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Chiftikh

That’s my nearest approximation of “quick hits”. A chiftikh is a word for a strike (with a blade) that we might describe as a “glancing blow” in English—a nick. Only a flesh wound.

A friend of mine—and one of the Old Guard conlangers—Barry Garcia has taken recently to conscripting (minus the conlanging), and this past week he wrote up a version of the numbers one through ten (and also one hundred) in Dothraki. Here’s what they look like:

Barry Garcia's Dothraki numerals 1-5.

That’s 1-5. Now for the rest:

Barry Garcia's Dothraki numerals 6-10 and 100.

The numeral glyphs above are from his own script, and the writing below is a transliterated form of the Dothraki words (i.e. at, akat, sen, etc.) The glyphs at the beginning and end are used to demarcate paragraphs or set off quotes. If I know my modern “literary” press publications right (Vintage, I’m looking at you), the English equivalent would be:

Since I introduced one at the beginning of this post, now might be as good a time as any to discuss sword fighting (or arakh fighting) terminology in Dothraki. While there are basic words like “to cut” and “to stab” in Dothraki, there are also a series of specific terms used for types of sword strikes one employs in a fight. They’re all derived in the same fashion from native animal terminology. Since we’ve already seen chiftikh, I’ll use that as my example.

A chiftikh is a weak or glancing blow with a sword—something that was intended to hit, but missed the mark (or, perhaps, was too weak to do much damage). It derives from the word chifti, which means “cricket”. To use it in a sentence, you use the verb ildat, “to strike”. The direct object, then, is the type of strike, rather than the one struck. To indicate the one who is struck, you include an allative object (optional), and if you wish to mention the weapon used, you can include an ablative object (also optional). Thus, if you wanted to say the equivalent of (I think this is the best way to word this in English), “I fetched him a glancing blow with my arakh”, you would say:

  • Anha ilde chiftikh maan arakhoon anni.

And there you have it. Below I’ll list the various ildo (i.e. “sword strikes”), along with the animal they’re associated with and their meaning:

Animal Term Ildo Meaning
chifti “cricket” chiftikh A weak hit or glancing blow.
gezri “snake” gezrikh A feint (a strike intended to throw the opponent off and disguise one’s true intent).
hlizif “bear” hlizifikh A wild but powerful strike (effective if it lands, but relatively inaccurate).
hrakkar “lion” hrakkarikh A quick, powerful and accurate strike.
kolver “eagle” kolverikh A straight sword thrust (middling and relatively uncommon).
ver “wolf” verikh A defensive strike intended to back an opponent off, but not necessarily to land.

As a framework, this isn’t intended to encompass swordsmanship (or arakhsmanship) in any way. These are just older terms that are intended to be employed in discussing a sword fight. They’re not meant to run the gamut of sword fighting terminology, or to dictate a particular style: they’re just there to make discussion move along a bit more easily.

And you may also notice that the word for “eagle” up there drew its inspiration from Stephen Colbert. I felt I needed a word for “eagle”, and in searching for a phonological form to fit it, I decided that Stephen Colbert embodied eagleness quite well. As his last name fit Dothraki’s syllable structure rather nicely, the word for “eagle” became kolber—or, at least, in the oldest form of the language. In modern Dothraki, it, of course, comes out as kolver, with the older b changing to v, but if the t can become silent on account of a historical sound change, I figure a change from a stop to a fricative shouldn’t be all that alarming.

I’m off to Chicago on Thursday! If I get any good pictures, I’ll be sure to post them here. Fonas chek!

Vekhikh Fishi

There’s a fun multilingual pun referring back to the last post. We had some good suggestions for “ice cream”—too many, in fact. I think there’s only one thing to be done: We need to start up several different Dothraki ice cream chains, each one using a different word for “ice cream”. One year later, we’ll see which word has caught on, and that will be our word for “ice cream”. As it is, though, I liked Qvaak’s suggestion of jeshokh lamekhi. As I see it, a jeshokh could be a word for any frozen treat, with jeshokh lamekhi being ice cream specifically. Good suggestions all! Makes me want to eat ice cream (though, of course, most things do. Mmmmm… Ice cream…).

Those who follow me on Twitter probably will have already seen some of what I’m about to share, but if you don’t, I wanted to spotlight a couple of cool things that have found their way onto the internet recently.

