Some High Valyrian Inflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on May 26, 2013, in Grammar and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. Super. I think even I can start seriously easing myself into the language. Now, if we get the wiki/forum running this starting week, it’d be double super cool.
    A bit mystified that you make a distinction between ..um..proper? diphthongs and on-glide diphthongs. All can surely serve as a nucleus (or can they?), so is it that the difference is just that on-glides don’t so much change from vowel to another, but more or less from a glide consonant to a vowel, like iā would be pronounced close to [ja:] and ue close to [we]?
    I need to do more wikipedaling.

    • What I meant was… I don’t know, they feel different. On-glide diphthongs with short vowels count as single vowels (thus if there were a made-up form kionula, it’d be stressed on the second syllable), where as falling diphthongs with short vowels count as long vowels (so kaenula would be stressed on the first syllable).

      • Hmm, but apparently (vide infra) the onglide doesn’t count as a consonant either!

        And it seems to me a lot of languages treat “rising” and “falling” diphthongs quite differently.

  2. Wow! I’m still digesting all this great info! This is so great, I’m already noting some patterns and there are a couple of confirmations for some theories. I hope things really get very messy next week, hehe! And hope that means more charts! :D
    Great post! Geros ilas! (walk something?…)

  3. As I mentioned on Twitter, I had planned to put up an LJ post yesterday morning, thinking you wouldn’t post here until later in the day. But since you in fact beat me to the punch, I’m now holding my post back while I rewrite it to take this new information into account.

    Meanwhile, why don’t I ask some questions?

    1. I’m a bit surprised to see the 3pl -si even for thematic verbs. In my LJ post I had already expressed doubt that morghūlis, ipradis, and so on were 3pl forms. Now I’m wondering whether -is is ever a 3p form in HV (as it more clearly is in AV). Is it?

    2. Could you tell us a little more about the circumstances under which -na is or is not a permitted ending? Is it a simple matter of which consonant clusters are licit, or does syllable weight come into play at all? When it isn’t permitted does it always become -an, or do things like *jael·na*jaella ever occur?

    3 You previously wrote that “the dative, locative and genitive are always the same in the plural,” but here we see that second declension solar (and I’m guessing other second declension words as well) has a separate loc.pl. (or rather, it merges it with the accusative instead). Fair enough, because you explicitly stated that one of your reasons for this post was to clear up any errors you might have made in off-the-cuff comments… but, even if it was mistaken, I’m kind of doubting that your original statement was made up out of whole cloth, as it were. What is the kernel of truth behind this misstatement?

    4. In the 2s pronoun we get the combination , and I could swear I’ve seen somewhere as well, though I’m not finding it now. I take it these are not diphthongs? Certainly the actors seem to pronounce aōt as two syllables (though I’m less sure about possessive forms like aōhe). Do ae/āe, or ao/āo ever occur across syllables, or are those always diphthongs? The actors seem to nearly universally pronounce daor as daö́r (something like [daˈor]); is that your intension for this word, or is it supposed to be more like *[ˈdao̯r]?

    5. Continuing on the last thought, what about the rising diphthongs you listed? Are those combinations always diphthongs, or are they sometimes disyllabic? That’s particularly important for words like obūljarion, which we would expect to be pronounced obūljaríon if -io- is not a diphthong, but obūljárion if it is (so far as I can tell, Emilia Clarke actually pronounces it something like [oˈbuːʎajon]). In Latin, of course, such combinations were mostly supposed to be pronounced disyllabically, but they could optionally be pronounced as diphthongs in poetry, and clearly tended to be such in colloquial pronunciation as well, as they Romance language outcomes generally show.

    • 1. I’m a bit surprised to see the 3pl -si even for thematic verbs. In my LJ post I had already expressed doubt that morghūlis, ipradis, and so on were 3pl forms. Now I’m wondering whether -is is ever a 3p form in HV (as it more clearly is in AV). Is it?

      Sure. What about a made-up stem like mend-? Third person plural present would be mendis.

      2. Could you tell us a little more about the circumstances under which -na is or is not a permitted ending? Is it a simple matter of which consonant clusters are licit, or does syllable weight come into play at all? When it isn’t permitted does it always become -an, or do things like *jael·na → *jaella ever occur?

      Zhalio (below) has it right: *ln > nn.

      You previously wrote that “the dative, locative and genitive are always the same in the plural,” but here we see that second declension solar (and I’m guessing other second declension words as well) has a separate loc.pl. […] What is the kernel of truth behind this misstatement?

