Monday, December 9, 2013

GRRM: Words are Nipples on a Breastplate

Sorry for the extended hiatus, loyal readers. The semester is just now finishing up, and I'm finding that I have more time now for reading, and by extension, writing awful things about my betters. For the last few months I have not been idle, though, far from it. I've been listening to Roy Dotrice do awful readings of The Song of Ice and Fire books, (Let's just say that the whole Lannister Tribe had the same voice and accent except Jaime,) and finally finished A Dance with Dragons. I have to say I rather enjoyed the series. It's not my favorite by far, but that's just because the whole Political/Fantasy genre doesn't really get my motor running. That being the case, I thought that I might start off my return with one last article on George R. R. Martin's series. Seeing as it would be a gigantic waste of time and effort to go over the greats and flaws that were all five books, I thought I would just go with one small fragmented gripe I have for the series and that is Colloquialisms.

Now, for those that don't know, look it up on Wikipedia. Just kidding, it's a saying, a word, or a turn of phrase specific to language, but not written language for some reason. "Howdy" is a Midwest colloquial word. "Bless your heart" is a southern one, and doesn't mean what it implies. Colloquial terms are unique to regions, so when you go to a new state, a new region or a new country, you might hear someone say something that sounds familiar being used in a new and unique way. That's the wonderful thing about language: things change and things mean different things to different people. That being said, my biggest gripe about the Song of Ice and Fire books is that these phrases get used so often by so many people in so many different regions, (some of which are across seas,) that it seems almost ludicrous.

The ones I'm talking about are the ones referenced in the title and, to my knowledge at the moment, were used mostly in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons: "Words are wind," and "As useful as nipples on a breastplate." For the most part it's the former being used the most, and it's not just in one location. Cersei uses the term in Kings Landing, John Snow at the Wall, Doran Martel says it in Dorn, and people in Mereen use it as well across a freaking sea. The saying is bandied around so much that it actually sounds kind of ridiculous. I get that it's a Seven Kingdoms and people saying things in other kingdoms would make it go around, but really, the people over in the free cities speak another language entirely. The breastplate comment gets used a fair share, but honestly, they couldn't have something better to reference useless things to?

It reminds me of the first time that I heard the word..."Hashtag" (shudder.) I thought someone was pulling my leg. It's a dash, a number sign, a pound sign. Why are we giving new names to things that have working names. Then I heard it more and more and the more I heard it, the more I came to hate it. Hearing GRRM use the same phrase over and over again makes me feel the same way. I love his work, I would never wish to mince words with him, but having everyone say the same thing over and over again in different parts of the world and in different languages is worse than his need to create characters for the sole purpose of killing them off.

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