11

Theoden calls Eowyn sister-daughter. I assume this is because she is, literally, the daughter of his sister.

He also refers to Eomer as his sister-son at one point.

What does Eowyn call Theoden in return?

  • 9
    If we follow the same logic, she would call him mother-brother. – Zikato Jul 17 '15 at 10:59
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    Simply "uncle". She also refers to him as "my Lord" when bringing him news of his son Theodred's death whilst he was bewitched by Saruman. – maguirenumber6 Jul 17 '15 at 11:04
  • @Zikato I think that's the whole point of the question, no? Should we follow the same logic? – Anthony Grist Jul 17 '15 at 12:49
  • 1. Vihung- you assume correctly. Eowyn is Theoden's niece, or the daughter of his sister. 2. If Theoden wasn't King, Eowyn would probably call him "mother-brother", if the word "uncle" wasn't known to them. 3. Perhaps because we meet them at a time when they are emphasizing Theoden's Royal status, Eowyn addresses him in formal terms. Under other circumstances, she may have addressed him less formally. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jul 17 '15 at 15:05
23

As far as I can tell, in the books, Eowyn referred to Theoden by any title only three times. She was very quiet in the Two Towers. She only spoke twice: Once when offering Theoden wine after his recovery, and once when Theoden appointed her as guardian of Edoras as he departed. Neither of those times did she use any address other than his name.

In Return of the King, she only spoke to him a couple of times. On his arrival at Dunharrow:

'Hail, Lord of the Mark!' she cried. 'My heart is glad at your returning.'

and later:

He pointed away along the darkening lines of stones towards the Dwimorberg. 'Of the Paths of the Dead?'

'Yes, lord,' said Éowyn. 'And he has passed into the shadows from which none have returned. I could not dissuade him. He is gone.'

Sadly, in the books, Theoden died on the Pelennor Fields before he knew Eowyn was there. She mentioned him once when she awoke in the Houses of Healing:

' I am strangely weary,' she said. 'I must rest a little. But tell me, what of the Lord of the Mark? Alas! Do not tell me that that was a dream for I know that it was not. He is dead as he foresaw.'

This isn't particularly surprising -- in the real world, even the family of British royalty are expected to greet Royalty by "Your Majesty" (and lower nobility by their titles, including "My Lord"). The Queen, however, can call you whatever she damn well pleases.

  • Does Eomer ever call Theoden "mother-brother"? – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jul 17 '15 at 14:59
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    @WadCheber I just watched the movies a couple of days ago and must have read the books 10 times. IRRC he uses formal address, like his sister. (Every occasion is either a formal court setting or a military command setting, so this seems quite logical.) – Tonny Jul 17 '15 at 15:16
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    +1 for "The Queen, however, can call you whatever she damn well pleases" – Kimberly W Jul 17 '15 at 20:19
  • Minor niggle, but that page you linked to doesn't say anything about how members of the royal family are expected to greet one another, only how the general population should address the royal family. I sincerely doubt Prince Charles calls the Queen “Your Majesty”—most likely he calls her mother or mum just like how most other people address their mothers. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 18 '15 at 16:40
  • Thanks. I think this answers the question as asked – Vihung Jul 20 '15 at 12:05
8

This is probably a linguistics question. The Rohirric language created by Tolkien has the specific family naming features of Old English that modern english has dropped.

E.G. https://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/anthropology/tutor/kinterms/oldenglish.html

If it's not in the texts, I would speculate Tolkien would have made it 'Éam', which is what I think you're asking. In the books, his role as ruler is primary and calling him 'uncle' in public would probably be disrespectful.

This might be helpful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohirric

As a counterpoint, most cultures of India make even less distinction of familial roles. 'Uncle' means someone of about my father's age, whether they are related or not.

  • 1
    Yes, the form Theoden uses is much like is done in Swedish for grandparents, where you can tell them apart because you say farfar, farmor, morfar, or mormor to indicate father's father, father's mother, etc... – Dronz Jul 17 '15 at 15:57
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    Yes, I think you're right about it being an artifact of Tolkien's "translation". You can, I think, see a remnant of these different kin-terms in e.g. Shakespeare, where "cousin" is used where we would use neice/nephew. – jamesqf Jul 17 '15 at 17:12
  • Thanks. I think this answers my question, not as asked but as I should have asked - maybe something along the lines of 'what would Eowyn have called Theoden in private?' – Vihung Jul 20 '15 at 12:06
  • @Dronz , I should have said that's a feature of the germanic family of languages. – Jeff Sacksteder Jul 20 '15 at 14:47

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