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Lei Harenhaloon

I’m watching the Clipper game right now, and I’m not happy. Going to write this to take my mind off things.

Yesterday’s episode, “The Ghost of Harrenhal”, was a bit easier to watch than last week’s. Or, at least if you’re not a fan of Renly who wasn’t familiar with the books. If you are, well… Props to the fallen. Big ups to Gethin Anthony for portraying a Renly Baratheon that I think all of us were really coming to like. For myself, I could really see him as the likable character he’s supposed to be in the books. I didn’t see that so much in the books. Gethin Anthony did a fantastic job, and he will be sorely missed.

Let me step out for a minute to say that I just saw one of the most ridiculous comebacks I have ever seen. I could see the Clippers maybe making a run. But winning that game? Are you kidding me?! Unbelievable. Memphis is not going to enjoy looking at the film of this one!

But yeah, back to Game of Thrones. I like Jaqen H’ghar. I like Brienne and Cat. I like Pyat Pree. And I like Dany teaching her little dragon how to eat. More of that please!

But before getting into Dany’s scenes, a quick note about the translation of the title. There are a couple of ways to do “The Ghost of Harrenhal”, and I decided on the ablative for two reasons—first, it could be “The Ghost From Harrenhal”, which gives a bit more of a locative feel than the genitive would, and also because it makes it sound like Harrenhal is an entity, and that the ghost is a part of its body. I kind of like that, so I went with the ablative over the genitive.

And, of course, the word for “ghost”, lei, got its form from the fabulous Leigh Bardugo, whose debut novel Shadow and Bone is coming out this June (look out for it!).

And since we’re talking shout-outs, let’s jump right into the Dothraki dialogue for Episode 5. We open on a scene with Dany and Doreah giving food to my good friend and trusted advisor Bitey, shown below:

Drogon roasting his meat.

Irri is a bit miffed by Dany saying how much Drogon loves Doreah, so she points out how she’s been fixing up her native Dothraki garments. First Irri says:

  • Anha soqe akka jin sacchey essheyi.
  • “I rewove this part of the top.”

We have, I believe, a new word in soqat, “to weave”, and following it up with akka renders “to reweave”. The word saccheya (seen above in the accusative) derives from the root sach, which gives us words for “half” (sachi, class B) and “to divide” (sachat). With the part-to-whole morphology, you get kind of a part of a half (literally), which becomes a very general word for a part or a piece of something. You’d use the same word (saccheya) for a piece of pizza, a piece of pie, a part of a story—or, if the Dothraki ever developed mathematics, for a word for “fraction”. Then the word essheya (above in the genitive) is formed using the same pattern off of the root she, which is a general locative preposition that most commonly means “on” or “on top of”.

After this, we get to the sentence I was referring to last week featuring Hrakkar’s word! Here it is:

  • Qisi tim, anha arrisse vemishikh jinoon akka.
  • “And I fixed the heel on this one.”

Literally, though, that begins with “Regarding the boot(s)”. So there you go, Hrakkar! A Dothraki word based on your name made it onto TV. Thanks for all the help at WorldCon (which, by the way, it currently looks like I will be returning to this year. I’ll likely have more details later). In fact I had to kind of throw that in, because the line was rewritten. Originally it had the word “boot” in the line, but all that remained was “heel”, so I kind of shoehorned (if you’ll forgive the pun) the word “boot” back into the line, and it made the cut. Hoorah!

The word for “heel” is kind of fun. It starts with vem, a word that means either “elbow” or “knee”, depending on contexts. From that we get vemish, which means “heel” (both of the foot and the hand [the part you hit the board with if you’re doing a palm strike]), and then from that we get vemishikh, which is kind of like “artificial heel”, or, specifically, the heel of a boot or shoe (and this one just refers to the footwear, really, since gloves don’t have an equivalent part that’s equally important).

Later when Dany mentions Drogo’s name, Irri offers up this short prayer/saying (I like the Dothraki term asto for this):

  • Me dothralates she Rhaeshi Ajjalani ayyeyaan.
  • “May he ride through the Night Lands forever.”

