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!

Posted on May 8, 2013, in Episode Recaps and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 98 Comments.

  1. Yay! The new post is here! :)

    First of all: Pleasant surprise to hear Valyrian from these two characters. I think it fits well. They also make a good show of it. Their accents sound a bit different from each other, but that’s to be expected: They would come from different backgrounds and speak HV as an acquired language. Thoros’ accent might be “Myrish” in addition to “drunk”, for all we know.

    Also, the enormous scope of the Valyrian conlanging job is only just sinking in for me. How much time did you spend on it, full-time? Anyway, kudos! Let’s hope this will set a standard that other shows and channels will strive to match.

    • Loved hearing Thoros and Mel talk shop.

      I like that the accents vary in HV, makes sense if it isn’t really the native language of anyone in the show (except arguably Dany). So Carice didn’t use her Dutch accent with the “gh”… she used her in-character Ashaiian accent which doesn’t natively have that phoneme ;)

      On a related note, it bugs me a little that some characters like Thoros don’t have an accent when speaking Common, whereas others from the Free Cities (eg Shae, Syrio) do. And the Qartheen… where’d they learn to speak such posh Common out there?

      • The Dragon Demands

        The general “lampshaded” explanation is that major world cities heavily engaged in international trade know the Common Tongue of the Andals, i.e. the Silk King in Qarth said that the Lannisters are his biggest customers. So you can reasonably get by in the Free Cities or Qarth knowing only the Common Tongue – you need a translator in Slaver’s Bay, apparently, because the high and mighty slave masters feel that learning foreign languages is beneath them.

        And Thoros has been living in King’s Landing at the royal court for a number of years, so he apparently learned to speak Common Tongue very well – I mean, why would he have been sent to the royal court in the first place, unless he was a priest in Myr who *already* knew Common well enough to preach in it?

      • Thoros is, I think, one of the major outliers. Have we seen anyone else specifically from Myr in the show, or is it just him? Either way, he looks and sounds quite Westerosi. Paul Kaye is so good, though, that as a fan, I’m fine with it.

        • Thoros is indeed the only character , so far, from Myr. We do, however, have some other examples of characters from Free Cities who speak perfect Common: Varys and Doreah (from Lys) and Illyrio (from Pentos).

          Regarding looks, the only description of the Myrish (other than that of Thoros) is that most men have dark hair and dark eyes.

    • I did, in fact, work on it a bit before I was actually supposed to create it. That helped with the most difficult parts (the conjugation and declension systems). But, yeah, last summer was the busiest I’ve ever been. And the way it worked most of the time was I’d work 1-2 days on Valyrian, then 1-2 days on Irathient, then 1-2 days on Castithan, etc. I’d kind of work up to a saturation point and then leave it for another language which I’d come at fresh. It’s kind of the same way I worked as an undergraduate with an English and Linguistics major. The two were so different it felt good to leave one for the other every couple days. I’ve always kind of done the same thing with conlanging. Even back during the Dothraki days (after the big push of the original competition) I’d go between Dothraki and Kamakawi. Would help keep me from getting stale.

  2. Regarding pronunciation of R’hllor, I always liked to pretend it was Welsh (with a random stray apostrophe). Therefore /r̥ɬoːr/ :)

    Jokes aside though, I would agree that GRRM had Allah in mind when he coined the name R’hllor… in fact, I always assumed the associated faith is based somewhat on (strictly monotheistic) Islam, as opposed to the faith of the Seven, which is based on the Christian trinity (except seven-faceted instead of three). Which makes the Old Gods of the north the parallel to the religions of pre-Christian Europe.

    Is that the same conclusion everyone else drew?

    • I think that is a good way to peg the religions at the outset, but they end up becoming quite detailed and interesting (actually one of my favorite aspects of GRRM’s world-building). After all, when you branch out to, for example, the religion of the Drowned God, there are obvious ties to Norse mythology, but also Christianity. And then the House of Black and White seems quite unique to me (or, rather, no obvious parallels spring to mind, other than that, day to day, it seems to be run kind of like a monastery). At this point in time in the series, I don’t think it would be useful to say that, e.g., the Seven is like Catholicism, the Lord of Light like Islam, etc., even though the inspiration seems obvious enough.

  3. Looking at the transcripts, the actors had taken quite a few… liberties with the text. They shorten all unstressed long vowels, to begin with, but that could be ascribed to in-character accent again… I suppose most modern forms of Valyrian forgot all about vowel length.

    Melisandre seems to vary {y} between [i] and [y] randomly, though at least she’s the first character I hear saying [y]. Her speech rhythm strikes me more as Finnish than Dutch. And what’s up with [xen] for {hen}? She can pronounce [h] just fine… Thoros, on the other hand, pronounces {qupténkos Ēngoso ȳdrassis} as something like {qúptengos Engóuso ytrassis}. Maybe he mixed up the first two words a bit. Then there’s [ajeksio] for {Āeksio} and [deor] for {daor}…

    There were also a few other cases of what seems to be misplaced stress. {Skorion} should be stressed on the {i} by the rules, for example. We know about the atypical stress of imperatives, though, so there could be similar exceptions for other words.