It started back on July 7th when @MattTheHuman_ tweeted this awesome photo of a tattoo of Shekh ma shieraki anni:

A tattoo of "Shekh ma shieraki anni" by @MattTheHuman_.

Click to enlarge.

That. Is. Awesome.

And the awesomeness continued when @NuhTarian tweeted this photo of his new tattoo (this one for shierak qiya, the Bleeding Star):

Photo of a tattoo by @NuTarian.

Click to enlarge.

And just yesterday I saw something really cool. @jamyjams_ posted the picture below of a couple of engraved bracelets she’d just received:

A picture of bracelets posted by @jamyjams_ to Twitter.

Click to enlarge.

Check those out! On the outside they say Shekh ma shieraki anni and Jalan atthirari anni, and then on the inside you see their translations in English. Apparently she got them from Etsy (see this tweet) from Lauren Elaine Designs (she does custom hand-stamped jewelry). Pretty cool! May have to get me one that says Hash yer laz tihi jin, hash yer dothrae drivolataan. Heh, heh…

Oh, man, and I just saw a couple new ones over on Tumblr—check it out!

Now, in the case of all the above, I didn’t actually come up with the phrases (i.e. I didn’t invent the phrase “my sun and stars”), but I did invent most of the words (George R. R. Martin gets credit for shierak and qiya). Having the language spoken on Game of Thrones has been pretty cool. But to think that someone actually tattooed those words onto their body… Wow. That, to me, is beyond incredible. It means a lot to know that someone would actually like the phrases in Dothraki enough to have them become an indelible part of their own body (after all, they very well could have gone with the English as is written in the books). You guys are awesome! If I ever get a chance to meet you in person, I’m going to buy you an ice cream (or a non-dairy equivalent, if you prefer).

If you happen to spot anything cool with some Dothraki on it somewhere out on the internet, let me know and I’ll throw it up here. The fan art inspired by Game of Thrones has been awesome to see.

Hajas, zhey eyak!

Update: Oh, duh. Right after I sent this I thought, “Oh, I should have included the word for ‘tattoo’ in Dothraki.” My head isn’t with me at present.

Tattoos are about as old as humans are, so I figured the Dothraki needed a word for it (though they also need a word for whatever kind of body art is used in the show. Those aren’tattoos, but what are they, exactly? Racing stripes?). The root for the various tattoo words is lir, with the word lir (inanimate noun) being the word for “tattoo”. To give someone a tattoo, you use the verb lirat (e.g. “He put a tattoo on me” would be Me lir anna). The image or symbol depicted in a tattoo is the lirikh; the one who gives a tattoo is the lirak; and all of one’s tattoos taken together is one’s lirisir (think of it like a “body of work” [pun intended if you thought it was funny]).

So, there you go! Now you can talk about your Dothraki tattoos in Dothraki. Fonas chek!

A Dothraki Alphabet…?

It is known that the Dothraki are illiterate, in that the language has no written form. That need not stop us from imagining what a Dothraki script might look like, though—after all, fun is fun!

I received an e-mail recently from Carlos Carrion Torres from Brazil who, along with his daughter Patricia, created a Dothraki alphabet. We’ve already seen Qvaak’s stylized rendition of the Dothraki romanization system, but that was intended for our use outside the fictional universe the Dothraki inhabit. Carlos and Patricia did something a little different. They imagined how the Dothraki might get a writing system within the Universe of Ice and Fire. Here’s the backstory.

Jorah Mormont, who comes from Westeros, obviously spends a lot of time with the Dothraki, and so he attempts to create a script to encode the language. Coming from a place where an alphabet is used (true, Common is just English, but even if Common were a separate language, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that they’d use an alphabetic writing system), Jorah would naturally think to create an alphabet, as opposed to some other type of writing system. One option when doing so is simply to take one’s own writing system and adapt it to fit the new language. As Carlos and Patricia have imagined it, though, Jorah decided to take the concept of an alphabet and create something new—something more suited to the Dothraki lifestyle. The result is pretty wild.

