Didn’t I tell y’all there would be some Dothraki this season? Ta da! There it is!
If I may come to things out of order, I thought the VFX of the White Walker dying were outstanding. Must be pretty satisfying to stab something and then have it turn to ice, fall and shatter that way. Pretty cool! Of course, Sam should’ve retained his knife (what was he so afraid of? He killed it! No way you can come back from that!), but the action north of the wall has been replete with horror movie tropes, so it is fitting. For those who remember the specific action of the book better than I do, though, what was up with those birds?! I don’t remember that from the book. And why would they have been so excited about this encounter as to opposed to the others that we’ve seen in the series already? There were no crows in those scenes (or, at least, no literal crows). Oh, and one more question: Isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that that White Walker is the exact same White Walker we saw in the season 2 finale?
I thought the scenes surrounding and during Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding were done very well. Reading those scenes initially, it was so frustrating how much Tyrion wants to convey to Sansa that he’s not a bad guy, and how miserably he fails to do so. I thought they captured that aspect of the books quite well in the scenes we saw here.
There has been a bit of controversy in some corners regarding the scenes on Dragonstone. I would like to go on record saying I thought they were fine. I have no complaints, and found everything to be in keeping with what ought to have been expected.
In today’s scene from Slaver’s Bay, we’re introduced to Daario Naharis, who looks nothing like I thought he would. You know who does look cool, though: Prendahl na Ghezn (played by Ramon Tikaram). Dude looks awesome! He’s even got the blue hair! (If there was any glare on your screen, you might not have noticed it, but his hair was dyed blue, I can assure you.) Alas, his role is a bit short-lived… It’s too bad. Honestly, I hope I see more of him in some other feature. He looks like a leading man, to me.
The main scene begins with Mero leading Prendahl and Daario into Dany’s tent. There is an exchange where Mero is even more insulting than Kraznys, and he provokes the incredible, invincible and indomitable Jacob Anderson, a.k.a Grey Worm, a.k.a Torgo Nudho, who says:
- Nya dare, beza unehtelas jaa engo ozy?
- “My queen, shall this one slice out his tongue for you?”
And for those keeping track, yes, that is a Dothraki-style hiatus there with jaa, in addition to Dothraki-style post-vocalic h in unehtelas, both of which he nails, because Jacob Anderson is a Golden God.
Anyway, Dany responds in High Valyrian:
- Bisi vali īlvyz zentyssy issi.
- “These men are our guests.”
The word vali was cut due to length, I’m guessing, but the result would still be grammatical (it would just mean “These ones [probably animate] are our guests”). If the form of the possessive adjective looks odd to you, then you’re really keyed in to the phonology of High Valyrian. As I mentioned somewhere at some point in time, adjectives in High Valyrian have a different form depending on whether they come before or after the noun they modify. In this case, the full form would be īlvyzy. The final y drops out if the adjective precedes the noun it modifies, though, and the z devoices unless the next word begins with a voiced sound. Since “guests” is zentyssy, then, the form of the adjective is īlvyz and not īlvys.
After many more insults and a scene between the three Second Sons, we see Missandei bathing Daenerys. Though this scene was, of course, planned, this bit of dialogue was added by Dan Weiss very late in the game (he asked for the translation in mid-September). Personally I think it’s kind of a meta joke since this is literally the only Dothraki that appears in the entire season. What he did was he gave me the English line and asked if I could get athjahakar (the Dothraki word for “pride”) at the end of the sentence. Ultimately this is how I did the translation:
- Zhey Drogo ast me-Dothraki thasho h’anhaan ven anha ray yol mehas. Me azh maan atjakhar.
- “Drogo said I spoke Dothraki like one born to it. It gave him great pride.”
Those who know Dothraki will note that this line features the (somewhat) rare invocative use of zhey (i.e. bringing to the listener’s attention a person who hasn’t yet appeared as a topic of discussion). You’ll also note that athjahakar is misspelled. Indeed, this little exchange was supposed to reveal that Dany was never as good at Dothraki as she is, of course, with High Valyrian or Common. And the specific word is a call-back to episode 103, I think it was, where Dany’s handmaiden Jiqui (or Zhikwi) is shown teaching Dany Dothraki by teaching her to say the word athjahakar.
Looking at the above Dothraki line, you’ll note that Dany mangles it pretty badly. That was the intention, but personally I think Emilia went a little too far. Neither Dany nor Emilia was ever that bad! Of course, if Dany hasn’t really been speaking Dothraki much, I can see her getting out of practice (perhaps Jorah is the only one that speaks to the Dothraki now [or, actually, now Missandei can too]). She puts together a rather grammatically complex sentence, though. Pretty impressive for a second language learner!
Second Sons was a little light on language, so to add some girth to this, here’s the full declension for vala, the High Valyrian word for “man”:
Oh, also I wanted to mention that the word for “son” from our title comes from Twitter user @Tracee2ez, who was my 3,000th Twitter follower! The word is trēsy, which is nicely symmetrical with the word for “daughter”, which is tala. Both are lunar words, but tala is first declension, and trēsy second. There are a number of dualities that work this way, where two words which are intended to be in some sort of semantic relation to one another differ either solely in declension class or gender, but in systematic (or semi-systematic) ways. This word, then, turned out to be quite the fortuitous coining, since I already had the word for “daughter”.