    One thing I really like about Thoros’ delivery is the palatal fricative for {j}. :)

    • There were also a few other cases of what seems to be misplaced stress. {Skorion} should be stressed on the {i} by the rules, for example. We know about the atypical stress of imperatives, though, so there could be similar exceptions for other words.

      Actually io is treated like a single vowel when it comes to stress, so it should be [ˈsko.ɾion].

  4. The title {hapnon} is quite interesting. The word “climb (noun)” is likely to be derived from a corresponding verb {hapnagon} “to climb”. This makes it analogous to {urnēbion} “watch (noun)”, for which we have a verb form {urnēbis} attested. I’m wondering whether this might point to a different verb paradigm {urnēbigon?} or just a stem ending in a vowel {urnēbiagon}. We have {kelītīs} “halt!” along with {keliton} “finished”, so that would speak in favor of a verb paradigm with {i} where others have {a}.

    The words {geron} “path = walk?” and {vaoreznon} “favor” might also be such nouns.

    {Gaomilaksir} is a strange form for an accusative singular. I’m wondering whether {-ir} is the usual ACC:SG of the terrestrial (?) nouns ending in {-or}. Another possibility is that {-o-} is not the only thematic vowel allowed in that paradigm, so the nominative might also be {gaomilaksir}.

    {Voktī} “priest” and {nekēpti} “idols” both have consonant clusters ending in {-t}, which is why they smell like nominalized past participles to me. Maybe {vok-} or {vog-} means “ordain”, “call”, or “bless”, and {nekēb-} “worship”?

    {Sytilībus} is way too close to the previously established {sytivīlībilāt} “will you fight?” not to be related, but I don’t see through it at the moment.

  5. David,

    Thank goodness you’ve posted. Trying to get the HV by ear was driving me mad (in a way AV probably wouldn’t!)

    You write Rulloro here, but based on Melisandre’s pronunciation (both stress and quantity) I was thinking Rullōro. Since you’ve repeatedly said that macra are going to have to be iffy in your blog transcriptions, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’d missed one here. Did you?

    Also, did you notice that the subtitles spell it R’hollor?

    (Anyone else feel a kind of bizarre sexual tension in that little scene?)

    There’s a kind of bizarre sexual tension in almost every Melisandre scene, I think!

    Chickenduck:
    Islām makes some sense, but I believe GRRM has said that his chief inspiration was Zoroastrianism. Of course the obvious, if superficial, parallel there is the religious importance of fire.

    Zhalio:
    Great job, as usual. Some comments:
    • To geron compare also the expression geros ilas.
    • Yet another possibility for gaomilaksir is that it’s a collective, perhaps from *gaomilaksis or the like, meaning something like “task” (and of course ultimately from gaomigon “to do.”)
    Sytilībus seems to mean “ought,” so it’s hard to say exactly how it would be related to sytivīlībilāt… but I suppose a semantic connection could be “to force.”

    • You write Rulloro here, but based on Melisandre’s pronunciation (both stress and quantity) I was thinking Rullōro. Since you’ve repeatedly said that macra are going to have to be iffy in your blog transcriptions, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’d missed one here. Did you?

      No I didn’t: I just kept an irregular stress pattern, since it’s a borrowing. That said, it’s not as if the rules are hard and fast for how a borrowed word should be rendered. It very well could come out as Rullōr. That wouldn’t explain its nominative stress pattern (word-final), but it would explain the rest of the paradigm.

      Also, it might help to know that, even though not all the affixes have any meaning, but the second word segments as syt-i-vīl-īb-il-āt.

    • Islām makes some sense, but I believe GRRM has said that his chief inspiration was Zoroastrianism. Of course the obvious, if superficial, parallel there is the religious importance of fire.

      Sorry i hadn’t seen this comment earlier. Yes Mazdaism/Zoroastrism makes a lot of sense. Not just for the very obvious worship of fire as you said but other elements as well. Azor Ahai for instance is reminiscent of Ahura Mazda. At the very least in the name.

      I wasn’t aware that was actually GRRM chief source of inspiration, but it is certainly nice to know. Thanks !

    • Sorry i had a problem wit the HTML tag. I was quoting Mad Latinist as he was answering to Chickenduck when he said : “Islām makes some sense, but I believe GRRM has said that his chief inspiration was Zoroastrianism. Of course the obvious, if superficial, parallel there is the religious importance of fire.”

  6. The Dragon Demands

    Funny that you worry about how to pronounce “R’hllor”, as even in the books, it’s mentioned that it feels “foreign” in the mouth when spoken. Davos says to Stannis that some of his men are uncomfortable with the foreign religion and even the name feels foreign and halting in the mouth — to which Stannis asks what’s so difficult about pronouncing “R’hllor”?

    …then in an Arya chapter, when she hears the name for the first time, she asks, “Who is Ru-lore?” – and the narrative explicitly states that she just mispronounced it.