Last week we got caught up talking about the jussive because I confused the terminology, but the use of dothralates above is a true jussive (used optatively here).

As we shift scenes, Dany’s out in the courtyard talking and out of the corner of her she sees her Dothraki up to no good. We don’t really hear what they’re saying, but what Jorah says as Dany walks up is:

  • Chaki, chaki. Khaleesi jada. Me vakkelena jin.
  • “Quiet, quiet. The khaleesi is coming. She’ll decide this.”
  • Then we have a bit of rapid-fire discussion between Dany, Jorah, Kovarro and Malakko. After Jorah explains the argument, Kovarro adds (regarding that boss peacock statue):

    • che ivvisaki mae. Disisse.
    • “Or melt it. Very simple.”

    Dany responds:

    • Kisha nevaki mae! Yer laz vos vefenari mae, vos tavi mae, vos ivvisi mae.
    • “We are his guests! You can’t pry it or chop it or melt it.”

    The vos, you can see, is required since the verb has a second person subject, and the positive and negative conjugations are identical. Kovarro objects:

    • Vosecchi, zhey khaleesi! Kisha vayoki athezaraan kishi.
    • “Of course not, khaleesi! We will wait until we leave.”

    Literally the second bit is, “We will await our departure”. Dany responds:

    • Kash athezar kishi vos akka.
    • “Not even when we leave.”

    Or more literally, “During our departure, not even”. Kovarro, curious, asks:

    • Vos arrek? Kifindirgi?
    • “Not then? Why?”

    And then Dany says, at the very least, some of the following:

    • Hash idrik kishi vijazero kisha Athasaroon Virzetha hash yer zali zifichelat moon? Anha acharak vos alikh.
    • “Our host saved us from the Red Waste and you want to steal from him? I will hear no more.”

    Of this, well…Dany’s pronunciation of “alikh” was spot on! But I think everything after Athasaroon got cut off, and a stray kishi was inserted somewhere. So it goes.

    Overall, I thought the Dothraki scenes were pretty good! Any time I get to see a little dragon roasting a little bit of meat and eating thereof it’s a good day. (Plus I got to see the Clippers come back from an eleventy-billion point deficit to win.)

    As a final note, Justin commented on the last post asking:

    So, maybe this has been answered somewhere else, but how would you render “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die” in Dothraki? I can get the rest, I think, but the only word I see for “play” means playing a musical instrument, so it’s driving me crazy.

    Up to then I didn’t have a word for “to play” in the usual sense. As I commented, I did have a word for “to spar” or “to train” which is based on the word “to fight” (in fact, it’s a diminutive thereof). I decided it made sense to extend the meaning of that word (lajilat) to “play” in the sense of children playing, or playing a game. To play in general, then, is lajilat, and to play something, you’d use a preposition phrase headed by ki, which assigns the genitive case. So, to translate the phrase “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die”, I would do the following:

    • Hash yer lajie ki Vilajeroshi Adori, hash yer che najahi che drivoe.

    I decided to use the present tense here rather than the future tense to make it more of a “when…then” phrase as opposed to an “if…then” phrase. Somehow it seems like the present does a better job of that than the future.

    Halfway! Only five more episodes of season 2 of Game of Thrones. Been good so far! See you all next week.

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, 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.”


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

Rhaeshi Ajjalani

Busy day, yesterday! In the morning (or at least morning on the West Coast), CNN’s The Next List did a show on Dothraki in Game of Thrones. It was a half hour and featured interviews with Dave and Dan, Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), and Amrita Acharia (Irri).

Oh, and a couple of other things: Two videos from our very own Daenerys and Hrakkar speaking Dothraki! They were awesome! You guys are the best! Now that the episode has aired, maybe we can see about posting their videos here, so you can see them in full. Since we don’t have any thank yous in Dothraki: Zhey Hrakkar; zhey Khaleesi: Fichi sen vezhi drogikhoon anni. Anha, zhey Deviddo, azhak mora shafkea. Haji!

