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.

Posted on May 13, 2013, in Episode Recaps and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 106 Comments.

  1. What does HV do in the absence of yes/no? Does it use the “answer with relevant verb” structure that Chinese, Celtic languages etc do?

    When asked “is it in Valyrian”, should Talisa correctly have answered issa?

    • Thinking of this, I remembered something interesting: When the question is put to them, Chinese people, more often than not, do come up with a translation for “yes”. In my experience, they tend to translate it as 是 (shi4 “be”), and translate “no” as 不 (bu4, negative marker) or 不是 (“is not, be not”). Granted, you can always answer by repeating the verb, or using the adjective/stative verb 对 (“correct”) — and whatever people say, there really is a word for yes: 嗯 (pinyinized as , though I think it’s usually just [ɤ̃]).

      I dunno why I’m rambling about this. Maybe I can give David some ideas for historical development if he decides to put words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in a free city’s language :P

      • Hi George – I wrote a long reply to this last night, which the blog for some reason didn’t accept…

        Although your Chinese is probably better than mine, I’d argue that 嗯 isn’t really the word for “yes”, any more than nodding your head at an English speaker is a word for “yes”. For starters, it’s really just a phonetic character for a grunt… And it can also mean “no” (嗯嗯 as “uh-uh”), or “ummmm…” (嗯。。。) or just “umngh” when someone bumps into you in a comic. I think the issue here is getting into whether you see a delineation between “words” and “non-word vocalisations that still carry meaning”. And obviously the Chinese concept of “word” (like, whether they’d feel that anything with a 字 automatically qualifies or not) can differ a bit from the European concept.

        For the record though, when I was asked to make a “useful phrases in Chinese” list for work last year which included yes/no – I settled on including 是/不是 and 对/不对 but with (is/isn’t) and (correct/not correct) after them as a caveat… So nice to know that the native speakers do the same thing.

        Having said that – just because native speakers would eventually decide on 是 or 对 doesn’t make it correct. Obviously, one couldn’t answer 我可以跟你来吗?with 是 or 对。。。 and I don’t think you could answer it with 嗯 either, could you? The 嗯 to me actually feels more like Japanese “hai”, where it means “what you said is correct”, but not necessarily “yes”.

        Anyway, back to Celtic languages – if you look in a Welsh textbook, it’ll tell you that yes/no don’t exist (technically true), but in modern colloquial Welsh you hear people use the English borrowing “ie” (from “yeah”) all the time. But really, you’re supposed to answer with the relevant verb, like ydw or whatever.

        Breton DOES have a true yes/no… but from memory it’s the only modern Celtic language that does. Ya d’ar Brezhoneg! I don’t really know anything about the various flavours of Gaelic though, so I could be wrong.

        Oh, and on derivation – I’m correct in remembering that the modern Romance oui, si etc are from Latin “hic est…” or “ille est” etc?

        Maybe in at least some of the Vallangs, “yes” could be “sa” and “no” could be “dossa” or “dos” or just “dooooooooo”?

        • Maybe in at least some of the Vallangs, “yes” could be “sa” and “no” could be “dossa” or “dos” or just “dooooooooo”?

          That is pretty much exactly what I intended for the Low Valyrian languages. In AP, it is do, and the word for “yes” is kiz (pretty easy to see where that came from).

        • Oh, and on derivation – I’m correct in remembering that the modern Romance oui, si etc are from Latin “hic est…” or “ille est” etc?

          As I mentioned, si is from sīc “thus,” and oui supposedly from hoc ille, literally “this (m) that (n),” but probably meaning something more like “that very thing.”

          And I think I may have exceeded my quota for comments about nothing but Latin. You guys need to stop provoking me ;)

          • No need to apologise – I can’t speak for anyone else, but I enjoy the Latin digressions. I generally find I can mostly understand written Latin, but couldn’t actually write anything myself, not having formally studied it. So it’s interesting to get clarifications on things… And it saves me a 30 second visit to wikipedia :)

    • Officially this is what Latin does as well. Repeat the relevant verb—or actually, in theory, it doesn’t have to be a verb. My favorite example:
      * “Venitne pater?” “Venit.” “Is Dad coming?” “Yes.”
      * “Paterne venit?” “Pater.” “Is Dad coming?” “Yes.”

