Kastāmiro Daomior

Now, I’m not a superstitious man, but there was no word for “rain” in High Valyrian when I went to the dictionary to translate the title of tonight’s episode. After creating it (and the verb “to rain”) it brought the official word total of High Valyrian up to 666:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Admittedly, even knowing what was coming, that was pretty harsh—even harsher than hearing it from Roy Dotrice. So well played, D&D!

But leaving the bad, let’s get to the best part of the episode: the adonis Jacob Anderson fighting like a lajak. Dude is awesome. The only thing more I could’ve wanted from this episode is to see that scene continue. It was a little 1960s Batman, but I’ll take it. I was mightily entertained.

Unfortunately there’s no good news for the High Valyrian in this episode. What I sent was, apparently, altered, so I’m not sure, on first blush, what they’re saying. First, Jorah says a line in English that was to be Dany’s in High Valyrian. Then Dany says…something (I’ll get to it; need to rewatch that bit), and Grey Worm says:

  • Odaban sko ydras drejikydho.
  • “I think he is telling the truth.”

That’s translated as “I trust him”. Same intent, really, so no big deal. I did, however, recommend strongly that he say “this one” instead of “I”. What I should have done is simply translated it how I wanted to and sent it to them (noted for the future). Perhaps they’re suggesting he’s in the process of developing some agency (clearly true), but I never took the use of “this one” as anything more than a linguistic pattern—just something that happens on account of the idiolect spoken by the Unsullied—or perhaps even just a way of showing deference. Of course if it was the latter, perhaps this is a way of unassimilating himself. There’s a thesis in here somewhere, I swear!

Okay, back to Dany’s lines. Let me try and figure out what she’s saying, and then I’ll see if I can figure out where it comes from… Ahh! Okay, I’ve got it. First, here’s the line as I delivered it (it’s split into two parts, but it was written as one line):

  • Lo jention mirre nūmāzme ēza, iderenna qopsa verdagon issa.
  • “If leadership is about anything, it’s about making hard choices.”

If you go and listen, this line was split at the comma, and each half was translated as (respectively): “You are a leader now” and “Do you trust him?”

So, first, let me just comment on the writing here. I like the scene as it actually appears in the episode much better than what’s written. First, Jorah wouldn’t actually have that much of a footprint on this scene if he didn’t have the line that was originally in Valyrian (i.e. “You command the Unsullied. What do you think?”). It also changes the dynamic a bit. Jorah’s going to Grey Worm as an ally, more than anything else. Almost as if he’s a Vulcan, or something: Grey Worm can tell no lies. So if Grey Worm thinks the plan is a bad idea and Daario’s leading them into a trap, it must be true. I like that better than Dany asking him, so kudos there. Furthermore, I also like the idea of Jorah addressing him in English, and then Dany kind of coming back to him in Valyrian. It makes it look less like he’s suddenly learned to understand Common (even though the dialogue, as written in the show, would make it seem like he does. How else could he understand the plan well enough to comment? All Daario was doing was pointing at a map—and that only slightly).

Second, I also like the change to Dany’s lines. The lines as written are much more didactic—like Dany’s teaching him how to be an individual. As it’s written, it’s more like Dany is simply acknowledging his agency and giving Grey Worm the opportunity to step up and be a part of the conversation. The result is an exchange that’s less paternal (or maternal) and more empowering, in my opinion.

Of course, I could easily have translated the actual lines if they’d asked (seriously, what else do I do? Translating for Game of Thrones is cake! It’s a treat I give myself after a long day of doing hard work on Defiance). They didn’t. Perhaps they thought there wouldn’t be enough time or I was too busy. Whatever it was, though, there’s no match between the lines and the subtitles. Even so, the direction of the scene didn’t change, so it’s not at all an implausible course of events (i.e. if you just read the subtitles or just listen to the Valyrian, it shouldn’t be a surprise what happens).

For the sake of completion, here’s the other line from this episode:

  • Jentys Dovaogēdyro syt iksā. Skoros otāpā?
  • “You command the Unsullied. What do you think?”

I know there’s not a lot of Valyrian in this episode, but perhaps it’ll help to fill in some holes.

Also, to return to an earlier topic, I was waiting for this episode to air to say anything about Talisa’s letter. The point is, I think, now moot, but I believe the subject deserves its own post. So bear with me; it’s late and I have to be on my game tomorrow. I’ll put up Talisa’s letter soon (perhaps before the post accompanying the last episode of the season).

Posted on June 3, 2013, in Episode Recaps and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 81 Comments.

