Author Archives: David J. Peterson

Akatthi Asshekhi

As we near the day of Winter Goat (goat pictures! Send them!), I thought it would be fun to do the old “Twelve Days of Christmas” in Dothraki. I thought I’d do this with twelve days to go until Christmas, but then I forgot to do it, so instead, here’s all twelve days!

Of course, there’d be no such thing as Christmas to the Dothraki. (And, of course, in modern times, we don’t even recognize twelve days. Oh, hang on a sec. The twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas day! This must be what Germans refer to as Sylvester. Huh. Live and learn.) Consequently I had to think up something quasi-similar that they could celebrate annually (or every-so-often-ly, at least), and what I came up with was the coming of Jalan Qoyi, the so-called “blood moon”—a.k.a. harvest moon. The harvest moon doesn’t last for twelve nights, but apparently there’s a time between it and the hunter’s moon that’s special. It’s probably longer than twelve nights, but I say close enough.

So! Are you ready for a translation of a song that will definitely not scan if you try to sing it? Because I’m not! Here it comes!

Jumping straight to the twelfth day (use either khal or khaleesi, depending on your preference)…

Sh’akatthik Jalani Qoyi, azh khal/khaleesi anhaan…
On the twelfth (day) of the Blood Moon, the khal/khaleesi gave to me…

  1. Akatthi Awazakis,
  2. Twelve (Dothraki) Screamers,
  1. Atthi arakh hasi,
  2. Eleven sharp arakhs,
  1. Thi Jaqqe Rhani,
  2. Ten Mercy Men,
  1. Qazat zhoris qiya,
  2. Nine bleeding hearts,
  1. Ori vezhis haji,
  2. Eight strong stallions,
  1. Fekh Rhaeshis Andahli,
  2. The Seven Kingdoms,
  1. Zhinda serj kherikhi,
  2. Six leather vests,
  1. Mek mawizze!
  2. Five rabbits!
  1. Tor fasokhqoy,
  2. Four blood pies,
  1. Sen gal zhavvorsi,
  2. Three dragon eggs,
  1. Akat inglor,
  2. Two medallion belts,
  1. Ma firikhnharen ha khalaan!
  2. And a crown for a king!

Actually, that’s not bad to sing! There are a couple places where you have to jam in a syllable, but overall it works out pretty well. (Note: If line 7 seems like a mouthful, just remember it has only one more syllable than line 8, but you may as well treat ae like a diphthong. It’s doable.) As for the first line which needs to change each time, you can review numbers (and how to create ordinals) here. In singing, the syllable la is the one that should correspond to “day” in that line. Also, khal seems to work better if you hold it for two beats. I suppose you could do zhilak, “lover”, instead, but it’d be odd to do it without anni, “my”, and it would sound rather…personal.

And, of course, if you’d like to learn more Dothraki grammar—or get a gift for someone who might want to—you can pick up Living Language Dothraki, which is on sale now! There’s both a physical version and an online version, so it works both for folks who want an actual book in their hands and those who don’t want more stuff in the house.

Now, if I may turn my attention to long time readers of this blog, we have some business to attend to. There is a book coming from HBO called The Game of Thrones Compendium. This is a book that is going to compile and present a gigantic mezcla of fan submissions related to Game of Thrones the show (season 1 through 4—crucial to remember that it’s the show and not the books, where they differ). Afterwards, it’s going to be published. You can submit anything from analysis of the show to original works of art related to the show (visual art, songs, spoken word recordings, poetry, pictures of costumes). For a full rundown on what it is and how it works, read the faq here.

No matter what, this thing is going to be really cool. But you know what would make it cooler?

ORIGINAL WORKS IN DOTHRAKI AND/OR VALYRIAN!

Ever wondered what you would do with a poem in High Valyrian or Dothraki other than put it in a comment on this site? This. THIS. Granted, whatever you produce should be related to Game of Thrones in some other way besides the fact that it uses a language from the show, but that shouldn’t be tough. In fact, I’m sure some of the haiku submitted already could be resubmitted for the book. (Oh, and for legal purposes, all poems, etc. submitted to this website are the property of the original authors, and by submitting them here you give me the right simply to display them; you have not conveyed the rights of the original work to me in any way: You can still do what you want with it.) Or do something new. It’s all good!

The point is this: I want to see some language work in this book! Original poems, original songs—maybe even a dramatic reading of some of the lines in the show (Drogo’s speech, for example?)—memes (yes, Mad Latinist, you can submit your Valyrious memes, so long as you have the rights to the images! [If you don’t, note that you can use images from the show for this])! The possibilities are limitless!