    I’m slightly disappointed because I half-hoped that when Mel met Thoros, they’d speak in the Asshai language from Season 1.

    Btw, we never knew much about the organization of the Lord of Light religion – who is this “High Priest”? The high priest of Myr? Is there a central international governing body?

    • And, of course, until this episode they’ve studiously avoided the name entirely! So when I briefly mentioned the spelling in the subtitles, above, I do have to wonder: is that a typo, or is ‹R’hollor› the official “show spelling”?

    • I’m slightly disappointed because I half-hoped that when Mel met Thoros, they’d speak in the Asshai language from Season 1.

      I wouldn’t expect Thoros to speak Asshai’i, though.

      Btw, we never knew much about the organization of the Lord of Light religion – who is this “High Priest”? The high priest of Myr? Is there a central international governing body?

      I always figured it’s different when there’s some sort of substance there. Like, with the Seven, there’s a rigid church structure we see in the books. But when you can actually bring some guy back to life? And give birth to a shadow baby?! I mean, there’s something going on there. It might be presumptuous of humans to impose some sort of structure on the Lord of Light. Perhaps there’s more of a direct connection and all the priests go around…doing stuff. Sometimes it seems like they don’t even really know what’s going on: they just know something will probably happen.

    • The only High Priest mentioned in the books is Benerro, who is the High Priest of the Temple of the Lord of Light in Volantis.

  7. Quptyssy pōntālī johegzi se jomōzū.
    “The heathens continue to slaughter each other and you continue to get drunk.”

    Quptenkos Ēngoso ȳdrassis?
    “Do you speak the Common Tongue?”

    This is interesting, I think. “Quptyssy” and “quptenkos” appear to have the same stem, “qupt-“, but stand for “heathens” and “common” respectively.

    A thought that came to my mind was the word “barbarian”, which, if I remember correctly, has a Greek origin and was used to pejoratively describe anyone who was not Greek, for example the Turks. Since “common” here in essence means “Westerosi”, could it be that the Valyrians used “qupt-*” in a similar sense to how the Greeks used “barbarian”? The people of Westeros surely must have seemed savage and barbaric to the Valyrians, with the little contact they had with them. Since they had a different religion, I don’t think it’s a big stretch that their religion would have been conisidered “below” the Valyrians’ own religion – thus “heathen”. It could also be a more recent construct in the “church Valyrian” of R’hllorianism, since these lines are spoken by two adherents to that faith.

    Now, something else about the first sentence. First, I must say it gets the point across efficiently – five words compared to thirteen in English! But what caught my attention was “johegzi se jomōzū”. Assuming quptenkos is “heathen” and pontali = “each other”, johegzi is “continue to slaughter” in the 3rd person plural and jomuzu is “continue to get drunk” in the 2nd person singular. My conlusion is that “jo-” roughly equals “continue to”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this what you would call the imperfective aspect of a verb?

    Thank you for a great post – I look forward to learning more about High Valyrian!

    • Yeah, I agree the root {qupt-} could well mean something like “barbarian”. On the other hand, it could also be one of those past participles, what with the {t} in there…

      This may sound crazy, but perhaps {quptyssy} and {quptenkos} are actually forms of the same word! Note that in David’s first Valyrian post, we have HV {nēdyssy} “brave ones”, with a strangely deviant {nedhinki} in LV. We know HV has more grammatical numbers than LV. Maybe {nēdyssy} is categorical (“brave people in general”), whereas the LV form derives from an HV plural like *{nēdenki}?

      Thus, {quptyssy} would mean “the barbarians in general” whereas {quptenkos} would be the adjective “barbarian” agreeing with {ēngoso} “language”.

      • Maybe I wasn’t explaining myself well enough – the point I tried to make was indeed that “quptyssy” and “quptenkos” are derived from the same root, i.e. “forms of the same word” as you put it.

        “Nedhinki” in AV is most surely an adjective, given that it occurs in the context of “ji vali nedhinki”, “the brave men”. Given “quptyssy” and “quptenkos”, it seems more likely that the adjective form would be close to “nedenkos” in HV, which turns into “nedhinki” in AV. So I don’t agree with you about “nedenki” being the plural of the noun in HV. If were to guess, something like “nedys” in the singular and “nedi” seems more likely. Likewise, “quptys” and “qupti”. Next: find out how to say “a few heathens/barbarians”…

        But yes, -yssy probaly indicates the collective, since both instances are stating something in general about a group – “even brave people/men fear death (in general)” and “the heathens (in general) continue to slaughter each other”.

        • Maybe I wasn’t explaining myself well enough – the point I tried to make was indeed that “quptyssy” and “quptenkos” are derived from the same root, i.e. “forms of the same word” as you put it.
          Actually, we were talking of slightly different things, but I think your take might be closer to the truth. I thought {nēdyssy} was a form of an adjective zero-derived into a noun, whereas you propose it’s a form of a proper noun from which the adjective *{nēdenkos} is in turn derived. The construction {-enkos} seems a bit long for a mere noun inflection (though one could say the same of {-yssy} or Latin {-ōrum}), but it would make sense as an adjective ending (like Latin {-ēnsis}).

