Post by James Nicoll
No Man of Woman Born (Rewoven Tales) by Ana Mardoll
Regarding the Witch-king's doom, does everyone realize by now
that it's a subtle linguistic pun?
I quote myself from a while back:
The word "man" in English has been made to stand in for what were
originally two words: _mann_ meaning "a man, as distinguished
from an animal, demon, or god" (compare Latin _homo_, Greek
_anthropos_), and _wer_ meaning "a man, as distinguished from a
woman or a child" (Latin _vir_, Greek _aner, andros_).
If Eowyn and the Witch-King had been pedants like the herb-master
of Minas Tirith, the dialogue might have gone more like this:
"You fool, no living man may harm me."
"_Distinguo_, Sir, I am not _vir_ but _femina._ Prepare to die."
"Excuse me, your Westron is so imprecise. I did not mean _vir_,
I meant _homo_."
"Ah, point taken! In that case, permit me to point out that
Meriadoc, who is not _homo_ but _dimidiulus,_ a Halfling, has
just introduced an Arnorian blade into your knee."
So the Witch-king was doubly slain, by one who was not male and
one who was not, strictly speaking, human.
Dorothy J. Heydt
djheydt at gmail dot com