Unc Nunkie

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Unc Nunkie

CowardlyLion
Member
Joined: 14 May 2009, 07:04

12 Jun 2011, 22:25 #1

Someone recently made an observation that I can only assume has been noticed before, but one that I can't seem to find reference to now. It concerns the character "Unc Nunkie," who first appears in "Patchwork Girl." If we believe that he is Ojo's uncle, it is acceptable for Ojo to call him "Uncle" or "Unc." Is it, however, reasonable for everybody else, including the authors (Baum, Thompson, and Snow) to refer to him simply as "Unc?" He couldn't actually be uncle to everybody. So why is his name not reduced to "Nunkie" instead of "Unc?" Or maybe it should be "Nunk," which is easier to say and faster for an author to write out.

I am not considering changing his name to correct an "error" that Baum originated and all other subsequent authors followed. That would be tampering with a classic, and that is just wrong (remember that someone wanted to change Mr. Butler's line in that OTHER 1939 movie to, "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't care." Classics like that should not be re-worded, even though people like my grandmother hated the use of profanity in that quote). No, I wouldn't want to go back and re-edit the texts now. Nor do I intend to change Unc's "name" in my own future Oz writings. I'm just wondering if anyone has ever offered a reasonable explanation for this dude being called "Unc" by all of these people who are not even related to him.
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jaredadavis
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Joined: 20 Apr 2005, 23:03

12 Jun 2011, 23:16 #2

Same reason everyone calls Aunt Em Aunt Em and Uncle Henry Uncle Henry. It's how they were introduced to them.
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wcam60
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Joined: 12 Jul 2005, 08:25

13 Jun 2011, 03:17 #3

Perhaps his first name is actually Unc....
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Strasheela
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Joined: 28 Aug 2007, 04:05

13 Jun 2011, 13:11 #4

There is also a time difference involved. Back then, it wasn't all that uncommon for people(especially younger people (and remember Oz was being written to be read by and to primarily children) to adress any older person as aunt or "uncle"(or if they were really old "granny" and "grampa" (or if you are British "gammer" and "gaffer") even if they weren't related. It was considered respectful and friendly. It's still common in a lot of families to adress close older friends of your family as aunt and uncle (I know I did it). Or think of something like Shakespeare where a lot of the characters call each other "cousin" evne thogh they are not realted. And since Oz is supposed to be a largely "friendly place", everyone calling Unc Nukie Unc Nukie makes a sort of sense.    
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Jane
Member
Joined: 19 Jun 2003, 03:51

13 Jun 2011, 14:05 #5

I just assumed it was a respectful term of affection from everyone. He's fairly avuncular as characters go, and calling him Nunkie reminds me of my grandmother's trick for naming babies; first yell it out the back door and if it sounds like you're calling the dog, don't use it for your child. 
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dittersdorf
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Joined: 03 Apr 2011, 21:11

14 Jun 2011, 23:58 #6

In "The Lost Princess of Oz", Scraps refers to Aunt Em as "Aunt Em", so I don't see why it should be unacceptable for anyone to refer to Unc Nunkie as "Unc Nunkie". As Strasheela observed, this wasn't terribly uncommon in the time period in which Baum wrote - and it's not even entirely unheard of now.
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VoVat
Member
Joined: 10 Oct 2003, 19:43

20 Jul 2011, 04:20 #7

Actually, his first name is Stephen.
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