The time has come to call a close to this year’s Dothraki haiku competition. Nice job this year! Too good, in fact. It was really hard to choose a winner. I’d feel more conflicted if winning came with any sort of prize. Thank goodness it doesn’t!
I received eleven haiku, all intriguing. Since there were so many, I’m going to choose one from each author to discuss. First, from our newest Dothraki reader, Meghan, we have a haiku from which came the title for today’s post. Here it is:
Ez qoy asshekhi.
Which translates to:
The palomino gallops.
Found today’s blood.
Very, very nice! Meghan basically just started working with Dothraki, like, a few weeks ago, and already she’s putting together long strings of text—and using one of my favorite words (qahlan) that rarely sees the light of day. Athdavrazar, zhey Meghan! The best haiku paint a picture, and this one paints a good one.
Next we have a haiku from Hrakkar:
Fonat ma adakhalat
And the intended translation is:
The lions are ready
To hunt and to eat
This is close, but there are two issues (one my fault. Sorry!). Here the verb hethkat should be used, in which case it should be hethki not hethke. Next, though I gave everyone the adjective hethke, I never gave the verb, and never said how you’d say “ready to” or “ready for”. That’s my bad there. In fact, you say hethkat ki. So if you wanted to say “they’re ready to hunt and eat”, you’d say hethki k’athfonari ma k’athadakhari. Of course, the last three words would be way over seven syllables, so that wouldn’t work. I really like this idea, though. After all, the Dothraki Sea is a place where horses and lions roam. It stands to reason that the lions would hunt those horses the way lions in our world hunt zebras. That’d be pretty cool to witness.
Next we have a poem from ingsve:
“Hethkas she oakah” ma
“Hethkas she khado”.
And my attempt at a translation is:
The scouts’ motto
“Be ready in your soul” and
“Be ready in your body”.
Very clever! It took me forever to figure out what was intended by the first line, and I eventually needed to seek out ingsve’s help. Turns out he was using an off-brand word for “scout”. I’ve got tihak for “scout” (in the literal sense: someone who serves as a lookout), and I’d probably use that for the “boyscout” version of “scout”. Using oakah for this version of “mind” is interesting (I translated it as “soul”, but the original calls for the English word “mind”). Nice work!
Next is a haiku from Zhalio, which is brilliant:
Vo sanneyos vort
Zhavvorsoon fin nem azh.
And this is the translation:
Don’t count the teeth
Of the dragon that was given (you).
Say “thank you”.
In High Valyrian. Ha! I gathered he’d try to work that in, and he did it well. This is a great version of the English phrase “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, and works perfectly. I was also quite pleased to see the correct usage of the negative imperative. And, adding to its worth, I think it sounds better in Dothraki than any translation I can muster in English, which is just awesome. You can hear Zhalio reading it aloud here (brother got some bass in that voice! Nice reading!).
Alas, there can be only one winner, and this year, as with last year, our winner is Qvaak. He did it again. Here’s his winning haiku:
Rhaesh ath hethka.
Oqoe ven vash memof
And my translation:
The dry land is ready.
A great noise reverberates like a stampede
From the sky.
Worthy of Eliot. An initial draft of this poem had a grammar error, and when he fixed it, it called for a radical reorganization of the syntax of the second line. The result harkens back to the old days of Dothraki, with the verb in initial position. Furthermore, by putting memof, the subject of the sentence, at the end, there’s a curious type of enjambment (if that’s even the right term in this case) which allows one to read memof asavvasoon as a single noun phrase. In fact, memof is the subject, and the phrase asavvasoon modifies the verb phrase. Semantically, though, the great noise (memof) actually is coming from the sky (asavvasoon), so it’s still semantically felicitous. Just awesome. There’s been a decent amount of material written in Dothraki, but this may be the best thing ever composed. And for that, Qvaak has earned this year’s Mawizzi Virzeth: The Red Rabbit!
That’s two years in a row, zhey Qvaak! I think we’re going to need to start giving you a handicap of some kind…
Thanks so much to everyone who submitted haiku! It was a tough choice this year, and you did incredible work. I’m already looking forward to next year. I also think that (regarding the experiment) I’m going to keep the challenge word as optional only. If it were a requirement, we wouldn’t have seen some incredible haiku (e.g. Zhalio’s), and I wouldn’t want to inhibit that. So I’ll include a challenge word as a possibility to get folks jumpstarted, but it won’t be a requirement. Thanks again for the incredible work!
