Vaes Dothrak Vimithreri

I’m mostly recovered from my first trip to Comic-Con this past weekend, and I’ve discovered that June is almost over, and I’ve only got one post for the month. This is my attempt to remedy that.

Something fun that I got to do for Comic-Con was translate some of the trolley signs for San Diego MTS into Dothraki. The signs were up at the station right across the street from the convention center, and I thought they came out pretty well. Here are some pictures:

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For a full set of the signs, though, check out this picture that SDMTS put together (along with some more literal translations I provided):

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Thanks to Nara Lee for setting it all up! It was pretty cool.

Also, while I was there I got to participate on a panel called “I Can’t Write, I Can’t Draw, But I Love Comics!” put together by Susan Karlin. Here’s a photo:

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The Making Game of Thrones blog also put up a post on the panel with a pretty good picture. You can check it out here.

In Valyrian news, I’ve finished the translations for season 4, so all that’s left is filming and post, and a long wait for the premiere!

Posted on July 26, 2013, in Vocabulary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Lovely to see a Dothraki centered post for a change. One grammar centered before the fall would be wonderful treat too, though if Valyrian posts keep you busy, I’m not complaining. The signs are awesome. Gotta take time to pick the new words. Though I guess aotovos won’t count.

    • I’ll be lucky to add any posts. I’m absolutely swamped. But don’t worry, I will try. I have a few Dothraki posts in the pipeline I’ve been meaning to do and still intend to do.

  2. Alright. I have the questions.
    Does azhikh have canonical meaning?
    As far as I can remember, “Azhikh tawak eth mra qora shafkoa” might be the first time we see one of these auxiliary-ish thingies without a verb in the sentence. Seems no tricks are needed?
    Pronoun/noun “one” is AFAWK “ato”, so accusative of that is apparently “ate”?
    Are “athziverezar” and/or “ziverelat” canon words?
    Are “athzirayosezar” and/or “zirayoselat” canon words, and does that come straight from “ray” and does that mean “rayat” works as a verb and what about “rayolat”?
    “Izven” means “forbidden”?
    “Sisi” means “lightning” (na.)?
    I have wondered, why eshna is marked as “adv.” on our wiki, but haven’t put my head on the matter. It works like demonstrative modifier?
    Is “ziqovvoselat” a canon word and if it comes from “qovat” – “to tremble”, how does that etymology go?
    You say you’ve finished translating Valyrian, but don’t mention Dothraki; will season four be the first without Dothraki?

    • As far as I can remember, “Azhikh tawak eth mra qora shafkoa” might be the first time we see one of these auxiliary-ish thingies without a verb in the sentence. Seems no tricks are needed?

      Tricks…?

      Pronoun/noun “one” is AFAWK “ato”, so accusative of that is apparently “ate”?

      Class B.

      Are “athziverezar” and/or “ziverelat” canon words?
      Are “athzirayosezar” and/or “zirayoselat” canon words, and does that come straight from “ray” and does that mean “rayat” works as a verb and what about “rayolat”?

      Ayolat. And they’re canon words in so far as they’re useful…? It’s kind of like asking if mis-DVR is a legitimate English word. It could be, if it was useful (e.g. “I wanted to record the game, but I mis-DVR’d it and ended up recording a Golden Girls marathon”). That is, the words are the sum of their parts, so if there’s a use for the word, they’ll exist; otherwise, they won’t.

      “Izven” means “forbidden”?
      “Sisi” means “lightning” (na.)?

      Yes (both).

      I have wondered, why eshna is marked as “adv.” on our wiki, but haven’t put my head on the matter. It works like demonstrative modifier?

      Um…I don’t know? I think it’s an adjective in English. In Dothraki, it’s a determiner (like jin, haz, etc.).

      Is “ziqovvoselat” a canon word and if it comes from “qovat” – “to tremble”, how does that etymology go?

      I can’t remember if it existed before this translation or not, but it seems useful. Built off qovvolat, “to shed”.