Also, for those in the Bay Area, I will be at BayCon this Sunday. If you’re in the area, stop by and say M’ath!
Oh, and one more also (consider this a public service announcement): The penultimate episode of this season of Game of Thrones will not be airing a week from yesterday! I guess due to a ratings slump on Memorial Day, HBO is skipping a week, and episode 309 will air on June 2nd. Perhaps I can put together a post next week trying to answer some questions. Or I can take a break and enjoy the weekend. We’ll see.
Yesterday was George R. R. Martin’s episode for season 3 of Game of Thrones. Many wondered if Martin would write the episode from season 3 (if you don’t know which that is, you will by the end of the season), and in case you didn’t find the information elsewhere, he specifically did not want to. He said it was tough to write once, and he didn’t want to go through that again.
There was quite a bit of character development this episode, which was important, but which, I gather from the internet, might have seemed not as exciting to some. Not every episode can have wall-to-wall action (though I would note that the dragons were quite entertaining this episode!), but I really liked some of the conversations and developments from this episode. For example, a short scene, but the conversation between Sansa and Margaery was great (“Yes, dear. My mother taught me.” Rolling). Tywin’s little lecture to Joffrey was priceless, of course. It was also nice to see some vulnerability and passion from Melisandre (something we see in the books, albeit later on).
I would also like to draw a comparison that I don’t believe anyone else has ever drawn. In fact, if someone has drawn this comparison already and you can show me the link, I’ll coin a word for you in either Dothraki or High Valyrian (depending on what makes the most sense). Ready for this? Here it is. The rise and fall of Theon Greyjoy (and what will eventually become of that once we get into his book 5 arc) reminds me a lot of Willie Loomis from the original Dark Shadows. The parallels are many. Not that I think George Martin was inspired by the character (they’re not that much alike in the particulars), I just find it to be a fitting comparison. If you have Netflix, I recommend giving the series a try. It’s way over the top, and the effects are terrible. It’s delicious.
(UPDATE: It has been noticed! I wasn’t the first! Check out this post on Tumblr. Props go to Atrox for being the first to point it out!)
There wasn’t a whole lot of Valyrian in this episode, but there was some. It first comes up with Robb and Talisa. Talisa’s writing a letter to her mother and Robb asks her if it’s in Valyrian. There she replies with something I didn’t write, and which Robb repeats as ga (sounded to me like she actually says dha. Anyway have good ears?). I didn’t actually intend for there to be a simple word for “yes” in High Valyrian, but of course there ought to be in Volantene. So whatever it was that was said, let’s say that’s it. Later she says “hello” in Valyrian: rytsas. Robb is then supposed to mispronounce it, but he actually mispronounced it better than I intended (I intended ristas). The vowel change, though, probably sounds amusing enough.
Regarding the letter, the text of it was written by Cat Taylor (Dave and Dan’s assistant) and translated by me. The shot of it is quite pretty; the art department did an awesome job! Ideally it should be in Valyrian glyphs, but I guess it didn’t seem worthwhile to create an entire writing system for what ultimately is kind of a throwaway shot. Though I do have the text of it (in both English and High Valyrian, which is what it’s written in), I don’t think I should put it up right now. I’ll put it up when the season’s done with, but there’s been a lot of creativity amongst fans regarding Talisa, and so I think this should remain a mystery for the time being. It isn’t gibberish, though, I can assure you.
Later in Yunkai we get some more Valyrian from Dany, but none from conlang demigod Jacob Anderson! When I was first doing the scripts, it was like, “Yeah, whatever.” Now, though! They should have him narrate the entire series in Valyrian! What a linguistic adonis!
Anyway, Dany gives some orders to Grey Worm (who does not respond! What a missed opportunity! He could’ve at least said, “By your royal leave, my gracious queen and valorous liberator, of whom the heavens shall sing for a million shining eternities!”). These are they:
- Va oktio remȳti vale jikās.
- “Send a man to the city gates.”
- Belmurtī ivestrās kesir pōnte jiōrinna se pōjon obūljarion mazōrīnna. Lodaor hēnkos vējose hae Astaprot Yunkai botilza.
- “Tell the slavers I will receive them here and accept their surrender. Otherwise, Yunkai will suffer the same fate as Astapor.”
And that actually does it.
Oh, except for one thing. When Grazdan mo Eraz wanders away from Dany et al., he mutters something. For this, D&D asked me to just come up with something—anything that sounded particularly vile. And so I came up with this (which I won’t translate):
- Inkan undagho buna gundjabo jorydrare evi rungo pulgarinko…
I don’t know how much of that he actually gets through (I made it extra long so it would sound like he was trailing off and saying more). That’s Astapori Valyrian, in case you’re wondering; I didn’t have time to do a complete treatment of Yunkish Valyrian just for this line. There’s at least one word in there that could be unique to Yunkai, though.
