Merry Goatmas!

On IRC, ingsve, Qvaak and I were discussing Christmas traditions around the world, and somehow the tradition of the Yule Goat came up. I found the idea of a goat at Christmas charming (especially one that brought gifts; not one burned in effigy), and so I have borrowed the idea over. Not into Dothraki, mind (we’ll have to see if George R. R. Martin ever elaborates on what, if any, winter traditions the Dothraki have), but over to the Dothraki blog.

And so, once again, Merry Goatmas to you all! Let us see what Dorvi Aheshki has brought for you! (Though I will note that I think the featured image might be a dorvof [an ibex].)

Over at the Dothraki Wiki, our own Daenerys has been putting together a huge page on semantic word groupings. It’s quite an effort! Unfortunately, many of the cells are blank, because vocabulary in Dothraki hasn’t come to light in any systematic way. In order to help fill it in, I thought I’d give you the Swadesh list in Dothraki.

The Swadesh list is a great big list of 207 words (though there are shorter versions of 100 and 35 words) that a field linguist uses for elicitation. The original intent of the list was to demonstrate how closely related two languages are. The list of words is supposed to comprise words that are not likely to be borrowed from another language—words that the language should have from time immemorial. If there are clear historical connections between the words on the Swadesh list elicited from two different languages, then there’s a good chance that the two languages are related. For example, here’s a partial list (using English as a base line) with Spanish, French, Italian, Russian (romanized) and Hawaiian:

Swadesh
Number
English Spanish French Italian Russian Hawaiian
45 fish pez poisson pesce ryba i‘a
65 bone hueso os osso kost’ iwi
74 eye ojo œil occhio glaz maka
75 nose nariz nez naso nos ihu
78 tongue lengua langue lingua yazyk alelo
163 wind viento vent vento vyetyer makani

Just based on this small sample, one can tell that Spanish, French and Italian are pretty closely related; English is more distantly related to these three; Russian is even more distantly related; and Hawaiian isn’t related at all. And even though I chose these samples on purpose, that’s pretty close to reality!

Nowadays, the Swadesh list enjoys other uses—particular amongst field linguists who are starting the process of elicitation—and so I thought it might be neat to come up with the 207 word Swadesh list in Dothraki. I ended up not doing anything with it, though, so I thought I might as well make it available here.

Note that you will have seen some of these words before, and that the meanings of the English terms are often ambiguous, so if you have questions, feel free to ask them here.

Otherwise, may Winter Goat wag his shaggy, goatish beard for you and shower you in his goatish fur! Perhaps next year we can put up some pictures of Winter Goat taken by those who read the blog (I know I shall certainly be on the hunt for goats to take pictures of, since I don’t seem to have any goat pictures myself). We shall see…!

Posted on December 25, 2011, in Community, Vocabulary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Nice. I should start doing Swadesh lists when I conlang. It seems a better way to get the ball rolling on word creation than forcing myself to do translations right off the bat.

  2. Vitteya Haji Christmas!

    I hope St. Nicholas (who I heard rumor that in legend was once a Dothraki Khal), riding the Dorvi Aheski brought everyone many fine gifts!

    Now I know I am sadly missing a Yule Goat ornament. I don’t think they have them here. :(

    Athchomari yeraan, zhey David, for the Swaedish list in Dothraki. I will get to work soon, filling in my semantic word groupings! :)

    Fonas chek!

  3. nice Swadesh lists. (Swadeshes? Swadesi?)

    >the idea of a goat at Christmas charming (especially one that brought gifts; not one burned in effigy),
    That reminds me of the Grimm story with the line “little goat if you are able, please prepare my little table.” (‘one eye, two eye, three eye’)

  4. Thank you zhey David for the list of words. I immediately see a number of new words here (and this will keep me busy updating the dictionary in a few days!) Interestingly, AFAIK, the Swedish list thing has not been done for Na’vi. I will have to fill out the list for that language as best as I can.

    Goat for Christmas?? A roast goat would be great for celebrating (and a small goat would be about the right size for a family feast).

  5. Some bored French

    even though it’s no big deal, I think the french word you wanted to put in the second line was rather ‘os’, as ‘osseuse’ is an adjective you’d use to describe a feminine object made of bone.

    nice website by the way !

  6. I just finished adding the new words to the wiki. There was about 60-70 new words which is nice. I have a few questions though that I hope you can straighten out.

    -We have heavy as ohazho but the list says ohazh. Which is correct?

    -We have halahi meaning a tree that can blossom and in the list the word for flower is halah. Are these different uses of the same word or is the difference significant enough to have two separate vocabulary entries?

    -The word hranna is used to mean grass in the list but from the books it looks like hranna is the name of a specific type or species of grass. Do you use hranna to mean any generic species of grass or was it used in the list in lack of a generic term?

    -Achralat is listed as smell. Is that “to smell something” or is it “to be smelly”?

    -Haje means “right” and from the context on the it seems this means the direction while I thought it meant the opposite of wrong. Which is it?

    • I’ll see what I can clear up:

      -We have heavy as ohazho but the list says ohazh. Which is correct?

      Ohazhat is “to be heavy”; ohazholat, then, is “to become heavy”, or, in modern usage, “to ferment”. The derived adjectives, then, are ohazh, “heavy”, and ohazho, “fermented”. Nevertheless, ohazho does kind of mean “heavy”.

      -We have halahi meaning a tree that can blossom and in the list the word for flower is halah. Are these different uses of the same word or is the difference significant enough to have two separate vocabulary entries?

      They are separate (though related) words. Note that halah is an animate noun and halahi is an inanimate noun derived from the same root.