      You say you’ve finished translating Valyrian, but don’t mention Dothraki; will season four be the first without Dothraki?

      I can’t discuss anything beyond season 3 at this point.

      • I can’t discuss anything beyond season 3 at this point.

        Well that answers the question I was gonna ask.

        Are you able to tell us anything about season 4 (such as the amount of Valyrian and/or Dothraki we can look forward to) before each episode airs or do we just have to wait and be patient?

        (I’m guessing the latter, but it never hurts to ask :D )

        • I shouldn’t even discuss which languages. Because of the way the show is now advancing only certain parts of the books and not others (i.e. it’s not the case that season 4 = book 4), saying what I’m doing—even vaguely—might give too much away that would otherwise be a surprise.

  3. I can’t resist asking. There were several news reports on the web that Emilia Clarke , in essence, issued a thank you statement for her Emmy nomination in Dothraki. There are print versions of if , surf the web that I have, can’t find a sound recording, maybe there is not one?
    Did she call you for that?

    • Yes. (Or, well, technically HBO’s marketing person called me, and I provided the translation [in which, by the way, I made a teeny, tiny, baby error, which I’m sure Qvaak and ingsve will spot.) But I think it was just a written response, not an audio response, so I don’t think there would be an audio version. It was for her official response to the news of her Emmy nomination, so it was probably written up and distributed to the hundreds of media outlets asking for quotes.

      • I spotted nothing odd when I read it, but now that you mention it, do you mean “jin” should be in inanimate nominative, “jini”? Or that it would be more natural to address the people nominating her with formal or plural pronoun, “yeri” or “shafka”?

        • It was jin. Regarding the pluralization, I thought yer was more familiar, and I’m not sure if it should be plural…? Is she speaking to the entity (Academy of Television Arts & Sciences), to the nominators, to the press…? I wasn’t sure, so I just went with singular.

          • I think in Finnish you’d use plural or formal (which is the same plural (as in so many European languages)) in almost any conceivable situation here. So in Dothraki you might address a collective entity like Academy with a singular … or something like that?

  4. We’re kind of in standby mode over at Game of Thrones Wiki (making up in real life for all the work time we devoted to Season 3 in spring).

    Nonetheless, a few questions have come up:

    1 – They’ve announced that they’re going to cast Styr, Magnar of Thenn, in Season 4. In the books, the Thenn only speak the Old Tongue of the First Men (Ygritte even mentioned in “Kissed by Fire” that the Thenn don’t speak the Common Tongue). Does this mean you are now working on the Old Tongue for Season 4? (I had hoped you’d make it for the Giants in Season 3 but they only appeared in one episode; I hope the rumors are true that they’re trying to get a budget BIGGER than the Battle of the Blackwater’s budget for the Battle of Castle Black). You’ve previously answered my question about Mance Rayder’s line that there are “seven” languages Beyond the Wall (including Common Tongue) to imply that there are apparently multiple dialects of Old Tongue (logically, the cannibals of the Ice-river clans to the extreme northwest probably don’t speak Old Tongue as well as the Thenn do).

    2 – They just announced the casting of the first Dornish characters, Oberyn and Ellaria. In the books…well, GRRM stated he isn’t really a linguist, but has admitted that if he were, he wishes he’ thought out how different regions of the Seven Kingdoms logically have different regional accents (they are, after all, an entire continent). The TV show loosely tried to have the First Men peoples (Northerners an Free Folk) speak with Yorkshire accents. And it’s loosely implied there are some regional differences but they weren’t worked out in detail (possibly, political unification under the Targaryens 300 years ago helped to halt linguistic drift).

    ….however, the Dornish are specifically stated within the narrative to speak with a “drawl”. We’re not sure what it is exactly because the books make no attempt to represent it. But Dorne had separate ethnic influence from the Rhoynar, and politically weren’t unified to the Iron Throne until only 100 years ago. Logically, their speech is a bit different – Tyrion outright says that it’s entirely intelligible, it’s just a Dornish accent (in contrast to the divergent Valyrian language(s) of the Free Cities).

