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A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea


by Ursula K. Le Guin

Language Quotes in A Wizard of Earthsea

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #7

"I named you once, I think," he said, and then strode to his house and entered, bearing the bird still on his wrist. (7.81)

Ogion is right, of course – the falcon is really Ged – but notice that this sentence doesn't actually indicate that this is Ged. At the end of the sentence, it's still "the bird." The name "Ged" only appears at the end of this paragraph, even though the whole time, we know this bird is Ged. It's funny that the story can use one word to describe this character ("the bird"), while Ogion and we know who this really is all the while. It seems as if the book is demonstrating the difference between use-name ("the bird") and true name ("Ged"): we can call it a bird all we want, but it's still Ged.

Quote #8

"Do you understand me? Do you speak no Hardic?" Ged paused, and then asked, "Kargad?" (8.31)

We're mostly interested in language as it relates to magic (because magic is fun). But here's one of the few times when we learn that there are other languages, and contemplate all the real issues that go along with language. That is, it's hard to talk to someone who doesn't speak your language. (Maybe this is one reason why it's hard to talk to dragons. Sigh.)

Quote #9

"My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name." (9.77)

This gets a little philosophical for us, but Ged does raise an interesting idea here: what if we're all connected in one true name? And this raises another question: who's speaking this word/sentence? Is there any god(s) in Earthsea? Or are the most powerful creatures the wizards and the dragons that can use the Old Speech?

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