Before submitting stuff, be sure to read the faq and the submission specs. If you’d like me to proofread something, please feel free to leave it in a comment, and note that it’s for the Compendium; I’ll try my best to get to those quicker than I do other things (I know I tend to be slow in responding).

Oh, and if you have a Dothraki or Valyrian tattoo? Please take the best photo you can of that and send it in!

As someone who works on the show, is a fan of the show, and is a fan of media in general, I think this is a really awesome project, and I hope it leads to more projects of its kind for other franchises, because it’s an outstanding idea. You can start submitting work on December 18th, and the submission period will be open until March 28th. So get ready, and let’s get crackin’! Dothralates!

Ma Yer Ashili Mae Ki Shirani Moon

It’s been a heck of a month for Living Language Dothraki. It made the Los Angeles Times’ best sellers’ list, so that’s cool! I’ve been all over the country talking about Dothraki, and I got really sick at the tail end of the journey.

And speaking of tails…

Winter Goat is getting ready to make a return! If you’d like to submit a photo to be considered for Winter Goat 2014, please send them to me at “dave” at “conlang” dot “org”. If I get some photos, I’ll put them up and we’ll have a vote, as is the Yuletide tradition here.

It was a lot of fun wandering the country talking about Dothraki. It’s been a while since I’ve been so focused on Dothraki specifically, as opposed to some of the other languages I’ve been working with, and I’ve discovered that it’s still the language I’m most fluent in (despite the fact that I’m nowhere near fluent). I signed a number of books with messages in Dothraki, and I’ve realized, to my horror, that a number of those feature errors (e.g. I didn’t use the right case with the relevant preposition; I spelled a word wrong, etc.). If you find a signed copy without any grammar errors, it’ll be quite valuable.

In New York, I did a panel at New York Comic-Con which was packed. That was a really awesome way to kick things off. You never know with a language creation event: you could be presenting to a room of two or two hundred. In this case, it was probably closer to four hundred. Here’s a picture my wife took during:

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Click to enlarge.

After New York I did a number of events in Southern California. Here’s a picture of the set of San Diego Living: a morning show. An early morning show. Ugh. Why don’t they record it at a different hour and just do a tape delay?! But whatever. It’s done. (Though I did flub whatever it was I said during the interview. My grammatical errors aren’t restricted to writing!)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I did a number of signings at libraries and bookstores. Among my favorite was the signing that was held at Mission Viejo city hall. They had a gavel. It was awesome. But this is my favorite picture from the event. It’s probably too blurry to do it justice, but this was just before Halloween, and this girl came in an outstanding Arya costume. The craftsmanship was unbelievable. A photo simply can’t do it justice. Athdavrazar, zhey Ari!

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Last week I went to Colorado and then the Bay Area. In Colorado it snowed. A lot. It was literally below freezing. How people live in that nonsense is beyond me. Prof. Steven Hayward did get a nice shot of me at Garden of the Gods, though.

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Click to enlarge.

I also went to Berkeley, where, apparently, I failed to take a picture of anything except the hot dog I ate and this dinosaur in VLSB:

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Click to enlarge.

I don’t even know with me sometimes…

But hey! If the Dothraki lived in prehistorical times, they would totally ride raptors, right? Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

In the Bay Area, I participated in a couple great events at Kepler’s and Books Inc., and I also gave a talk at Google (the Google). Here’s a shot after:

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Click to enlarge.

It was an employees-only event, but they did put up a video on YouTube, which you can watch here (after all, they are YouTube).

I was also really grateful to be able to see some of the original Dothraki lajaki: Crown of Gold, Daenerys and Hrakkar. I was out-of-my-mind sick, but that really made the whole trip. Thanks for coming out to dinner, and I hope I didn’t get you sick!

I’m not sure when I’ll be going out next, but per usual, I will note on here whenever I’m doing an event somewhere or will be going to a convention. If I don’t post on the day, may you have a very merry Thanksgiving! Could go for some of that turkey and stuffing right now, to be honest…

Chafka Jinne!

Living Language Dothraki is officially on sale today! You can buy it at any bookstore, or go to the official site to buy it here. I got mine in the mail last week.

Copies of Living Language Dothraki

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The feeling is pretty overwhelming. A lot of folks worked very hard on this, and a lot of stuff happened behind the scenes to make this day a reality. We all have HBO to thank for this. They’ve allowed a community to grow around this language, and they gave the green light to this book. Now you can take a look at it yourselves, and I hope you enjoy it!

