October 22nd, 2009

canoeing

The gift of tongues

When I am reading I have this horrible habit of being caught by incidental detail, and thinking 'hang on, that's wrong, isn't it'? My brain then hares off after that detail and loses the plot.

Last time I read through A Song of Ice and Fire, I was taken by the remarkable fatness of Samwell Tarly, which persists despite military training and rations, forced marches, seasickness, and lack of money.

This time I read it, I noted that Ser Wylis Manderly is apparently stricken by the same remarkable problem: despite the stresses and strains of riding to war, battle, being taken and held prisoner for some considerable while in a situation where the prisoners are driven to cannibalism, he's *still* fat when released. How odd.

I also wondered about Ser Ilyn Payne and Victarion's tongueless bedwench. Neither of them is able to talk at all, because their tongues have been removed. Yet, surely, the ability to speak is not entirely tongue-based? Admittedly it is hard to pretend you don't have a tongue, but I reckon that quite a few consonants are shaped entirely by the lips, and removing the tongue surely would not damage the vocal chords? It would certainly render someone hard to understand, but surely not completely silent...?