Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Define ‘Man’: Part 1

With all due apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien.

And yes, I play way too much D&D.

We all know the scene: The battle of Pelennor Fields. Theoden King has been struck down by the Lord of the Nazgul and now Eowyn defends her fallen lord and kinsman.
“Begone foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!”

A cold voice answered: “Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.”

A sword rang as it was drawn. “Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.”

“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman! Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him.”

The Nazgul paused. “But, if you’re woman, technically, you’re still part of the race of Men.”

It was Eowyn’s turn to pause. “What?”

“Well, your race is known as ‘Men.’ Therefore, you technically are a ‘man,’ even if you’re female.”

“And what’s that got to do with anything?” Eowyn said. She pointed her sword at the Nazgul. “Come on, quit stalling!”

“All I’m saying,” said the Nazgul, its red eyes glowing beneath its crown. “Is Glorfindel prophesied that ‘not by the hand of man will he fall.’ Therefore, as you are of the race of Men, you can’t stop me.”

Eowyn frowned, one hand coming up to scratch her nose. “Are you trying to wiggle out of this? What are you, some sort of lawyer?”

“Well, I did practice a bit in the old days. Y’know, before the whole ‘Ring’ thing.”

Tomorrow: Part 2


Silver said...

In the first Swedish translation of the books that issue was cleanly avoided. See, I don't know what the translator was smoking at the time, but when he translated that piece, Eowyn didn't really do much, Merry however jumped up and stabbed the Nazgul from behind, killing it.

Nerds had been raging about it for a long time in silence, and when the movies came out ordinary people noticed as well, and a new translation was commisioned.

I should point out that that was only an example of the weird translation, there were apparently a lot of them. I haven't had the patience so check out the rest of them, since I found the books very boring, and forcing my way through them once was enough. Required reading and all.

Hmm... Remnron sounds kinda like a standard fantasy town, doesn't it?

Buzzcook said...

Technically the "human" race. So the LotN is making a point with out distinction.

If we call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does it have. Four, calling a tail a leg doesn't make it so.

Superior skill at sophistry doesn't make one sword proof.

Jason Janicki said...

Huh. That's interesting, Silver. I wonder if there was a particular reason the translator did that?

True, Buzzcook, but sophistry can throw the other guy off his game :)