While it’d be tough to reproduce everything detailed in the document I received here on the page, you can download a detailed description of the entire system here, and you can read a full write-up of the system over at Omniglot. Though alphabetic, the script is better suited to Dothraki than the romanization, for example, because there are single characters assigned to each of the sounds I spell with digraphs (i.e. th, sh, zh, ch and kh). Plus, doubled vowels are spelled with a single character. The glyphs themselves are stylized to look (to my mind, at least) rather like sword slashes, and they’re based on the shapes of culturally-relevant objects. Here’s one example from the .pdf:

I’ve also got a sample phrase to show you. Below is the transliteration of Asshekhqoyi vezhvena! (punctuation included) into Carlos and Patricia’s script, which they call simply “Dothraki”:

Click to enlarge.

And while we’re on the subject of birthdays, check out this picture I got from a fan via e-mail. Apparently Carolyn is a big Game of Thrones fan, so they decide to wish her a Dothraki-style happy birthday on the cake:

A cake with "Asshekhqoyi vezhvena, zhey Carolyn!" written on it.

Click to enlarge.

Athdavrazar! That is tight! So, wherever you are, zhey Carolyn, asshekhqoyi vezhvena! Hope your birthday was not a dull affair. Hajas!

[Note: Just as a reminder, this writing system is not official. Officially, the Dothraki have no writing system, and won’t unless George R. R. Martin decides they should have one at some point in time and it’s created. I’m sharing this here as, essentially, fan art. And, of course, the existence of one unofficial system oughtn’t preclude anyone from creating more unofficial systems—after all, creating writing systems is a lot of fun!]

Hash Yer Ast Fin…?

The finale has come and gone, so I thought it might be fun to take a look back at my last Dothraki adventure from season 2. In addition to elucidating a key piece of dialogue from episode 210, it’ll also give you a glimpse into what it’s like to work as a conlang translator for a show like Game of Thrones.

As was mentioned in the last post, the final Dothraki line of season 2 is Jorah’s, and it’s shown below (with its on screen translation):

  • Mas ovray movekkhi moskay.
  • “Take all the gold and jewels.”

As those who’ve studied a bit of Dothraki probably realized, there’s not much tie between those words and that translation. In fact, one might say that none of those Dothraki words corresponds with any of the English words of the translation—and such a one would be correct. This is what happened.

At around 1:45 a.m. Pacific Time on October 10th, 2011 I was feeling sleepy, and was thinking about going to bed. This was unusual for me, because generally when I’m doing work for Game of Thrones, I go to sleep between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., as it’s not uncommon for me to get a translation request around 4:00. It’d been a few weeks since I’d done anything at all for the show, though, and I was, for all intents and purposes, done, so on this night in particular I thought to myself, “You know what? I’m going to switch to a more normal schedule: In bed at 2:00 a.m., up at 10:00 a.m.” Pleased with my decision, I shut my computer and everything down and went to sleep at 2:00 a.m.

As luck (or fate) would have it, I received an e-mail from Bryan Cogman at 4:03 a.m. entitled “EMERGENCY Dothraki line!!!” He said they needed the Dothraki for “Take all the gold and jewels”, and they needed it in a couple hours. I ended up reading this e-mail at around 1:00 p.m. on the 10th, because I way overslept (you have reasonable control over the time you go to sleep; not necessarily over the time you wake up). Even though it was late, I quickly translated the line and sent it off to Bryan at 1:09 p.m. The line translated into Dothraki was:

  • Fichas ei hoshor ma dan.
  • “Take all the gold and jewels.”

Unfortunately, it did not, in fact, make it in time. Bryan wasn’t on set that day, but he said he thought they did it in Common—which is unfortunate (the more Dothraki, the better!), but what could I do? So I chalked that one up to bad luck, and promptly forgot about it.

Until May 29th, 2012.

At 2:17 p.m. I got an e-mail from the Game of Thrones postproduction supervisor asking for the Dothraki version of “Take all the gold and jewels”. While I think it’s primarily for foreign language versions of the show, they use the actual Dothraki lines for something in post (you never see them in the standard English broadcast without subtitles), and every so often something gets in that they can’t find the Dothraki translation for, so they ask me. In this case, I was a bit baffled, as I could’ve sworn my Dothraki translation for that line didn’t make it in. I sent her the correct translation above and asked if it sounded right, and she said that it sounded a “little different”. She then e-mailed me a recording of the line:

…and I’m all like, Ki fin yeni?! Then I realized what happened: They wanted Dothraki, so they had Iain Glen ad-lib. Now, we’ve seen some ad-libbing before, but never a sentence this long—and never for a sentence for which an actual Dothraki translation was already available (translating the above required no new Dothraki words). So I asked if I could have a day (bearing in mind that this episode would be airing in five days), and set to work.