    So anyway, given that you went so far as to figure out what Dothraki accents sound like (and what Votan accents should sound like on Defiance), are you working with the actors on what a “Dornish drawl” should sound like?

    3 – Will Grey Worm ever speak Common Tongue? Or is it basically established that he doesn’t know it (he needs Missandei as a translator, after all) thus Jacob Anderson is faced with spending *at least* the next 3 seasons of the show speaking in nothing but Low Valyrian?

    4 – Given that Emilia Clarke was recently nominated for an Emmy, and the episode “And Now His Watch is Ended” was nominated for sound editing…and because let’s face it Daenerys taking the Unsullied form Astapor is one of the standout moments of the books and TV series…..has it occurred to you there there is a real chance that when they announce the nominees during the Emmy telecast, they’re going to run a 10 second clip of Emilia’s speech in Low Valyrian ordering the Unsullied to “Kill all the masters!”, etc.? Because this would mean several million viewers would then be exposed to Low Valyrian.

    5 – Okay, we’ve heard the Irathient accent (vaguely Eastern European is how I’d sort of describe it)…will we *ever* hear the Castithan accent you developed? What was it like? The Indogenes are stated to have no accents because they can upload new languages perfectly…while the Volge language is physically impossible to pronounce with human mouthparts (at your request). What about the Liberata and the Sensoth? What would a Yanga Kayang accept sound like? Ingenious that they recently posted on the blog that the Sensoth value their oral tradition so highly that they don’t share their language freely with outsiders (that saves work). Meanwhile…do the Gulanee even HAVE “a language”? Or do their suits translate for them much as Indogene implants do? I’ve been enjoying Season 1 so I made up an article on regular Wikipedia about “Species in Defiance” (with notes on the languages as best I was able, fishing through tumblr posts to glean comments you’ve made) (your blog does not let me post internet links, but it’s called “Species in Defiance” on Wikipedia).

    6 – What the heck is the correct way to pronounce “Tyrell”? Back in Season 1 Bryan Cogman posted up on WinterIsComing.net an official pronunciation guide that they gave to the cast at the time (did they make new ones for new names each season?) – oddly, the Season 1 guide pronounces it “Qwarth” even though the show on-screen made a big point that it was pronounced “Karth”. Anyway, in the Season 1 guide, they clearly stated that “Tyrell” is pronounced “Tih-rul” (rhymes with “Squirrel”) as opposed to “Tie-rell” (like the Tyrell Corporation from Blade Runner).

    However, this has been very loosely applied in subsequent seasons. By Season 3, as the Tyrells become more prominent, there’s even that scene between Tywin and Cersei in “An Now His Watch is Ended”, where each actor pronounces it the *alternate* way (Cersei says “Tie-rell”, Tywin says “Ti-rul”) — yet in the very next episode, “Kissed by Fire”, Cersei, Tyrion, AND Tywin himself have now shifted to pronouncing it “Tie-rell”.

    During Season 1 promotional videos, GRRM pronounces it “Tie-rell”…yet this is the same man who consistently pronounces “Doth-rack-ee” as “Doth-rack-eye”…even though he *invented* the Dothraki!

    It is very confusing for us when we aren’t certain how to pronounce the name of one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms.

    7 – In the books, Arya Stark actually knows High Valyrian. Many noble-born characters do; it’s like young noblemen being taught Latin in the real-life Middle Ages (i.e. Samwell knows High Valyrian well enough to read books in it, and Tyrion knows High Valyrian even better due to his great intelligence).

    The TV series invented the scene in “The Climb” where Melisandre encounters Thoros of Myr in the Riverlands; Arya is standing right there and listening along with everyone else.

    So the question is…”book-Arya” might have been able to understand what Melisandre and Thoros were saying…does “TV-Arya”?

