UPDATE: It appears that all comments are being moderated, for some reason (it’s usually just new commenters that get moderated). I’m not sure why that’s happening, but I’m looking into it. As long as your comment gets into the moderation queue within a week that counts for the contest.

Another year, and another season in the books! The finale happened yesterday, there are a number of important characters who are now dead, and I’ve got a book to give away (more details on that at the end of this post!), but I first want to talk about something that happened in episode 509.

With the Sons of the Harpy closing in around her, Daenerys’s goose looked cooked, until Drogon showed up from the sky and started blasting everybody. With Drogon getting hurt (poor dragon!), Dany mounted Drogon’s back and told him, “Fly!”, and then she took off. At least, that’s what I heard when I saw it, and I didn’t question it. Later on I started hearing from people that she said something different, which I thought was weird, because it sounded and looked like “fly” to me. I dismissed it, until I saw something extremely bizarre: In the closed captioning, the word “VALAHD” had been added, as shown below:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I found this utterly baffling for a number of reasons. For starters, she obviously does not say “valahd”, unless it’s a French word with a silent “d” (I have accepted that she does say something “v”-like at the very least, even though I didn’t catch it in my initial viewing). Second, “valahd” is not only not a word of High Valyrian, it’s not a word in anything (or so I thought, though more on this later). It looks like gibberish and its inclusion confounded me—especially as I had some behind-the-scenes information about this scene.

Initially, I had translated the High Valyrian command “fly” for this scene, and that’s what was in the materials I sent off (the word is Sōvēs!, which you can hear in my official recording here—and, in fact, it already appeared in the series in episode 310, albeit in the plural: sōvētēs). This wasn’t a pick-up line or something added in ADR: It was a part of the script whose translations I sent off last August. For whatever reason, though, that line didn’t make it into the recording that day, and what Emilia Clarke did say was “Fly!” in English. (It happens sometimes: Scenes get busy, lots of activity, sometimes a word gets forgotten and that take turns out the best, etc.)

Many months later when they were doing ADR for that scene, they decided to try to add the High Valyrian back in. I sent the post-production folks the original line and MP3, but there was a problem: Dany’s mouth didn’t match the word sōvēs, as what she said was English “Fly!” They asked me for something shorter, so I offered Jās!, High Valyrian for “Go!”, and they said they’d try it.

Anyway, I guess that didn’t work, so we got “valahd”, and I was wondering where the heck it came from—until I found it.

Dothraki has about 4,000 words, many of which are quite obscure and would never make it into a scene (nhizokh, “raven plumage”? I mean, maybe…?). I’ve probably forgotten over half the words I created—especially as I haven’t translated into it recently. I was looking through the dictionary, though, and came across an entry I’d forgotten: valad.

Valad is the word for “horizon” (among other things), but I came up with it initially when I was creating a bunch of horse commands for the Dothraki. The reason is that I wanted two different words for “giddyup”. We already have hosh or hosha, which is used to urge a horse on (usually when it’s already going), but then there’s this expression: Frakhas valad! That translates to “Touch the horizon!”, and it’s used at the outset of a journey. The interesting thing is the note I added to the end of the definition, which is “often just valad“. And that makes sense: You typically don’t speak in full sentences to horses when you’re riding. Valad! is a much better horse command than Frakhas valad! But yeah, basically it’s just a word that urges the horse to get going.

Back to our “valahd”, here’s what I think happened. Everyone on the production has access to all my materials. I think they just went through and found something that fit Emilia’s mouth movements that seemed like it was close to the original meaning. And hey, if the Dothraki rode dragons, I could imagine them using Valad! to urge them to take off. And it is pretty close to “Fly!”, aside from the final d. So overall, pretty good!