      The kernel of truth is that the lousy second declension always screws me up. Most of the time those three merge, but not in the second declension. I just checked, and is universally true outside of the two types of second declension nouns (i.e. those ending in -ys [mostly solar] and those ending in -y [mostly lunar]).

      4. In the 2s pronoun we get the combination aō, and I could swear I’ve seen aē somewhere as well, though I’m not finding it now. I take it these are not diphthongs? Certainly the actors seem to pronounce aōt as two syllables (though I’m less sure about possessive forms like aōhe). Do ae/āe, or ao/āo ever occur across syllables, or are those always diphthongs? The actors seem to nearly universally pronounce daor as daö́r (something like [daˈor]); is that your intension for this word, or is it supposed to be more like *[ˈdao̯r]?

      Neither nor would be diphthongs (they do occur, but across syllable boundaries, e.g. with the second person pronoun [ˈa.oː]). Daor gets pronounced like [da.ˈoːr] or [da.or] a lot because that’s how I pronounce it. Its spelling is etymologically accurate [i.e. it should be monosyllabic], but due to its placement in the sentence, it can get pronounced as if it’s something different. (I wanted to do this so I could leave the option open of having negative words in the daughter languages that weren’t all exactly identical).

      And then for 5, I commented below. Yeah, those are supposed to be monosyllabic, and they carry the weight of their non-high vowel (so io is short and is long).

      • I just checked, and is universally true…

        Just to be clear: universally true among nouns, or among declinables as a whole?

        … outside of the two types of second declension nouns

        (i.e. those ending in -ys [mostly solar] and those ending in -y [mostly lunar]).

        Aha! So then I should assume tembyr is a relexicalized collective, and not a second declension aquatic?

        • Just to be clear: universally true among nouns, or among declinables as a whole?

          Adjectives too.

          Aha! So then I should assume tembyr is a relexicalized collective, and not a second declension aquatic?

          This is correct.

          • Just to be clear: universally true among nouns, or among declinables as a whole?

            Adjectives too.

            Wait, does this include the solar inflection of “Type I” adjectives? That is, forms like ñuhys, whose paradigm seems to be based (mostly) on that of loktys?

            • Wait, does this include the solar inflection of “Type I” adjectives? That is, forms like ñuhys, whose paradigm seems to be based (mostly) on that of loktys?

              That is, indeed, why I said “adjectives too”. :)

            • Yes, but I don’t understand if you’re counting ñuhys as a “2nd declension adjective” or not.

              So just to be clear, is “like my siblings” hae *ñuhi dubī, or is it hae ?ñuho dubī?

            • Neither:

              Hae ñuhī dubī.

            • OK, kirimvose, that answers my question. As for the , it had been my impression that prepositive adjective forms couldn’t end in a long vowel?

            • I don’t recall saying that specifically. Certain prepositive adjectival forms do get the last syllable or consonant chopped off. Word-final long vowels are, undoubtedly, one of the first things to go in Valyrian (I always write them to ensure that we know they were there), but, no, you can have long vowels in prepositive adjectival endings.

      • Oh, and aside from the optionally disyllabic pronunciation of daör, do vowels that could form a licit diphthong ever wind up being heterosyllabic?

        I guess this question came to me in the first place because of Zhalio’s amazing Volantene script. While I overall love the font, it did bother me that there’s no way to use a diaeresis in it… then it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure if a diaeresis would ever be necessary or useful in HV. So what I’m really asking is: is there any time I might have call to use a diaeresis in HV, or is anything that can be a diphthong certainly is?

        • Personally, I don’t think one would ever need a diaeresis (I don’t think it would be useful enough to warrant the extra distraction)—though it should be a simple thing to add a set of characters with a diaeresis to a font.

          • The font supports a wide range of diacritics, including breves and ogoneks. It was a deliberate design choice to make the diæreses look like macrons because (1) this makes it easier to type Valyrian on regular keyboard mappings, and (2) it makes German look more Valyrian…

            Maybe I should have included a traditional diæresis as a stylistic alternate, though. Then again, most non-professional users of fonts don’t make use of those anyway.

            • Yes, I was quite impressed by the range of accented letters otherwise.

              Well, if you do make that alternate version, please let me know. My keyboard layout makes most common diacritics easy to reach, so I’d rather have them all.