      But I digress. Less formally, but still frequently, there are words you can use.

      For “yes”:
      * itā “thus”
      * sīc “thus” (whence, of course, si)
      * certē “certainly”
      * maximē “totally”
      * utique “surely,” “however it is.”
      * (hoc “this,” and other demonstratives, whence oui, oc and so on.)

      For “no”:
      * nōn “not” (whence non, no, etc.)
      * minimē “hardly”
      * haud quāquam “no way”

      For either:
      * immo “the opposite of what you just said”

    • Issa would indeed have been the best reply in proper High Valyrian. Of course, I think it’s fine enough to say that that was Volantene.

  2. Does this count? :) Although it’s just a passing remark and I think it refers to looks.

  3. apoorv srivastava

    i love dothraki

  4. I used to believe that -n was an universal marker for first person singular verbs( analogous to -m in latin) as in “iksan” “vaoreznon” and “rijībin”. But in in this episode we have “jiorinna” and “mazōrīnna” , so I guess -n is the ending for present tense and -nna for future tense.

    • Could be a combination: -n for first person, plus -na (or maybe -Ca where C is gemination of a preceding consonant) for future tense. David?

      • On the other hand “botilza” is also future but third person singular. The -a ending seems to indicate future tense.

        • My post for last week’s episode is, unfortuantely, still pending; hopefully I can get it out this afternoon. But I do talk a little about -za verbs in it. I don’t yet have the 1s ending, and it’s certainly possible it could be -na.

    • -n is the general first person ending for verbs. All suffixes interact with the stem, and so will acquire vowels if they can’t rest comfortably on the end of whatever the stem is. Plus, l and n don’t play nice together.

  5. I’m sorry but yes, Theon has been compared to Willie Moonis before. ;) Only on tumblr, but it seems there are some people who see it like you.

    http://thegoodlannister.tumblr.com/post/15841077832/so-i-just-decided-to-check-out-the-dark-shadows-tag

    • ” And, JUST LIKE WITH THEON, at first you’re like, “Yeah, he deserves some sort of comeuppance.” BUT THEN.
      Then you realize exactly how bad it’s going to be, and it’s like… your face started out like this: :D

      And then it’s this: :/
      And then it’s this: o.O
      And then, finally: D: “

    • You indeed found it, but Atrox beat you by two and a half hours! Nice internetting, though! That comment below is priceless.

      • A pity! I would have loved to become a word! ;) But congrats to Atrox! And (while I’m here) thanks for putting so much effort in creating these languages! You’re awesome!

  6. Abbey Battle

    Due to a highly-developed sense of curiosity and an underdeveloped sense of humour, I feel moved to ask – Maester David, do you actually find it enjoyable to be asked to come up with profanity for your carefully-crafted languages?

  7. The Dragon Demands

    The In-Episode Guide was foolish enough to post a high-resolution shot of Talisa’s prop-letter:

    Don’t they know we have Fandom Laboratories for this kind of thing?

    As a medievalist I’ve taken some paleography, enough to get by (I was also surprised this wasn’t in glyphs), so I attempted a transcription:

    Munus prraeliarzus,
    –e hen embaro tolmiot nykelot avy Westrazon y–
    –ykelo syt undon daor luo valzyro nozhossi oress oressiks darys issa vesris, se prumio nuho kony dreror issa.
    –hapi ilon. raela, kesro syt lanta iksan, ruso zyhosy
    –syo syt pyzhas lue prumie.
    –za, yn aderi, mori, aot mazili–

    I can’t pin down the exact hand they’re using, but it has certain key features: basic Uncial “d”, “r” descends below the baseline, “s” descends below he baseline, closed-head pointed “a”, Uncial “T”, descenders curve to the left. I can’t pin this down, sort of a hybrid gothic hand. It does use certain contractions (those straight lines over certain words aren’t like Spanish accent marks; they’re when common word elements get abbreviated).