Also, an important note for regular commenters on this blog. A couple days ago something happened (unfortunately, I still don’t know what) that resulted in one of my blog posts being deleted along with all its comments—plus a dozen or so others. It wasn’t a post I was editing or working on, nor was it the most recent post. The comments, though, were recent comments. I worked with someone to restore an earlier version of the database, and the post is back, along with most of its comments. There are still a number of comments that aren’t back, though. We are working to restore them exactly as they were. Even if that doesn’t work, though, I do have a record of every comment, so at the very least I will be able to restore them myself (likely under my own login, but I’ll give the appropriate credit along with the original post date). I apologize for the mishap—especially since some of the best material on this blog has been in the recent batch of comments. I’d love to say that it won’t happen again, but since I don’t know what caused it and failed to replicate the problem, I just don’t know if I can say that. At the very least, I now know I can restore the blog, and that it appears to be backed up regularly.
Welcome to the late edition of the Dothraki blog! Today’s post is late because I was away in Austin, Texas for the Fifth Language Creation Conference. I did see this week’s episode of Game of Thrones over there, but I saw it on Monday shortly before my flight home and didn’t have time to get a post up until now.
This week’s episode got dark, huh? Poor Ros: The invented character that nobody liked (or none of the fans of the books, anyway). But why am I wasting words on her when Tywin Lannister was in this episode? Dude did it again! After the Queen of Thorns took down Tyrion, it looked like she was just warming up: Matching wits with Lord Tywin and besting him! But, oh, how he did have the last laugh…! While I don’t think it can be properly appreciated in isolation, that was one of my favorite scenes of the series. What a clash! If only their characters could be transported to Downton Abbey…
Elsewhere, I really did enjoy both climbs (i.e. the climb up the wall and Littlefinger’s “climb” speech) and was amused by the awkwardness of Loras and Sansa. As a book reader, I am also genuinely curious just how Theon’s storyline is going to work. If this season is only half of book 3, and this part of the storyline comes from book 5, with absolutely nothing in between… I mean, how long can they (and he) keep this up?
And, as promised (finally, since I never seem to be able to remember what order things happen in), we had some High Valyrian being spoken by different characters! This time we got to see Carice Van Houten and Paul Kaye take to it, and they did a pretty darn good job, I must admit! They had a grand little priest-off there, and I loved how the High Valyrian was sprinkled in. Language-wise, a very well-written set of scenes.
First, Arya spies Melisandre’s party in the forest, and after initial greetings, Melisandre and Thoros greet each other with the traditional greeting which we know well. By the way, though, to my ear, Carice Van Houten did speak High Valyrian with a bit of a Dutch accent, I didn’t actually hear a velar fricative in morghūlis—surprising, given that you can’t get through “good morning” without pronouncing three of them in Dutch!
Anyway, then Thoros busts out his fluency:
- Olvī voktī Rulloro Qelbriā ūndessun daor.
- “I don’t see many priestesses of R’hllor in the Riverlands.”
Here I had to make a choice. I’d always assumed that R’hllor came either from Asshai’i or from some other language way out east. As such, I figured the word would be mangled in pretty much any common language it’s spoken in—including High Valyrian. But how to mangle it? High Valyrian is fine with geminates, and figuring that George R. R. Martin based this word on Arabic Allah, I decided to keep that in. But rather than dealing with the apostrophe and the h, I figured I’d do what I expected to happen anyway, if the name were pronounced in common, and just pretend like they weren’t there, inserting a vowel to make it pronounceable. This is why R’hllor gets respelled in High Valyrian. I imagine that one could still spell it R’hllor and then just decline the end of the word, but for the sake of the actors, I thought I’d use the respelled version.
A couple of other things worth noting here. Voktī (citation form: voktys) is translated as “priestesses”, but just as with the word for “prince”, the word is epicene, and may refer to either a priest or a priestess.
I’d also like to take a minute to discuss q. The voiceless uvular stop makes an appearance in both High Valyrian and Dothraki, but its status in High Valyrian differs from that of Dothraki. In Dothraki, it’s an honest-to-goodness phoneme, and for the native Dothraki-speaking characters, I expected (or hoped) they would pronounce it correctly (obviously not so for the foreign characters [e.g. Dany and Jorah]). In High Valyrian, though, I didn’t—and, in fact, outside of Kraznys’s and Missandei’s lines, I didn’t even pronounce the q when recording the lines (substituting k instead).
That said, it was very important to me that q be different. In fact, when I talked about creating Valyrian with Dan and Dave, I asked them two—and only two—questions: (1) Just how different did they want Kraznys’s dialogue to be from High Valyrian, and (2) how did they pronounce valonqar: valon-K-ar or valon-KW-ar? The answer was vitally important and would have far-reaching consequences for the phonology of High Valyrian and its descendants. Frankly, I was delighted to hear they were going with valon-K-ar.
So why is it so important if, essentially, it’s just a different k (which is what it is for all but the Astapori speakers)? Because of the potential it holds for the future descendants of Valyrian. With two different back consonants, it’s possible to have a sound change that affects one that doesn’t affect the other in certain environments. English speakers should be well familiar with the phenomenon because of the letter “c” ([k] in “car”, “crown”, “cough” and “cut”, but [s] in “cent” and “cilia”). Additionally, it meant that Valyrian didn’t have to be glutted with [kw] sounds (and also probably [gw] and even [ɣw])—a prospect I wasn’t looking forward to.