  1. Thanks for another great article on this beautiful language. I really wish they kept in contact with you more so that everything goes 100% as it should. I found this episode to be magnificent even though I was spoiled by people online about some of the deaths that occurred.

    666 words. You should coin the word for devil, or something related to that, next. It would be fitting.

  2. It makes it look less like he’s suddenly learned to understand Common (even though the dialogue, as written in the show, would make it seem like he does. How else could he understand the plan well enough to comment?

    A further bit of evidence is that Grey Worm goes on the commando mission: Daario seems to know both Slaver’s Bay Valyrian, and Westerosi Common (if we can assume that’s what they’re speaking in the command tent), but it’s been unclear that Jorah knows any Valyrian at all. Given that the three of them need to communicate while on their mission, I think we have to assume he can at least somewhat understand Jorah when he’s speaking Common. Presumably Dany translates for him in order to make certain he’s clear on the question.

    Jentys Dovaogēdyro syt iksā. Skoros otāpā?

    Dovaogēdyro would be genitive collective, right? Thus far, so far as I can tell, the Unsullied have always been referred to in the plural… is there a particular reason for this difference? I mean, it’s not hard to imagine why, I guess, it’s just that your answers to that sort of question are often interesting.

  3. I know it doesn’t pertain to conlanging, but no comments about the red wedding? I’m speechless, so I was hoping to hear some words from you!

    • I don’t know. I mean, it kind of is what it is. Those of us who’d already read the books knew what was coming; it was just a question of how, and what, if any, details were changed. For a detailed (and, in my opinion, rather uncharitable) rundown, you can see the recap on Westeros.org. I thought Talisa’s stabbing was really, really awful—to a point where it went beyond what I’m usually comfortable watching (I don’t like watching things that are needless cruel or torturous). The rest played out as it did. I really liked how the wedding party was actually quite pleasant, which was a marked change from the book. It made the dénouement that much more terrible, and made the Freys look that much more conniving and villainous. What happens to Catelyn after this (not spoiling, in case you don’t know) still makes absolutely no sense, and is, in my opinion, just silly. But you can’t have it all.

      • Seriously, there are FAR better reviews and rundowns out there than what are on westeros.org.

        Try winteriscoming.net for starters and follow the recap roundup links.

      • Thank you for the “uncharitable” note. I agreed wholeheartedly when I read that recap; I was shocked at how disparaging it was, and how disparate it was from my own opinion as a book reader… the scene in the book was difficult, but I got past it without problems. While watching on Sunday, I was shaking and nauseous for more than two hours afterwards. I was thoroughly impressed and just not inclined to nitpick.

        Sadly, I’m finding more and more that the Westeros.org crew are falling into the trap of “the series will never be as good as the books.” I feel sorry for those readers that are constantly nitpicking; they’re missing consistently brilliant work – including yours! :)

  4. Quick, David, you need to coin another word before its too late!!!! ;) It would be amusing to see if the Dothraki, or any of the other non-Westeros races have any numbers they are superstitious about.

    Do High Valyrian phonotactic rules prevent words from starting with the tented N character? Maybe that is the letter you need to start your one word with, to prevent the curse from falling on you ;)

    On a more serious note, you have provided me with something I reammy needed: an alphabet! Kirimvose!

  5. Very good, zhey David. I will probably do the same in the dictionary as well. Does Astapori Valyrian use the same letters?

    • Zhey Hrakkar, (I have no idea what the vocative of Rhakkar would be in HV ;) )

      The first person singular possessive is ñuhys, for one. And when we talk of “alphabets” and “letters” here, we’re really talking about transcription, since canonically Valyrian is supposed to be written in “glyphs.” (Though Talisa’s letter uses DJP’s transcription system instead.) For more on HV’s phonemic inventory, see http://www.dothraki.com/2013/04/tikuni-zobri-udra-zobriar/

      As for AV, we know, for instance, that it has a dh (as in dovoghedhy “unsullied”), but I don’t think words can start with that phoneme (it seems to result from intervocalic d, or something like that). AV also seems to have merged ñ into n… not of course that that matters for you, since you plan on alphabetizing both the same anyway.

      BTW, in case you hadn’t heard, David has said he won’t be able to make IRC again tonight.

  6. I read your reply to Ana, but I’m still looking forward to your opinion on the episode! I know your blog is to mainly discuss the many languages of the series, but you usually talk about other going ons in the episode. I hope you post something. You’re so intelligent and insightful and I enjoy reading your recaps on it! Not that I don’t enjoy your Valyrian and Dothraki lessons!
    Also, David, may I ask you what all languages you speak? I’m just curious, and I couldn’t find that information anywhere. Thanks!

