Why don't the characters address and refer to the kings, queens, and princelings as "Majesty" or "Highness"? What's up with the "Your Grace"-bit?
I thought that title was reserved for archbishops (and "dukes"?). What am I missing?
Charlie Campisi wrote (post #4):
. . . . I'm just a silly American.
That part I'm sure you got right.
I think what you might be missing is that the story does not occur in Great Britain . . . .
Oh, please! And I think you might be—no, I'm sure of it—you are indulging in flippant dishonesty.
We went through this kind of disingenuous nonsense with Children of Dune (2003) and Earthsea (2004), back in the day.
This issue always comes up when discussing Hollywood's attempts to present "interior perspectives" on invented foreign cultures.
This series (and, no doubt, the books it is based upon) is awash in Briticisms, Celtic and Germanic all mixed up.
Their "common language", as they call it, sounds a whole lot like British English to me, even down to the point of having convernient parallels to real-world dialects: Hiberno-English, highlands-Scottish, Yorkish, etc.
The lessons Tywin Lannister gives to Arya about addressing her betters, e.g., "my lord" (upper class speech) vs. m'lord (lower class), are instructive (double entendre intended!); he sure ain't teaching her where to insert the definite article to render vocative address, à la française.
A goodly number of place or personal names scream "I'm British (under the mask)!":
—Dornish (in the south) for Cornish
— Andal invaders = Angle(s) (as in Anglo-Saxons; "Horsa and Hengist", anyone?)
—Lord Umber (as in Northumberland?)
—Greyjoy recalls the name of the historical Grey family (as in "Lady Jane Grey") that was repeatedly in the lead in rebellions against the English monarchy.
—Lannister sounds to me suspiciously like the Standard British English (SBE) pronunciation of Lancaster, while the name Stark, of course, recalls York. ("War of the Roses", anyone?)
—Welshish elements: the names Tywin and Tyrion, and Targaryen (whose English pronunciation, at lest, sounds like the Old the Welsh -(i)on ending (cf. Mabinogion), even if differing in spelling); not to mention the Arthurian and dragon associations. (Go check out the "national" flag of Wales, smart guy.)
—Joffrey, "the first of his name", a frenchified Frankish (i.e., Germanic in origin) name reminds of the Normans.
—The Northmen, who want to be—[ahem!]—"scot-free" in their own homeland, bear the "burr" in their speech and seem often to be played by Scottish actors (such as Messrs. Madden and Stahl).
Independent of language, per se:
—The Wildlings (descendants of "the First Men") evoke the historical Picts ("the painted ones", the pre-Scottish aboriginal population of Scotland)
—The Wall recalls, of course, Hadrian's Wall in northern England (near the "Neck"), the Romans' defensive northern border, if not the actual border, for their province in Britain.
The social institutions, customs, and features on display: the primogeniture, the class-system, the open nepotism and clannishness (appointing relatives all over the place; campaigns of vengeance for blood relations, vel sim.), the display of head trophies of the defeated (a Celtic specialty brought to prominence with the coming of the Celtic Tudors to the throne of England); the paganism-to-(so-called)-monotheïsm theme: the many gods of the aboriginals to be replaced by the few ("The 7") of the conquerors and then by the One.
This stew of history and culture all adds up to a (fictionalized) version of medieval (semi-pagan) Britain.
And, it should not escape any interested party's notice that the shape of "Westeros" on the provided maps looks uncannily like that of Great Britain (at least to me). (I know the author has claimed that undepicted northern regions are supposed to be something like the size of Greenland, but them we don't get to see.)
Yes, they call it "Westeros"—hey, it's in the west. Why not?—, but that is just a mask. The parallels here are too numerous, and too naked, for this land to be mistaken for anything other than Britain (to anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of British terrain or British history, that is). It's only a name change, nothing (or very little) else.
And, so—riddle me this—from where the hell else would the primary intended audiences, the Anglophone and mostly Brit-descended parts of the world, get their model of "nobility", anyway? Even if one could imagine an "international" cast of native-English-speaking actors, say, with American (Northeastern, Midwestern, Southern, Western, or Californian!), Canadian, South African, or Ozzie/Kiwi accents, those actors would still have to "play British" to be taken seriously as nobility, or be laughed off of the screen, wouldn't they?
None of those countries or cultures has any independent basis for such a conception ("nobility"), since all result from (relatively) recent off-branchings of the mother culture. In the U.S. we have nothing. Our erstwhile "legends" (or "myths", if you prefer) were shaped mostly by journalists, adventurers, and "entrepreneurs" in the Old West (late nineteenth through very early twentieth century), and have long since been destroyed by the revelation of . . . . FACTS (and some mighty unpleasant ones, at that). And nowhere did we ever have a "nobility".
Therefore, from the clothing to the architecture (whether of huts or castles), despite the liberties given the production designers in those areas, and on to the language, here, as in Earthsea, the model is clearly British (not French, not German, not Japanese, nor Chinese), and only the disingenuous or the absolutely ignorant could deny the clear signs.
So, if we're going to have a discussion on the subject, let it be based upon honesty and the evidence before one's eyes and ears, not one based on flippancy and disingenuousness.
Sam Posten wrote (post #6):
It's a fantasy world, not earth.
Is it Mars, then? Or, perhaps, Venus?
We don't call bastards snow, flowers or hill either.
Not clear what to make of this assertion, except that, since there are plenty of actual families named Snow, Flowers, or Hill, it's PATENTLY FALSE! (. . . . unless you mean to assert that only "bastards" are so surnamed in "our reälity". Still false. "Their reälity" we don't know about.)
We don't have dragon, wraiths, or telepathy.
Not all would agree, and a few have spent much time, energy, and material resources investigating whether such things have existed some time in the past, even if they are not present now, or whether they may exist outside of the normal human sensory range.
It seems to have escaped some, but not others (such as the producers of this program), that there's a marked difference between reälity, so-called, and realism (a.k.a. versimilitude).
There's a very profound difference between whether some thing posited actually exists (or has ever existed) and whether its hypothetical presentation can inspire a "willing suspension of disbelief", however momentary, in an audience. For the most part, these people have gotten it right. (For the most part.)
Simon Massey wrote (post #5):
I think it has something to do with Henry VIII as I think Kings and Queens were called Your Grace before him. Probably something to do with the shift from Catholicism to Protestant. I believe Kings and Queens of Scotland were also called Your Grace before the Union.
Do you know for a fact that monarchs were addressed and referred to only as "Grace" before Henry VIII, or are you just guessing? One can find such information in books, of course. I thought I'd just save myself the trouble and ask people who (maybe) ought to know.
In any event, the sort of march toward the concept of divine kingship in Western Europe might well—and probably did—proceed along the path you are suggesting. I think that's one place where this show (and Martin's books???) probably get(s) it wrong.*
But, thanks, anyhow, for an intelligent reply.
*Yeah, I know, I know. ("So what?!?")
Edited by Rex Bachmann, June 25 2013 - 01:42 PM.