Anyway, this comes up because of the word Qelbriā (citation form: Qelbria). It’s a modern (perhaps spur-of-the-moment) neologism from High Valyrian qelbar, which means “river”. Hence, the Riverlands are Qelbria. How pretty… I want to hit it like a piñata.
Back on track, Melisandre responds:
- Thoros hen Myrot iksā.
- “You are Thoros of Myr.”
I was curious how “Thoros” would be pronounced. If I didn’t mishear, she pronounced it “Toros”, yes? That would be the traditional High Valyrian pronunciation.
- Voktys Eglie aōt gaomilaksir teptas: Roberti Dāri zȳhi nekēpti se Āeksiot Ōño jemagon. Skorion massitas?
- “The High Priest gave you a mission. Turn King Robert away from his idols and toward the Lord of Light. What happened?”
- “I failed.”
To which Melisandre:
- Aōle rūda, nūmāzma issa. Quptyssy pōntālī johegzi se jomōzū.
- “You quit, you mean. The heathens continue to slaughter each other and you continue to get drunk.”
Oh, ha, ha. Just spent like fifteen minutes looking at that form jomōzū thinking, “That can’t be right…” But, duh: It’s the active, not the subjunctive! Why would it be? Anyway, Thoros replies:
- Aōhoso ziry rijībiā, se ñuhoso ziry rijībin. Quptenkos Ēngoso ȳdrassis?
- “You worship Him your way, and I’ll worship Him mine. Do you speak the Common Tongue?”
If you’re glossing, it might help to know that there is no reflex for the word “way” in that translation. By the way, as a general rule, I kind of expect those whose first language wasn’t English to do a better job with the created languages than native English speakers (mainly because, in general, this has been true). But Paul Kaye did admirable work! He didn’t cut any words, and it sounded pretty much like a drunkard speaking High Valyrian. Nice job, Paul!
Next we shift scenes to Melisandre inspecting Beric. (Anyone else feel a kind of bizarre sexual tension in that little scene?) After appraising, she says:
- Konir sagon kostos daor.
- “That’s not possible.”
Thoros then says:
- Āeksio yne ilīritan.
- “The Lord has smiled upon me.”
- Kesys ondor avy sytilībus daor.
- “You should not have these powers.”
And Thoros, being the good Red Priest he is, corrects her:
- Ondor emon daor. Āeksiot zȳhon vaoreznon jepin, se ziksoso udlissis.
- “I have no powers. I ask the Lord for his favor, and he responds as he will.”
And for a bonus, he was also originally supposed to say this short bit afterwards, but the line was cut:
- Kesir gīmī.
- “You know this.”
And that’s the Valyrian for episode 306. Who knows if these characters will be speaking Valyrian again, but hats off to both the wonderful Carice Van Houten and Paul Kaye! They were a short couple of scenes, but I greatly appreciate the work you put in. Kirimvose!
Next week there’s a little bit of material. And now I’m left wondering if they left that line in… Guess we’ll all find out at the same time!
Of course the million dollar question is: Just what does that participial phrase agree with…?
“Kissed By Fire”, written by my old compatriot Bryan Cogman, was low on action (outside the first scene), but high on drama. There were some outstanding scenes, and nearly every major character made an appearance (no Bran, no Samwell, no Theon, no Joffrey, no Melisandre, but everyone else). We haven’t gotten to see that very often of late! This week’s episode featured not one, but two scenes where Tyrion is demolished by an elder—first by Lady Olenna, and then by my all-time favorite Ice and Fire character: Tywin Lannister. And though usually an episode will end with a twist or a bit of high drama, I liked that we close with Cersei, of all people, finally getting the dressing down she deserves from someone (namely [who else?] Tywin). The man is a beast!
As a happily married man, I will refrain from commenting on any redheads that did or did not appear in this episode.
On a different note, though, I wonder how many people thought what I did when watching this scene:
So that’s Robb there staring over a large map with, well, what appear to be large Cyvasse pieces representing the various armies. Now, it’s no wonder that Robb would have a map. Maps are important. Cartographer is a noble calling even today, but especially back in the days before flight. Every lord worth his salt probably has dozens of maps, and has them updated routinely. Those figurines, though… They’re quite specific, no? He has figures for his house, for the Lannisters, and apparently for each of his bannermen. Just where do you think he gets them from? Did each bannerman bring his own…figurines? And does he have Frey figurines for the next part of his plan? If so, where does he store them? Does he go to his horse’s saddlebags and pull out the baggy of Frey figurines and put them in place on the map? And if he doesn’t have them, does he have someone carve them for him—one of his knights, perhaps? And is there any kind of quality control there? After all, these are not crudely made. They appear to be carved, shaped, sanded and finished. Quite a bit of work went into carving each and every one of those figurines—and transporting them. Even if he didn’t inherit them from Ned or some other bannerman, that had to be a conversation at some point—something along the lines of, “Okay, I have a big map. In order to discuss the movement of forces, I’m going to need about a dozen figurines—maybe more—with groups representing the various armies in play. I’ll need your finest craftsmen to get on this right away!” Not to say that they don’t look cool (they do) or that I don’t want some (I very much do), it just seems like this is the kind of detail we’re not meant to think about. And yet here I am…
Anyway, let us speak of language. Some major highlights and an oddity in this one. The scene across the Narrow Sea featured Barristan Selmy not so subtly disinviting Jorah Mormont to the Queen Daenerys party along with Daenerys having a discussion with the leaders of her new army.