          • I see what you mean. I don’t know very much about linguistics, but isn’t quite hard to say if the word was “first” a noun or an adjective though? It seems to me that *{nedenkos} could be the origin of *{nedys} just as well as *{nedys} could be the origin of *{nedenkos}. Or maybe they are just pair of sorts, and “ned-” is just the stem (correct term?) that you use to make words that have to do with “brave”. Or they could be formed based on a verb, “to be brave” or “to act bravely”.

    • Not the imperfective. I’d call it a continuative. In some language it’s inflectional, while in others it’s derivational. I think for this one it’s right on the edge of inflection and derivation. Since both of these are actions (to slaughter and to drink [and, by the way, that's why the latter is so economical]), the prefix effects the same kind of semantic change on the verb.

    • FictionIsntReal

      I am guessing “Essos” and “Westeros” are both names from the common tongue. Have we heard what folks east of the sea call their continents?

  8. Hey finally a new post, awesome!

    Just wanted to know something about “Qelbria”: its locative is formed by lengthening the last vowel, in the same way of “anogar/anogãr”, and it derives from the word “qelbar”, which I would assume also uses that locative ending (qelbãr).

    If so, has “Qelbria” also maintained the whole declension paradigm? More simply, is “Qelbria” put in another declension because it is a neologism, or does it keep the same declension as its “mother-word”, even though it doesn’t end in the same way (-ar)?

    • Dinok: I wouldn’t expect the paradigm of Qelbria to be directly influenced by that of qelbar. I would give you parallel examples from the classical languages (e.g. Greek potamos “river,” gen. potamū, but Mesopotamia “the Land Between Rivers,” gen. Mesopotamiās) but I know you haven’t studied them. So let’s try English: the plural of “mousetrap” is “mousetraps” with an s, even though the plural of “mouse” is “mice.”

      But what Qelbria does show us about qelbar is that the “combining form” is qelbr-. This very likely means that the case forms are derived from that stem as well. This is particularly interesting because so far I have recognized only two examples of a declined “aquatic” noun (if we are correct in identifying that class with the -r ending!):

      lentor? (David himself was unsure of this form), loc. lentrot
      ānogar, loc. ānogār

      Now, it is very common in a language with noun declension that the “stem” of a word, used to form the oblique (i.e. non-nominative) cases, or derived words (as is Qelbria), is not necessarily identical to the nominative. And at least as far as the locative is concerned, lentor seems to form it off the stem lentr-, whereas ānogar‘s stem does not appear to change.

      But we now know it cannot be so simple as “-or nouns always change, -ar nouns never do,” because of this qelbar ~ Qelbria alternation.

      But then are these things EVER that simple? ;)

      • Oh my, this just seems to get more complicated as time goes :P

        Anyway, how many declensions do you think there are, and what is their arrangement related to genders? Would every gender have its own “basic” declension, and then some others to encompass the rest of the words, I mean, there can’t be more than 8..10…right? Please let there be less than 10… :P

      • I think that in the case of “lentrot” it’s just elision. Compare “Myr” nom. vs “Myrot” loc., so probably what’s happening is that “lentor” goes to “lentor + ot” = “lentrot” in the locative; unstressed vowel gets dropped.

    • Just a note to say that what Mad Latinist says below is correct. Once qelbar becomes Qelbria, it loses all connection to the old noun and declines as a brand new noun.

  9. Abbey Battle

    Maester Peterson, I wanted to pop in and salute you for all that you have achieved in the course of effectively becoming ‘Game of Thrones’ very own Tolkien (a somewhat flawed comparison, since you yourself and the Mighty Master of Westeros Mr. GRR Martin seem to share the duties as author and linguist implied, but still a fun one!): I can safely say that hearing Dothraki and those variations on Valyrian thus far utilised in the course of dialogue has still further enriched the experience of watching ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ brought to life.

    However, while I intend my praise to be fulsome (and know it to be fully-merited), I come not merely to praise you but to pick your brain by asking me a question that has lurked at the back of my mind since learning that High Valyrian was being detailed:-

    If I may be so bold, may I ask if you have worked out meanings for the names of the various Targaryens? (which I assume to be of Valyrian origin – while it’s not difficult to deduce that ‘Aerys’ derives from the same root as ‘arys’ and presumably means something like ‘Fiery’ it would still be highly interesting to hear if you yourself have any thoughts on the matter).

    Thank you in advance for your patience and please accept my compliments once again for all that you have done for the World of Westeros and Essos.

    • M’athchomaroon, zhey Abbey!

      I have not figured out etymologies for the Valyrian names (I have for the bulk of the Dothraki names). I know how they would work, but the meanings are another thing. To be honest, I’d really like to talk to GRRM to see if he has any wishes for their etymologies before fleshing any out. I felt pretty safe with the Dothraki names, as even a character like Drogo ends up being a fairly minor character, but characters like Daenerys and even those who are never alive during the books like Aerys and Aegon are so important that I’d just like to check before doing anything. I have a feeling GRRM will say whatever I want to come up with is fine, but I don’t want to do anything on my own until I actually hear that (or different) from GRRM himself.