It’s been a year, and I’m now 32 years old. Among other things, this means I’m halfway to 64. It certainly has been a heck of a year, and I feel physically sound, so I can’t complain.
Enough about me, though. It’s time for the annual Dothraki haiku competition! Last year, Qvaak took home the coveted Mawizzi Virzeth: a prize which comes with no money, no reward, and next to no recognition. Who will take home the prize this year!
But first, in keeping with the semi-tradition I semi-started last year, here’s a haiku of my own:
Oleth rami hoshora
All of those words should be either available in the Dothraki.org dictionary or figure-out-able (if ramasar is a collection of plains, then ram would be…?). Post your translation in the comments, and we’ll see who can get it right first!
As for your haiku, I have an idea, but it is just an idea. For those who might have trouble coming up with a topic, I have a challenge/suggestion: In your haiku, use the word hethke, “tight” (adjective) or “ready, prepared” (adjective). If this works out well, I may start having a challenge word for all successive competitions, and only considering those with the challenge word for the prize. For this one, though, just try it out, and let me know if we should consider making this a permanent change. To repeat: The winning haiku for this year’s competition will not need to use the word hethke.
Otherwise, entries need to be in Dothraki, and I’ll call the competition when it looks like I’ve stopped receiving entries. Leave your entries in the comments, or e-mail them to me at “dave” at “dothraki” period “com”. Below are some instructions I wrote up for last year’s competition which I will repeat here verbatim. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment!
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, we’ll set up a separate category for haiku that are 17 syllables, but maybe don’t hit the right line numbers.
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.
Shieraki gori ha yerea! Fonas chek!
Update: Added audio for my haiku.
A fellow conlanger (Scott Hamilton, creator of the Riddlesbrood language) sent some pictures my way of some new Dothraki jewelry. Sunnie Larsen and Marcos Duran got each other a joint anniversary present pictured below:
The bracelets say “zhey jalan atthirari anni” (hers) and “zhey shekh ma shieraki anni” (his). Very nice! They came from Etsy designer rubybliss (I should get me one of them one day…).
In other news, I’m going to be traveling to the following events in the next few months. If you’re nearby, come say M’ath!
- SWTX PCA/ACA Conference, Albuquerque, NM, February 13-16
- TEDActive 2013, Palm Springs, CA, February 24
- TED 2013, Long Beach, CA, February 25-March 1
- ConDor 20, San Diego, CA, March 8-10
- NorWesCon 36, Seattle, WA, March 28-31
- UCSD, San Diego, CA, April 19, 25
- LCC5, Austin, TX, May 4-5
- BayCon 31, Santa Clara, CA, May 24-27
- Comic-Con, San Diego, CA, July 18-21
- El Ser Creativo, Madrid, Spain, November 7-9
There may be some others that come up within this time period, so revisit this post periodically; I’ll update it. Until then, davralates asshekhi yeri!
I was getting real tired of pulling up this blog and seeing a picture of me, so…new post!
Happy New Year!
For those who have been following this blog for a year, you may remember the resolution I made around this time last year. At the time, Dothraki had about 3,300 words, and I said in one calendar year I’d get Dothraki’s vocab up to 5,000 words. Before addressing my progress on that, let me affirm that this was an achievable goal. It really was! When I started Dothraki, I had 1,700 words in about three months. True, I had a lot of time on my hands, but that was three months: This was an entire year! So I maintain that going from 3,300 words to 5,000 words was a more than reasonable goal.
That said, I came nowhere close. Nooooooooowhere close.
By midnight on January 1st, Dothraki had 3,621 words. So given that I was probably underestimating how many words Dothraki had in that post from January 1st, 2012, I’m guessing that means I coined about 300 words of Dothraki in 2012—or about 18% of the words I resolved to coin.
Of course, in the time-honored tradition of American New Year’s resolutions, I’ve got a whole host of excuses to offer for failing to accomplish my New Year’s resolution. For starters, it was a year that ends in a 2, which is always bad luck (it’s true. Google it). Second, if you add up the number of words I coined for all the languages I was working on, I think I made out pretty good!