      -The word hranna is used to mean grass in the list but from the books it looks like hranna is the name of a specific type or species of grass. Do you use hranna to mean any generic species of grass or was it used in the list in lack of a generic term?

      Hranna is a type of grass, but is also used for other grass-like ground cover. Whereas “grass” in English doesn’t refer to any particular type of grass, no such term exists in Dothraki. As a result, hranna is used as a kind of common term, even though it refers to a type of grass.

      -Achralat is listed as smell. Is that “to smell something” or is it “to be smelly”?

      It means “to give off a smell”, not “to sniff” (if we can distinguish the two English verbs that way). To smell actively, or to sniff, is rivvat.

      -Haje means “right” and from the context on the it seems this means the direction while I thought it meant the opposite of wrong. Which is it?

      No, no, haje is the right side of the body; jil is “correct”.

  7. Insgive, I have been trying to keep up with you on the dictionary; I am about 2/3rds complete with version 3.020 (I would have saved 3.020 until this last post if I had realized that you were not finished with the new words. I also called the Swaedish list the Swedish list in the changelog :( ). I will try and get the rest of the words tonight or tomorrow night.

    So, on the word haje, does that also mean right (direction)?

    David, I have a number of goats living next door. I will try and get you a few goat pictures this weekend!

    • So, on the word haje, does that also mean right (direction)?

      No, wrong question there. Haje NEVER meant “correct”; it ONLY meant “right (direction)”.

      David, I have a number of goats living next door. I will try and get you a few goat pictures this weekend!

      That’s awesome! :D

  8. I’m finally unwrapping this present, too.

    Both some and few are translated as loy, and in the series’ dialogue loy is also translated as any. The syntax for usage of loy seems similar to san. Is the syntax same for the both (or all) senses of loy? Are the meanings even separate, or is it ~small numer of in all these cases? San has still also a concrete meaning, a heap. Does loy have any similar meaning as an individual noun?

    Ammemat means to play, but how far does that carry? Is it just for children’s plays, or is gaming inside the scope of the word? Acting surely isn’t?

    I’m under an impression that in many languages, especially in history, a word for man has also a strong supertype sense as human, person. Mahrazh is such a big manly word, and voj such a nice small everyday-like word, that this might not be the case in Dothraki? …though in Anha vazhak maan firikhnharen hoshora ma mahrazhi aqovi affin mori atihi mae. I gotta admit mahrazhi seems to carry exactly that generic people sense…

    How does drozhat compare to addrivat and ogat?

    We already knew erin as kind, so I’m guessing it’s good in the benevolent sense of the word. How about good archer or good chair? Does erin still serve?
    Based on the former, I’m guessing mel also means bad in the sense of evil, vicked. How far does its scope reach?

    • Before responding, something to know about the Swadesh list is that it was left intentionally vague. So with “play”, for example, if the definition were too narrow, it might lead to a dead end during an elicitation session. Better to have your informant give you something than nothing—even if it’s not the precise word you were looking for. Anyway, I used that vagueness to my advantage in filling out the list for Dothraki.

      Both some and few are translated as loy, and in the series’ dialogue loy is also translated as any. The syntax for usage of loy seems similar to san. Is the syntax same for the both (or all) senses of loy? Are the meanings even separate, or is it ~small numer of in all these cases? San has still also a concrete meaning, a heap. Does loy have any similar meaning as an individual noun?

      Loy originally meant “puddle” (as in a puddle of water). It’s now polyfunctional. So where English has “some”, “few”, “any”, “a bit of”, etc., Dothraki has loy.

      Ammemat means to play, but how far does that carry?

      Not very far. As mentioned above, I took advantage of the vagueness inherent in the list and used a word for “play” that would only be associated with a musical instrument. You may notice from the shape of the word that it’s a causative. Memat means “to make (a) noise”.

      Mahrazh is such a big manly word, and voj such a nice small everyday-like word, that this might not be the case in Dothraki? …though in Anha vazhak maan firikhnharen hoshora ma mahrazhi aqovi affin mori atihi mae. I gotta admit mahrazhi seems to carry exactly that generic people sense…

      When I read that quote originally (in the books), I got the sense that they meant “men”, not “people”, which is why I used mahrazhi (and I stand by that reading. From a Dothraki point of view, it’s much more impressive if you can do something that causes men [as opposed to women] to tremble). The use of “men” as a general term covering all people, though, is not crosslinguistic. In fact, I was quite surprised by the language we were studying in grad. school, Moro, which does the exact opposite: the word for “women” is used to mean “people”; the word for “girls” is used to mean “children”, etc. In Dothraki, voji is used.

      How does drozhat compare to addrivat and ogat?

      Ogat literally means “to slaughter” (for the purposes of eating). It’s been extended to mean “kill” as the word has in English (and many other languages, I’m sure). Properly, addrivat means “to kill” when the subject is sentient; drozhat is used when the subject is inanimate or an animal (e.g. if the boulder killed some guy, you used drozhat; if he was killed by some other guy, you use addrivat). Drozhat, though, is also used in two rather opposite senses: (1) It’s used when the killing was accidental, and (2) it’s used to indicate that the killer was so enraged or insane that s/he acted like an animal rather than a human being.

      We already knew erin as kind, so I’m guessing it’s good in the benevolent sense of the word. How about good archer or good chair? Does erin still serve?

      No, you’d use davra.

      Based on the former, I’m guessing mel also means bad in the sense of evil, vicked. How far does its scope reach?

      It’s the opposite of erin. To say someone did something poorly (or inefficiently, etc.), you’d use edavrasa.

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