Monthly Archives: May 2013

Some High Valyrian Inflection

As many will have noticed, there’s no new episode of Game of Thrones this week. There’s also no new episode of Defiance, for fans of the Syfy show. In fact, there’s not much on TV this weekend except for sports. The reasons is evident, though it seems that networks are only catching on this year. This Monday is Memorial Day in America.

Now ordinarily, one would think that since it’s a long weekend, people would be gearing up to go home and watch TV—and that’s often true. But as a holiday, Memorial Day is all but guaranteed to have the best weather of any American holiday throughout the year. The weather may be nice on certain holidays in certain parts of the country on any given year, true, but Memorial Day is just about guaranteed to have great weather in every part of the country every single year. As a result, families use this time to get together and go outside. And while sporting events work great for such weather (you can drop in and drop out, catch a play while getting something to drink, etc.), sitting down for a serious drama seems to be at odds with the gorgeous weather outside. Consequently, American networks decided to bow to the weather and take a week off.

Personally, I couldn’t be happier! This time of the year I often find myself out of town on the weekends (maybe not every weekend, but some weekends), which means that I have to miss a live airing of Game of Thrones, which is just not cool. This year I don’t have to worry! As with last year, I traveled up to the Bay Area for BayCon and also to visit with family (and with Shubert’s). And since there’s no Game of Thrones or Defiance, I can really enjoy the weekend!

While we take a breath as we prepare for the final two episodes of Game of Thrones, though, I thought I’d put up a couple of inflectional paradigms from High Valyrian. The hope is that these can be used as a general reference for the future. There’s been some excellent and fruitful discussion in the comments section of this blog, but as anyone who’s a regular commenter is well familiar with, it’s kind of hard to keep track of who said what when, and so I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes (misreading comments, saying comment x is incorrect when I really meant comment y, etc.). These paradigms I promise will be 100% correct (unless they need to be changed in the future [joking (kind of)]).

Starting with the verbs, those who’ve been following along will know that there are basically two types of verb stems in High Valyrian: those that end in a consonant and those that end in a vowel. In High Valyrian, a stem can end with any consonant or vowel, but those that end in vowels have paradigms which are quite similar to one another, and those that end in a consonant have paradigms that are quite similar to one another (in both instances, though, there will be variation in the perfect, which is the part of the paradigm most likely to be irregular). Here I want to give you the most regular versions of each paradigm so that you’ve got a base line to go off of. Let’s start with the easy one: consonant-final stems. As an example, I’ll use manaeragon, which means “to raise” or “to lift”.

Person/Type Present Active Tense
Indicative Subjunctive
Singular Plural Singular Plural
First Person manaeran manaeri manaeron manaeroty
Second Person manaerā manaerāt manaerō manaerōt
Third Person manaerza manaerzi manaeros manaerosy
Imperative manaerās manaerātās  
Infinitive manaeragon
Participle manaerare, manaerarior

A couple of comments on the table above. The (dark) grayed out part of the table are forms that don’t exist (there are no subjunctive participles or infinitives or imperatives). Where one form stretches across singular and plural, it means there’s no distinction. In the case of the participles, those are adjectives with regular adjective endings, and the first is used with a lunar or solar class and the latter with a terrestrial or aquatic (i.e. those specific adjective endings conflate lunar and solar into one class and terrestrial and aquatic into another). You’ll undoubtedly be able to glance at the table and pick out some patterns. Bear those in mind as we move to the next paradigm—this one for limagon, which means “to cry”.

Person/Type Present Active Tense
Indicative Subjunctive
Singular Plural Singular Plural
First Person liman limī limaon limaoty
Second Person limā limāt limaō limaōt
Third Person limas limasi limaos limaosy
Imperative limās limātās  
Infinitive limagon
Participle limare, limarior

Aside from the subjunctive, the tables should look quite similar (probably because the stem ends in -a), so it may prove instructive to do another vowel-final paradigm that should help to describe the rest of it. Here’s sōvegon which means “to fly”.

