!” as he gains the ridge and slashes at a branch with sword.
  • When Jon calls Theon an “Ass” after the deserters beheading.
  • Robb swore, “The Others take his eyes,..”
  • Theon exclaims, “Gods!” and calls the mother direwolf a “freak”.

1 of 4

Quoting the curse:

 

Quote

AGOT Bran 1

“The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy’s feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head, and kicked it away. “Ass,” Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear.”

 

This is funny. If we look deep enough at the line with ass in it we’ll see more than just simply Jon’s characterization of Theon as an asshole. We’ll see Martin subverting main narrative of the the text with the literal meaning of the word. We’ll see him referring to the opening at the lower end of the alimentary canal, through which the solid refuse of digestion is excreted. In a single word the anus (Anus is from the Latin word ānus ring, anus).

 

I don’t know about you but I like thinking that Martin anticipated this path of logic and purposely sought a way to include you. So instead of just choosing any stinky old anus, he chose “your anus”. Congratulations and thanks for playing a part in the metaphorical word-play that leads to a homophone sounding like Uranus. And I don’t mean the sounds your anus can make. Those little heinie hiccups, booty coughs, and butt burps are not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Uranus the seventh planet from the Sun, third-largest in the Solar System.

 

But why is Martin taking us there? Because within the celestial drama-play comes the myth of a Greek primordial deity. And this becomes apart of the allegory that Martin writes. I’ll explain. Here’s the myth from Wikipedia:

 

Quote

Uranus is the personification of the sky and the son and husband of Gaia (Earth), with whom he fathered the first generation of Titans, the three Cyclopes, and the three Hecatoncheires (Hundred-Handers), but hating them, he hid them away somewhere inside Gaia. Angry and in distress, Gaia fashioned a sickle made of adamant and urged her children to punish their father. Only her son Cronus, the youngest Titan, was willing to do so. So Gaia hid Cronus in "ambush" gave him the adamantine sickle, and when Uranus came to lie with Gaia, Cronus reached out and castrated his father, casting the severed testicles into the sea. Uranus' castration allowed the Titans to be born and Cronus to assume supreme command of the cosmos. From the blood that spilled from Uranus onto the Earth came forth the Giants, the Erinyes (the avenging Furies), the Meliae (the ash-tree nymphs). From the genitals in the sea came forth Aphrodite. According to some accounts, the mythical Phaeacians, visited by Odysseus in the Odyssey, were also said to have sprung from the blood of Uranus' castration.

In the scene of the deserters beheading I believe Gared’s head is playing the role of Uranus’ testicle, and like Uranus’ spilled blood, Gared’s blood sprays out across the snow, the figurative sea. Theon’s Ironborn status certainly gives some meaning to the testicle coming ashore, bouncing off a thick root and rolling to Theon’s foot. The idea that Theon kicks Uranus’ genitalia while laughing foreshadows his own castration and treatment of his nuts.

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On 1/13/2022 at 11:48 AM, Seams said:

Both very interesting observations and I don't think either has been discussed. So thank you for adding these to the thread. 

Of course, "Merlin" also has the connection to King Arthur's sorcerer/wizard mentor. I see a number of sorcery or warlock possibilities in Littlefinger's actions. I have tentatively put Littlefinger into the "kingmaker" category (along with Ser Criston Cole and Quentyn Ball). This would also fit with Merlin's role in some versions of the King Arthur story. 

As for Oldstones / Lodestones, I have found so many "almost" anagrams (off by one letter) that I think GRRM does use them in a number of situations. He may even have rules in his head about swapping out one letter, although I haven't entirely discerned what those rules might be - I suspect that identical letters can be repeated, so a word with one letter E can have two letters E if needed to make an anagram. A magnetic stone seems like a natural choice to add to the types of "magic" we see in ASOIAF - poisons, fires, a far eye, the metal in swords, rubies, obsidian, a bag of finger bones. It does seem like the kind of thing GRRM would subtly mention to explain the surprise "attraction" between two characters who become an unexpected couple.