Some open questions, though: Why the “h”? I’m guessing since this didn’t come from me directly, someone was trying to sound it out and spelled it that way? Works for English speakers! Why Dothraki, though, instead of Valyrian? I think it was because of the similar meanings and the mouth movements. True, the dragons are supposed to only understand High Valyrian, but I mean Drogon probably got the gist of it. Plus, he’s named after famous Dothraki speaker Khal Drogo, so maybe he’s got a little Dothraki in him. He’s probably heard Dothraki a bunch growing up, too. And what better reason to switch to Dothraki than when riding a dragon like a horse? I’m still confused as to why the closed captioning was even added. Is that usually done with the languages? Wouldn’t the subtitle that’s already there convey well enough what’s being said? Was it for foreign audiences…? I don’t know—there’s a lot I don’t know about that process. Either way, our “valahd” appears to be Dothraki valad, and it works, in context, so all’s well that ends well.

Regarding the finale, I did want to make one Valyrian note. For this episode I got to translate one of my favorite exchanges, and I wanted to show you how it worked. When Tyrion, Missandei, Grey Worm, Jorah and Daario are left awkwardly in charge of Meereen (I loved this scene. They’re all sitting there like, “So…”), Missandei begins saying something in Valyrian and fumbles over what to call Tyrion. This is because she knows what she would say, but feels awkward calling him krubo, “dwarf”, as he’s standing right there. She ends up calling him byka vala, which literally translates to “little man”. Tyrion jumps in and helps her out, though, saying the following:

  • Krubo. Nyke pāsan kesor udir drējor issa? Munna, nya Valyrio mirrī pungilla issa.
  • “Dwarf. I believe that’s the word? Apologies, my Valyrian is a bit nostril.”

You know I love translating intentionally ungrammatical stuff. A better translation of the above would be “Dwarf. I do believe that is the correct word? Sorrows, my Valyrian is a little nostril.” Missandei then corrects him with:

  • Mirrī puñila.
  • “A little rusty.”

The English dialogue above is exactly as it was written, so I got the chance to create this near-miss. I started with “nostril”, which is actually formed from the word pungos, “nose”, via a suffix associated with byproducts. After that it was a matter of creating a word that had a pronunciation that was kind of close to that. What I came up with was the adjective puñila, which means “worn” or “weather-beaten”—and also, when used in conjunction with a skill or a language, “rusty”. I figured this would be a good pair for a non-native speaker to confuse. First, a double ll vs. a single l would be tough for a speaker who isn’t used to doubling consonants. Second, ñ is a non-English nasal consonant somewhere in the vicinity of the nasal you get when pronouncing ng. Although ñ will just come out as n before i in casual speech, it would be taught as something different from plain n, meaning that it would be remembered by a second language learner as something different from plain n—thus giving rise to the possible confusion, in this context, between puñila and pungilla.

So, I found that fun! Thank you for indulging. I love doing stuff like this, so I was delighted when I saw it in the script!

Posts here have been infrequent, I know, but I have been busy! Today I’m happy to announce the launch of my new website I’ll still have posts to add here, but I’m moving full speed ahead as I’m preparing to promote my new book The Art of Language Invention, which you can preorder now. As a part of that promotion, I would like to give away to a lucky commenter here a galley copy of The Art of Language Invention. Can we get a shot of those galleys?

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

There we are! A bunch of galleys being lorded over by little Roman, my feisty feline!

Now, as this is a galley, it isn’t a final copy of the book, but that makes it quite unique. I’ll sign the book and write something in Dothraki or Valyrian and mail it off to you for you to keep! All you need to do is leave a comment below (if you can’t think of something to write, tell me your favorite flavor of ice cream or sorbet). Leaving multiple comments doesn’t count as multiple entries, so I’ll choose one random commenter among each unique commenter and contact them. In order to be eligible, you have to leave at least one comment here that wouldn’t get screened out via my usual screening methods (so nothing offensive, no rants, etc.), and, if you win, you have to be willing to send me a mailing address. The deadline is one week from today. Otherwise, that’s it! Thanks for reading, and geros ilas!

Posted on June 15, 2015, in Announcements, Episode Recaps, Grammar, Vocabulary and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 115 Comments.

  1. Valahd :) Aika vitsikas juttu!

  2. As always, brilliant work all season, David.

    Are you any closer to creating a High Valyrian writing system? I ask because, if you recall, sometime in future I’m planning to tattoo Perzys Anogar on my chest, and I think to get it in English writing would seem quite inauthentic. Again, thank you.