    The simple conclusion I’ve drawn is that even the books state that Arya doesn’t speak High Valyrian particularly *well* (she’s a ten year old who took some Latin lessons and didn’t enjoy it as much as a “refined” lady like Sansa would). So maybe their level of High Valyrian exceeded her meager grasp of the language.

    Still…this becomes important in Arya’s later storyline: how well does TV-Arya understand Valyrian? Will the show have to later explain that she at least has some basic grasp of the language because Maester Luwin taught her?

    8 – If Valyrian is Daenerys’ “mother-tongue”…does she outright “think” in Valyrian? Did Viserys force her to speak the Common Tongue of the Andals most of the time? Logically she was bouncing between different Free Cities (she grew up in Braavos, to maybe 4-5 years old, at least learned how to speak there).

    I develop this question more thoroughly in “the Cargo Cult”:

    You see most “writer Q&A” on fansites is stuff like “is it enjoyable to adapt?”, “wow, isn’t page to screen hard?”, and the endless “who is Jon Snow’s mother?”.

    So the Administrators over at Game of Thrones Wiki came up with the idea to make a “Cargo Cult” – just make a list of questions even we can’t figure out which resulted from the adaptation process, in the hopes that one day we’d be able to “flag down” the writers/crew members who do know — it’s up to about 70 questions now:

    (your blog prevents me from posting internet links: go to “Game of Thrones” on Wikia, and in our community forum, there’s an article called “the Cargo Cult” — better yet, google “Game of Thrones Wikia Cargo Cult”, that brings it right up)

    The linguistic questions are mostly consolidated in the last post on the list at the very bottom, around Question number seventyish.

    If at all possible, can you forward this via e-mail to relevant authorities? (We’ve been trying to flag down “loremaster” Bryan Cogman for months, but to no avail).

    –The Dragon Demands,
    Administrator, Game of Thrones Wiki

    • Does this mean you are now working on the Old Tongue for Season 4?

      I can’t answer any questions about season 4.

      So anyway, given that you went so far as to figure out what Dothraki accents sound like (and what Votan accents should sound like on Defiance), are you working with the actors on what a “Dornish drawl” should sound like?

      I’ve never worked on any of the English accents on the show outside Dothraki. I would’ve been happy to, but I was never asked to.

      Will Grey Worm ever speak Common Tongue?

      I can’t answer any questions about season 4.

      has it occurred to you there there is a real chance that when they announce the nominees during the Emmy telecast, they’re going to run a 10 second clip of Emilia’s speech in Low Valyrian ordering the Unsullied to “Kill all the masters!”, etc.? Because this would mean several million viewers would then be exposed to Low Valyrian.

      Assuming you mean High Valyrian. We’ll have to wait and see. Should be fun!

      Okay, we’ve heard the Irathient accent (vaguely Eastern European is how I’d sort of describe it)…will we *ever* hear the Castithan accent you developed? What was it like?

      Probably not. To my ear, it sounded like kind of a mix between a Japanese and Indian accent. They wanted something less thick. Ultimately I think Jaime and Tony created something on their own.

      What about the Liberata and the Sensoth? What would a Yanga Kayang accept sound like? Ingenious that they recently posted on the blog that the Sensoth value their oral tradition so highly that they don’t share their language freely with outsiders (that saves work). Meanwhile…do the Gulanee even HAVE “a language”? Or do their suits translate for them much as Indogene implants do?

      Yanga Kayang has the seed of its own language. I could do an accent for them if Liberata end up having more lines in future seasons. Nothing’s been decided abou the Gulanee and Sensoth languages.

      (your blog does not let me post internet links, but it’s called “Species in Defiance” on Wikipedia).

      This is news to me. I haven’t disabled posting links, or anything… Bizarre.

      What the heck is the correct way to pronounce “Tyrell”?