First, a word. I have three versions of the translation I did, and three .pdf versions of this scene. Not one of them matches what eventually appeared on screen. Instead, there’s a mix of lines from the original translation I did and the revised translation I did—as well as a bit of a subtitle remix. I think I got everything, though, so I’ll do my best (though the same note applies regarding long vowels. I’ll try my best to get them all, but I may miss some; I’ll eventually get them all in). First, Dany addresses the group:
- Keso glaesot iderēptot daor.
- “You did not choose this life.”
- Yn dāeri vali sīr issi. Se dāeri vali pōntalo syt gaomoti iderēbzi.
- “But you are free men now. And free men make their own choices.”
Then comes a line whose subtitle changed, but I don’t think I was ever asked to retranslate (I could’ve; would’ve been relatively painless). I had this:
- Jenti jevi jemēle iderēbilātās, qogrondo jevo hēdrȳ.
- “You will select your own leader, from amongst your own ranks.”
But I believe the subtitle has her asking a question: “Have you chosen a leader from amongst your own ranks?”
Then comes a truly perplexing moment.
As one of the Unsullied approaches, Dany asks him to remove his helmet. I distinctly remember being asked to translate this line. In fact, I have the words “remove” and “helmet” in there that I specifically translated for this line. It should have been something like Geltī aōhe nādīnās. What she says sounds like derēpti, which means…nothing. (If it had a different ending, it’d be some irrelevant form of the verb “to gather, collect”.) I’ve scoured my e-mail, and I can’t find any record of the request, or of my sending off the translation. I also can’t seem to find the translation in my files. And yet I did not create the words for “remove” and “helmet” just because. I created them specifically because I was asked for the translation of “remove your helmet” for this season. I’m absolutely mystified by the entire situation, and am chalking it up to gremlins. And so I’m going to leave it at that.
UPDATE: Okay, I’ve scoured my records, and I have found the answer. At 3:24 p.m. PST on Friday, February 8th, 2013 I was asked to translate “Remove your helmet” into High Valyrian (so this was for postproduction). I e-mailed back asking how quick they’d need it, but actually started recording then just for the heck of it. By the time I got a response back (they wouldn’t need it until Monday the 11th), I was done, and I sent off the translation and .mp3 that same day at 4:01 p.m. PST. The translation was:
- Aōhi geltī nādīnās.
- “Remove your helmet.”
Which, of course, was incorrect (it should have been aōhe), but I was working quickly. I received a response at 4:10 p.m. PST, and that was the last I had to do with. For whatever reason, it never made it to the screen.
Now I’m sure it wasn’t the messenger’s fault (the person I was e-mailing with); I’m sure they passed on the .mp3 and translation like they’d always done in the past. No, I think I know who’s behind it—and if it is, this is a person that’s run afoul of me before. And if, indeed, it was that person, they should know that my memory is long. Very long.
Back to the post…
Then things start cooking. One Unsullied steps forward and says:
- Bezy eza ji rigle.
- “This one has the honor.”
Dany asks him:
- Skoroso jemēle brōza?
- “What is your name?”
- Torgo Nudho.
- “Grey Worm.”
Dany turns to Missandei who explains that the Unsullied take vile names to remind them of how low they are. She doesn’t explain how they get a new name every single day (they draw them out of a bowl, or something). That’s kind of a neat little factoid that’s probably way too specific for TV, but I liked it, so I thought I’d mention it here. The well-meaning Daenerys, after learning this, tells the Unsullied:
- Hēzīr, brōza jevi jemēle iderēbilātās. Mentyri idañe jevi ivestrilātās keskydoso gaomagon.
- “From this day forward, you will choose your own names. You will tell all your fellow soldiers to do the same.”
When Dany continues, she uses an Astapori Valyrian word for “slave name”:
- Gadbag aōhe qrīdrughās. Muñar aōt teptas lue brōzi, iā mirre tolie iderēbās. Avy hoskas lue brōzi.
- “Throw away your slave name. Choose the name your parents gave you, or any other. A name that gives you pride.”
Then…this. Man alive! Who the hell is Jacob Anderson?! And I mean that in the best possible way. I mean, he may have messed up one vowel somewhere in this long, long speech, but if he did, I didn’t hear it. Jacob Anderson is now and forever afterwards my hero. If you didn’t get a chance to see this scene, watch it—by any means necessary. Seriously. This performance? Un. Be. LIEVABLE. I want to bake this guy a cake—or wash his car—whatever! I’ll drive him to the airport for the rest of his life for this performance. If I could, I’d have him do recordings for me, because I think he’s better than me. He may as well have created this language. I want him to teach me how to speak this language. I want to make this speech my ringtone—in fact, I’m tempted to record the audio straight off HBO GO and upload it here… But, no. I’ll be good.
Here’s his line:
- “Torgo Nudho” hokas bezy. Sa me broji beri. Ji broji ez bezo sene stas qimbroto. Kuny iles ji broji meles esko mazedhas derari va buzdar. Y Torgo Nudho sa ji broji ez bezy eji tovi Daenerys Jelmazmo ji teptas ji derve.