My narrow transcription of what Iain Glen says is something like this (treating it like one big word with several main stresses):

[ma.so.ˈbɾaj.mo.ˈvɛ.hi.mɔs.ˈkaj]

There’s no [b] in Dothraki, of course, but all that means is it makes no difference if you pronounce something with [v], [b] or even [β]—and there’s probably a fair amount of dialectal/idiolectal variation. So the fact that there is (to my ear) a clear [b] in his ad-lib is no big deal. No, the thing that tripped me up was the presence of two [aj] diphthongs. As both are stressed, my immediate reaction was: participle. Participles in Dothraki aren’t common, but they’re possible—and most end in -ay (or [aj]). With that in mind, then, I could break down the stream into at least the following:

[ma.so.ˈbɾaj mo.ˈve.hi.mos.ˈkaj]

At this point, it was a matter of chopping up words even further. Both the participle syllables could not stand on their own (if they did, they would need to come from the words brat/bralat or kat/kalat, respectively, both of which would end up violating Dothraki minimal word constraints in one tense or another), which means that they’d need to borrow at least one mora from a previous syllable. Seeing as participles most comfortably modify nouns—and seeing as the word ma is already a word in Dothraki and isn’t a noun—I decided the first chunk absolutely had to be mas ovray. As for the second, there’s that other stress to contend with. Having non-initial stress on an open syllable is nearly impossible in Dothraki, and seeing as -i is a ready verb ending, I decided to make the last participle moskay, leaving the middle part [mo.ˈve.hi].

Something that helped me out tremendously was Iain Glen’s character being non-Dothraki. One thing that non-native speakers will do is mispronounce tough consonants. So if you have a verb that’s [mo.ˈve.hi], there almost certainly must be a geminate. And since a geminate velar fricative would likely be flubbed by a non-native speaker, I decided that this verb would somehow relate to vekhat: a verb so semantically empty I could make it mean just about anything.

Once I had the words chopped, I had an even greater challenge: To create something grammatical that would have the same intended meaning as “Take all the gold and jewels”. The presence of participles made this more difficult than it might have otherwise been, but I saw this as an opportunity to fill in some gaps in Dothraki’s vocabulary.

For the first chunk, I decided that mas should refer to valuables, and ovray should mean something like “remaining”. Since I already had a word for “remain”, though, I poked around to see what I didn’t have. While I had something meaning “slack” (as in a rope), I didn’t have a word for something that was not attached, or not fastened down. As a result, ovray came to mean “loose” or “moveable”—and (especially) “portable”. I was able to use the same stem to derive the word ovrakh, which means (depending on context) “opening”, “availability”, “opportunity”, “vulnerability”, “weakness” or “weak point”. From mas I created a word meaning “to decorate” (ammasat).

The word movekkhat is a strange one, I’ll admit. It derives from the phrase nemo vekkhat. The latter verb is no longer really used by itself and the product of an old derivational strategy that you see in verbs here and there (e.g. lorat “to wink” ~ lorrat “to blink”), and it’s used to mean “to be intended for” or “to be for”. Vekhat means “to exist”, so vekkhat kind of extends that meaning. Since it was conventionally used with a reflexive subject, the mo of nemo glommed on to the front of the verb, until it eventually became a new verb (not an unusual process).

As for the last word, moskay, it means “to load” (a moska is a pack or sack used for transporting goods). Here is where I, yet again, took advantage of Jorah’s non-native intuition. To say something like “Everything not nailed to the floor is intended for transporting”, you’d actually use the infinitive. So, properly, the translation ought to be:

  • Mas ovray movekkhi moskat.
  • “The loose valuables are for loading.”

You could also use athmoskar, I guess, but moskat makes more sense to me. Jorah, though, comes from a language (Common, a.k.a. English) that makes much greater use of its participles—and also has a form that doubles as a gerund (e.g. “running” is a participle and a gerund). So it’s understandable if instead of using the correct infinitive he uses the participle.