  3. Nikita Monsterslayer

    That’s really interesting (and amusing). I have to admit I’m not watching GoT (I do watch Defiance, though), so I’m here just for the conlangs, and those are pretty awesome. Also, that’s a cute cat.

  4. I was wondering what Danaerys was saying there, thank you for explaining it! Awesome!

  5. Wasn’t Talisa writing earlier in the series in Roman letters for a High Valyrian letter? In just the same way as English ‘just happens’ to be identical to Westerosi Common Tongue, I feel like Roman script would just happen to be identical to High Valyrian. Though if a Ghiscari glyph system emerged in Slavers’ Bay Valyrian, I wouldn’t mind.

    On that note, I’m curious about the Valyrian dialects spoken in the last episode, “The Dance of Dragons”. Despite being entirely located in Meereen, the formal overtures to the pit fights are given in what seems like Astapori Valyrian; I could’ve sworn I caught a [x], or at least a [ħ], which seems unnatural in High Valyrian, but without the palatal fricatives I’ve associated with Meereenese.

    So is Astapori a prestige dialect of Slavers’ Bay Valyrian? That would explain why it is used in formal events even in Meereen, but I would’ve thought that surely High Valyrian would be the prestige register?

    • I always believed that High Valyrian’s writing system would be romanesque in certain ways, but the system is quite clearly glyph-based (like Chinese) according to GRRM’s texts.

      And yes, Astapori Valyrian is the prestige dialect, good catch! It wouldn’t be High Valyrian for an event like that because not enough people would get it all.

  6. iðuzhalt ya sarmneye, Davidye! yurishdaning enil iðuzho ye Horshamut.

  7. Flawless, amazing, and inspired work! Can’t wait to see what comes next! A few years ago, I had a friend ask you to verify the correct usage in Dothraki for “do not live a wooden life” for a tattoo. Some day, I’ll remember to get you a picture, but I want to thank you for it. I look down at those words every day, and I try to live by them! Good luck!

  8. I have looked at that scene 50 times and listened with headphones, I swear Emilia does not ‘fly’. However I can’t really make out what she says, but it does seem to start with a v and end with a d.
    Glad the mystery is solved!!!

  9. Thanks David! I noticed the mismatch, and it’s great to get your behind-the-scenes and between-the-lines notes!

  10. Aha! So we have -illa confirmed as a diminutive. So the words for crown and wine literally mean “twistlet” and “grapelet”? Strange, but not implausible.

    Good to know that “valahd” is not as bad as it looked. I can believe Daererys would use a Dothraki term for “ride!” — what else would you use Dothraki for, if not for that? For all we know, the term might even have been borrowed into HV (as valá or something).

    In any case, I don’t think we’ve ever had reason to believe the dragons understood spoken language. We’ve seen Daenerys condition her dragons to respond to drakarys; nothing that couldn’t also be done with a dog (and any other language). No reason Dothraki shouldn’t work as well as HV.

    • I’m sorry, that was my mistake. -illa is not a diminutive suffix, but a suffix for byproducts. Just a think-o there.

      And yes, that too is my understanding, that they “understand” language the way dogs do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if GRRM had an explanation for them actually understanding High Valyrian. After all, there is magic in the world. I think it’d be better if they just knew the commands like a dog does, but there are books yet to come, so I don’t think it’s a lock yet.

  11. As for my ice cream flavor, that would have to be fig.

    Kidding! Though I’m sure it would be delicious.

    Historically, my most common choices in Switzerland used to be ice cream used to be caramel (with little pieces of Nidelzältli!) and lemon sorbet. A supermarket chain briefly had a “Scotch whiskey and shortbread crumbs” ice cream that might well have been the best I’ve ever had, but it’s gone forever now. :( I’ve also had some nice Caipirinha ice cream at the local Tex Mex chain. Finally, I’m particularly fond of the Swiss practice of serving lemon sorbet with vodka (called a “Coupe Colonel”).