- “‘Grey Worm’ gives this one pride. It is a lucky name. The name this one was born with was cursed. That was the name he had when he was taken as a slave. But Grey Worm is the name this one had the day Daenerys Stormborn set him free.”
And that sound you just heard? That’s Jacob Anderson dropping the mic. IT’S DONE! Bar just got raised. This is the new standard—for everything. To everyone in the future: You must be at least this cool to ride. This man’s got serious skills—and he’s like ten years younger than me! Where does he get the nerve to be that good?! How can he do that?! My mind boggles…
Next week my post may be a day or two late, as I’ll be in Austin, Texas for the Fifth Language Creation Conference. If you live nearby, please come and visit! It’ll be a great event with a host of incredible conlangers both presenting and in attendance. Loads of fun.
So, until Monday or Tuesday of next week, geros ilas!
Update: And just in case you didn’t see it, here he is: Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm. My hero.
It’s hard to compare episodes when you haven’t seen them in a while, but I think “And Now His Watch Is Ended” was easily one of the best of the series—certainly the best of the season. Some comments before getting to the language bits.
The story with Varys was an invention (him finding that sorcerer), but I liked it. As my wife said, it’s been evident in the show that he’s really good at getting information and managing tense social situations, but he’s never felt as threatening as he feels in the book—always a little bit softer. This is tangible evidence of his potential for malice.
And, good lord, my Tywin Lannister! I honestly can’t decide which I like best: Tywin from the books, or Tywin on the show. They’re appreciably different, and equally incredible. And this time his top highlight was a single word: Contribute. The thing I love about Tywin as a character is how intractable he is. Everyone manages to manipulate everyone else, and everybody makes mistakes, but no matter what he does, it was always the right decision—and it’s always everybody else that screws up. It would be monstrous to have him as a father—or really to have any dealings with him whatsoever—and I think that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable to watch him be so tyrannical—especially with those who get away with murder elsewhere in the series.
The dust up at Craster’s had both me and my wife running to the web, because neither of us remembered Jeor Mormont getting stabbed. And yet, there it was, just as in the books. The bits north of the wall almost remind me of a horror movie—where the Night’s Watch start out taking every precaution as they venture northward, and tiny almost insignificant mistakes end up seeing these guys drop dead one by one.
Oh, and Jack Gleeson had me cackling the whole time, with his awkward excitement at Margaery’s patronizing him. And looking like he’s never waved before! What an actor that guy is!
But anyway, there was quite a bit of Valyrian this episode, including our first High Valyrian of the series (outside of valar morghūlis and drakarys). It begins with a long speech by Kraznys that kind of gets cut up a bit as Missandei translates; I don’t know if you hear a lot of it. After the short exchange, Dany passes off Drogon and asks if it’s done. Missandei relays this:
- Pindas lu sa sir tida.
- “She asks if it is now done.”
Then Kraznys tells her that it is:
- Sa tida. Pelos ji qlony. J’aspo eza zya azantyr.
- “It is done. She holds the whip. The bitch has her army.”
And then thinks get messy.
So when I was originally reading the books, I kind of foresaw what happens next. First, I always imagined that the dragons would be bigger, and so shortly after she agrees to the deal, I thought, “You can give someone a dragon the way you can give them a lion.” Seriously, what’s he going to do? And it’s not like anyone alive has ever seen a dragon except those directly connected to Dany—and certainly no one other than her has ever managed to tame one. Just how did he think he was going to “own” it?
And then the Unsullied! I mean, sure, I guess he might think that she would honor their agreement, but if she has an 8,000 person trained army that’s 100% loyal to her and no one else has anything but guards…? It doesn’t take a military genius to calculate the possibilities here.
Anyway, even though I kind of saw that coming when I was reading the books, by now, I, of course, have read all the books, so I actually know what’s coming; it’s just a matter of how it will look on screen. There are a large number of folks that haven’t read the books and only know the story from the show—and I’ve been following their chatter on Twitter. A lot of people were upset with how callous and insulting Kraznys is—especially when he’s insulting the Dothraki. I’d love to know what it was like to watch this episode if you really didn’t know what was coming. That experience must’ve been incredible.
As it was, the scene was outstanding. I was delighted by Emilia Clarke’s performance. She really does speak High Valyrian like a natural. She missed a word or two here or there, but such will happen. Overall, I’m extraordinarily pleased. I’m going to try to go through all the lines, but it’s going to take me a bit (Final Draft doesn’t allow characters with macrons, so there are no long vowels in the script. I’ll have to do a bit of back and forth to get it right). Anyway, Dany gives the following orders to her new army:
- Dovaogēdys! Naejot memēbātās! Kelītīs!
- “Unsullied! Forward march! Halt!”
Of note here is that High Valyrian distinguishes between singular and plural commands. The commands here are plural, as Dovaogēdys is plural, rather than collective.
Then we have a little more Astapori Valyrian from Kraznys, who evidently hasn’t been paying much attention (#distractedbydragon):
- Ivetra j’aspo zya dyni do majis.
- “Tell the bitch her beast won’t come.”