    • I only speak English and Spanish with any level of comfort. I’ve devoted actual study to Arabic, Russian, Esperanto, French, Middle Egyptian and American Sign Language (in that order). Other languages I’ve studied but not in a classroom: Turkish, Hawaiian, Moro, Swahili, Latin, Babylonian and (brand new!) Attic Greek.

      Oh, and by the way, thanks, that’s nice to hear. :) I think I was just exhausted Sunday night and had to prepare for a big event on Monday (I was gone all day), so I didn’t devote as much time to the rest of the episode as I usually do. I will keep this in mind for the future, though.

  7. Thank you for this. Every time you post something I learn a little more. Hopefully will start posting about my conlang very soon. @mikebacon247 on Twitter.

  8. Qallunaatitusuuq

    I was just wondering about something that I may well have misheard, but it sounded like a Wildling language. Tormund, in an early scene, shouts something that didn’t seem English to his fellow wildlings, presumably orders to attack the old man’s cottage. Any comments/transcriptions of what he said?

    It could well have been English, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask, and if it is some Wildling Language, that is VERY EXCITING.

    • Well, I can tell you that I didn’t do anything for that, at least. And for myself, I wasn’t listening for anything out of the ordinary, since I was just paying attention to the action. I’ve got HBOGO, though, so I’ll go back and give it a listen and get back to you. This is before the raid takes place, correct?

      • Qallunaatitusuuq

        Yes, it’s right before the raid, in fact it’s the last line that he speaks. Upon watching the scene again with less noise pollution than the first time I saw it, I hear it now as “Surround the hut! Move in!” but spoken in a very gruff Norwegian accent. Oh well, I was looking forward to a glimpse of the languages beyond the wall ever since Mance’s line of there being 19 languages spoken in his army.

    • It was English, the actor is from Norway so maybe his accent is what made it sound different. I would love to hear the Old Tongue in the future though, maybe a few bits next season (from Mag the Mighty or Wun Wun?).

  9. Tori Targaryen

    Out of curiosity, I hear in the new soundtrack, particularly in the track named ‘Mhysa’, there is a choir singing, was curious if this was in fact sung in Valyrian? And if you helped with creating those lyrics for the piece? :)

    • I just came here to ask the same! ;)
      (But maybe it will be in the post for next episode?)

    • Yeah, I bought the soundtrack immediately, and am listening to it now (I LOVE soundtrack music, especially GoT)… but I’ve elected to skip the last three tracks, to avoid musical spoilers (especially since I know the last scene of the season will have a great score, just like the last two). Right now I’m on the last track I get to listen to this week, “The Lannisters Send Their Regards.” (Great note to end on, right? :p )

      But if you think there’s Valyrian in that track, I’ll bet you’re right: when asked if the chanting in the music we now know to be track 3 “Dracarys” was Valyrian, David replied “In this instance, no,” which strongly implies you are right.

      • Tori Targaryen

        I love soundtracks too :) I pretty much listen to only soundtracks lol And yeah when I listen to the last track (will not spoil for you) but I am certain I can hear the word ‘Mhysa’ said in it numerous times. And the more I listen to it, the more certain I am that it is Valyrian. Even Missandei says in an earlier episode ‘The gods could not devise a more perfect tongue. It is the only language for poetry’. And lyrics are also a form of poetry ;)

    • Interesting. I haven’t gotten to listen to that soundtrack myself, but I really hope it’s HV and not Latin. If it is indeed HV, then yay! The fist song in that beautiful language.

    • I did send off some High Valyrian lyrics for what ended up being that track, but they weren’t used. They were actually lines from the show, but were actually mixed up a little bit, so at this point I don’t think it’d be recognizable.

      • Tori Targaryen

        Thank you for your response, it’s a shame that your lyrics were not used, but I am pleased they still stuck with Valyrian for it. Is there any possibility that sometime in the future (perhaps after the finale has aired) that we can find out what your lyrics were and what they meant? Would love to know :)

  10. Hello from admirer!
    I love your work for the show.
    In recent interview for HBO.com Michelle Fairley has been asked what phrase she would most want to say in Valyrian.
    Her answer was “Winter Is Coming”.
    Could you help her?

    • Indeed. It’s Sōnar māzis.

      • Zaldrizes Dare

        I’ve been checking out the Learn Dothraki Wiki (great site, btw, kudos to the admins) and have been trying to translate “Winter is coming.” It’s a lot harder than I thought, since the sentence involves a present participle. I’m probably way off base, but I think I’ve come up with two possibilities:

        “Aheshke ajadae,” which is technically “winter will come,” but conveys the same message as the phrase in Common.