    This looks…*vaguely* like one of the old Irish hands from circa eight century (yes, I know they’re officially called “Insular” hands to refer to the British Isles as a whole, but considering that the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy were a bunch of illiterate barbarians banging two rocks together while Irish monks were producing the Book of Kells, whose missionaries later taught the English to read, let’s just call it “Greater Ireland”)

    A problem that arises is I can’t tell if they’re using a Celtic “g” (flat-headed, quarter-uncial g) or if that’s supposed to be a “Z” (Z was so uncommon in medieval Latin that there was little chance of mistaking it for a “g”; not so with Valyrian).

    It also doesn’t help that they’re using long descenders on “S” and “R”, both of which break the baseline and therefore look similar (kind of like Anglicana hand).

    We don’t have a full lexicon yet, and it doesn’t help that part of the text is cut off.

    Though I think line two mentions “doesn’t speak Valyrian”.

    Femina Talisa declarat nimis quod peregrina est, et igitur ea ignara est de Septem Regnis.
    Ea non scit ubi caput castrum Septentrioni est in tabula geographica?! Ea scripsit epistulas occultas, et iocum loquitor quod ea speculator pro hoste est?! Ista femina suspiciose declarat nimis. Hic epistola convertenda est noble ex Valyriana in Anglicum, antequam Nuptiae Rubrae.

    • Caveat lector atque auctor; spoeler Latinus autem spoeler est!

      • The Dragon Demands

        …ahh, sed auctor David non potest legere lingua Latina.

        • The Dragon Demands

          (typos…this thing needs an edit key)

          …ahh, sed auctor David non potest legere linguam Latinam.

          • Actually better to say linguā Latinā. Better yet to say Latīnē, or maybe Latīnē scrīpta.

            I could go on. You know I could. And would. But perhaps it’s a wee bit off topic ;)

            • The Dragon Demands

              ah, I’m old-fashioned with computers, usually don’t know how to insert macrons over vowels (in either case, raw medieval Latin documents don’t themselves contain macrons, so I’ve grown used to just jotting down whatever was available and leaving the macrons implied)

            • Right right, but my point wasn’t that you should include macrons. My point was that you were better off the way you originally wrote it, because lingua Latina could be an ablative.

        • Nescio utrum David noster doctissimus legere possit necne, ille autem utcumque libros iamiam legit. Ego ab altera parte nondum libros legi et Latine legere utique scio! At non certus sum me intellexisse quid dicere velis… fortasse igitur secreta nondum profanasti :p

        • I didn’t mean David; he’s up to date on the books. But not everybody who reads this blog might be.

        • I’m sure he knows enough lingua Latina to work it out…!

      • At, eheu, fortasse hac in re verbum ipsum spoeler est in se spoeler ipsum! I don’t think I would have put much thought into it, if I didn’t know that I’d read something I shouldn’t have.

      • LOL spoeler Latinus autem spoeler est, indeed! Did you make “spoeler” up, or is that actually the term used for spoiler when Latin nerds talk TV online?!!!

        • You know, I’ve never actually seen it come up in a Latin conversation, but in the past when I’ve wanted to say something like “contains spoilers” I’ve said secreta profanat, literally “it gives away secrets.” If you wanted to get more specific you could add argumenti “of the plot” or narrationis “of the narrative.”

    • Thanks for the transcript, TDD. I think there are a few errors, though.

      – In general, you left away the macrons and tildes; those are pretty important in HV.

      – I believe your assumption that {g} and {z} look very similar is true. The {z} seem to be significantly shorter than the {g}, though, so they can be told apart. Also, {gh} is common in HV while {zh} shouldn’t exist.

      – I too was confused by that {prr} in the address, but upon closer inspection I believe it says {jorr}.

      – {Westrazon y-} should be {ivestragon issa}. Together with the {avy} before, I expect the first line is something like “There is something important/wonderful/shocking to tell you.”

      – {Valzyro} doesn’t look to me like it’s related to the known {valyrio}.

      – {Nozhossi} should be {ñoghossi}.

      – {Vesris} should be {vestris}.

      – {Kony dreror} should be {konir drejior}.

      – {ilon. raela,} should be {ilon raelza.}.

      – {–syo syt pyzhas} should be {zyo syt pyghas}.