Person/Type Present Active Tense
Indicative Subjunctive
Singular Plural Singular Plural
First Person sōven sōvī sōvion sōvioty
Second Person sōvē sōvēt sōviō sōviōt
Third Person sōves sōvesi sōvios sōviosy
Imperative sōvēs sōvētēs  
Infinitive sōvegon
Participle sōvere, sōverior

And with that, one should be able to figure out the rest. If you’re looking for something to hang your hat on, if you have a consonant-final stem, the first person plural present active indicative will always end in -i, and for a vowel-final stem, it will always end in , regardless of the vowel in the stem. If you’re trying to fill out the rest of the vowel-final forms, yes, the first person plural and second person singular are identical with i-final stems, and in the subjunctive, the final o and u of o- and u-final stems both become v.

Since we’ve devoted a lot of space to verbs, I’d like to wrap up with a couple common noun paradigms. You’ll notice that a lot of names of Valyrian origin end in -ys. This is how nouns and names of that type decline. I’ll use the word loktys, “sailor” as an example (a solar noun of the second declension class. Most [but not all] words of this class are solar).

Case Singular Plural Paucal Collective
Nominative loktys loktyssy loktyn loktyr
Accusative lokti loktī loktyni loktyri
Genitive lokto loktoti loktyno loktyro
Dative loktot loktoti loktynty loktyrty
Locative loktȳ loktī loktynny loktyrry
Instrumental loktomy loktommi loktyssy loktyrzy
Comitative loktomy loktommi loktymmy loktyrmy
Vocative loktys loktyssys loktyssy loktyrzy

It might prove instructive to refer to the first declension lunar paradigm revealed last week and compare it to this one. Pay particularly close attention to the singular and plural numbers, and note where cases are conflated and where they aren’t. This is what defines declension classes in High Valyrian.

Oh, and since it doesn’t fit anywhere else but I feel like mentioning it, verb stems never end in a long vowel or diphthong, and you’ll run into the following diphthongs in High Valyrian: ae, āe, ao and āo. There are also some on-glide diphthongs which can serve as the nucleus of a single syllable: ia, , io, , ie, , ua, , ue and .

I hope you enjoy the week off from Game of Thrones! Come next week, things are going to start to get messy. Geros ilas!

Tȳni Trēsi

Didn’t I tell y’all there would be some Dothraki this season? Ta da! There it is!

If I may come to things out of order, I thought the VFX of the White Walker dying were outstanding. Must be pretty satisfying to stab something and then have it turn to ice, fall and shatter that way. Pretty cool! Of course, Sam should’ve retained his knife (what was he so afraid of? He killed it! No way you can come back from that!), but the action north of the wall has been replete with horror movie tropes, so it is fitting. For those who remember the specific action of the book better than I do, though, what was up with those birds?! I don’t remember that from the book. And why would they have been so excited about this encounter as to opposed to the others that we’ve seen in the series already? There were no crows in those scenes (or, at least, no literal crows). Oh, and one more question: Isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that that White Walker is the exact same White Walker we saw in the season 2 finale?

I thought the scenes surrounding and during Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding were done very well. Reading those scenes initially, it was so frustrating how much Tyrion wants to convey to Sansa that he’s not a bad guy, and how miserably he fails to do so. I thought they captured that aspect of the books quite well in the scenes we saw here.

There has been a bit of controversy in some corners regarding the scenes on Dragonstone. I would like to go on record saying I thought they were fine. I have no complaints, and found everything to be in keeping with what ought to have been expected.

In today’s scene from Slaver’s Bay, we’re introduced to Daario Naharis, who looks nothing like I thought he would. You know who does look cool, though: Prendahl na Ghezn (played by Ramon Tikaram). Dude looks awesome! He’s even got the blue hair! (If there was any glare on your screen, you might not have noticed it, but his hair was dyed blue, I can assure you.) Alas, his role is a bit short-lived… It’s too bad. Honestly, I hope I see more of him in some other feature. He looks like a leading man, to me.

The main scene begins with Mero leading Prendahl and Daario into Dany’s tent. There is an exchange where Mero is even more insulting than Kraznys, and he provokes the incredible, invincible and indomitable Jacob Anderson, a.k.a Grey Worm, a.k.a Torgo Nudho, who says:

  • Nya dare, beza unehtelas jaa engo ozy?
  • “My queen, shall this one slice out his tongue for you?”

And for those keeping track, yes, that is a Dothraki-style hiatus there with jaa, in addition to Dothraki-style post-vocalic h in unehtelas, both of which he nails, because Jacob Anderson is a Golden God.