      There are a number of different answers to this question depending on how precisely you mean it:

      1. How would I pronounce it if I could set the standard? Tie-rell.
      2. What is the official way to pronounce it on the show? I don’t know.
      3. How is it pronounced on the show? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Tie-rell and Tih-rell.
      4. How would it be pronounced in fictional Westeros? I imagine any number of ways—just like it is in ours. After all, they speak English just like we do. Many English last names are pronounced differently by different people—first names, too.

      Still…this becomes important in Arya’s later storyline: how well does TV-Arya understand Valyrian? Will the show have to later explain that she at least has some basic grasp of the language because Maester Luwin taught her?

      I’ll have to go back to the books, but I’m almost certain she doesn’t understand it well enough to follow any conversation at all. Sansa probably knows more High Valyrian than Arya, and I bet she couldn’t even follow a conversation.

      If Valyrian is Daenerys’ “mother-tongue”…does she outright “think” in Valyrian? Did Viserys force her to speak the Common Tongue of the Andals most of the time? Logically she was bouncing between different Free Cities (she grew up in Braavos, to maybe 4-5 years old, at least learned how to speak there).

      A very interesting question. Daenerys would grow up hearing both High Valyrian and Common on Dragonstone (the garrison at Dragonstone would all speak Common, and possibly also High Valyrian). After that, the languages she learned would be dependent on who’s raising her. My guess is she would compartmentalize her languages, using one for certain things and others for other things. She probably thinks in some form of Valyrian most of the time.

      If at all possible, can you forward this via e-mail to relevant authorities? (We’ve been trying to flag down “loremaster” Bryan Cogman for months, but to no avail).

      Maybe they’ll see it here. :)

    • It worked. That’s a terrific amount of work! I think trying to pin down some of the non-core races (like Gulanee and Liberata) might be too difficult at this stage. I’m sure things will get simpler as season progress and more characters are involved.

      My guess for why the links didn’t work before is either because you didn’t use html to include them, or it, for some reason, won’t allow multiple links. I’m not sure what’s doing the filtering, though.

    • The Dragon Demands

      Okay that link *seems* to have worked, though the text is all spaced out. Ran into a lot of difficulty getting that article made on Wikipedia; one of the exclusionist-type admins there really tried to have the article destroyed…largely on the grounds that “things posted about on Facebook and Tumblr aren’t official sources” — i.e., most of my info on the Irathient religion came from promotional info posted on the official Defiance facebook account.

      I gradually realized I wasn’t dealing with a rational admin when they went on to say that info *from your tumblr* (“David J. Peterson’s tumblr”) is not an “official source”. Which was difficult given that your tumblr was my only source for the transliteration of the Castithan phrase “seeming is being” (Shiro ksa yu re ya). Yikes. Well I stuck too it enough that they eventually stopped trying to delete the page.

      The other big problem is this stubborn wiki-admin insisted that the TV series an video game are separate continuities, even though I posted a video in which the creators *directly state* that it’s a shared universe, it’s even a major selling point of the show that it has a tie-in MMORPG. Dear god, he kept insisting that the Facebook and Tumblr pages were all “about the video game” and not relevant…even though I posted link after link to them pointing out, “If the Defiance Facebook channel, from which I am citing our only source about the Irathient religion, is for the video game, why the heck are they using photos *from the TV series*?! Ack.

      Well, much of this was supposition, but I at least managed to get the ball rolling by cobbling the page together.

      Question: I asked a few months ago but you weren’t sure if Season 1 would answer this: what are all of the liros and how are they defined?

      We only know the names of two, and you said there were five…plus a sixth “Untouchable” group. At first I thought that maybe like castes in India one was the “religious clergy” caste, one was the “warrior” caste, another the “worker” caste and so forth. But in a Tumblr post you said both high-ranking politicans, military officers, and head priests would be in the Shanje Liro.

      You also mentioned the “unofficial seventh liro” from the game, which popped up on Earth; what are they, the “Archunter Liro” or something?

      I look forward to Season 2.

      • Question: I asked a few months ago but you weren’t sure if Season 1 would answer this: what are all of the liros and how are they defined?

