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Daphnaerys Seaworth

Philosophy in Westeros.

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Greetings,

This topic has to do with language but doesn't fit in the "Dothraki" section because it hasn't got to do with the made up languages for the HBO series.This topic has more to do with the World of ASOIAF and about something that puzzled me.

Anyway,back to the point.

My question has two parts and both are linked.

Firstly, we know that the Common is the equivalent of English right? (Duh!)

English is a language that has vocabulary which derives from other older languages.In this topic I will bring up Greek.I am sure somewhere in the books we have come across words such as "tragedy" etc. Right now I am only at the beginning of my first re-read so I haven't taken note of more words.

What puzzled me is that in the show and the books I remember Tyrion saying something like this to Cersei.She said something to him and he said back "There is nothing worse than a late blooming philosopher".(Correct me if I am wrong,but I think that was somewhere is ACOK but I am not entrirely sure.If it wasn't in the books at all ,then I apologize and this topic belongs to the HBO part of this board.)

Philosophy is a Greek word, it originated in Ancient Greece as it is used today in the same context...

My question is,how could the whole notion of Philosophy and the word itself exist in a world where Ancient Greeks don't exist.Or else, who are the "Ancient Greeks" of Planetos?

How could a Westerosi describe a "tragedy" as a metaphor for a bad situation when there is no tragedy, no theater,no actors.(They are only reffered to as Mummer's Shows etc.)

At first I thought "Well the words exists as unquestionable part of the Common Tongue and their origins are irrelevant." But then something else came to me.

Tyrion used the word philosopher which means he knows what it means so he could use it in his sentence, but why? Philosophy doesn't exist in Westeros, I never read anything that would indicate the existence of the notion of Philosophy or Philosophers...

I hope you understood my point, sorry I coudn't put it better.My English isn't perfect.

I repeat, I do apologize again if what I am saying isn't in the books.I remembered that it was.

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Well, the English language has been influenced by dozens of other languages, not only greek. Many words have French origins, Latin origins, Arab origins, etc. Of course it does not make sense to question who are the French in this world, there are no French. I think we can interpret the Common either as a completely different language that George R. R. Martin has translated for us or as a language that "coincidentally" looks exactely like English, but has a completely different history. Maybe in this world the word "philosophy" came from the Old Ghiscari, rather than Greek, I don't know... It's fantasy, if we overthink it, of course it's not going to make any sense.

As for the notion of Philosophy, I think the Maesters should know what it is, they have a rationalistic view of the world, even excluding magic and superstition from it. That's pretty much what the pre-Socratic sophist philosophers did.

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Daphnaerys it doesn't work that way. The common tongue in that world is being interpreted/narrated by the author as english. So he is free to choose his words as what constitute modern english to improve readability or restrict himself to the use of medieval/archaic english to improve effect. GRRM constantly plays around with both.

The dialogue you refer to is from the show, where the script writers have obviously ignored this little flaw you point out (actually many will say it is no flaw at all). This is because the show is for a wider audience who would like to indulge into a medieval drama rather than for hardcore ASOIAF fans.

And then, there is one basic flaw in your reasoning. Language is only the medium to express, so one could say, the choice of words doesn't matter as long as it gets the message right. If in "their" version the characters do not have the word philosophy, they definitely may have a different word for it in their language, which since in our English is philosophy, the author/writers use to not confuse the issue. :)

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First, I thank you for the replies and I value your opinions.

Discussing things here makes it all clearer for me.

-Well, the English language has been influenced by dozens of other languages, not only greek.

-Maybe in this world the word "philosophy" came from the Old Ghiscari, rather than Greek, I don't know...

-As for the notion of Philosophy, I think the Maesters should know what it is, they have a rationalistic view of the world, even excluding magic and superstition from it. That's pretty much what the pre-Socratic sophist philosophers did.

-Yes, that's what I said.That English has been influenced by many languages but this point I chose Greek because the "philosophy" thing stuck with me.

-Who knows, yeah exactly.But that's what I'd like to learn more about especially the the companion books comes out.Who does the Ancient Greek civilization mostly resemble in this world.In my opinion, I think of Valyrians.

-I thought about Maesters too but still we haven't seen any sample of philosophy.I 'd really like to learn more about the Maesters in the next books,

Daphnaerys it doesn't work that way. The common tongue in that world is being interpreted/narrated by the author as english. So he is free to choose his words as what constitute modern english to improve readability or restrict himself to the use of medieval/archaic english to imrove effect. GRRM constantly plays around with both.

The dialogue you refer to is from the show, where the script writers have obviously ignored this little flaw you point out (actually many will say it is no flaw at all). This is because the show is for a wider audience who would like to indulge into a medieval drama rather than hardcore ASOIAF fans.

And then, there is one basic flaw in your reasoning. Language is only the medium to express, so one could say, the choice of words doesn't matter as long as it gets the message right. If in "their" version the characters do not have the word philosophy, they definitely may have a different word for it in their language, which since in our English is philosophy, the author/writers use to not confuse the issue. :)

Yes I actually came to the conclusion that I shouldn't question the origins of the words since they are now part of the english language and GRRM can use it any way he pleases.

As I said before I just got stuck on the "philosophy" notion part.

So, that dialog wasn't in the book at all??Sorry my bad :/

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My theory, like the basque languages of Spain and the Ainu language of Hokkaido, Japan, in the world of ASOIAF English is a language isolate meaning it has no relation to any other language (infact apart from valyrian languages I'd say that all languages in ASOIAF fall into the category).

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Since the Valyrians are kind of like the Romans, I would imagine that they destroyed the Greece(s) or their time and looted parts of their arts and culture. It could be that the Greece specifically the Athens of that time, was located in Sothoros or Asshai.


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Philosopher comes from the old Ghiscari term fellow merged with the Andal root supper, meaning "dinner of men." It comes from an old practice of wealthy learned men discussing nature and the universe over a hot meal. Any Maester of Etymology will tell you this.



Source: No one.


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