    • The only part of the letter in which I can find a meaningful phrase is the last line, “ȳn aderī, mōrī, aōt māzīli.” which I can gloss as “but [?], [?], you.dative.s come:1.pl,” or roughly translated, “but… we are coming to you.”

      • The {ī} ending could in principle be a 2sg verb like {gīmī} or an accusative like {geltī}, but given the circumstances I think a locative might be the most likely. My money is something like “soon, later” or “today, tomorrow” or “in a year, in a decade”; something idiomatic to mean “sooner or later”.

        As for the beginning, {Muñus jorrāeliarzus} would have to mean something like “dearest mother/parent” in the vocative — singular, if Talisa was truthful about it towards Robb, but the {-us} ending looks pretty similar to the {-ys} ending in {dovaogēdys}, which was vocative plural. In any case, it couldn’t be more than paucal, coz how many parents could she realistically have?

        I’m confused about {oress oressiks} — is that a transliteration mistake, or unmarked elision of a final vowel in {oress}? It looks very Unvalyrian.

        Other words we might know the general gist of include {nykēlot}, {nykēlo}, which might mean something like “myself” given its similarity to {nyke}.

        Given ML’s earlier speculations that the verb component {syt} might mean “together”, I’m wondering whether {kesro syt lanta iksan} could mean something like {child with blessed I_am}.

        • There is also the question of whether:

          a) the art department wrote it all correctly.
          b) whether Talisa in-world was very good in Valyrian class at school and actually spells everything correctly.
          c) is lying about what she’d writing (that’d be a great Easter Egg if one of us nerds watching could decode all of it).

          Of course, any mistakes can (as previously mentioned) be retconned as a Volantism.

        • There’s a few word that I can make educated guesses on.
          {darȳs} may be related to {dā́ri} “king.”
          {vestris} is clearly a form of “tell.” I don’t remember what the absence of the {i-} prefix does to the word.
          {drejior} might (maybe) have something to do with {idrépdot} “choose,” so possibly “choice?” Shot in the dark here.
          I though {lanta} was related to {nalanta}, “twenty,” but I can’t figure out how that can make sense between the reflexive {sȳt} and the copula {iksan}.

          • * Yes, Darys issa vestris “They say he his king.”

            * I doubt it means “choice.”

            * I had the same thoughts about lanta. As for syt… I’ve guessed a number of things, but the question is far from settled.

            • Sorry, “is,” not “his.”

            • Shouldn’t reported speech be in the subjunctive, though? {…darys iksos vestris}?

              Also, the ACC:SG of “king” was {dāri} in the previous blog post, so {darys} might actually be a different word. Or they forgot the macron, which is a very real possibility.

              As for {jorrāeliarzus}, I’m revising my original guess of “most beloved”. The {jo-} could be the continuative verb prefix, so maybe {rāeligon} or {rāeliagon} is “to love” or “to esteem”, and {-rz-os} could be the construction of a present passive participle. Thus, “Mother who is continually being loved, …”

              We know the (nominalized?) present active participle is {-r-os}, so it’s not much of a stretch.

              The only thing that taints the credibility of this hypothesis is that {rāeli-} does not contain [ʒ], and is therefore an unlikely choice of morpheme for “love”. ;o)

        • eschatological

          Mun~o (sorry, don’t know how to macron my n) is used by Dany to say “mother tongue” in the episode where the slavetrader finds out she speaks HV. So it’s quite possible Mun~us has something to do with Mother, though I only stumbled on this website today and am browsing through it.

          • Muñar means ‘parents’ and muño engos ‘mother tonge’, so it is clear that the root muñ- means mother (or father).

            However, this doesn´t prove that Talisa is not a spy, because it would be foolish to use a greeting like “Dear Lord Tywin”

  8. The Dragon Demands

    (typos)

    Femina Talisa declarat nimis quod peregrina est, et igitur ea ignara est de Septem Regnis.
    Ea non scit ubi caput castrum Septentrioni est in tabula geographica?! Ea scripsit epistulas occultas, et iocum loquitur quod ea speculator pro hoste est?! Ista femina suspiciose declarat nimis. Hic epistola convertenda est nobis ex Valyriana in Anglicum, antequam Nuptiae Rubrae.