On to last night’s episode “The Night Lands”. I know the show is based on the books and sticks to them, but Peter Dinklage is taking over. That dude’s bringing it every night! I should say, though, that I also have a new favorite that I’m going to be watching for: Salladhor Saan. He’s pretty cool in the books, but I never paid him that much attention. Lucian Msamati’s portrayal of Saan, though, really breathes some life into the character. I look forward to seeing him more as the season progresses!

As for our fearless band of Dothraki, things are looking pretty bleak. Poor Dany gets some grisly news in the form of a painted horse riding with a decapitated head. Funny story about this scene. Periodically on Twitter I search “Dothraki” to see what people are tweeting, and last week I saw several people tweeting that there were no subtitles on episode 2. “What a terrible defect to have on a shipped DVD!” I thought, thinking that everyone was talking about episode 2 of season 1 on the DVD release.

That’s when I realized they were talking about yesterday’s episode. Before it aired. Geez, internet, piracy is one thing, but before the episode even airs?! Serves you right! I hope that was a feature, and not a bug, and that if any episodes get leaked before the air date in the future, none of the Dothraki is subtitled. (In fact, maybe we should translate all the dialogue into Dothraki and dub it. Hmm…)

That got me to thinking, though: What Dothraki? As I recalled, there wasn’t any in episode 2 of season 2. But, of course, scenes get moved around a bit during shooting, so I went back to my dialogue sheet and saw that one scene from episode 3 was moved to episode 2, and that was the scene we all saw. So, without further ado:

We open on Dany et al. sitting around miserable and dehydrated. Off in the distance we see a horse arriving. As the horse gets closer, we see it has no rider, and it’s been painted with red Dothraki paint (an invention of the show, I think, but recall that the paint for Drogo’s khalasar was blue). Jorah goes up to the horse and sees a bag hanging off the side. It contains a head and a severed braid. On seeing it, Irri bursts into tears, saying:

  • Mori atthasish oakah moon!
  • “They killed his soul!”

Quick sidebar. Remember the mysterious ad lib by Drogo in the very first episode of Game of Thrones last season? It’s not subtitled, but I did a bit of retconning and decided that what he said was:

  • Itte oakah!
  • “Test your might!”

Or something close to that (that translation just comes to mind from my old arcade days). The noun oakah I decided would be a word that refers to one’s own worth or ability—perhaps something like “mettle”, but treated almost like a physical body part (as if one’s spirit was corporeal). So saying something like this would seem appropriate as Drogo as watching to Dothraki fight.

Fast forward to today, and commenter RavenB over at one of the blog posts I did for The Next List has discovered the secret behind the ad libbed line by Jason Momoa! What he says is the following:

I’m Maori (indigenous New Zealander) and I noticed that the very first line Drogo speaks is “I te waka” which is the refrain from a very well-known Maori haka.

So, what does it mean? By itself, it could mean several things, but in context, it means “on the canoe”. The equivalent word in Hawaiian is wa‘a, which has the secondary meaning of a chant one does in praise of a chief’s canoe, and the whole thing would be i ke wa‘a (though I could’ve sworn that would be a ka word…). Anyway, it looks like they wanted Jason to say something, and they didn’t have anything else, so I’m guessing he used a line from the haka he did for his audition. Ha! Well, now Māori has worked its way into Dothraki—though, of course, the words were Dothrakified.

Back to our episode, I had a hard time writing down exactly what I meant by oakah, but I really liked the word, and wanted to use it. When I got this line, I was like, “Yes!” The word translated as “kill” is atthasat, which I used here in a kind of metaphysical sense. If Dothraki ride on into the Night Lands (Rhaeshi Ajjalani) when their body is burned, then not doing so is the equivalent of causing their oakah to fall from their horse—which, in Dothraki terms, is about as bad as bad gets. One can understand why Irri is broken up.