    My childhood memories of Italian gelato mostly involve the flavors albicocca, melone, and pistacchio. Yum!

    There was an awesome ice cream parlor a stone’s throw from my home during my time in Heidelberg, where my favorites were mint chocolate chip, Kinder Schokolade (does that exist in the US?), and Campari Orange (that one in particular).

    In the Netherlands, I mostly subsided on Ben & Jerry’s. They’re all pretty good, but if I had to pick one, it’d probably be the one with the slightly salty brownie pieces.

    I like way too many things to decide for one flavor. If there’s a bottom line to all of that alcohol makes for the best ice creams. That reminds me, a ball of raspberry sorbet floating in a glass of Sekt makes for a great desert after a heavy meal. Alright, alright, I’ll shut up now! ;o)

    • Now this is the type of discussion I look forward to on any given day! Couple questions. First, what is Caipirinha? Second, I’m horrified to learn that there is a Tex-Mex chain in Switzerland. That is literally the worst food America has ever produced. We don’t have Kinder Schokolade in the US, but people here know about it, largely because of Canada.

      And you would say “fig”. ;)

      • Is caipirinha not a thing in the US? Huh. It’s very popular in Switzerland.

        I actually like Tex-Mex food a lot, including Taco Bell. :) The Swiss chain is rather meh (it’s called Desperado), mostly because it’s noisy and full of birthday parties. I liked the Sausalitos chain in Munich better.

        • After visiting the link, I’ve never heard of it, but I also don’t drink alcohol. I’ll have to ask Erin. It sounds like something she’d like.

          Tex-Mex is basically Texans ruining Mexican food. This Mexican will take no part in it. I’ve gotten the impression, though, that Tex-Mex is more often exported than Mexican food, which is crazy to me. If the rest of the world sees Americans as being so unhealthy, why is it only our unhealthiest foods that get exported? We do other stuff—I swear!

        • It is a thing here too.

          (Now I’m thinking kaepirīña 1lun.….)

  12. Rijes aōt tembyro syt!

  13. Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor!

  14. How strange! Well at least now we know. Some questions:

    1. Tyrion’s HV line: I take it that, in addition to the obvious nostril (a euphemism for what happened to Tyrion in the books?) the phrasing is meant to be, if not outright wrong, at least a bit awkward? Is there any chance you could give us a more native-sounding translation of the same phrase, so that I can cite it on the wiki? As it stands, I am a bit wary of using it as evidence.

    2. For instance, can pāsagon be used in this way normally, or is that a Commontonguism?

    3. Likewise, is udir drējor the… mot juste? I mean, should I list that as a real expression?

    3. Is the citation form of munna *munnon? (it looks like mundagon “to be miserable” + -non)
    Is your gloss just a literal translation, or are you implying it is not a normal expression for “sorry?” I don’t believe we’ve seen any expression at all for that yet, so it would be good to know.

    4. Interesting that he says nya rather than ñuha!

    5. Is it really OK to use Valyrio in this way, without a word for language, or is this like the common vice of using Latīnē to mean lingua Latina? Yes, Dany says “Valyrio muño ēngos ñuhys issa,” but that could just be a way to avoid saying ēngos twice: “My mother tongue is (that) of Valyria.”

    Thanks as always!

    • 1. Correct.

      2. No, it is a little odd. Everyone would understand it, I think, but one wouldn’t use it in that way precisely.

      3. No, I wouldn’t say it has that meaning. :)

      Second 3. No, it is not the normal expression for “sorry”, hence the translation I gave it.

      4. That was another thing I dropped in!

      5. Sure?

  15. Brilliant! I hope you have an awesome Summer filled with sunshine and your favourite ice cream :D Mine is Blueberry Gelato

  16. This looks pretty interesting to read, and I’m fairly certain my linguist friends would love it too.

  17. Sheelagh Russell-Brown

    I loved trying to learn obscure and sometimes invented languages in high school and university! Now I’m beginning to feel like English is becoming too obscure for me to keep up with!