        “Aheshke jadoy,” which is me trying to conjugate the corresponding verb in Dothraki to its present participle in Dothraki.

        Am I even close?

        • Well, it only involves a participle in English. Not all languages will use a participle construction to convey that same information. For example, in Spanish, you’d say Viene el Invierno, which, literally, is “Comes the winter”. If you said something like Está Viniendo el Invierno, it’d be…ha, ha. It sounds funny. It’s like, “Look at! It’s coming right at you!”

          Dothraki is similar to Spanish in this regard. Rather than trying to put together some sort of participial construction, you just say Aheshke Jada. That’s all. :)

          • Incidentally, the High Valyrian {sōnar māzis} is also not a direct translation. The usual translation for “is coming” would be the present tense (which I guess is {māzas}, and also uses no participles). The use of the aorist in {sōnar māzis} shows that Winter is not just coming right now, it’s always coming.

  11. I’m sure you get this all the time: are there any plans you know of to produce a commercial release of Dothraki and Valyrian like the “Klingon Dictionary” for Star Trek?
    That said, I dearly love that last bit here in the comments.

  12. So I finally got round to listening to Jeff Rubin’s interview with David:


    At 1:17:30, we hear the HV translation of “Marge, you will not believe me, but I am wrongly positioned with respect to two selling-things”. It sounds to me like
    Mārjis, āvy pāsilo daor, yn lanti ljorārot qrīvielan. Quite a few interesting things in there!

    Mārjis: Could be Mārjys as well, since David consistently pronounces his HV /y/ as [i] (so this is why almost all the actors do it!), but I don’t think we’ve seen the sequence /jy/ before. Perhaps /y/ is not palatalizing…?

    āvy: David later glosses this as if it were “you” (nominative), but in the earlier stream of consciousness he was looking for the first person accusative pronoun, which would make more sense. I suspect this is an error, and it should have been yne (“me”). If it were nominative “you”, it would make sense meaning-wise, though it would be redundant with the verb ending. Also, I’d expect the form to be aōle. We have avy attested as an accusative (?) “you”.

    pāsilo: 2sg future subjunctive of a verb pās- “believe”. I would have expected a long , but maybe the ending gets shortened after an infix like -il-?

    ljorārot: Probably a nominalized participle “selling” in the locative. The “thing/machine” is probably only implied in the choice of noun paradigm. I expect it to be aquatic or terrestrial, since lunar and solar are associated with people. The ending -ot fits with the locative of a third-declension noun (ljorāron? ljorāror?), though it looks singular; the plural would be -oti. Maybe the paucal locative form is identical to the singular here? Also, the stem ljorār- doesn’t quite fit the paradigms we’ve seen for participles so far; I’d expect a short ljorar-.

    qrīvyelan: This is perhaps the most interesting word here. David mentions a “pejorative”, which I’m quite sure refers to the prefix we already know from qringōntan. I’m wondering whether the latter isn’t analyzable as qrin-gaom-t-an, i.e., “I have misdone.” That would mean the prefix is qrin-, and the /n/ drops with compensatory lengthening before vyelan “I am positioned”. I’m assuming there’s an /y/ in there because *qrīvielan would be stressed on the first syllable and the /ie/ would be rising. We also have qimbroto “cursed” attested in AV, which of course must be a reflex of something like qrin-proton “mis-blessed”. :)

  13. Given that Arya learning Braavosi is a major plot point, I’m pretty sure they’ll commission David to create the language for next season. Or they could just hire a bunch of Italian actors and have them pronounce High Valyrian as they like. All those geminate consonants, man :)

    • Creating Braavosi would be easy. You only have to made some phonological and grammatical changes to High Valyrian so as it sound more like Italian(or Venetian)

      • Seeing how David handled Dothraki and HV, what do you think are the odds he’s going to pull off a quick hack job on Braavosi? ;)

        Anyway, Braavosi has a significant amount of non-Valyrian substrate, or then its sound changes were dramatic. As I remember, a certain person roughly acquainted with HV only recognized every fifth word upon coming to Braavos.

        Making Braavosi sound just like Italian would be very easy (Vagli morruli, vagli doieri!), much as it would have been easy to make HV sound just like Latin. The interesting question is, in which way will its sound end up differing from Italian?

        (If it were me, I’d start with the fact that the spelling “Braavos”, as well as Syrio’s pronunciation thereof, suggest a dark /ɑ/ phoneme contrasting with [a]…)

        • I’m sure Braavosi (or whatever he’s working on right now for S4) will be awesome.