And then Dany’s comeback:
- Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.
- “A dragon is not a slave.”
Of note here: the word for dragon, zaldrīzes. Also, buzdari is stressed on the second syllable even though the a is not long because this isn’t actually a High Valyrian word: It’s an Astapori word that Dany is using on purpose. The High Valyrian word for slave is dohaeriros (whose root you may recognize), but the word they use in Astapor is buzdar, which has its roots in Ghiscari. Dany uses his own word so he’ll know that she knows. (And, by the way, since it’s a borrowing, it goes into the borrowed declension class, which means its accusative ends in -i.) And, indeed, Kraznys now gets it:
- Ydra ji Valyre?
- “You speak Valyrian?”
And then we get, perhaps, my favorite Daenerys line:
- Nyke Daenerys Jelmāzmo hen Targārio Lentrot, hen Valyrio Uēpo ānogār iksan. Valyrio muño ēngos ñuhys issa.
- “I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria. Valyrian is my mother tongue.”
(Note: Those who were participating in a previous discussion may want to look at the precise spelling of Daenerys. I guess it has been decided! Forgot about that.)
Then comes quite a long bit of High Valyrian for Dany:
- Dovaogēdys! Āeksia ossēnātās, menti ossēnātās, qilōni pilos lue vale tolvie ossēnātās, yn riñe dōre ōdrikātās. Urnet luo buzdaro tolvio belma pryjātās!
- “Unsullied! Slay the masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who holds a whip, but harm no child. Strike the chains off every slave you see!”
And then we get Kraznys’ last lines of the show:
- Nyk skan jiva aeske! Zer sena! Zer sena!
- “I am your master! Kill her! Kill her!”
And then Dany says one of the High Valyrian words we already knew, and then comes the sweet, sweet carnage.
What a scene… My hat is off to Dave and Dan. They’ve done great work, and continue to raise the bar.
At the end, Dany says most of the following:
- Jevo glaesoti rȳ buzdari istiat. Kesy tubi jemot dāervi tepan.
- “You have been slaves all your life. Today I give you freedom.”
- Henujagon jaelza lua vala mirre henujagon kostas, se daorys ziry ōdrikilza. Jemot kivio ñuhe tepan.
- “Any man who wishes to leave may leave, and no one will harm him. I give you my word.”
- Yne sytivīlībilāt? Hae dāero valoti?
- “Will you fight for me? As free men?”
I don’t think I missed any long vowels above, but I may have (and if so, I’m sure we’ll get them sorted eventually).
I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did. It was an absolute joy to work on High Valyrian, and now that I’ve heard Emilia speak it, I can say that I’m really pleased with the results. I’m also greatly appreciative of the talents of Dan Hildebrand: the latest fallen soldier from Game of Thrones. When I was imagining Kraznys, I was imagining a coarse, revolting, unmannered oaf of a slave master. Dan did the exact opposite of this. His Kraznys is well-cultivated, and speaks with an easy almost callous casualness. It makes his insulting behavior that much more shocking, in my opinion. He seems like a guy who would do well in mixed company, so the fact that he can be so horribly insulting to someone standing right in front of him gives you a totally different picture of what it means to be a slave master in Astapor. He’s so powerful that he simply doesn’t need to care what anyone thinks of him, and it probably never occurs to him that anything he does could be wrong. You did a remarkable job, Dan, and I couldn’t be happier with the way you tackled Astapori Valyrian. Kirimvose!
So now there’s a good batch of High Valyrian (and Astapori Valyrian) material there to work with. When looking at High Valyrian—especially the sentences with relative clauses—bear in mind that, in most important respects, High Valyrian is head-final. Relative clauses are a bit tough—or backwards—for anyone speaking a Western language.
Four down and six to go! Plenty of Valyrian yet to come. Thanks for reading!
Duh-nuh, duh-nuh, duh-nuh, duh-nuh… THE BEAR AND THE MAIDEN FAIR! Duh-nuh, duh-nuh, duh-nuh, duh-nuh…
All right, I know I work on the show, and it’s outstanding, and I love everybody, and everything is just super 100% awesome, but…seriously, man, ki fin yeni with that outro music? That was one of the most discordant moments of television I’ve experienced in a long, long time. First a scene that must have absolutely shocked viewers unfamiliar with the books, and then cut to spring breeeeeeeeeaaaak! Definitely good for a laugh, though.
There were a lot of magnificent bits in 303. The chair scene was a wonderful bit of absurd theater (and I’ll take anything I can get with Tywin Lannister). If you didn’t see Hot Pie’s wonderful dire wolf confection, here you are:
The funeral in the beginning was genius (that would’ve been me shooting the arrows the first time, by the way. If I were any character in Game of Thrones, that is me all over). And despite what they think over at Winter Is Coming, I loved the scene with Pod, Bronn and Tyrion. Boy’s got game, son! If you can’t step to that, best step off, you feel me?
But I’d like to highlight one scene in particular that I thought was awesome: Stannis and Melisandre. Man! That shoulder’s so cold she got Stannis turning on the AC to warm up! Maybe it was just me, but I was mightily entertained by just how much she was obviously not into Stannis at all. Maybe Jorah has some company coming his way in the Friend Zone, because that was brutal. Reminded me of seventh grade. Very, very well played by Ms. van Houten!