Anyway, Dany responds in High Valyrian:

  • Bisi vali īlvyz zentyssy issi.
  • “These men are our guests.”

The word vali was cut due to length, I’m guessing, but the result would still be grammatical (it would just mean “These ones [probably animate] are our guests”). If the form of the possessive adjective looks odd to you, then you’re really keyed in to the phonology of High Valyrian. As I mentioned somewhere at some point in time, adjectives in High Valyrian have a different form depending on whether they come before or after the noun they modify. In this case, the full form would be īlvyzy. The final y drops out if the adjective precedes the noun it modifies, though, and the z devoices unless the next word begins with a voiced sound. Since “guests” is zentyssy, then, the form of the adjective is īlvyz and not īlvys.

After many more insults and a scene between the three Second Sons, we see Missandei bathing Daenerys. Though this scene was, of course, planned, this bit of dialogue was added by Dan Weiss very late in the game (he asked for the translation in mid-September). Personally I think it’s kind of a meta joke since this is literally the only Dothraki that appears in the entire season. What he did was he gave me the English line and asked if I could get athjahakar (the Dothraki word for “pride”) at the end of the sentence. Ultimately this is how I did the translation:

  • Zhey Drogo ast me-Dothraki thasho h’anhaan ven anha ray yol mehas. Me azh maan atjakhar.
  • “Drogo said I spoke Dothraki like one born to it. It gave him great pride.”

Those who know Dothraki will note that this line features the (somewhat) rare invocative use of zhey (i.e. bringing to the listener’s attention a person who hasn’t yet appeared as a topic of discussion). You’ll also note that athjahakar is misspelled. Indeed, this little exchange was supposed to reveal that Dany was never as good at Dothraki as she is, of course, with High Valyrian or Common. And the specific word is a call-back to episode 103, I think it was, where Dany’s handmaiden Jiqui (or Zhikwi) Irri is shown teaching Dany Dothraki by teaching her to say the word athjahakar.

Looking at the above Dothraki line, you’ll note that Dany mangles it pretty badly. That was the intention, but personally I think Emilia went a little too far. Neither Dany nor Emilia was ever that bad! Of course, if Dany hasn’t really been speaking Dothraki much, I can see her getting out of practice (perhaps Jorah is the only one that speaks to the Dothraki now [or, actually, now Missandei can too]). She puts together a rather grammatically complex sentence, though. Pretty impressive for a second language learner!

Second Sons was a little light on language, so to add some girth to this, here’s the full declension for vala, the High Valyrian word for “man”:

Case Singular Plural Paucal Collective
Nominative vala vali valun valar
Accusative vale valī valuni valari
Genitive valo valoti valuno valaro
Dative valot valoti valunta valarta
Locative valā valoti valunna valarra
Instrumental valosa valossi valussa valarza
Comitative valoma valommi valumma valarma
Vocative valus valis valussa valarza

Oh, also I wanted to mention that the word for “son” from our title comes from Twitter user @Tracee2ez, who was my 3,000th Twitter follower! The word is trēsy, which is nicely symmetrical with the word for “daughter”, which is tala. Both are lunar words, but tala is first declension, and trēsy second. There are a number of dualities that work this way, where two words which are intended to be in some sort of semantic relation to one another differ either solely in declension class or gender, but in systematic (or semi-systematic) ways. This word, then, turned out to be quite the fortuitous coining, since I already had the word for “daughter”.

Also, for those in the Bay Area, I will be at BayCon this Sunday. If you’re in the area, stop by and say M’ath!

Oh, and one more also (consider this a public service announcement): The penultimate episode of this season of Game of Thrones will not be airing a week from yesterday! I guess due to a ratings slump on Memorial Day, HBO is skipping a week, and episode 309 will air on June 2nd. Perhaps I can put together a post next week trying to answer some questions. Or I can take a break and enjoy the weekend. We’ll see.

Fonas chek!

Gryves se Riña Litse

Yesterday was George R. R. Martin’s episode for season 3 of Game of Thrones. Many wondered if Martin would write the episode from season 3 (if you don’t know which that is, you will by the end of the season), and in case you didn’t find the information elsewhere, he specifically did not want to. He said it was tough to write once, and he didn’t want to go through that again.