- Dothraki: 300
- High Valyrian: 585
- Other Game of Thrones Vocab: 340
- Irathient (for Defiance): 1,927
- Castithan (for Defiance): 1,372
- Other Defiance Vocab: 300
- Other Project: 217
And if you total that up, it comes to 5,041. Not too bad! See, I figure if I have more time on my hands, I can focus and really beef up Dothraki’s vocabulary. Unfortunately that’s probably not going to happen any time soon, so I’m going to make a more modest New Year’s resolution. Here it is: I will create more Dothraki vocabulary this year than I did last year. I think I can do it! And if I do, Dothraki will be at 4,000 by year’s end!
In the meantime, my apologies for completely falling flat on my old New Year’s resolution. But look out for this year’s annual haiku competition coming soon!
And, indeed, what a merry Goatmas it has turned out to be! I realize that in my last post I had us voting on who would be crowned Winter Goat, 2012, but I had a late entry that has caused me to overturn the results of the vote (which, at the time of writing, were inconclusive anyway). Consequently, I shall push the current nominees for Winter Goat to next year, and have proclaimed this year’s Winter Goat to be the jolly fellow you see before you here!
This fine little gentleman came to me from Ingsve, who sent him all the way from Sweden! He is a traditional Scandinavian yule goat, and has a magnificent goatish beard. While yule goats are sometimes burned after they’ve served their time, I can assure you this goat (which for some reason I’ve suddenly decided to name Mr. Dorviclaus) will stay with me (unbowed, unbent, unbroken—and unburnt) for many, many years. All hail this year’s mighty Winter Goat!
Attached to Mr. Dorviclaus was this note, written by Ingsve in Qvaak’s script:
Here’s the transcription:
Anha zalak vitteya ajjalani neaka vezhvena yeraan. Azhas jinaan Dorvi Aheshki fichat san azhi yeraan. Me nem move hrannoon vosma me haja ma qotha. Anha zalak firesof akat dalen senthi adavrae yeraan.
Shieraki gori ha yeraan,
Ingsve went with an original translation for “Christmas”: vitteya ajjalani neaka. That translates to “feast of the long night”. I rather like it!
Despite all the images, this post is rather short, as I’ve gone up to my second parents’ home for Goatmas this year. This post was actually typed up while I was packing, though I’m sure I hopped on and added a few things as I could thereafter. As a result, I didn’t have as much time to type this up. Nevertheless, I’m sure Winter Goat has something in his shaggy beard for one and all! Here he is, in fact, visiting Standing Rabbit and Sitting Turtle outside my door:
It’s been a good year, and I’m forever thankful to the few who follow this blog and come in to say M’ath! in our weekly Dothraki chats. It does get tiresome to be forever without a Dothraki word for “thank you”, though, so to remedy that (even though I begged him not to), Mr. Dorviclaus has shaken a word for “thank you” out of his frosty beard—not from Dothraki, but from High Valyrian. The word is: kirimvose (or kirimvos, for short; stress on the second i for both). Unless I miss my guess (or unless those armed with Google are very, very clever), this is the first new word of High Valyrian to be released. It will not be followed by others, as I shall return to my customary radio silence, but this being Goatmas, I simply couldn’t restrain mighty and loyal Winter Goat.
Have a Merry Goatmas, and a Goatish New Year!
After poring over several thousand copies of the eight goat pictures I received, I have settled upon four candidates that have earned the right to claim the title “Winter Goat, 2012″! Those images, submitted by readers of this blog, are presented below:
(Note: The live goat pictures from above come from the Sierra Safari Zoo in Reno, Nevada. Stop in if you get the chance!)
There it is: The full line-up for Winter Goat, 2012! To cast your vote, leave a comment below. I was going to set up a really cool poll and use that for voting, but I give up. I’ll get it to work later, lousy edavrasakh…
In other news around the conlanging world, an article was published in The New Yorker today on my good friend John Quijada, the creator of Ithkuil. I got to hear this story as it unfolded over the course of the past few years, and I think this is a pretty good summation. I definitely recommend it.
In the article it’s mentioned that “Dothraki is now heard by more people each week than Yiddish, Navajo, Inuit, Basque, and Welsh combined”, as if this meant anything one way or another. On this, I’ll only say that Inuit is not the name of a language, though if you ever want to look at a wonderfully fascinating language, I recommend Inuvialuktun (I’ve got a grammar of it that I did not steal from the UCSD library [I returned that copy (eventually)]).