Dany tries to calm her:

  • Affa, affa. Mori laz vos atthi oakah vosecchi.
  • “Shh… They cannot kill his soul.”

Again, recall that an inalienable possessor does not need to be expressed if it’s understood in context. The word affa isn’t actually a word, but it’s old. Back when I was coming up with dialogue for the pilot (in fact, when I was applying), I came up with a bunch of horse commands, thinking they might enjoy some use in the series. Mostly they didn’t, but affa—a contentless expression used to calm a horse—seemed appropriate here. I imagine it’s something warriors would use with their horses, and also mothers with their children.

Next Irri has her longest line in the series since season 1:

  • Jin tish mori! Mori ogish ven mae ven rho. Mori avvirsosh khadoes moon. Me laz odothrae kimi mae she Rhaeshi Ajjalani avvos.
  • “They did! They butchered him like an animal. They did not burn his body. He can never join his ancestors in the Night Lands.”

In the first clause, you can see a bit of the old VSO word order of Dothraki popping up. It seemed like the best way to translate the emphatic in English. We also see word ogat being used in its original sense: to slaughter an animal. And we also see one of the words I coined based on the names of those who asked questions back during WorldCon! For three of those who really made my first WorldCon a great one, I made sure to coin words that I knew were going to be used in the upcoming season. As a result, kim became the word for “ancestor” specifically for this scene. San athchomari yeraan, zhey Kim Raymoure!

After this, Dany has another longish reply:

  • Affa. Kisha amariki vorsqoy ha maan. Majin anha astak yeraan asqoy, me-Rakharo adothrae kimi mae ajjalan.
  • “Shh. We will build him a funeral pyre. And I promise you, Rakharo will ride with his ancestors tonight.”

Marilat hasn’t been introduced yet, I think (“construct”), same with vorsqoyi, though that one’s an old one. (By the way, I’m not using interlinears here because Carsten’s plugin isn’t quite working the way I expected it to with this theme. I’m still testing it; give me a couple weeks.) Other than that, it should be pretty self-explanatory. More next week!

Before going, though, a recent commenter asked about getting some dog commands in Dothraki. I did a few, but I thought this might be fun for the main blog. So, if you want to train your dog using Dothraki (Dograki? Dothbarki? Barkraki? Dogbarki?), here are some commands:

  • Neva! “Sit!”
  • Vikovareras! “Stay!”
  • Asto! “Speak!”
  • Fichi! “Fetch!”
  • Chorki! “Roll!”
  • Zohhe! “Down!”
  • Yath! “Up!”
  • Sek! “Yes!”
  • Vos! “No!”
  • Jinne! “Here!”
  • Hazze! “There!”
  • Ajjin! “Now!”
  • Jadi! “Come!”
  • Anni! “Mine!”
  • Qora mae! “Seize him!”
  • Ostos! “Bite!”
  • Zoqwa! “Kiss!”
  • Akkovaras! “Stand up!”
  • Ayos! “Wait!”
  • Ifi! “Walk!”
  • Irvosi! “Trot!”
  • Nakhi! “Stop!”
  • Os! “Don’t move!”
  • Oho! “Be still!”
  • Navi! “Urinate!”
  • Vroz! “Slow!”
  • Dik! “Fast!”
  • Emras! “In(side)!”
  • Yomme! “Across!”
  • Saji! “On!”
  • Mel! “Bad!”
  • Mithri! “Rest!”
  • Nrisas! “Straight!”
  • Noti! “Turn!”
  • Sili! “Follow!
  • Vitihiras! “Watch!”

Whew! That’s a lot! I may add more to this if you need them, zhey kelly; let me know in the comments. I’ll definitely look forward to a video! If you get one, we’ll post it here. I tried to vary the command forms, bearing in mind that the prominent syllable is going to be the one the dog gets the best shot at hearing. Hopefully it won’t be too confusing for the dogs. Just how many words can a dog remember, anyway?

Until next week, fonas chek!

