We saw a production of King Lear Saturday night. It’s one of my boyfriend’s favorite plays but even so, after it was over, he said, “What’s up with the word nuncle?” For some reason it gives him the willies. Then he found an on-line dictionary definition and clicked on the pronunciation audio file again and again – until it became, like a dance hit featuring “nuncle, nuncle, nuncle.”
Anyway – while I understood nuncle to essentially mean “uncle,” I hadn’t worked out that it was rooted in the elision of “mine uncle”, that “mine uncle” sounds very much like “my nuncle.” And I thought, “how many occasions are there to discuss “mine uncle,” really?” It wouldn’t seem to be an excessively used phrase.
But then of course, this is a perfect opportunity. Hamlet has many occasions to talk about his uncle and with good reason. It does seem good, though, that he’s not going to stage a play about his father’s murder for his nuncle. Nuncle nuncle nuncle.