  9. WatcherOnTheWall

    Hi David.
    The comparison you’ve made has been observed before..

    http://thegoodlannister.tumblr.com/post/15841077832/so-i-just-decided-to-check-out-the-dark-shadows-tag

    It doesn’t really go into details, but still.

    I enjoy reading your weekly recaps, btw!

  10. Hello there… long time lurker, first time participant here…

    I just felt compelled to say that Emilia Clarke’s delivery (and the wonderful crafting) of the line, “Belmurtī ivestrās kesir pōnte jiōrinna se pōjon obūljarion mazōrīnna. Lodaor hēnkos vējose hae Astaprot Yunkai botilza” was one of the most pretty and floral things I’ve ever heard… It really brought out just how gorgeous your Valyrian is…

  11. So about this last line from Grazdan… I have the suspicion that this unique Yunkish word describes the city’s main export product.

  12. You know, thinking how popular it is for Tolkien fans to get tattoos in Tengwar, I’m sure there’s quite a bit of a demand for a Volantene calligraphy font. It wouldn’t be that much of an effort to create, what with the nice specimen as reference.

    I’m wondering whether I’d be stepping on people’s toes with it, though. Legally, I think it’s no problem to distribute a font whose outlines you’ve drawn yourself, even if you take someone else’s work for visual reference. Do you think the HBO art department might get pissed off, though? Obviously I’d make sure to credit them with the design.

    I suppose I shouldn’t try to make money off of it, though. ;o)

    • It may be an already-existing font they just thought looked good. I doubt anyone would recognize it (as opposed to another similar-looking font) well enough to want anything in it specifically.

      • I just did a quick search on MyFonts and found nothing comparable. I suspect the art department went creative on this one, rather than just copying an existing style wholesale.

        In any case, I whipped up a font draft last night and will release it for free soon. Just need to add some caps and figures…

        http://www.cinga.ch/type/draft.png

        I changed the shape of the {g} slightly to make it more legible. The rest is pretty close to Talisa’s hand. Maybe it’s still a bit too cuddly; I suppose I should sharpen the onstrokes and corners a bit.

  13. Just a random thought: is there a word for “firewyrm” in High Valyrian? If I remember correctly, they are mentioned by someone from Braavos, and are underground dragonlike creatures who were a hazard for the slave workers in the mines of Valyria.

  14. “Se riña” would be a weird, albeit valid, subjunctive construction in Spanish :) I’m sure there’s going be a lot of coincidences having an “ñ” in the language.
    David, what can you tell us about the verbal system of HV? How many tenses/aspects? Is it as baroque as the nominal one?

  15. (This belongs to the letter interpretation thread, which reached the maximum indentation depth.)

    I just noticed {rāel} also appears later in the text as {rāelza}. That form may be the athematic verb stem {rāel-} with the 3:SG ending {-s} and an epenthetic coda {-a}. So, “loves”? It also appears at the end of a sentence, so it’s likely to be the verb.

    Also {embōñor} apparently means “aquatic”. Could {embaro} in the first line mean “of water”? Maybe {hen embaro tolmiot nykēlot avy ivestragon issa} then means something like “[this letter] from the water’s other/far side to_you a_telling is”.

    David, would you be willing to resolve {syt} for us? It seems we’re stuck on that front.

  16. Shouldn’t reported speech be in the subjunctive, though? {…darys iksos vestris}?

    Are you basing this on something we’ve already seen, or on an ideal? I admit, it seems like reported speech should be marked somehow. As I wrote elsewhere:

    Another possibility is that … the -usy verb is required for otherwise umarked subordinate clauses … HV does not, after all, seem like the sort of language that would form subordinate clauses just by juxtaposing them to the main clause with no marker at all.

    So far as I can remember, the only example of reported speech we’ve had so far is Morghot nēdyssy sesīr zūgusy azantys vestras., and so far we still don’t know with any certainty what that zūgusy form be.

    I suppose even if you’re right, it could be an afterthought: “He is king, they say.”

    Also, the ACC:SG of “king” was {dāri} in the previous blog post, so {darys} might actually be a different word. Or they forgot the macron, which is a very real possibility.

    That was my assumption, in any case.