And that’s how the last line of the season went from 100% ad-lib to official Dothraki. I sent off the above translation the next day, and it became canon. If he ever happens across this post, let me give a big thank you to Iain Glen for coming up with some phonologically plausible Dothraki! That’s not as easy to do as one might think.

Yet again I’ve written too much, so I’ll close this up. Thanks for reading! There’ll be more Dothraki tidbits throughout the offseason.

Halahasar Tolorri

Another week, another episode of Game of Thrones—this week, “Garden of Bones”, which I rendered as Halahasar Tolorri. Yeah…not much we can do with “garden”. Can you imagine! Drogo out with his visor on, water bucket in hand, tending his garden… “Daffodils coming in well this year. Me nem nesa.” Dothraki wouldn’t even have time to set up a vegetable garden with the way they move from place to place. So until there’s a language to borrow a word for “garden” from, halahasar it is.

The mystery is solved regarding the missing Dothraki from Episode 3: About half went to Episode 2, and about another half went to yesterday’s episode. When I say “about”, though, I do mean “about”, as some of the lines didn’t make the cut—including (and I’m totally bummed about this) the line featuring Hrakkar’s word. Sorry!

Oh, but wait! I take that back. I’m looking back at the scripts, and thought what I’d translated was for Episode 4, it’s clear that the action that’s going on takes place after the action in tonight’s episode, so perhaps it will show up in the coming weeks! We’ll have to wait and see. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t (and if it does, of course).

So, yeah, “Garden of Bones”… Hard to watch, no? I mean, there was some heavy graddakh in this episode. I will say this, though: That scene with the rat and the bucket could have been worse. How you might ask, trepidatiously? Let’s just say that they could have attached the bucket to something other than his stomach, and leave it at that (or if you don’t want to leave it at that, get a hold of this novel, which I don’t recommend [because it simply wasn’t very good (nice intro, though)]). But, hey! Didn’t Qarth look good? (Why would she want to leave…?)

Before getting to the Dothraki, I wanted to note that:

  • That scene between Renly and Stannis was brilliant.
  • Harrenhal looked stunningly hideous.
  • The scene with Melisandre and the shadow baby looked exactly as I envisioned it in my head. Exactly!

What an extraordinary job D&D are doing (and kudos to Vanessa Taylor, the writer of the episode)! Glad to be along for the ride.

The Dothraki in today’s episode was originally written for Episode 3, as I mentioned, but Dany’s story got shifted a bit, so here we are. I watched today’s episode with the folks at Streamin’ Garage, so I wasn’t prepped to follow the Dothraki with my script materials. As a result, there might have been less Dothraki in the episode than I’m giving here (i.e. some of these lines may have been converted to English). We’ll see!

In the opening, we see Jhogo-usurper Kovarro riding in on a brand new horse. Dany remarks on this fact:

  • Jin vos sajo yeri.
  • “This is not your horse.”

Kovarro responds:

  • Me nem azh anhaan ki Senthisiri—jin Fozaki Qarthoon.
  • “It was given to me by the Thirteen—the Elders of Qarth.”

Senthi is “thirteen”, so Senthisir, I reasoned, would be “the Thirteen” (made sense to do a direct translation since we hear it that way in the book). We also see the deemphatic structure used in Dothraki, where extra information is deliberately pushed to the end and introduced with jin. So the last three words don’t translate to “these Elders of Qarth”, but just “the Elders of Qarth”.

Dany responds with, Zhey Qarth? (a kind of echo question, hence the lack of hash), and Kovarro responds:

  • Sen asshekhi tithaan, qisi havazzhifi.
  • “Three days to the east, on the sea.”

Now here’s the part I can’t remember. I have these lines translated and sent them off, but I can’t remember if they were said in English or Dothraki… Funny how that happens. I had a similar experience when I was learning American Sign Language, and when I’d get home from class, I’d remember the class being loud, and remember signed instructions as if I’d heard them, even though everything was purely visual… The brain is funny that way. Anyway, Dany asks of Kovarro:

  • Hash mori vazhi kishaan emralat?
  • “Will they let us in?”

The main verb is the future non-first person plural of azhat, which means “to give”. It’s used in jussive contexts, and also in granting permission (sorry, the jussive is actually a different construction. Thanks, Esploranto!), as here. The literal translation is, “Will they give us to enter?” Kovarro responds:

  • Mori astish memori nem achomoe hash mori viddee Mayes Zhavvorsi.
  • “They said they would be honored to receive the Mother of Dragons.”