  18. I think the creation of languages is fascinating. I studied anthropology in college and my linguistics classes were always a lot of fun!

  19. Edelmira Baldonado

    I want this book. I am in need of this book. This book deserves to be in my bookshelf.
    Ever had a Nutella ? Well I have a small joke.

    You: Where is the Nutella?
    Me: I am not nutelling you.
    Hahaha I literally laughed for about 30 minutes. So good.

  20. You give a Valyrian example on your new website:

    Prūmiā līrinoso rēbās! Walk with a smile in your heart! ~:D”

    As usual I have questions:

    1. Līrinoso is I take it, from *līrinon?
    I just noticed we don’t have līrigon on the wiki, but presumably it exists, because we have ilīrigon!

    2. OK, we seem to have rēbagon “to walk” and rĕbagon “to pass.” Is this an actual minimal contrast pair, or are these really the same word, and one of those pesky macrons got missed?

  21. Language has always been one of those great mysteries of life to me. You know, like the internet. So I never thought about the properties of CREATING a language. Props, kudos, and thank you for explaining the process!

  22. Thanks for a fascinating post and very much looking forward to reading your book.

  23. Valar morghulis. Fantastic work on the series.

  24. Very interesting! But not at all unprecedented. Up to now, I think you have done a great job of keeping your languages pure of ‘workarounds’. But the way that these production processes occur, they are bound to happen. Klingon, for instance, is full of them. There are lots of stories floating around the Klingon community about missspoken Klingon becoming canon, or Klingon words created to match lip movem,ents of scenes that couldn’t be re-shot. As far as closed captioning goes, it is usually done in the language of the audience, and the FCC has recently instituted a set of draconian new standards as to the functionality and accuracy of captions. Most people do not know that Klingon creator Marc Okrand works in the closed captioning industry. I asked him one time if he had ever captioned anything in Klingon. “Just once” was his reply. But hey, closed captions in Dothraki or one of the Valyrian tongues would be really cool!

  25. I’ve had my eye on this book for a while! There’s something so intriguing about the construction of any language, real or imagined. :)

  26. hmm, interesting

    How fluent about is Daenerys about now with the various languages of essos?

    • She’s fluent in High Valyrian, and probably passable with the Slaver’s Bay versions. She’s probably lost some of her Dothraki by this point (though given what happened in the finale, she better get right with it again quick!).

      • Seems like she understands Astapori just fine for the most part. In season 4 she had some issues with Meereenese, but perhaps she’s getting the hang of it now. But I doubt she would actually try to *speak* either of them herself.

  27. meyer lemon ice cream!

  28. So will we ever see more Dothraki words/grammar? o_o

  29. This post is fantastic! And I’m really looking forward to reading your book.

    Favorite ice cream flavor is rum raisin, by the way! :D

  30. Okay, so this one time I was experimenting with ice cream and I came across a mix flavor between cottage cheese and mandarin (orange) and I was really surprised that it actually tasted good!
    Though, all of my friends seemed to disagree so maybe something is just wrong with my taste buds… But either way, it was a good one.

  31. I love learning about how the language was created! Thanks for writing this post!

  32. That’s just awesome how you have thought everything so thorough! Whatever the language, I think it’s interesting to ponder what mistakes people do when speaking a foreign language and how the mother tongue of theirs affect the mistake (I’m a freshman studying linguistics). Btw, I just gave a small presentation on Dothraki and conlangs today on my English speaking class!

      • I think it went well! The idea was just to give a presentation in English, and as I’m not native speaker, I had some mistakes with pronunciation and grammar, but overall I’m really happy I had the chance to educate people about some fun things concerning conlangs! None of them were linguistics students, so they were pretty surprised :D One asked if there were conlangs in other tv shows also… hehe.

  33. That’s an interesting read on the trouble to find a word to match Dany’s mouth movements. When I first watched that scene I heard something along the lines of “flah” which stuck out to me because it didn’t sound very High Valyrian! I guess that’s because it wasn’t!