      • Abbey Battle

        A very fair and sensible attitude, Maester David (apologies for mangling the proper Maester -first name- format in my very first post!); thank you very kindly for taking the time to reply to my somewhat impertinent (or at least only VAGUELY pertinent) request so swiftly. . .

        … Out of curiosity, might I please ask what IS the etymology of Drogo?

  10. I’ve mostly compared R’hllor worship to Protestantism, keeping things simple and on the big European themes. Westeros Faith of Seven is often rather secular and laden with structure and rituals, and the god is very deeply divided to seven aspects. Red God takes things back to basics in many ways, and also has rather fervent worship. Even though religions are not IMO the most interesting and original part of GRRM’s world, the stereotypes and carbon-copying don’t go far enough to indicate any one definite source.
    …Of course [is this a spoiler?] we will probably later be introduced to more straightforward protestant movement.

    As a native speaker, it’s strange to hear this and that compared to Finnish. Nothing ever sounds much like your own language, and most of everything has it’s similarity moments – eg. Dothraki can at times sound quite Finnish, and Valyrian not much more so.

    • I’m one of those who compared the sound of Valyrian to Finnish, but what I meant by that was that compared to the obvious “source” for Valyrian, Latin, it sounds slightly and vaguely more like Finnish. There aren’t very many similarities, but I felt there was a certain “tinge”. But then again, I’m from Sweden, so maybe this is just me being an ignorant cultural imperialist when it comes to Finland…

  11. I’m surprised to learn that “R’hllor” was inspired by “Allah”… But then the associated religion reminded me so much of Mazdeism (worship of fire, a caste of authoritarian priests, strong dualism, pervasive theme of Light vs Darkness) i saw absolutely no parrallel with Islam…

    As for HV, i have to say this episode was quite a treat ! I especially liked Carice Van Houten’s performance I have to say. I never found HV to sound like Latin but it certainly exudes an air of ancient archaic Indo European language, like the common ancestor of Greek and Latin with more of a leaning towards Greek. Words like “Aeksio” have that Athenian classical Greek feel to them as well as the presence of many affricates.

    Has the origin of the word “Quptyssy” anything to do with the Arabic word for the Copts ie “Qubt” ?

  12. You say that “Toros” would be the traditional High Valyrian pronunciation. Is that an aspirated t?

    Did traditional High Valyrian have a phonemic distinction between an aspirated and unaspirated t (like Ancient Greek)?

    Does your inclusion of the qualifier “traditional” mean that the aspirated t underwent a similar change to a fricative that it did in Ancient Greek in other Valyrian dialects?

    • Actually, none of those. High Valyrian didn’t have interdental fricatives or aspiration.

      • How might one “explain” the transliteration for /toros/ ?

        • How might one “explain” the transliteration “Thoros” for /toros/ ?

          (sorry, previous comment lost my use of angled brackets for graphemes)

          • He’s asking why the Westerosis call him “Thoros” with an interdental fricative if his Valyrian name would be better transcribed as “Toros”.

            Maybe Myrish bastard Valyrian has developed an interdental fricative that wasn’t in HV?

            So his name could be /’θo.ɾos/ in Myrish, but /ˈto.ɾos/ in HV.

            Like people in Spain who have the name César, but pronounce it /ˈθe.saɾ/ as opposed to the original Latin /ˈkaisar/ (I think that’s the correct reconstruction… Mad Latinist can correct me).

            Maybe /θ/ replacing HV /t/ could be characteristic of Myrish… Like people in Braavos making fun of Myrish they change all the /t/ to /θ/…

            Or maybe that’s just the traditional Westerosi pronunciation of it and Thoros uses it when speaking Common for the sake of blending in with the locals. Like a Frenchman called “Jean” going by John in England…

            • Ohhhhh… That’s why I was getting so confused. Okay, asking this question, is kind of like asking why my name is spelled “David” when it’s pronounced [da.wud] in Arabic. How it’s pronounced in Arabic is irrelevant: My name is David.

              Same goes for Thoros. His name is Thoros. It doesn’t matter one bit how a High Valyrian speaker would pronounce it, since that’s a foreign language. There are probably a number of languages descended from Valyrian that developed interdental fricatives (for example, Astapori Valyrian, though it only has the voiced one). Provided Thoros has a native Myrish name, there’s a good chance that Myrish has voiceless interdental fricatives. Whether it would’ve come from an older Valyrian name Toros remains to be seen (though I doubt a Myrish language will ever be developed).

            • Cool. If it’s unlikely that Myrish will be developed in any canonical way, I reserve the right to postulate that it may contain interdental fricatives :) It can be the Castilian of the Valyrian descendants.

              I’m guessing Braavosi would be the only other variant that stands a good chance of being heard on the show.

