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A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Language Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"It has no name." (4.78)

Archmage Gensher explains this to Ged about the shadow monster. And if it has no name, the shadow monster is beyond human power. (Or really anyone's power.) Does this line – coming from the Archmage – make the reader lose hope?

Quote #5

Although the use of the Old Speech binds a man to truth, this is not so with dragons. It is their own language, and they can lie in it, twisting the true words to false ends, catching the unwary hearer in a maze of mirrorwords each of which reflects the truth and none of which leads anywhere. (5.61)

What is a "mirrorword"? Le Guin doesn't invent a lot of new words, which sometimes happens in some fantasy books, so "mirrorword" is one of the few times that your spellchecker will freak out. Notice that this invented word occurs in a section where she discusses the possibility of using language to confuse the hearer. Very clever, Le Guin.

Quote #6

Before Ged could speak spell or summon power, the gebbeth spoke, saying in its hoarse voice, "Ged!" (6.73)

This is one of the clues that the shadow monster is really a part of Ged: only a few people know Ged's true name, and one of those people is Ged himself. This is also an important moment since language is being used against Ged (in the same way that he used it against Yevaud in Chapter 5).

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