I’m going to be in New York all week, and will be posting updates on Twitter. My remaining schedule for the coming months looks like this:

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

  • Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO, November 10th: I’ll be giving a talk at Colorado College at 7 p.m. (more details to come).
  • The Tattered Cover, Highlands Ranch, CO, November 11: I’ll be doing an event and signing at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch at 7 p.m. (Note: Be sure to note the location, as there are several Tattered Cover stores in the Denver area!)
  • Books, Inc., Mountain View, CA, November 14: I’ll be doing an event and signing at the Books, Inc. in Mountain View at 7 p.m. (Note: Be sure to note the location, as there are several Books, Inc. stores in the Bay Area!)
  • Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, CA, November 15th: I’ll be a part of a group of other sff authors at Kepler’s Sci-Fi Fantasy Day. It’s going to be from 1-5 p.m. and feature a number of interesting talks and panels. My Dothraki event will be at 2:30 p.m. Please note that this is a ticketed event (tickets are $10 and can be purchased here), but a ticket grants you admission to the entire day’s events.

If you’re going to be near any of these places, please come say hi. Otherwise, thanks for following the blog the past few years, and for helping to make this day a reality!

Dothraki: Coming to a Store Near You

Living Language Dothraki is going on sale October 7th! And in addition to that, I will be going around talking about the new book in various parts of the country over the next few months. Mark your calendars, if you happen to live near New York City, LA, the Bay Area, Las Vegas, Denver or Kirksville, Missouri. Here’s the schedule at present (all times local; to be updated fairly frequently as new events are confirmed):

SEPTEMBER

  • Truman State University, Kirksville, MO, September 17-18: I’ll be giving two talks hosted by the Linguistics department on September 17th at 4:30 p.m. in the TSU Student Union Building, Georgian Room B, and on September 18th at 7:00 p.m. in Baldwin Hall 176. The former is more linguistics-oriented; the latter more general (though it’s still kind of linguisticky. We’ll see how it goes).
  • Seal Beach Wag n’ Walk, Seal Beach, CA, September 27th: I’ll be hosting a booth at the annual Wag n’ Walk, which is a benefit for the Seal Beach Animal Care Center. Come learn your dog’s true Dothraki name!

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

  • Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO, November 10th: I’ll be giving a talk at Colorado College at 7 p.m. (more details to come).
  • The Tattered Cover, Highlands Ranch, CO, November 11: I’ll be doing an event and signing at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch at 7 p.m. (Note: Be sure to note the location, as there are several Tattered Cover stores in the Denver area!)
  • Books, Inc., Mountain View, CA, November 14: I’ll be doing an event and signing at the Books, Inc. in Mountain View at 7 p.m. (Note: Be sure to note the location, as there are several Books, Inc. stores in the Bay Area!)
  • Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, CA, November 15th: I’ll be a part of a group of other sff authors at Kepler’s Sci-Fi Fantasy Day. It’s going to be from 1-5 p.m. and feature a number of interesting talks and panels. My Dothraki event will be at 2:30 p.m. Please note that this is a ticketed event (tickets are $10 and can be purchased here), but a ticket grants you admission to the entire day’s events.

There are a number of other events I had to leave off because they haven’t been finalized yet, so stay tuned! Doing lots of stuff the next couple months.

Dothras chek!

Dothraki at Comic-Con

If you’re heading down to San Diego for Comic-Con this year, be sure to stop by the Random House booth (booth #1515) on Friday and Saturday from 3-4 p.m. I’ll be there in support of the upcoming Living Language Dothraki book (which you can pre-order now). If you come by and practice your Dothraki I’ll have prizes to give out! I’m not sure what the prizes are because I haven’t seen them, but I bet they will be worth having. Because I want them. And I’m’a get them, too, because I can speak Dothraki. You feel me?

Anyway, if you prefer info in party-invitation-style-list form, here it is:

  • WHAT: Dothraki language practice
  • WHO: Me and you
  • WHERE: San Diego Comic-Con, Booth 1515 in the Random House LLC block (.pdf map)
  • WHEN: Friday, July 25th, 3-4 p.m. and Saturday, July 26th, 3-4 p.m.
  • WHY: Because conlang.
  • HOW: Ambulatorily
  • HOW MANY: Very good question. I have no idea. We’ll see, I guess.

Anha zalak m’anha atihak yera rekke!