Update: It’s been pointed out that some of these words are just too long for a dog to learn. Here are some options for those words:

  • Vikovareras!Reri! “Stay!”
  • Akkovaras!Akko! “Stand up!”
  • Vitihiras!Hiri! “Watch!”

This isn’t a standard way of abbreviating in Dothraki, but if you want that dog to stay put, well, sacrifices need to be made. Thanks, E&L!

Shierak Qiya Jada

Indeed, season 2 (or series 2, depending on where you’re reading this from) is nearly upon us. This is a small announcement to let regular readers know that during the season I’m going to move away from the regular Dothraki qua Dothraki posts and write up responses to and commentaries on the episodes as we move through the second season (once it’s aired somewhere in the world, the spoiler curtain has lifted. Me nem nesa). Of course, since this is the Dothraki blog, I’ll be focusing on how a given episode relates to the Dothraki language and culture, and I’ll also discuss the Dothraki lines in each episode.

Before moving on, though, I’ve a bit of business to take care of. Last week I did an AMA over at Reddit (you can see the whole thing here), and redditor dopaminer asked the following:

Have you received requests from friends to make their names sound like the word for “awesome” or anything like that? (PS, if you still need to some up with a word for awesome, can it have the sound “rachel” in it?)

Of course, Dothraki has a word for “awesome” (vezhven), but I said I’d come up with something, and I have.

When it comes to flora and fauna vocabulary, I try to research what the Dothraki Sea might be like, but as you read through the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R. Martin’s always throwing wild cards in. I’ve tried to come up with words for all the animals that the Dothraki encounter, and a good percentage of those they would likely encounter (e.g. animals around Slaver’s Bay and surrounding environs). We’ve already seen (and, indeed, already had a word for) the mighty lion, hrakkar, but in A Dance with Dragons we were introduced to the city of Volantis, where there are two major political parties: The Elephants and the Tigers. We’d seen elephants before (or at least in cyvasse), but this was, to my knowledge, the first mention of tigers (or tiger cloaks, for that matter). As it seems only right that the Dothraki would come up with their own words for the mightiest of beasts, “tiger” is a good candidate for a new stem.

While most animate nouns that aren’t humans end in a vowel, there are a number of beast words that are disyllabic and end in a consonant—to wit:

  • hrakkar “lion”
  • noah “bull”
  • qlaseh “deer (archaic)”
  • hlizif “bear”
  • kolver “eagle”

And, since tigers are awesome, it seems only fitting to add a new one to the list:

  • rachel “tiger”

There you go, dopaminer! The word is, of course, stressed on the second syllable, and the vowels are different (and the consonants, a bit), but romanized, you can see the resemblance. And, hey, now we’ve got half of the Volantine political factions in Dothraki! Racheli Volanti. I like it. Now we just need “elephant”…

To everyone else, let the countdown begin! I’ve seen the first episode, and it was damn good. I think everyone will be pleased. Fonas chek!

(Oh, and regarding the featured image, I didn’t have any tiger pictures, so that’s, uh…a murloc. That’s close, right?)

Modern Terminology

I’m back home from Albuquerque, and finally getting back into the swing of things. I don’t have any pictures of me presenting (I was presenting), but here’s an awesome picture of me with Sean Endymion from the University of Texas, San Antonio. He’s got “Valar Morghulis” and “Valar Dohaeris” tattoed on his arms:

Me and Sean Endymion.

Pretty cool! Now let’s take a look at some of the words coined for modern implements.

As ingsve rightly pointed out, I did, in fact, coin something for “train” in the New York Times article (forgot!). The coinage I came up with was zhav taoka, which is “metallic lizard” or “metal lizard”. Looking at it now, though, I think gezri taoka, “metallic serpent”, makes more sense. Hrakkar, though, came up with some really cool possibilities:

  • vezhtawaki “metal stallion”
  • vezhshiqethi “iron stallion”

Those are pretty cool! I think over time, vezhshiqethi would simplify to vezzhiqethi, making it even more cohesive. Another option would be vezh taoka. I think any of those would work. The difference between using tawak with the genitive and taoka (simply an adjective) is that tawaki might suggest “real” instead of “metal”, since, as an adjective, tawak means “real” or “authentic” (though the -i on the end should make it clear that it’s not an adjective).