There was quite a bit of character development this episode, which was important, but which, I gather from the internet, might have seemed not as exciting to some. Not every episode can have wall-to-wall action (though I would note that the dragons were quite entertaining this episode!), but I really liked some of the conversations and developments from this episode. For example, a short scene, but the conversation between Sansa and Margaery was great (“Yes, dear. My mother taught me.” Rolling). Tywin’s little lecture to Joffrey was priceless, of course. It was also nice to see some vulnerability and passion from Melisandre (something we see in the books, albeit later on).

I would also like to draw a comparison that I don’t believe anyone else has ever drawn. In fact, if someone has drawn this comparison already and you can show me the link, I’ll coin a word for you in either Dothraki or High Valyrian (depending on what makes the most sense). Ready for this? Here it is. The rise and fall of Theon Greyjoy (and what will eventually become of that once we get into his book 5 arc) reminds me a lot of Willie Loomis from the original Dark Shadows. The parallels are many. Not that I think George Martin was inspired by the character (they’re not that much alike in the particulars), I just find it to be a fitting comparison. If you have Netflix, I recommend giving the series a try. It’s way over the top, and the effects are terrible. It’s delicious.

(UPDATE: It has been noticed! I wasn’t the first! Check out this post on Tumblr. Props go to Atrox for being the first to point it out!)

There wasn’t a whole lot of Valyrian in this episode, but there was some. It first comes up with Robb and Talisa. Talisa’s writing a letter to her mother and Robb asks her if it’s in Valyrian. There she replies with something I didn’t write, and which Robb repeats as ga (sounded to me like she actually says dha. Anyway have good ears?). I didn’t actually intend for there to be a simple word for “yes” in High Valyrian, but of course there ought to be in Volantene. So whatever it was that was said, let’s say that’s it. Later she says “hello” in Valyrian: rytsas. Robb is then supposed to mispronounce it, but he actually mispronounced it better than I intended (I intended ristas). The vowel change, though, probably sounds amusing enough.

Regarding the letter, the text of it was written by Cat Taylor (Dave and Dan’s assistant) and translated by me. The shot of it is quite pretty; the art department did an awesome job! Ideally it should be in Valyrian glyphs, but I guess it didn’t seem worthwhile to create an entire writing system for what ultimately is kind of a throwaway shot. Though I do have the text of it (in both English and High Valyrian, which is what it’s written in), I don’t think I should put it up right now. I’ll put it up when the season’s done with, but there’s been a lot of creativity amongst fans regarding Talisa, and so I think this should remain a mystery for the time being. It isn’t gibberish, though, I can assure you.

Later in Yunkai we get some more Valyrian from Dany, but none from conlang demigod Jacob Anderson! When I was first doing the scripts, it was like, “Yeah, whatever.” Now, though! They should have him narrate the entire series in Valyrian! What a linguistic adonis!

Anyway, Dany gives some orders to Grey Worm (who does not respond! What a missed opportunity! He could’ve at least said, “By your royal leave, my gracious queen and valorous liberator, of whom the heavens shall sing for a million shining eternities!”). These are they:

  • Va oktio remȳti vale jikās.
  • “Send a man to the city gates.”

Next:

  • Belmurtī ivestrās kesīr pōnte jiōrinna se pōjon obūljarion mazōrīnna. Lodaor hēnkos vējose hae Astaprot Yunkai botilza.
  • “Tell the slavers I will receive them here and accept their surrender. Otherwise, Yunkai will suffer the same fate as Astapor.”

And that actually does it.

Oh, except for one thing. When Grazdan mo Eraz wanders away from Dany et al., he mutters something. For this, D&D asked me to just come up with something—anything that sounded particularly vile. And so I came up with this (which I won’t translate):

  • Inkan undagho buna gundjabo jorydrare evi rungo pulgarinko…

I don’t know how much of that he actually gets through (I made it extra long so it would sound like he was trailing off and saying more). That’s Astapori Valyrian, in case you’re wondering; I didn’t have time to do a complete treatment of Yunkish Valyrian just for this line. There’s at least one word in there that could be unique to Yunkai, though.