    As for {jorrāeliarzus}, I’m revising my original guess of “most beloved”. The {jo-} could be the continuative verb prefix, so maybe {rāeligon} or {rāeliagon} is “to love” or “to esteem”, and {-rz-os} could be the construction of a present passive participle. Thus, “Mother who is continually being loved, …”

    We know the (nominalized?) present active participle is {-r-os}, so it’s not much of a stretch.

    I just noticed {rāel} also appears later in the text as {rāelza}. That form may be the athematic verb stem {rāel-} with the 3:SG ending {-s} and an epenthetic coda {-a}. So, “loves”? It also appears at the end of a sentence, so it’s likely to be the verb.

    Yes, I had noticed this, and was hoping those rs were actually js so it could be jáelza “wish” — I had in mind Latin desiderare which can mean either “to desire” or “to miss,” and therefore makes sense in a letter. But this does not seem likely to be correct.

    Oh, by the way, in an email, David gave the infinitive of iderēbzi as iderēbagon. So I guess the infinitive of an athematic verb looks just like the default conjugation.

    As The only thing that taints the credibility of this hypothesis is that {rāeli-} does not contain [ʒ], and is therefore an unlikely choice of morpheme for “love”. ;o)

    Well then, I guess it must mean “esteem” ;)

    Also {embōñor} apparently means “aquatic”. Could {embaro} in the first line mean “of water”? Maybe {hen embaro tolmiot nykēlot avy ivestragon issa} then means something like “[this letter] from the water’s other/far side to_you a_telling is”.

    This was my thinking on embaro, but I didn’t really have a guess on tolmiot. I like your idea here. But combined with our interpretation of nykēlot, how about “*There is (something) for me to tell you from the other side of the water”?

    David, would you be willing to resolve {syt} for us? It seems we’re stuck on that front.

    I had hoped this letter would finally resolve it for us, but you’re right that it is seeming increasingly unlikely.

    Oh, and great job on the font, by the way!

  17. Hi can anyone help me by translating the phrase ‘kissed by fire’ from English to Dothraki?
    Cheers.

    • I can’t help with Dothraki, but it’s Perzo Vūjita in High Valyrian if that’s of use to you :)

    • Ya. This can only be satisfiably answered by mr. Peterson – but as the question is on his blog, he might answer :)

      Stuff that isn’t a full sentence is pretty much always a tricky thing to translate. It implies much more than it says. Here I think it’s important that this is taken as an adjective-like modifier, which has a sense of being lexicalized and not expanded to a full relative clause. In Finnish I would go with agent participle, but I’m not sure if there is that satisfying translation available in Dothraki.

      nazzoqway ki vorsa

      is kinda straight participle-route translation. It feels rather forced, but might nicely communicate the sense that this is a thing.

      • I forgot to decline vorsa. Oh the embarassment. Nice to see, how that would be generally done (even if the whole idea is a bit iffy). I went with navvirzethay model, but could guess that wasn’t the common derivational pattern.

        • I forgot to decline vorsa and made causative of already perfectly beautiful and transitive zoqwat. Gah. This is not my Dothraki-writing day. Gotta get back to figuring out Valyrian. But hey, DJP did actually exactly what I meant to do (save for the apostrophe).

    • This is something that’s not easy to do in Dothraki. Dothraki only has one participle (the active), and it doesn’t enjoy much use. There is an emerging construction for a passive participle, and you’d have to use it here. Probably the ordinary way to do it, though, would be to translate it as a sentence (i.e. “Someone [whoever] was kissed by fire”). This is what the participial construction looks like:

      • ne’zoqway ki vorsasi

      That would literally be “kissed by fire”. It’s not really an elegant Dothraki construction, but it works.

  18. Alright, I’ve made some progress with the Volantene Script font:

    http://www.cinga.ch/type/volantene.png

    Got some accented characters and stuff too; just finishing up the punctuation now.

    I was thinking maybe to set a regular price for the font (e.g. $15), but to run a password-protected sale that would give it away for free. You’d just have to say hello in Valyrian. :o) Do you think that would be too much of a hurdle for the average GoT fan…?

    (I’m also fine with just releasing it as a free font.)