Riñar

And thus season 4 comes to a close. There’s a lot to be said about the finale, but I’m only going to talk about one character: Tywin Lannister.

I know I’ve said it before, but Tywin Lannister is my favorite character from the book series, and was my favorite character from the show. The first scene we see with Tywin he’s cutting up a deer carcass. It’s a good scene, but the sense of Tywin I got from Charles Dance was different from what I got from the books, so I wasn’t immediately sold on him. Of course, as the season wore on, Charles Dance’s Tywin not only grew on me, but overpowered and replaced the Tywin Lannister I had in my head from the books. That Tywin—book Tywin—was more of a monster in my head—almost savage. Dance’s Tywin is the epitome of gentility. He is stern, he is cold, but he is always in control of every situation, and of his own emotions. He isn’t actively menacing the way I imagined him in the books.

But, of course, Dance’s Tywin is, I feel, the more accurate of the two. No matter how powerful or rich you are, you can’t get on as well as Tywin does if you’re an outright monster. And we do get the sense that if you remain on Tywin Lannister’s good side, he’s a fine guy to be around. A prime example of this are the few scenes with Arya and Tywin in season…two, I want to say? It may have been one. Even in a very kind of creepy way the scene with Tywin and Tommen, where Tywin is giving the new king a “lesson” on what it means to be king. It’s really easy to see how he could build a legion of followers who can see him treating others poorly and rationalize it by believing that they deserve to be treated poorly (if they didn’t, why would he do it? Tywin’s always so smart and sees things so clearly, after all!).

Now, before I go too far, make no mistake: I think Tywin Lannister, the character, is a bad person. If this were a real person, I would definitely not want to have any dealings with him, let alone have him as a father. But you don’t have to like a character as a person to like what they do for a particular story, and love the performance of the actor that portrays them.

And, honestly, I think the master stroke for Charles Dance was his very last scene. Tywin Lannister is always in control. No one ever catches Tywin with his pants down (though Cersei gets to him in this episode, doesn’t she?). And then Tyrion does—literally. This is a position that pretty much no human on Earth would be able to play off well—and yet Tywin does! He’s literally sitting on a toilet with his pants down, and somehow he still manages to be in control of that situation. He has all the right responses for Tyrion! The only thing that shifts the balance of power in that scene is the fact that Tyrion is armed and Tywin is not. Even here Tyrion can’t beat Tywin in a battle of wits or passions (something that Arya ends up doing with the Hound). Tywin doesn’t break. He doesn’t beg for his life. He doesn’t apologize. He doesn’t back down from his beliefs even in that position. Truly incredible, and a very well-executed scene from all concerned.

So something that I wondered—and perhaps other fans have wondered, as well—is if Tywin is so smart and so powerful and so rich and so cunning, how is it he still ends up on the wrong end of a crossbow on the privy? While there’s a lot to be said about his feelings regarding his dead wife and how his children continually fail him in his eyes, one thing keeps coming back to me. One of Tywin’s key failings is that he likes to teach lessons. If you’ve seen Arrested Development, perhaps you’ll remember the fellow with the one arm, and Michael’s lesson about not teaching lessons. That last lesson is one Tywin should have learned. It wasn’t enough for him to stick a false conviction on Tyrion: He wanted to teach Tyrion a lesson about falling for whores. Honestly, he didn’t need Shae’s testimony to convict Tyrion: it was just a cruel, public humiliation. Ultimately, this is what did him in. Without Shae, recall, Tyrion probably would have gone along with Jaime and Tywin’s plan and taken the black. And in fact even if all the events had transpired as they did up to Jaime’s rescue, consider: What would have happened if Tyrion had snuck into Tywin’s bedroom and found him alone? We’ll never know, but it’s worth mulling over.

Alas, Tywin is gone, and along with him Charles Dance. Truly, though, this was a masterful performance. I never met Charles Dance, but I will now look for him in other things just based on this performance. Sheer brilliance. And, of course, my hat is off to George R. R. Martin as well. He created the character who is just as electric in the books and paved the way for this outstanding role. Mr. Dance, you will be missed.

As for the rest, there’s too much to say, and I bet everyone else will say it, so I’ll leave it to them. I do want to praise the performance of the actor who played the shepherd, though—the one who lost the daughter. His lines were all in Meereenese Valyrian, but the emotion was raw. You didn’t need to understand what he was saying to feel it. A heartbreaking moment, and he acted it superbly.

And now we wait. Just a year, though. These things go by in the blink of an eye nowadays. Season five will be here before you know it!

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