              On a related note to the above, and with the obvious limitations of drawing too tight a parallel, when reading the books I’ve always enjoyed imagining the Free Cities as being inspired by real world locations with a Roman Empire history… Braavos as Venice, Qohor and its forests as Cologne, Trier or maybe Regensburg, Myr as Madrid, Pentos as Paris…

              Then you have racially-diverse Dorne, which GRRM I believe described once as being inspired by post-caliphate Spain mixed with Wales (?)

              I would totally dig if they do something in the show to reference the “Dornish Drawl” mentioned in the books. Like give them Texan accents or something ;)

          • Thanks Chickenduck for clarifying my question and David for the answer.

            For some reason I was assuming “Thoros” was a High Valyrian name and so was hypothesizing that [t]->[θ] at some stage to explain the current spelling. I was missing that “Thoros” may just not be High Valyrian :-)

        • Uhh…[ˈto.ɾos]? Am I missing something? It’d just be a plain voiceless alveolar unaspirated stop.

  13. Cool. If it’s unlikely that Myrish will be developed in any canonical way, I reserve the right to postulate that it may contain interdental fricatives :) It can be the Castilian of the Valyrian descendants.

    If Braavosi is the only Free City Valyrian dialect that David will develop for HBO, that would leave us free to come up with fanlangs for the other cities. Dibs on Lyseni! ;o)

    Though, incidentally, Lorathi would be fun to make, since IIRC both “Jaqen” and Shae are supposed to hail from there, and they’re played by German-speaking actors. It would be hilariously easy to cast Valyrian into a German-sounding mould… e.g. »Sche schier sich Urnefen kelten is« (“and now his watch is ended”). :D

    But, you know. Faller murchels, faller döhers.

    • So that’s why no one knows anything about Lorath – they can’t understand what they’re saying! I can so imagine a Lorathi going “faller murchels, faller döhers” and everyone else thinking “what the…?”.

      • LOLKatz! Well, in that case, I call dibs on Qohorik… Go Wenedyk on it. HV as spoken by the Polish, or maybe the Czechs so you can call trilled r a vowel. Hmmmmmm consonant clusters :) Rzczszłch and stuff.

        Wałr Zmrgułisz. Wałr Rzochałiszcz.

        (Apologies to anyone I offended there).

  14. I’ll make a guess
    “Aeksiot” (master,lord), “aot” (you, singular) and “jemot” (you, plural)seem to be all in dative (or the equivalent case in HV) .Therefore, -ot is a sufix that indicates the indirect object. Am I right ?

    • It would be more correct to say the dative as opposed to the indirect object, but the -ot ending shows up on more cases than simply the dative, depending on the declension class. It’s a fair indicator of dativehood.

      • Ok, I understand-of course the case system in Hv is not the same as in Latin. And forgive me for misspelling Āeksiot.

        • The macrons are always tough to remember; no worries. :) But let me clarify a bit.

          First, the dative, locative and genitive are always the same in the plural. The dative and locative are always the same for third declension singulars, as well. This means that āeksiot can be dative or locative (since it’s third declension). That said, the -ot is more closely associated with the dative in general when you look at all declensions.

          So, yes, you were picking up on the correct assumption! It’s just correct with an asterisk. :)

          • Can you say how many declensions there are? Or any other big “rules” like this? We’re trying to assemble a noun case chart, and something like this is very helpful :)

            • There are six declension types, each of which have subdivisions based on the particular ending. The total is 21 separate paradigms. I can’t promise that will be it, though… You never know if GRRM will create new words in the future.

            • Well, that’s useful to know, but until we get more information (whether from you or from the transcripts you let slip), I’m basing my chart on “gender” (according to the theory I mentionedhere.)

            • OK, how about if we approach it this way:

              In the Greek and Latin grammatical tradition, the theoretical minimum information you need to know to decline a noun is:

              • the nominative singular
              • the genitive singular
              • the gender

              And in fact, the declension classes are arranged according to the genitive.

              Is there a similar method of categorizing High Valyrian declension classes? What information do we need to confidently classify a noun?

            • I’m afraid HV isn’t nearly as interesting (surprising, given that I usually try to make things less predictive), as the nominative singular form is entirely predictive of paradigm membership. In order to get the agreement correct, you will also need the gender, but you don’t need to know the gender for the declension. The only wrinkle is being able to distinguish collectives from aquatic singulars and paucals from terrestrial singulars.

            • That is very useful information. But now I’m worried because of this:

              In order to get the agreement correct, you will also need the gender, but you don’t need to know the gender for the declension.

              … because my understanding was that gender was also predictable from the nominative form! If that is true, how could you know the declension without knowing the gender as well? Clearly another complication we have missed.

              This, on the other hand:

              The only wrinkle is being able to distinguish collectives from aquatic singulars and paucals from terrestrial singulars.

              … seems to corroborate our theory of genders, and indeed I had noticed the problem.

              And actually, this reminds me: when a collective or paucal gets relexicalized, does it keep its old gender, or does it get reassigned?