  19. Thanks for the new entry Mad Latinist :)

  20. OK, what’s with jiōrinna vs. mazōrīnna? I took those to be two compounds of the same verb (just like recipiam vs. accipiam in Latin), but then why doesn’t the i have the same quantity in both words?

    • Nope: Two different words; two different roots. Both have prefixes. (Also, recipiam and the other aren’t compounds. Re-‘s a prefix.)

      • Nope: Two different words; two different roots.

        That is an amazing coincidence. What are the base forms, ōr·agon vs. ōri·gon, or something like that? Or, if they are different roots, was I wrong to think the prefix was ji- at all? Is it actually jio·r·agon or something like that??

        Both have prefixes. (Also, recipiam and the other aren’t compounds. Re-‘s a prefix.)

        Well, “compound” is the traditional term… I think going all the way to antiquity, but in any case verbum compositum is used in Latin now. If we’re going to use “compound” in the sense you take it, then there will be very few in Latin indeed (animadverto comes to mind).

        But this terminological confusion does not affect my main question, because you’ve already specified “two different roots,” right?

        • That is an amazing coincidence. What are the base forms, ōr·agon vs. ōri·gon, or something like that? Or, if they are different roots, was I wrong to think the prefix was ji- at all? Is it actually jio·r·agon or something like that??

          Don’t know how amazing it is. Ōregon vs. iōragon.

          Well, “compound” is the traditional term… I think going all the way to antiquity, but in any case verbum compositum is used in Latin now. If we’re going to use “compound” in the sense you take it, then there will be very few in Latin indeed (animadverto comes to mind).

          Yeah, in the linguistic sense. I don’t fiddle around with terminology used for a specific language or its tradition (otherwise I’d have to keep referencing a “middle voice” that Greek clearly doesn’t have). A morphologically complex word is not the same thing as a compound, regardless of how Latin scholars use the term. ;p

          • I have the same argument (tradition vs linguistics) with other German teachers who refer to the preterite as the “imperfect”, because that’s how they’ve always done it (result of false analogy to Romance languages).

            But tradition is pretty baked-on in scholarship of specific languages, particularly as a lot of students and teachers of said languages may not have any linguistics training.

          • So what is the Greek “middle voice” then? Is it just a passive? Isn’t the middle voice one of the things that is quite different between classical and modern Greek anyway?

            (Note: I don’t speak any Greek whatsoever, pretty much 99% of what I’ve learnt is via William on Conlangery, so I’ll blame him if I’ve got something completely wrong).

            • So here’s my beef with the whole “middle” voice thing. Linguists (and especially conlangers) often get overexcited to label new linguistic phenomena. For example, did you know that English has a malefactive? It’s true! This is it:

              The car died on me.

              “On” is the malefactive preposition.

              Obviously any English speaker will look at this and know that something’s up. Yes, this is how we convey this information, but if you simply label “on” the malefactive, you’re missing a much larger (and much more important) piece of the puzzle.

              Enter the Greek middle voice. This thing was quite obviously a reflexive. BUT IT DOES OTHER STUFF! they say. Yeah, it does. So does lots of stuff in language. For example:

              1. I love ice cream.
              2. The car runs fine.
              3. He goes to the mall on the weekends.
              4. Guy walks into a bar and says, “Tsup?!”

              The main verbs in each of these sentences is conveying a different linguistic nuance. For example, (4) is actually a past tense sentence. In each sentence, though, the verb uses English present tense morphology.

              With this information, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it. The wrong way is to say, “Here’s how to conjugate the verb in the English narrative tense.” No. Rather, “Here are the ways English utilizes its present tense morphology…”

              If you look at reflexives (dedicated reflexive verb forms), they have a particular path of development. All of the forms found in Greek are pretty much directly in line with that prototypical path of development. It makes little sense to describe the use of the verbs in terms of the nebulous “middle voice” (which seems to be defined differently in every text. The definition in the Mastronarde book, for example, is certainly not the definition I’m familiar with [something like "These eggs cook well."]). I think it would make a lot more sense to describe them as reflexive forms and then describe their use. Ultimately it’s just a matter of nomenclature if you’re going to learn the language. Often, though, these things get used by others to prove points—points like the middle voice exists, for example. That’s where things get screwy.