Also, an important note for regular commenters on this blog. A couple days ago something happened (unfortunately, I still don’t know what) that resulted in one of my blog posts being deleted along with all its comments—plus a dozen or so others. It wasn’t a post I was editing or working on, nor was it the most recent post. The comments, though, were recent comments. I worked with someone to restore an earlier version of the database, and the post is back, along with most of its comments. There are still a number of comments that aren’t back, though. We are working to restore them exactly as they were. Even if that doesn’t work, though, I do have a record of every comment, so at the very least I will be able to restore them myself (likely under my own login, but I’ll give the appropriate credit along with the original post date). I apologize for the mishap—especially since some of the best material on this blog has been in the recent batch of comments. I’d love to say that it won’t happen again, but since I don’t know what caused it and failed to replicate the problem, I just don’t know if I can say that. At the very least, I now know I can restore the blog, and that it appears to be backed up regularly.

Hepnon

Welcome to the late edition of the Dothraki blog! Today’s post is late because I was away in Austin, Texas for the Fifth Language Creation Conference. I did see this week’s episode of Game of Thrones over there, but I saw it on Monday shortly before my flight home and didn’t have time to get a post up until now.

This week’s episode got dark, huh? Poor Ros: The invented character that nobody liked (or none of the fans of the books, anyway). But why am I wasting words on her when Tywin Lannister was in this episode? Dude did it again! After the Queen of Thorns took down Tyrion, it looked like she was just warming up: Matching wits with Lord Tywin and besting him! But, oh, how he did have the last laugh…! While I don’t think it can be properly appreciated in isolation, that was one of my favorite scenes of the series. What a clash! If only their characters could be transported to Downton Abbey

Elsewhere, I really did enjoy both climbs (i.e. the climb up the wall and Littlefinger’s “climb” speech) and was amused by the awkwardness of Loras and Sansa. As a book reader, I am also genuinely curious just how Theon’s storyline is going to work. If this season is only half of book 3, and this part of the storyline comes from book 5, with absolutely nothing in between… I mean, how long can they (and he) keep this up?

And, as promised (finally, since I never seem to be able to remember what order things happen in), we had some High Valyrian being spoken by different characters! This time we got to see Carice Van Houten and Paul Kaye take to it, and they did a pretty darn good job, I must admit! They had a grand little priest-off there, and I loved how the High Valyrian was sprinkled in. Language-wise, a very well-written set of scenes.

First, Arya spies Melisandre’s party in the forest, and after initial greetings, Melisandre and Thoros greet each other with the traditional greeting which we know well. By the way, though, to my ear, Carice Van Houten did speak High Valyrian with a bit of a Dutch accent, I didn’t actually hear a velar fricative in morghūlis—surprising, given that you can’t get through “good morning” without pronouncing three of them in Dutch!

Anyway, then Thoros busts out his fluency:

  • Olvī voktī Rulloro Qelbriā ūndessun daor.
  • “I don’t see many priestesses of R’hllor in the Riverlands.”

Here I had to make a choice. I’d always assumed that R’hllor came either from Asshai’i or from some other language way out east. As such, I figured the word would be mangled in pretty much any common language it’s spoken in—including High Valyrian. But how to mangle it? High Valyrian is fine with geminates, and figuring that George R. R. Martin based this word on Arabic Allah, I decided to keep that in. But rather than dealing with the apostrophe and the h, I figured I’d do what I expected to happen anyway, if the name were pronounced in common, and just pretend like they weren’t there, inserting a vowel to make it pronounceable. This is why R’hllor gets respelled in High Valyrian. I imagine that one could still spell it R’hllor and then just decline the end of the word, but for the sake of the actors, I thought I’d use the respelled version.

A couple of other things worth noting here. Voktī (citation form: voktys) is translated as “priestesses”, but just as with the word for “prince”, the word is epicene, and may refer to either a priest or a priestess.

I’d also like to take a minute to discuss q. The voiceless uvular stop makes an appearance in both High Valyrian and Dothraki, but its status in High Valyrian differs from that of Dothraki. In Dothraki, it’s an honest-to-goodness phoneme, and for the native Dothraki-speaking characters, I expected (or hoped) they would pronounce it correctly (obviously not so for the foreign characters [e.g. Dany and Jorah]). In High Valyrian, though, I didn’t—and, in fact, outside of Kraznys’s and Missandei’s lines, I didn’t even pronounce the q when recording the lines (substituting k instead).