    As for favorite ice cream flavors, we have a local ice maker called Jeni’s that is known for their unique flavor options. A new flavor for this summer is Sun-Popped Corn. It’s like a sweet, salty popcorn and pairs really nicely with their salty caramel.

  34. What a wonderful blog! I’m a Belgian linguistics student and a big fan of Game of Thrones. I started doing some research on the languages created for the series and just found heaven. I’m having my last exam this week, but as soon as I’m finished, I will read this whole blog. Maybe someday I’ll write an essay about this, because your work is really fascinating. Can’t wait for your book to come out! Keep up the good work!

  35. After following you on tumblr for a while, I knew while watching that scene you’d had fun working out the translation! Like conlanging, where the exceptions to grammar rules really help make a language feel natural and believable, this joke actually goes a long way in making us believe in a world where Valyrian is a real language. It’s super impressive that you figured out what sounds an English-speaker could confuse, too. Great work!!

    PS cookie dough is the best ice cream flavor because i’m secretly a five year old

  36. I expect moderation! I loved the rusty nostril confound. My favorite real life experience of this kind occurred when my (then) new husband said, in Spanish, to our guests: “¡My cheese is your cheese!” Fortunately, we *were* serving cheese & crackers. But he had meant to say “¡mi casa es su casa!” not “¡mi queso es su queso!”

  37. Anthony Docimo

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom with any of us who asked.

    All the best to you and yours in present and future endeavors.


    Thanks for being awesome. I’m excited to read this book.

  39. That was great! I was looking forward to reading about Tyrion’s fkub, and was not disappointed. Thanks!

  40. Guilherme Eddino

    The work you’ve accomplished in GoT is fascinating. Congrats!

    Many years ago I used to write fiction and I started my own language called “Syndharian”, but I eventually got lost in my own rules. You’ve inspired me to go back to it.

  41. stumbled upon your website after a long, long chain of links starting with a search of “game of thrones finale reaction” on google and after reading this suddenly i feel the urge to learn dothraki (and i just recently decided to learn french as a third language on duolingo).

    thanks for creating this language, can’t wait to improve my fluency in dothraki (and impress my fellow game of thrones enthusiasts).

    oh, my favourite ice cream flavour is green tea. :D

  42. I’m glad I stumbled onto your site, now I’ve got to go back and watch the episode again to read some lips. Very cool!

  43. I bought the dothraki language course and I’ve been learning it for a couple weeks now. I love languages, and the art of conlanging is so interesting to me. Having this book would be really cool!

  44. My favorite ice cream is lemon. The posting frequency on this page has dropped but I’m excited every time something new appears and check back frequently!

  45. So cool… I love seeing your translation notes!

  46. Hi David,

    I’m actually surprised to have only found a couple other people wondering about this online – did you provide text for the hissing chant in the soundtrack song “Son of the Harpy” – the one that plays whenever they appear in Season 5? Do you know if it’s Mereneese/Astapori Valyrian or arbitrary mean-sounding syllables, or what? Any chance you know what they’re saying at all?


    • If you have a question involving anything from a Game of Thrones song, odds are I had nothing to do with it. That’s the case with all the music in seasons 1 through 5, at least.

      • Thanks so much for the answer. I guess its possible Djawadin or someone else took some low Valyrian words and didn’t fuss over getting it perfect. Or they chose syllables that aesthetically fit. In any case, I think it was effective for the show and I’m sure someone with more time than you or I will try to decipher it soon.

        I have to also say thanks for having helped me take a hobbyist learning interest in historical linguistics – I think the ‘wow’ factor of conlangs can inspire an appreciation for all the processes of real-life language and language change I see you have sometimes factored into your GOT conlangs. Dothraki is cool, but I think it’s also pretty cool that it made me want to read about the languages of real steppe and steppe-adjacent people and their often murky influences on contemporary languages and relationships to each other.

        • And another follow-up: Since the first person randomly selected to win the galley never responded, I selected a new random commenter, and that random commenter was you! Congratulations! I’m going to contact you via the e-mail address you used to enter this comment. Please check that e-mail address or add a comment here letting me know how I can get a hold of you (if you put in an e-mail address, I can always delete the comment right after).