              As for Modern Greek, I’m not there yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the “Middle” voice drop out. Often things like that will just get lexicalized and produce new verbs. I’ll be excited to see what happens to them when I read the sequel (in my case, TY Modern Greek)!

            • OK… Well, the way I understood “middle voice” is as follows –

              Active – I broke the vase
              Passive – the vase was broken by me
              Middle – The vase broke

              Regarding the difference between middle voice and regular reflexive verbs, I usually only talk about it when teaching French. In which case, the “middle voice” is structured identically to reflexive verbs.

              E.g. Pierre woke me up = Pierre m’a réveillé
              I was woken by Pierre = J’ai été réveillé par Pierre
              I woke up = Je me suis réveillé

              So in French at least, I think you could argue that the middle voice exists, it just gets structured as a reflexive (which sounds like what you described for Ancient Greek).

              BUT – this point is moot, as I’ve never seen anyone call it “middle voice” in French, they just refer to them as more reflexive verbs.

              A bit like the verb for “to remind” and “to remember”, which in at least a few European languages is identical, except that it’s a simple verb in the sense of “remind” and reflexive for “remember” (which to me looks middle voice-y).

              E.g. German –

              Bob hat mich daran erinnert, dass ich Eier brauchte.

              (Bob reminded me that I needed eggs)

              vs

              Ich habe mich daran erinnert, dass ich Eier brauchte.

              (I remembered that I needed eggs)

              For the record, I’ve never, ever heard anyone call it “middle voice” in German either, but it looks kind of like the Ancient Greek thingie.

            • Responding to Chickenduck:

              Active – I broke the vase
              Passive – the vase was broken by me
              Middle – The vase broke

              It really depends on the language. For that same set, some languages will have the following:

              Causative – I broke the vase.
              Passive of Causative – The vase was broken.
              Standard – The vase broke.

              So in French at least, I think you could argue that the middle voice exists, it just gets structured as a reflexive (which sounds like what you described for Ancient Greek).

              To say that the middle voice exists in French in this way is to say it exists in every language, since every language can convey that information. In fact I don’t think this is a middle so much as an unaccusative (that’s, in fact, how “break” is often analyzed). Unaccusativity is just a thing that exists (i.e. a non-volitional subject that’s patient-like). Most languages, though, don’t treat them uniformly like objects (e.g. saying “Broke the window” instead of “The window broke”), so funky things have to happen.

          • Don’t know how amazing it is.

            Well, amazing in that they produce verbs that sound like different prefixed forms (how’s that?) of the same root, but aren’t, when that is exactly what their Latin equivalents are.

            Ōregon vs. iōragon.

            On the one hand that makes a lot of sense. On the other hand now I’m confused about the prefix. Gonna assume it’s not in fact *j-jo- makes sense phonologically, but I’m not sure about phonetically.

            (otherwise I’d have to keep referencing a “middle voice” that Greek clearly doesn’t have).

            You still haven’t explained that one to me. I figured out what your beef was with the “tonal accent,” but not the “middle voice.” Is it just a question of usage again, or is it deeper than that? Deponents and middles are a hobby horse of a friend of mine; I’m sure he’d love talking that out with you.

            A morphologically complex word is not the same thing as a compound, regardless of how Latin scholars use the term. ;p

            Well, they *did* invent it in the first place :p You linguists and your decadent neologistic usages!

            (OK, on another day I might be calling myself a linguist, and screaming “etymological fallacy!”)

            • jo- makes sense phonologically, but I’m not sure about phonetically.

              Um, what?? Sorry, I meant to say “but I’m not sure about semantically.”

            • On the one hand that makes a lot of sense. On the other hand now I’m confused about the prefix. Gonna assume it’s not in fact *j-… jo- makes sense phonologically, but I’m not sure about semantically.

              Fixed that for you. In fact, the phonological similarity is entirely coincidental. The reason you have j- here (and not i-) is that the prefix is being added to a V-initial word that won’t tolerate an initial i-.

              (Responding to Greek comment above.)

            • Dammit, should have gone with that in the first place ;)

              I sent your critique of the term “middle voice” to my aforementioned friend, and I can’t wait to see his reaction. I’m pretty sure he’ll agree with you though.

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