YW!  I too have noticed that Martin uses almost anagrams in the text and I feel sure that it's a deliberate choice on his part.

I discovered another couple of interesting wordplays/anagrams over the last few years that you might find interesting.

The first is Nissa being an alternate spelling for Nyssa. As you know, *I* and *Y* are often used interchangeably in the spelling of words and I believe that George is using it in this manner in the spelling of Nissa.

Nyssa is a genus of deciduous trees that grow in swamps and bogs and along *blackwater* rivers. The trees are natural weirs. More popularly known as Black Tupelo trees, they gave name to Tupelo Mississippi where many of the trees can be found in area swamps. They are also plentiful along the Florida panhandle, Mexico and Central America.

They are many varieties of the trees including Nyssa sylvaticaNyssa aquatica, and Nyssa ogeche to name just a few. The interesting thing is that in addition to being natural weirs that grow in swamps and blackwater rivers, the different variety of trees are all honey makers. The ones that grow along the Florida panhandle actually produces one of the most expensive variety of honeys.

When you consider the symbolic importances of weirs, blackwater rivers, hives, bees and honey as the food of the gods in the text, I feel confident that this particular tree influenced George in the naming of the character at the heart of one of the books great mysteries.

In regard to the text, Nissa or Nyssa can be interpreted as the honey tree and I think that is association with honey may also explain George’s use of repetition in the name. I think that he was potentially inspired by the Abba song Honey Honey from the 70s. He loves to drop those types of cultural references into his stories.

Another interesting discovery I made is that Sansa is a full anagram for nassa, which means weir in Spanish. When I made this discovery a few years ago, I was told that it was just happenstance because nassa was Spanish and George was probably not aware of the word.

This didn’t make any sense to me as George is on the record as saying that he can’t write a character until he knows their name and that he does a lot of research to determine his character’s names. George has also lived for decades in a state where Spanish is basically the second language and as he uses anagrams in his story, I think that he likely knows that Sansa is an anagram for nassa and its association with weir.

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On 8/31/2019 at 8:18 PM, Seams said:

As noted by Seams:

Treason / Tree son

I don't know why this never occurred to me before. Ned is found guilty of treason. Ned has a tree son.

Maybe.

To add more support to this idea. In the Prologue, AGOT I’ve noticed that the story of Adonis has been used as an allegory. Here it is:

Quote

Adonis was the mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite in Greek mythology. In Ovid's first-century AD telling of the myth, he was conceived after Aphrodite cursed his mother Myrrha to lust after her own father, King Cinyras of Cyprus. Myrrha had sex with her father in complete darkness for nine nights, but he discovered her identity and chased her with a sword. The gods transformed her into a myrrh tree and, in the form of a tree, she gave birth to Adonis. Aphrodite found the infant and gave him to be raised by Persephone, the queen of the Underworld. Adonis grew into an astonishingly handsome young man, causing Aphrodite and Persephone to feud over him, with Zeus eventually decreeing that Adonis would spend one third of the year in the Underworld with Persephone, one third of the year with Aphrodite, and the final third of the year with whomever he chose. Adonis chose to spend his final third of the year with Aphrodite.

In the allegory:

(One of the two trees in the Prologue ) Ironwood: Myrrha

I’m not sure why the sentinel tree is not playing this role. However, most things on the wall seem to be inverted symbols. Perhaps the Ironwood simply makes a better cosmic tree of the underworld.

The gnarled Ironwood is pregnant in this scene:

Quote
  1. Gnarl: a knotty protuberance on a tree; knot.

 

The inverted parallel for this scene comes in the next chapter Bran 1. Ironwood stump.

In the Prologue, AGOT Aphrodite makes a good wet nurse. To handsome Waymar.

Lastly, it’s Gared who commits treason and is beheaded at the ironwood stump to stick with the major theme of giving a life for life.

Myrrha-as it turns out is a resin used in making scented oils. The ones used on the dead. Perhaps the same smell of corruption on the mother direwolf. It’s also one of the gifts brought by the three Wiseman.

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