And come to think of it, I do remember this in Dothraki. We see a truly irregular word in mayes, the accusative of mai, which means “mother”. Then we have this word iddelat. Those who know some of the basic verbs may be able to guess that this is the causative form of indelat, which means “to drink”. Basically, this word is to “drink” as “feed” is to “eat”. In Dothraki, though, what the verb means is “to welcome”. To offer someone fresh water (especially for the horses) is to welcome them, and so iddelat means “to welcome”.

That brings us to the end of the Dothraki scenes in Episode 4, and into the magnificent city of Qarth! I’ve seen a tiny bit of Episode 5, and I’m looking forward to it.

Also, as I mentioned briefly above, last night I was on the live streaming show Stupid For Game of Thrones (that’s their YouTube page; their Facebook page is here), hosted by Sarah Penna and Bob Jennings. If you missed it, you can see the whole thing on YouTube here. It was fun, and we even got a question from ingsve, but I totally didn’t recognize it even though I’d seen it before! I also totally messed up the pronunciation of nhizo, the word for “raven” (I pronounced it as nhizho). In my defense, while I have slept in the past 72 hours, I spent every waking minute until 10 p.m. last night working. My brain is fried.

Oh, and just in case any of the Stupid For Game of Thrones folks are reading this, I think I am going to have to come up with a word for Jonathas. It looks like the imperative of the verb zhonathat. That doesn’t mean anything yet, but when I need a verb next, I think that’s destined to be a verb; I really like the sound of it. I’ll note it here if I come up with something for it.

Oh, and looking at that screenshot, I now know why my barber calls me “Elvis” whenever I come in. I think it’s about time for me to pay my respects again… I’ll have to find some sort of battle to lose, though. Anyone want to take me on in bowling? I’m straight-up terrible at it.

Dothras chek!

Me Reki Driva Laz Vo Drivoo Avvos

That was not an easy one to translate (and for ingsve: I used me there so that reki wasn’t stranded; I’m ambivalent as to whether to stick with reki, or jump to animate with rek). But no more of that: We have a lot to work to do! Episode 3 of the second season is in the books, so let’s jump right into all that Dothraki dialogue!

Oh, wait. Who wrote that episode? Oh, yeah: Bryan Cogman. What’s that mean? No Dothraki.

Heh, heh. I’m sure it’s just happenstance, but for the second year in a row, Bryan’s episode doesn’t have any Dothraki in it. That guy’s all right, though—a real rhaek—so I must give him a pass. (More on that later.)

If I may talk about the episode a bit, I think I’ll join the chorus in saying the whole bit with Theon was great! When you read the books, there’s this sense of disorientation you get with certain characters (and I’m sure this was done on purpose) when GRRM takes a non-point of view character and turns them into a point of view character. This happened with me with Theon—kind of like, “Who is this guy?!” The way Theon was developed in the show, though, you can see hints of the treachery coming early, but I think it’s fantastic to see him struggling—personally—with the decision he’s making to turn his back on Robb. It was a good overall choice, and the scenes in this episode were wonderfully written. Excellent job, Bryan!

Now let me detract from the chorus in talking about Shae (I’m looking squarely at you, WinterIsComing.net). Honestly, hearing all this talk about how Shae is nothing like the books, I feel like Toph watching The Boy in the Iceberg. The show nails Shae. Here’s what WiC has to say about Shae:

I think out of all the TV show versions of characters, Shae has suffered the most. In the books she didn’t come off nearly this unlikable. I don’t really get why Tyrion is risking everything by having her around. In the book, Shae came off as sweet and totally in love with Tyrion, so it made sense for Tyrion to want her around. But on the show, you don’t see that sweetness nor does she have any chemistry with Tyrion. At this point, I’m ready to say that the Shae character has been botched.

Not nearly as unlikable? This is the prostitute that (spoilers) and (spoilers), and then when Tyrion confronts her (more spoilers)? We reading the same book series? Shae doesn’t come off as sweet: She comes off as a whore who’s playing her part very well. And by the time she gets to King’s Landing, the only thing we ever hear from Shae is, “I’m bored!”, “I want more jewelry!”, “I don’t want to be a handmaiden!” Whine, whine, whine. That’s all she does!