Today we had some more Astapori Valyrian. It was a great scene and very well played—including by the new actor who played the fellow sitting next to Kraznys.
(Does anyone know his name—both the character and the actor? He’s just referred to as “Master Slaver” in my sides.) EDIT: The character is Greizhen mo Ullhor, and he’s portrayed by Clifford Barry. (Great job, Mr. Barry!) I could not follow precisely how things got broken up. For example, when Kraznys is going over exactly how many Unsullied he’d give Dany for her Dothraki, etc., it was written up as one long speech. That speech, though, was broken up a bit and delivered in bits here and there, rather than a monologue, so I’m not sure if there’s anything that got cut. Here are a few of the lines from the exchange, though (the ones I remember got in). This is a line from Missandei:
- Ebas pon sindigho uni.
- “She wants to buy them all.”
Now for a word I had fun inventing: the word for dragon (and, no, it’s not related to drakarys. I already roll my eyes enough at the “drak” in that word). Continuing Missandei:
- Ivetras sko o tebozlivas me zaldrize.
- “She says she will give you a dragon.”
And I don’t remember what of Kraznyz’ reply stayed in… I’ll have to watch it again on HBO Go. I do remember he got to say this:
- Ivetra zer ebi ji rovaja.
- “Tell her we want the biggest one.”
Yes, I had fun with this language. Ji rovaja is “the biggest (one)”, and if you know my sense of phonaesthetics, a word like that is like David Bowie wearing something like this:
Pure decadence. I shamelessly wallow in it.
It occurs to me that stress is not nearly as predictable in Astapori Valyrian… I should probably mark the non-predictable stresses, but that’d require some back-tracking. As a general note, though, commands are stressed word-finally (so ivetrá, for example).
Finally, this is Missandei’s last line:
- Pindas sko ji yn tebila, va me rudhy. Pindas sko gomila kizi sir.
- “She asks that you give me to her, as a present. She asks that you do this now.”
Above, for example, tebila and gomila are basically the same construction, but tebila has penultimate stress and gomila has antepenultimate stress. The latter is the odd one.
I’d like to close with a couple of comments. First, check out the transcription project undertaken by Mad Latinist over at his LiveJournal. I haven’t been able to do as much this season because of outside commitments (for example, I’m going to miss the Monday Dothraki chat again, but this should be the last one [well, until LCC5, for which I will probably miss the Dothraki chat yet again]). I feel like there’s going to be enough by the end of the season to put together a fair bit on both Valyrian variants, though—certainly enough to beef up a Wikipedia article, I think.
Second, there is something from the books I’d like to address directly, because I’m utterly baffled by the interpretation. The following excerpt comes from A Feast for Crows (note: this may be slightly spoilerly if you know the context; if you don’t, it should be fairly meaningless):
“What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years. [...] The dragons prove it.”
Many have taken this quote as evidence that High Valyrian is a language without grammatical gender (and for those who are as baffled by that interpretation as I was, I swear, it’s true! Go to the forums and ask around). This quote proves nothing of the kind.
First, what Maester Aemon is talking about here is not grammatical gender but biological gender. In our own world, there are animals that can actually change their gender from male to female, or vice versa (see, for example, the clownfish). Often this happens to aid reproduction. Presumably, dragons in the universe of Ice and Fire are the same—that is, dragons that are, at the moment, male or female, will switch to another gender if it’s required for some reason (this has yet to be revealed).
The part where language comes into this is that the prophecy referred to is originally delivered in High Valyrian, and it refers to a prince. The translation he’s talking about, though, is the translation to Common (i.e. English) which uses the word “prince”, which is male. The assumption, then, was that if that translation caused confusion, it’s because the High Valyrian word can refer to either gender, and, as a result, High Valyrian is genderless.
Not so. First, grammatical gender need not be tied to biological gender (and, indeed, High Valyrian’s genders are not). Second, think for a moment. English is a gender neutral language. We have gendered third person singular pronouns, but outside of that, English has no grammatical genders the way Spanish, French and Italian do. “Prince” is grammatically gender neutral. Semantically, though, it’s male, just as the words “man”, “bachelor”, “father” and “son” are. That these words exist says nothing about the grammatical gender system of English.
So, all this says about High Valyrian is that the word originally used in the prophecy that was translated as “prince” in Common (i.e. English) can refer to either gender (e.g. the way “scientist” can refer to either gender in English). Maester Aemon, here, is commenting on how the assumption, given the context, was that the one prophesied must be male, because this is something that is presumably common in Westeros society (kind of like it still is in ours. Take a random sampling of 100 people and see how many still first think of a man when they hear the word “scientist”)—but, crucially, that it need not be so. That is all this quote is evidence of; it says nothing whatever about the gender system of High Valyrian.
Okay, I should wrap this up. As one more final note, I like to keep it to Game of Thrones here, but if you have some time tonight (or tomorrow night, if you’re outside North America), see if you can tune into the series premiere of Defiance on Syfy at 9/8 Central. I’ve been working really hard for over a year on the series, and the finished product is something everyone involved is really proud of. I’d be delighted if folks would give it a chance, as I think it has a chance to be something really special.