            • The font supports a wide range of diacritics, including breves and ogoneks. It was a deliberate design choice to make the diæreses look like macrons because (1) this makes it easier to type Valyrian on regular keyboard mappings, and (2) it makes German look more Valyrian…

              Ah… Actually, I like this better than having actual diaereses. It gives the script character.

      • (I wanted to do this so I could leave the option open of having negative words in the daughter languages that weren’t all exactly identical).

        Even just starting with [ˈdao̯r], there’s gotta be lots of possible reflexes in the daughter languages… I guess it’s [do] in AV, but it could be [daw] in one city, go through [dəwr] > [djur] > [dʒuɐ] in another, [da:ɹ] > [taj] in a third, and amalgamate with the subjunctive into a negative verb mood in a fourth (e.g. [nɨx ʎima] “I cry” but [nɨx ‘ʎimɔɾɔ] “I don’t cry”). The fifth might derive its common negative from a weakened High Valyrian equivalent of {vosecchi}, and a sixth from the Asshai’i [χɰa:] “ohgodohgodohgodpleasedon’t”… ;o)

      • To add on to the -is 3p forms, specifically morghulis, would you use -in in place of -on or just keep the same indicative conjugations?

  4. Re 2: If {jiōrinna} “I will receive” is any indication, {l+n} should turn into {nn}.

    Re 4: I generally hear it as [‘da.or]. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were intended as monosyllabic and all the actors qrinqōntasi.

    Re 5: If the {io} is to be counted as a single syllable kernel (and David has stated that before), then {obūljarion} should in fact be stressed on the {ū}.

  5. 2. Yes, of course, but I guess I meant specifically cases where the ending is applied directly to the verb stem itself.

    5. But io is truly a rising diphthong, then shouldn’t it still make position (i.e. o·būl·jár·i̯on)? Or I suppose this could fall into the same category as mūta cum līquidā (i.e. o·bū́l·ja·ri̯on)… I guess I should take Ms. Clarke’s pronunciation as evidence you are correct.

    • On 5., the second parsing is correct. Are you guys not able to reply to each other’s comments…? Is this something wrong with the blog?

      • I think the blog hiccupped and treated all our comments as being on the same level for a brief period no matter what we were replying to. Doesn’t seem to be doing it now.

        And, d’oh, I missed Zhalio’s point: I had did have forms like jiōrinna in mind when I asked that, but I unthinkingly assimilated in the wrong direction, and didn’t notice that was what Zhalio was pointing out. In any case, I take it you are saying jaenna is not only phonologically correct, but also morphologically (i.e. that’s actually the correct way to say “I wish”?)?

  6. Valerie Hampton

    Hello,
    I am a professor at WMU and run the American Neo-Medievalism Society. Do you have conjugation charts like the above and more words list like the (1,372) mentioned for Castithan? I would love to talk about the language at the next Medieval Congress in my roundtable. Please let me know.
    Thank you,
    Valerie Hampton
    valerie.d.hampton@wmich.edu
    Western Michigan University

  7. I know this does not fit here, but:

    Surely ‘Dracarys’ closes episode 4.

    Even tho part of this was the end of season 1 , much is new, with the military drum beat.
    Sometimes one can hear some of Dyawadi’s mentor, Hans Zimmer, influence.
    But not this one.
    Ok, time for a dumb question, this score has what I call ‘the Unsullied’ ‘chant’….
    It’s used in later episodes without the orchestra and the choral.
    What are they saying? The male chorus ?
    It is kind of Carl Orff – like, but then everybody copies Orff , with variations.
    It seems simple but I can’t make out a thing, is it Valyrian?

  8. (there are no subjunctive participles or infinitives or imperatives).

    That’s hardly surprising, as it’s quite common for languages not to distinguish indicative and subjunctive in those forms (indeed, “participle,” “infinitive” and “imperative” are traditionally counted as moods in Latin grammar, precisely because they are mutually exclusive with “indicative” and “subjunctive.”)

    What’s interesting about that, though, is that HV regularly uses the subjunctive with daor. Should I take this to mean that participles, infinitives, and imperatives use a different negation? That too seems common across languages—for instance, it is almost exactly like the difference between οὐ and μὴ in Greek.

  9. So the infinitive of morghulis and dohaeris would be morghugon and dohaergon? In what tense is those verbs? Is a special tense that means ‘must + infinitive’?

    • The infinitives are morghūljagon and dohaeragon, respectively. The tense is the aorist, which, in conjunction with the collective of a individuative noun, produces obligative (or deontic) force.

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