  47. I have to say I get language envy every time I hear one of your languages. phonotactics seems to elude me when though it makes logical sense… I’m hoping your book might help me :D

    My favorite is cream is pistachio :)

  48. Thank you for solving that mystery! I always watch GoT with closed captioning (because I’m afraid of missing even the slightest hint/possible book references but also I like to read the languages you’ve crafted) and was wondering about this “valahd” that popped up. Speaking of Dothraki words, hope Dany is less “nostril” than Tyrion.

    AND…rhubarb crumble with anise. Or nocciola gelato.

  49. Ryan Picklesimer

    Love all the detailed work you do! Never thought I would take such an interest in languages but you really make it fun the way you describe the process. And thanks for the book giveaway! Oh and my favorite ice cream is cinnamon.

  50. Fascinating stuff, very JRR Tolkien , I would love a copy of the book and Jon Snow lives!

  51. I loved the “little nostril” bit. brings a very human element to an otherwise uncomfortable situation faced by all of them. I often find a little humor goes a long way during times of stress, but sometimes it rubs people the wrong way.

    I would love to read a copy of your book. I love history and learning new things. Discovering what it takes to create a working language would be fantastic. I had a friend who taught himself Klingon years ago. Maybe you would inspire me to learn one or more of your languages from Game of Thrones or Defiance. I just love that people take the time to create a real working language instead of just jumbling words together from various dialects to make it sound good.

    anyway, thanks for a few moments of your time. and as for my favorite ice cream? It used to be chocolate chip, but I find I appreciate a well-made french vanilla or coffee flavor now, as I have grown older.

    • Quick note: I never drink coffee (never have, and still don’t—I imagine I never will), but I love coffee ice cream—and have since I was a teenager. If you’re ever in Chico, California, Shubert’s mocha chip is to die for.

      • For ethical or nutritional reason, or have you just not had a coffee you liked yet?

        If you haven’t acquired the taste, stay away from espressos and the like. A sweetened latte comes rather close to coffee ice cream. Caramel frappuccino even more so. :)

  52. Nice read!

    (if I win the book I want it to say “For Niko – For no one”)

  53. I love that it appears the production team backwards-ish stumbled into something that actually fit. Now I need to teach my horse “valad”!

    My favorite ice cream is Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip. Alas, we are woefully lacking in Blue Bell these days. :-(

  54. Andrew Boynton

    i had subtitles on while watching that episode, and was wondering what “Valahd” meant. And by the way, congratulations on the book, David!

  55. Interesting stuff. Hope I win!

  56. I really wanted Daenerys to be talking to Drogon to take her back in Valyrian, rather than English! Like you mentioned, I imagine other languages it’s like a dog where they pick up words and even phrases, but understanding High Valyrian due to magic.

  57. The Dragon Demands

    By the hooves of the Great Stallion! We were wondering about this on the Game of Thrones Wiki.

    I have updated the article for “The Dance of the Dragons” so this information is saved for posterity:

  58. Awesome! I love the word for dwarf!

  59. I’m looking forward to more “nostril” Valyrian in the future! Also, your furry office manager is cute.

  60. Kiran Pachhai

    I love vanilla icecream. I absolutely loathe eating chocolate for some reason.

    • I feel you here. I love chocolate; I love ice cream. For some reason, chocolate ice cream doesn’t taste like chocolate to me. It’s like some other flavor—and a flavor I dislike. I have no explanation for this. I assume they make chocolate ice cream with real chocolate; it just doesn’t taste like it…

  61. How do you say mint chocolate chip in high Valyrian? ;)

  62. Thank you for your hard work, been enjoying the world of ASoIAF since I picked up my first book around 2000 :) Already knew back then that one day someone will pick this up and turn it into a big BIG tv show, which I do enjoy tremendously, probably because I view it as strictly separate from the TV show and hence I don’t lose my mind every other episode :)

    Greetings from Amsterdam, fingers crossed for the prize, and good luck with your future work on GoT!