            • Gender is not predictable from the nominative singular form. It’s mostly predictable, but not completely. And, yes, a relexicalized paucal/plural retains its original gender.

  15. On verbs:

    I just noticed {ilīritan} would have to mean something like “smile upon”, which remind me of my older conjecture that the {i-} in AV {ivetra} is a transitivity marker. We have plenty of attested transitive verbs without the marker, so it would rather seem to be a transitivifier affix like German (and to a lesser degree English) “be-“. “The Lord besmiles me.” I wonder whether the {-i-} in {syt-i-vīl-īb-il-āt} is the same morpheme?

    {Rijībiā} and {rijībin} further support my theory of an {i}-thematic conjugation to complement the apparently more common {a}-thematic one. Perhaps those are actually the only two verb conjugations, irregulars notwithstanding? (Alright, given the 6 declension paradigms, that might be a vain hope…)

  16. Wałr Zmrgułisz. Wałr Rzochałiszcz.

    (Apologies to anyone I offended there).

    *wince* Wear your armor today, Lord Chickenduck. They do not call him IJzeren Jan for nothing.

    I’m actually only semi-joculant on the topic of developing some “vallangs” for fun… but if we do so, we shouldn’t take the task too lightly, lest we cheapen the material we work with. :P We’d need a more thorough understanding of HV to do a decent job, though.

    My reasons for claiming Lyseni are pretty straightforward: Lys is known for refined carnal pleasures, so clearly its Valyrian should be dripping with phornographic indulgence. I’m thinking nasals, lots of lenition, non-trivial diphthongs (using semivocalic [e] and [o]), and more [ʒ] than you can shake a gundja at. :D

    In fact, I suspect most of the training Lyseni “professionals” get is how to cultivate a sultry Lyseni accent. They probably spend hours practicing [ʒ:::::] under the strict tutelage of experts.

    • Haha, this would be awesome! “Gundja” is like my favorite word in Astapori Valyrian – Lyseni ought to have an even better one. Imagine the Lyseni pronunciation of “zaldrizes”…

      • [zao'dʒi:ʒ], of course, with an optional schwa coda. No wonder Viserys got all excited in the bath when Doreah asked him about the [zao'dʒi:ʒi]…

        Well, you know. [u~j 'vaʎʎi mor'ru:ʎi, u~j 'vaʎʎi dwɛ:ʒi]

        • You could take [zao'dʒi:ʒ], nasalise the first vowel, then spell it zãodide and talk about dragons with Doreah in the bath with sipping a cool capirinha.

          Oh, and [u~j 'vaʎʎi mor'ru:ʎi, u~j 'vaʎʎi dwɛ:ʒi] = valhe morrulhi, valhe duede

    • Regarding jocularity – I can assure you that I would definitely take things seriously if I ever did a “Valyrian-bogolang”… The lack in quality would have more to do with my being a noob than trying to be funny.

      But I think this is the kind of thing that we shouldn’t do until the show and book series is finished – as David may need to do some of the Vallangs before the show is finished.

  17. I was pleasantly surprised that they actually used the word “R’hllor” (or a variant of it) in the series. I thought it would be weird euphemisms the whole way through.

  18. Hey David, the guys at /r/gameofthrones found a picture of the letter Talisa writes to her mother in this last episode, and want to know what it means.

    I gave them a basic glossary of what I knew the meaning, but if you could give us any translation it would be awesome. Do you still have it with you? If you want you could tell us what this here means: http://i.imgur.com/0wue8ms.jpg , or simply include the transcript in your next post if you have it.

    Anyway, good job as always, great admiration for your work. Any help would be amazing :)

    • I comment on this in the post coming up in about a half an hour.

    • That is some utterly gorgeous script. I love the descender-heavy letters, gives it a bit of a Devanagari flair. The spelling even includes macrons, yay! :) I’m wondering what the occasional dots on {y} are, though. Maybe it’s just a calligraphic quirk that they simply forgot to apply in {zȳhosy}.

      • I’m sure it’s the latter. Really does look quite pretty, though! I wonder if they based it on a specific font or just came up with it on their own. And, of course, it would’ve been hand-lettered by the art department.

  19. What would be way more cool is if she’d written it in runes :)

    But I guess this means that, at least in the show, HV is commonly written in the Latin (Common Tongue) script? David, do you see the runes as being something that you would use more for formal/religious etc writing, as opposed to the Latin script used for everyday stuff?

    I’m assuming that’s HV rather than Volantene LV, yeah? Seems unnecessarily formal to write a letter home in HV… Although obviously it would be a lot of work for David to derive Volantene just for a single letter!

    Maybe you could hand wave it by saying that people tend to revert to HV for ALL written communication, as the Low Valyrian varieties have no official written form… Your thoughts on that?