        We only know the names of two, and you said there were five…plus a sixth “Untouchable” group. At first I thought that maybe like castes in India one was the “religious clergy” caste, one was the “warrior” caste, another the “worker” caste and so forth. But in a Tumblr post you said both high-ranking politicans, military officers, and head priests would be in the Shanje Liro.

        I talked about that here:

        https://twitter.com/Dedalvs/status/362377493036007426

      • Ran into a lot of difficulty getting that article made on Wikipedia; one of the exclusionist-type admins there really tried to have the article destroyed

        If there’s ever another deletion debate, please alert me to it (by posting on User talk:OwenBlacker) and I’ll happily come help defend it. Whilst I’m not an administrator on the English Wikipedia, I am an editor of some standing (and, apparently, one of the top 2600 contributors at the moment). I’m one of the main contributors to the article Valyrian languages ;)

        I can’t guarantee it’ll make a difference, but it might help :)

  5. Hey David, just out of interest, what level of copyright do you, GRRM or HBO hold on the Valyrian and Dothraki languages?

    Obviously someone deciding to make and sell a dictionary of either language without licensing would get in trouble with lawyers, but what about someone using the language in their own creation?

    E.g. if a band recorded an original song in Valyrian, could they get in trouble with HBO’s legal team for that? Or only if they called it Valyrian on the CD liner notes?

    • HBO by itself owns the copyright for all the languages. Regarding your last question, though, I honestly have no idea. Personally I’d love to see someone try just to see what would happen (though I am aware it could end quite badly for them). It seems to me that language is a means of expression, so it shouldn’t require a copyright to use it. The only test cases, though, have avoided the issue (e.g. the KLI got permission from Paramount for all their Klingon translations, even though it’s not clear to me that they actually needed to do so).

  6. @The Dragon Demands

    “4 – Given that Emilia Clarke was recently nominated for an Emmy, and the episode “And Now His Watch is Ended” was nominated for sound editing…and because let’s face it Daenerys taking the Unsullied form Astapor is one of the standout moments of the books and TV series…..has it occurred to you there there is a real chance that when they announce the nominees during the Emmy telecast, they’re going to run a 10 second clip of Emilia’s speech in (High) Valyrian ordering the Unsullied to “Kill all the masters!”, etc.? Because this would mean several million viewers would then be exposed to (High) Valyrian.”

    Suppose she wins!
    How does one say Thank You in High Valyrian?
    Will she be ready with that?
    Do you think she owes David a kiss on the cheek if she gets an Emmy?

    • The Dragon Demands

      Funny you mention that but “Thank you” was actually one of the first bits of High Valyrian that David leaked out: “Kirimvose”.

  7. I, too have been heavily occupied with various things and am just now catching up!

    Zhey David, those signs are really cool! And we even have a word now that passes fort ‘electricity’ :)

    The Dothraki dictionary is up to date with some nice additions. Next week, I will have some quality time available for language work (lots of Na’vi stuff going on as well) and should be able to work extensively on Valyrian!

  8. Hi David,
    I look forward to more posts on High Valyrian, but until then, I wonder if you could favor me with a translation of a sentence. I’ve been thinking about doing some kind of fan art with this. It’s from the book scene in the House of the Undying, where Daenerys sees Rhaeghar, Elia and Aegon.

    “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.”

    I thought about it, and “that was promised” might be a bit tricky to translate, but my interpretation is that it means “that was foretold (by someone)”. I hope that helps, and thanks in advance!

  9. An exercise occurred to me.
    What would be the High Valyrian names of the known Valyrian steel blades?

    http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Valyrian_steel

  10. I’m just “bumping” up my previous comment (regarding the translation). Thanks in advance.

  11. Hi! I hope this does not seem rude, but are you planning on answering my question, or do you not plan to provide translations for High Valyrian anymore? Or are you just not looking at comments/being active at this site? Did you happen miss my comment?
    It would be nice to now if I can expect some answer, or if that is not realistic for the time being. Thanks!

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