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Curse words in ASOIAF


Nadden
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TL:TR Theon’s fate began with the curse that Jon put on him. In this post you’ll see; curse words, “ass” and a few fart jokes.

With this post I’d like to list and start a thread that invites others to discuss their ideas about cursing in ASOIAF.  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:

 

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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 the main narrative of 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).

Let me try to first explain my logic so that you can see that I’m not leaping to any conclusions. There are a few steps involved in order to bring you to my point. So far I’ve given you a quote and pointed out the cuss word. I’ve taken that word and given you a definition and an alternate name used for it. Next, I’ll show you some wordplay and define a literary tool that introduces a planet that is allegorical to the scene to which we find the cuss word. I love how Martin thinks.

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:

 

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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 there’s a plethora of evidence that suggests Gared’s head is playing the role of Uranus’ testicle. Uranus’ spilling blood, like Gared’s blood spraying out across the snow, the figurative sea, is one small clue hinting at the larger allegory. 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.

Edited by Nadden
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On 1/16/2022 at 8:27 AM, Nadden said:

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.

I assumed ass just meant donkey - but I'm not american and grrm is, so maybe he would think asshole first.

The curse I find really odd is Sandor's constant use of 'bugger'. Is that even a curseword in america? It's not even that strong in the uk.

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Questions whose answers fall outside the scope of this essay are:

  1. What happened to the other nut? Not sure but…
  1. In this scene, Will and Gared, who had been riding two shaggy little garrons, are symbolic of the sword “Ice”, the figurative sickle in this case.
  • “Ice” is later divided and reforged into two swords
    • “Widows Wail”“Oath-keeper”
    • Will (The two times Will tried to speak before his presumed death)
    • Will turned away, wordless.”“the words seemed to freeze in his throat”.
  • Gared (after his beheading)
    • labeled by Bran’s “lord father” as an “oath-breaker”
  • Things Northous and “Southron” of the Wall seem to be mirror opposites of each other.
    • “Widows Wail” and ”Oathkeeper” are mirror opposites of “Wordless, frozen words” and “Oath-breaker”
    • Thus, at least symbolically Will and Gared represent “Ice”.
  1. Was Waymar a dick? Jon did call Theon an “ass”.
Edited by Nadden
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2 hours ago, Nadden said:

Bugger sounds like something my grandfather would say:)

I say that a lot of late, because now everyone here understands what fuck means 

Never mind about that mundane crap, just wish we had a George Carlin to compile Planetos' Profanities

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4 hours ago, LynnS said:

The "Others take your eyes" and use them for remote controlled vision.

Are you talking about the “remote control vision of Will from the Prologue, AGOT?? You’re getting of me:) I still working on Part two. (“Gods!” Will heard Waymar say)

 

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4 hours ago, HoodedCrow said:

PSFCCSMFandTs. Turtle Soup ( Tyrion’s confession)was obscenely funny, no curse words required. The other imagery requires more thought…and couldn’t GRRM be asked? The audience would laugh:)

 

I’ll have to read it:)

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