    • I also comment on this in the post coming up soon. Also, HV wasn’t written in runes, but glyphs (very different. I’d imagine it was the Old Tongue that was written in runes). I believe the low versions would most certainly have written forms—likely making use of a script derived from Valyrian glyphs. Now to what extent the system could be official is a good question. I don’t think there were standards in our world until there were academies that set about to create them. Do they exist in Essos? And if so, in all the Free Cities or just a couple of them? These are questions I don’t think we can answer at present.

      • GAH!! Sorry, I meant glyphs. No idea why I wrote runes.

      • I got the impression from the books that, as they aren’t really considered “proper” languages by their native speakers, that anything considered important enough to write would be done in HV and they wouldn’t have official written standards for the vernaculars… L’academie braavosienne not existing at this point, as you point out.

        But it they DID write it, maybe you’d end up with something like informal written Cantonese: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Written_Cantonese

    • I write e-mails and IMs to my parents in High German, although it would never occur to us to speak it to each other. Writing Züritüütsch is just messy.

      Perhaps written HV works a bit like Katharevousa used to in Greece — an attempt to stall the perceived “decay” of the noble old language, at least in writing.

      • Yeah, the Swiss diglossia (everyone almost always writing in High German, but speaking their local version of Schweizerdeutsch) has sprung to mind for me a lot in these conversations too.

    • The Dragon Demands

      It is possible that Westeros’s Maesters teach children High Valyrian using “normal” Common Tongue letters, rather than waste effort teaching them an entirely new script system. Them again, many older scrolls are simply written in the older script system, so more educated characters like Tyrion would want to learn that.

  20. OK, I’m even later than usual, but here’s my analysis: http://jdm314.livejournal.com/198289.html

  21. voodooqueen126

    OMG is this an argument in favour of my crackpot theory that Valyrian, being a gender neutral (by which I mean biological sex, not solar, lunar, terrestrial or aquatic) language, it is possible for the word ‘valonqar’ to refer to any younger sibling (rather than just a little brother)?

    • No, valonqar just means “younger brother”. If GRRM changes that in a future book, I’ll have to change it, but I’ll go so far as to say it’s impossible for any naturally evolved human language not to distinguish between biological gender at the lexical level. Grammatically, sure, but not distinguishing at any point words for “man” and “woman” or “male” and “female”, I will go out on a limb and say that is completely impossible.

      • @voodooqueen126: In DJP’s High Valyrian, “younger sister” is hāedar. For the record, “older brother” is lēkia, and we do not yet have “older sister” (see http://wiki.dothraki.org/High_Valyrian_Word_Groups#family_tree for the current state of our knowledge!) Of course some words ARE gender neutral, for example voktys “priest/priestess,” and jaes “god/goddess” (as we recently learned), but honestly that’s probably true in any language.

        @DJP: This does raise the question though, if we want to specify that a particular cleric or deity is male or female, what is the proper expression? I mean, we know enough HV to coin words like, say, valōña “masculine” or ābrenka “feminine” (or, convesely, valenka, ābrōña? Whatver…) but it seems like this would be the sort of thing that might have a set, idiomatic expression.

      • As it happens, I had much the same pet theory, especially since the books do imply something about gender information being lost or confused in translations from HV (possibly just due to the scribe’s ignorance). I was pretty disappointed to learn that valonqar is gender-specific, but then again, since that seems to be DJP’s decision rather than GRRM’s, maybe that could still become true…

        I’d agree that it’s implausible for a language not to have separate words for “brother” and “sister”, but it may very well have additional gender-neutral words (“sibling”) that enjoy regular use, and may be mistranslated into a gender-specific word by an ignorant scribe.

        • I was pretty disappointed to learn that valonqar is gender-specific, but then again, since that seems to be DJP’s decision rather than GRRM’s, maybe that could still become true…

          I wouldn’t have put it that way. I personally have seen no textual evidence to support valonqar being anything other than male.

          • I never assumed that HV was “entirely gender-neutral” as so many fans did.

            From memory, GRRM only refers to one single word in canon that is ambiguous (the one for “prince”) but people have made big assumptions based on that.

            It actually reminds me of how a lot of fans (even pre-show era) incorrectly assumed from Dany’s line “fire cannot harm the dragon” in book 1 that “true” Targaryens were magically impervious to fire, therefore Viserys can’t have been a real Targ, R+L=J couldn’t be true etc etc. GRRM had to directly debunk that one, he heard so many questions about it.

          • I never assumed that HV was “entirely gender-neutral” as so many fans did.

            From memory, GRRM only refers to one single word in canon that is ambiguous (the one for “prince”) but people have made big assumptions based on that.

            It actually reminds me of how a lot of fans (even pre-show era) incorrectly assumed from Dany’s line “fire cannot harm the dragon” in book 1 that the Targaryens were magically impervious to fire, therefore Viserys can’t have been a real Targ, R+L=J couldn’t be true etc etc. GRRM had to directly debunk that one, he heard so many questions about it.

        • The Dragon Demands

          There is an outside chance that it meant “sibling”, and in Cersei’s context, someone told her it meant “little brother” because she has no sisters. It’s Cersei’s POV and she might simply be mistaken.

  22. There needs to be a Valyrian version of Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo.

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