Looks like it’s my birthday again. I’ve had 35 of these things now and they show no signs of stopping. Bleh. So be it!
For those who follow me elsewhere, you’ll know that the last year has brought some major changes and challenge. The short version: new house, new shows, new book, and new child. Erin and I welcomed our first child Meridian Victoria Peterson last month, and the level of effort required to maintain her comparatively spartan lifestyle is as advertised. It’s stretched us to our breaking point and left us little time for anything else.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do us a proper Dothraki haiku competition!
It does mean, though, that I don’t have any haikus of my own to share, or new rules to debut. It’s too much. Per last year, though, there will be a Dothraki competition and a High Valyrian competition, and each competition will have its own winner.
We can certainly still do challenge words, though. Always time for challenge words! The challenge word for Dothraki will be haf (an adjective meaning “quiet” or, with respect to pain, “dull”). For High Valyrian, the challenge word is the noun lāra, which means “crow” (lunar noun, regular Class IA declension). For the full set of rules regarding the haiku, see below.
(Oh, by the way, I generally don’t choose a winner until submissions stop coming in.
Some time in February. Winners will be announced February 15th!)
For the purposes of this contest, a haiku is 17 syllables long, with the syllable counts for each line being 5, 7, and 5, in that order. If you need to fudge, go for it, but I will weight exact syllable counts more highly.
Also (and this is important), since this is Dothraki, we are definitely going by syllable count, not mora count. Regarding syllable-counting, in Dothraki, a syllable is defined as a vowel plus one or more consonants on either side. A syllable cannot contain more than one vowel, which means that a word like kishaan is trisyllabic, not disyllabic.
If it helps, you may or may not contract the various prepositions that contract. So, for example, mr’anha (two syllables) is the usual way of saying “inside me”. For your haiku, if you wish, you can separate the two out, i.e. mra anha (three syllables). You can also drop purely epenthetic e vowels (so the past tense of “crush”, kaffe, can be rendered as kaff’). Feel free to play with word order and drop pronouns, as needed, bearing in mind that such language is figurative, and the reader will still need to be able to figure out who’s doing what to whom.
For Valyrian: Long vowels count as two mora, and a vowel with a coda counts as two mora, but a syllable will not have more than two mora. So a long vowel plus a coda consonant will still be two mora, for the purposes of the poem. If you can’t do the poem using mora, do it with syllables, but I’ll weight those done with mora more highly. This will make it more like a real Japanese haiku. If you need a particular word in a particular number/case combination or a verb in a particular conjugation, please let me know and I’ll give it to you.
Addendum: Falling diphthongs count as two mora (i.e. ae and ao); rising diphthongs count as one (e.g. ia, ua, ue, etc.). Also, word order is certainly freer in poetry than it is in everyday speech, but the rules about adjectives still apply (i.e. you use the short forms if the adjective appears directly before the noun it modifies; otherwise they’d take their full forms). And, finally, word-final consonants are extrametrical. Thus if a word ends in -kor, that counts as one mora, not two.
Shieraki gori ha yerea! Fonas chek!