That said, it was very important to me that q be different. In fact, when I talked about creating Valyrian with Dan and Dave, I asked them two—and only two—questions: (1) Just how different did they want Kraznys’s dialogue to be from High Valyrian, and (2) how did they pronounce valonqar: valon-K-ar or valon-KW-ar? The answer was vitally important and would have far-reaching consequences for the phonology of High Valyrian and its descendants. Frankly, I was delighted to hear they were going with valon-K-ar.

So why is it so important if, essentially, it’s just a different k (which is what it is for all but the Astapori speakers)? Because of the potential it holds for the future descendants of Valyrian. With two different back consonants, it’s possible to have a sound change that affects one that doesn’t affect the other in certain environments. English speakers should be well familiar with the phenomenon because of the letter “c” ([k] in “car”, “crown”, “cough” and “cut”, but [s] in “cent” and “cilia”). Additionally, it meant that Valyrian didn’t have to be glutted with [kw] sounds (and also probably [gw] and even [ɣw])—a prospect I wasn’t looking forward to.

Anyway, this comes up because of the word Qelbriā (citation form: Qelbria). It’s a modern (perhaps spur-of-the-moment) neologism from High Valyrian qelbar, which means “river”. Hence, the Riverlands are Qelbria. How pretty… I want to hit it like a piñata.

Back on track, Melisandre responds:

  • Thoros hen Myrot iksā.
  • “You are Thoros of Myr.”

I was curious how “Thoros” would be pronounced. If I didn’t mishear, she pronounced it “Toros”, yes? That would be the traditional High Valyrian pronunciation.

  • Voktys Eglie aōt gaomilaksir teptas: Roberti Dāri zȳhi nekēpti se Āeksiot Ōño jemagon. Skorion massitas?
  • “The High Priest gave you a mission. Turn King Robert away from his idols and toward the Lord of Light. What happened?”

Then Thoros:

  • Qringōntan.
  • “I failed.”

To which Melisandre:

  • Aōle rūda, nūmāzma issa. Quptyssy pōntālī johegzi se jomōzū.
  • “You quit, you mean. The heathens continue to slaughter each other and you continue to get drunk.”

Oh, ha, ha. Just spent like fifteen minutes looking at that form jomōzū thinking, “That can’t be right…” But, duh: It’s the active, not the subjunctive! Why would it be? Anyway, Thoros replies:

  • Aōhoso ziry rijībia, se ñuhoso ziry rijībin. Quptenkos Ēngoso ȳdrassis?
  • “You worship Him your way, and I’ll worship Him mine. Do you speak the Common Tongue?”

If you’re glossing, it might help to know that there is no reflex for the word “way” in that translation. By the way, as a general rule, I kind of expect those whose first language wasn’t English to do a better job with the created languages than native English speakers (mainly because, in general, this has been true). But Paul Kaye did admirable work! He didn’t cut any words, and it sounded pretty much like a drunkard speaking High Valyrian. Nice job, Paul!

Next we shift scenes to Melisandre inspecting Beric. (Anyone else feel a kind of bizarre sexual tension in that little scene?) After appraising, she says:

  • Konir sagon kostos daor.
  • “That’s not possible.”

Thoros then says:

  • Āeksio yne ilīritan.
  • “The Lord has smiled upon me.”

Melisandre responds:

  • Kesys ondor avy sytilībus daor.
  • “You should not have these powers.”

And Thoros, being the good Red Priest he is, corrects her:

  • Ondor emon daor. Āeksiot zȳhon vaoreznon jepin, se ziksoso udlissis.
  • “I have no powers. I ask the Lord for his favor, and he responds as he will.”

And for a bonus, he was also originally supposed to say this short bit afterwards, but the line was cut:

  • Kesir gīmī.
  • “You know this.”

And that’s the Valyrian for episode 306. Who knows if these characters will be speaking Valyrian again, but hats off to both the wonderful Carice Van Houten and Paul Kaye! They were a short couple of scenes, but I greatly appreciate the work you put in. Kirimvose!

Next week there’s a little bit of material. And now I’m left wondering if they left that line in… Guess we’ll all find out at the same time!

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