          I do have one query with the show’s continuity regarding accents though – Daario in the show is referred to as being from Braavos (as opposed to Tyrosh in the books), as is Syrio… However, Daario sounds pretty standard British, whereas Syrio sounded generic foreign swordsman (think Zorro).

          Not that that’s a huge problem, maybe Daario just has a better ear for languages and a Westerosi mother? :)

        • A friend who’s read the books seems to think Braavosi is, in fact, conservative, and cites the following as evidence:

          It sounded something like Valyrian, but he did not recognize more than one word in five. Not Braavos, he concluded, nor Tyrosh.”—A Dance with Dragons, p. 23

          It could be, I suppose, that the character in question is just eliminating other forms of low Valyrian, without connection to the previous sentence, but my friend takes it to mean that if you can’t recognize more than one Valyrian word in five, it ain’t Braavosi.

          Said friend also has a pet theory that ‹aa› is the outcome of HV ā, and the name Daario is derived from Dārys. I gather that Daario is Tyroshi in the books… but if my friend’s theory is correct, I guess Tyroshi should be similarly conservative ;)

          • @ML: Aha! I misattributed that quote to Braavosi in my memory. You’re right, it implies Braavosi is quite recognizably Valyrian. Cool! That means we’ll see a lot of juicy derivation and evolution from HV.

            Yes, that’s a very plausible theory for {aa}. Daario looks rather like it derives from {dārion} than {dārys}, but the latter would make more sense meaning-wise. Maybe the {-o} is a common proper name suffix as in Dothraki…

  14. Hi !
    I have a question. Will you create Asshai’i for the series ? That would be amazing.

    • I actually put together a sketch of Asshai’i for the first season. It didn’t end up getting used, but the sketch is still there. If it’s ever needed for some future season I can expand it.

      • I don’t want to bother you but can you give an example ? Of course if it’s possible.
        “The night is dark” or something worth to bother you.

        Asshai is very intriguing.

      • I seem to remember reading somewhere that Mirri Maz Duur was singing in Asshai’i when she was being burnt on Drogo’s funeral pyre… But they might have mis-reported it.

        • That was the intent, but I don’t think that ever actually happened (at least it didn’t sound like it to me—and I don’t think I ever translated anything for it).

          • Makes sense… I think somewhere a news article credited you with it, but they might have gotten that second hand from elsewhere. I know the first season credits show you as having created Dothraki, Ashai’i and something that I’ve forgotten but the name reminded me of “Skrillex” but wasn’t dubstep. I think it was the White Walkers’ language? Was that also edited out?

  15. Hi, David. I cracked up when I heard your positive opinion of Jacob Anderson and I’m glad he’s kept the standard all season. Question: What’s a lajak?? Sounds Dothraki…

  16. .. But he’s not a lajak, he’s Dovaogedys.

    • Yn lajaki iksos daor, Dovaogēdy issa!

      • Until David J. Peterson tell me otherwise, I’m going to say yes ;)

        This sentence does make me wonder, though: Latin is fond of not repeating words that are the same between two coördinated clauses like this (Non lajak (sed) Immaculatus est )… and this is doubly true for verbs. High Valyrian being almost unrelentingly verb-final, it is well set up to do this… except of course for the fact that negative and positive verbs take different forms! I wonder if there’s a way to say this sentence without needing to say both iksos and issa explicitly.

  17. Mad Latinist, did you just translate what I said into High Valyrian? If so, I salute you.

  18. Y me lajak do sa, Dovoghedhi sa!

  19. Very nice! But a) Dovoghedhy (still transcribed with a ‹y› in the singular, even if pronounced identically.) b) I suspect the word order is incorrect, but I’m not sure what the correct order would be (specifically the placement of do and sa)

    • Thank you for a). But as far as I know, the negation adverb “do” is placed before the verb in Astapori Valyrian, as in “dyni do majis”.

      • Yes, but it seems likely that sa would come earlier.

        As for do… I think I had in mind the transcription DJP gave me last night: Vagizi, loduli sko do nagostovave umbilas ez pon. But there, the do is being used adjectivally, so it’s not really relevant.

  20. The typical word order would be ” Y do sa me lajak, sa ma Dovoghedhy”, but I placed the verb at the end in order to emphasize ;).

  21. Is daomior, by any chance, a 3rd decl. collective? We don’t seem to have any of those yet (or at least I haven’t caught any.)

  22. This language is the epitome of amazing. I would preferably choose this over learning French or Italian. Keep up the sharp blogs :)

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