Newbie question: ending of A Sudden Wild Magic

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at
Wed Nov 24 14:32:20 EST 2004

Thank you for asking, Juliette! I've always wanted to know myself. I can't
think why I never posted the question here.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dwj at [mailto:owner-dwj at]On Behalf Of
minnow at
Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2004 9:17 PM
To: dwj at
Subject: Re: Newbie question: ending of A Sudden Wild Magic

Juliette Curtis wrote:

>Hello all:

Hi Juliette!

>I've just joined the list after lurking for a while and I hope somebody
>can help me with the ending of A Sudden Wild Magic. Marcus says "Ort
>bake ow. Bad doubt." Whatever does he mean? I enjoyed the book a lot and
>it is rather frustrating to not understand the last comment in it! Can
>anybody translate?

When this book came out I had a bratlet just a fraction older than Marcus
is, who had been in the habit of making just this sort of unintelligible
confiding remark to total strangers from the moment she started to talk at
all; so when I encountered it I was in pretty good practice at translating
such observations for bewildered ladies in shops or policemen on their
beat.  What one has to do is look around for the most obviously
exciting/interesting thing going on in the area, and in this case it's the
centaurs and Michael rushing about in the background.

"Horses break house.  Man shout."

He's been calling centaurs 'ort' since he first met Philo, and the house he
and Zillah built when they were prisoners was 'ow'.  The centaurs are
certainly breaking the house, last we see of them.

"Man shout" is because of the redheaded man in wellies (I assume it's
Michael) who is trying to stop them.

At risk of appearing to give authorial intention prime importance I add
that I happen to know (by asking her) that this is what DWJ intended Marcus
to mean when she wrote it.  I must of course point out that your or my or
anyone else's interpretation of the phrase is as valid as DWJ's in any
right-minded literary-critical context.


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