‘Foreigners’ in A Song of Ice and Fire, Cont.
By Taylor Marvin
This post contains mild spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire through A Dance with Dragons.
“And yet the cultures of Essos still come across as ‘foreign,’ in a way that can easily be interpreted as orientalist. Why? I think it comes down to speech patterns. While the people of Westeros, from Dorne to the Iron Islands to beyond the Wall, all sound basically like Englishmen, the speech of people from the other cultures is almost always either florid or stilted… You hear them and you think ‘Okay, this person is not like us,’ ‘us’ being real-world readers and fictional-world Westerosi, the inheritors of the shared cultural relevance of medieval Europe. It’s a huge structural obstacle that instantly otherizes everyone across the Narrow Sea.”
I’m ashamed I missed it before, especially since I read Collins’ Boiled Leather site frequently. Check it out.
Speaking of Orientalism, also check out this recent excellent piece on the subject at my old home Prospect Journal of International Affairs.