Now the question of why Tyrion wants her around can be asked not only of the show, but of the book, as well. In fact, I’d say that’s rather a central question—one of the more important questions to ponder when it comes to understanding Tyrion’s character. Just why does he want her around? Why does he keep making all these sacrifices for her? Why does he bend over backwards to accomodate her when (and let me italicize this to emphasize it) all she does is get in the way and screw up his otherwise brilliant plans?! No, they’ve done well with Shae—mark my words. Once her arc has played out, I say we will look back and say, “Good show, writers.”

Anyway, since there was no Dothraki in this episode, I thought I’d use this space to respond to some of the requests I’ve gotten in the past week. Shae-enthusiast WiCnet asked on Twitter:

Is there a Dothraki equivalent to “rest in peace”?

The answer when they asked was “no”, but that really got me thinking. If there was an equivalent (whether uttered sincerely or in a threatening manner), what would it be?

As we’ve seen, the preferred method of corpse disposal for the Dothraki is a ritual cremation on a funeral pyre. The Dothraki believe that when they die, their souls join the great Khalasar in the sky led by Vezhof, the Great Horse God. The stars are the fiery khalasar of Vezhof, and it’s a Dothrak’s greatest wish to join the herd. Given the method of cremation, it’s reasonable (not set in stone, mind, but reasonable) to assume that they believe this allows the spirit to transcend the terrestrial plane and reach the heavens (the body is broken up and becomes lighter—transformed into ash—and the winds take the remains and swirl them upwards).

Given that state of affairs, it’s possible that the following phrase might actually serve:

  • Vod chafaan.
  • “Dust in the wind.”

Or, more literally, “dust to the wind”, but ha! How about that! Our old friend from the Kansas song enjoys a new life with a different meaning. In the song, the phrase is meant to be kind of a downer (nothing lasts forever, so no use attaching meaning to anything, for “all we are is dust in the wind”, emo tear, etc.), but this phrase is rather hopeful—more like “May you become dust in the wind, that you may join the Great Horse God’s fiery khalasar in the sky.” I like it!

In our last post, John Erickson asked for some more Mortal Kombat translations. Since I don’t think it’s showed up anywhere yet, the word for “scorpion” is shiro (animate noun). But more to the point:

  • Annakhos mae!
  • “Finish him!”

Annakhat is “to stop” and nakholat is “to finish” (intransitive), so annakholat I think gives the sense of it (more like “Put an end to him!” as opposed to “Stop him!”).

Next, if I may, I’d like to tie the current translation back into what we were talking about when we started. I’ll kid around about Bryan cutting all my juicy episode 3 Dothraki lines (I translated the entire scene between Renly and Loras into Dothraki! Why didn’t you use it?! They’re secretly fluent Dothraki speakers! It makes sense, dammit!), but really, I can’t say enough about this guy. From the beginning, he’s been the one working directly with me as I’ve been translating stuff for Game of Thrones, and has been the go-between while, at the same time, he’s been doing just about everything else. Those who watch the show will know he wrote episode 4 from the first season and episode 3 this season, but he’s also the keeper of the lore (making sure everything on screen makes sense with everything that’s come before and jives with books), he’s my “Dothraki wrangler”, he wrote an entire book—he pretty much does everything. And, on top of that, he’s an all-around good guy—and a husband and father.

So for quite a while, I’ve wanted to give Bryan a Dothraki word, but, of course, his first name is just about as non-Dothraki as you get, and his second is odd-looking, at least—until I remembered the suffix -men, which is kind of like “-less”, in English. I cogitated for a bit, and I came up with something good.

To get things started, we need a noun, so I came up with koge. Koge is an inanimate noun of class B, and it means something like “nick” or “blemish” or “imperfection” or “flaw”. As a class B noun, this one happens to end, phonologically, in a consonant (the only reason the e is there is because words can’t end in g in Dothraki). That means when you add the suffix -men to it, you disregard the final -e, and you get: kogmen “flawless”. And there we have Bryan’s word! Hajas!

Now back to our translation, if kogmen is “flawless”, then…

  • Iffi kogmen.
  • “Flawless victory.”

ATHADDRIVAR!

Thanks for stopping by! If my birds haven’t betrayed me, there should be some Dothraki for us next Sunday. Fonas chek!