    Konstantin Kirilov

  63. Ena of Oldstones

    I loved that exchange between Tyrion and Missandei. Great choice of words, they sound different enough but it’s plausible that a non-native speaker would confuse them.

  64. lemon-ginger sorbet!

  65. I once had masala ice cream and it was mindblowing.

    I’m really interested in how you choose the phonetics of your invented words – do you have to resist the temptation to be onomatopoeic (or do you embrace it?), or do you find yourself unconsciously drawing on existing words with a similar meaning at all?

  66. Hey! I had a question about your transcription of the book’s title (as a student who has only been studying linguistics for a year). I would have transcribed the affricates and the vowels differently. Are you using a more narrow interpretation of IPA based specifically on the phonology of American English?


    My favorite frozen dairy dessert is either cardamom gelato or rainbow sherbet.

    • (And by *narrow* interpretation of IPA, I suppose I mean *broad* transcription? haha)

    • Oh, that’s not IPA. It’s a mixture of American Heritage Dictionary transcription and some IPA. It had to be recognizable to English speakers who had absolutely no knowledge of the IPA. I think it strikes that balance: Close enough that people get it, but different enough that they don’t know quite why it’s written that way.

  67. Thanks for this post – it was really interesting. (And my favourite flavour is peanut butter, obvs.)

  68. steven showfer

    When I saw the finale, I heard “Fly” as well

  69. well if she can call the dragon telepathically then whether valahd, fly or soves the dragon understood

  70. I love the little tidbits of language creation you share; my favorite ice cream flavor is Mint Choc Chip :)

  71. I have searched everywhere but I can”t seem to find an answer to my question. Can anyone give me the Dothraki translation of “I know you’re very far away, but come back to me my sun and stars” please please if ayone can help me please do email me.

  72. Thank you for explaining why Daenerys’ voice didn’t match up with her lip movements! I’ve wondered what she was supposed to be saying ever since I saw the episode.

  73. Honey Lavender (ice cream) at Molly Moon’s or Honey Rose (gelato) at Fainting Goat, both on 45th here in Seattle. One scoop of either my treat.

  74. Hello David,
    Please… from where can i learn dothraki/valyrian language ? it’s a book or something ?

  75. Drakarys addict

    I’m a bit disappointed about this “gibberish like” thing. Sōvēs would have been better a lot :( But today I came to episode 5 in season 5 (I started to rewatch the whole 5 seasons three weeks ago) and in the scene when Daenerys introduce the masters of noble houses of Meereen to Viseryon and Rhaegal her speech was a mess. The subtitle was more longer than her saying, this was the first sign. Then the subtitle told a totally different sentence when she said: Qilonarion morghon issa. After that I realised her speech is a speech out of her episode 2 speech, and pieces from the previous season. It has made a gibberish feeling in me, I was very upset. Emilia Clarke, I love her, I think she’s a talented actress but this wasn’t the first when she mised her High Valyrian script. I know that it’s hard to learn long texts in a language you never heard before, and I can understand the staff doesn’t care about because the know that the most of the wiewers don’t care and don’t understand… But she is the Mother of Dragons, blood of Old Valyria, the Unburnt, she have to use her mother tongue perfectly! :D And Missandei, Grey Worm and the others who ever said a word in HV did not miss it, as I heard. Yes, they haven’t got as many lines as Dany but you know what I mean. So I’m a bit sad about that. :/

  76. My first time watching the episode I honestly didn’t notice this single word. But in preparation for the new season (and hopefully new book!!!!!!!) as I was rewatching I couldnt help but take some time to research this word. My first impression was also that this word should mean “fly.” I was quite surprised at what I’ve learned. So I was very appreciative of your comments regarding the situation. Although it seems strange that despite through all of the history of dragons they have responded to HV, they would suddenly start responding to a different language, it is plausible given danys history… I’d love a copy of the book but would be happy to pay for one as well if they are commercially available ^^

  77. Wow – just stumbled on this blog. I find the amount of thought and effort that has gone into this language is incredible. I struggle with English. Valar morghulis.

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