As Hrakkar pointed out, trains and cars probably aren’t dissimilar enough to merit separate coinages. Using rhaggat, as ingsve suggested, would probably be what would happen (after all, we got our word “car” pretty much the same way). However, I would like to suggest (in honor of both Bob Marley and Hrakkar’s awesome neologisms) hrakkarshiqethi: an iron lion! (Hey, even if it doesn’t work for a general word for “car”, it could certainly be a brand of car.)

For airplane, ingsve suggested rhaggat asavva, “sky cart”, on analogy with rhaggat eveth, “water cart” (which is the word for “ship”). Hrakkar, yet again, busted out some awesome ones:

  • zirtawaki “metal bird”
  • vezhasavva “sky stallion”
  • sajasavva “sky steed”

I love all of those. “Sky stallion” just sounds awesome. From the Dothraki perspective, though, I kind of like sajasavva better (makes it feel like the pilot is more in control).

We also had a suggestion for a Klingon spaceship in a pretty kickass (and lengthy!) comment from LoghaD. After all, if the main warship of the Klingon is the bird of prey, it would certainly make sense to translate it directly as zirqoyi. I like it! As for how “Klingon” would render in Dothraki, my guess would be khlingan (based on the breathiness of the original affricate, which I think would take precedence over the stop). This would mean that there would be a hard g sound, but I find that more likely than the velar nasal becoming alveolar.

As we jump to cellphone, things do become quite a bit more abstract. The first is ingsve’s long-range compound vekhikh astokhhezhahan, which I would bracket this way:

  • [ vekhikh [ [ [ astokh ] hezhah ] -an ] ]

If you can follow that, the word is actually a tripartite compound (and, by the way, the way ingsve wrote this might serve to answer one of loghaD’s questions from the last post), rather than a two-word compound plus another word, and means “thing for far-speech”. If this were a real compound, the word vekhikh adds practically nothing, as far as semantics goes, so it would likely drop out, leaving astokhhezhahan. By projecting, I could see that being reduced phonologically to astokhezhahan and then astokhezhaan and then astokhezhan—and maybe even further to tokhezhan. It’s not monosyllabic like “cell”, but it’s close!

Hrakkar’s suggestion would need a little work. If the intended meaning is “something that converses intended for one’s hand”, I’d probably retranslate it as “thing for hand-conversation”. The word for “conversation” is vasterikh, so “hand-conversation” would be vasterikhqora or maybe vasterikh qora (the difference being where the stress would land). That’d give us vekhikh vasterikh qoran, and then vasterikh qoran, and maybe vasterikhoran—and then after that, maybe rikhoran. That could work!

While we’re on phone, ingsve also came up with a word for smart phone, specifically: vekhikhdavrakhan, i.e. “a thing for apps”. This was based on an interview I did somewhere where they asked me what a Dothraki translation for “app” would be. I said that an app is a “useful thing”, which I translated as davrakhan. Somehow, though, that became the word for app (unofficially officially). So, when ingsve got to “computer”, he added the augmentative suffix to the word for smartphone: vekhikhdavrakhanof. This is rather something to ponder. After all, there’s no question that the computer came first, but it does rather seem like computers and smartphones are getting closer and closer to one another (especially for us Apple users). I’ll bet there are probably young kids (or kids not yet born yet) who think (or will think) of computers as big iPhones, rather than iPhones as small computers! Wild.

Hrakkar’s suggestion was dirgakhtawaki, which is a “metal thinker”. I think I might prefer dirgak taoka (or dirgakhtaoka), but I can see the former working.

For “e-mail” and “text”, there were calls for more words, and, indeed, that’s probably in order. Hrakkar suggested asathmovezari, “words of magic”. I think the adjective would work better there, giving us asmove, “magic words”. But something that would probably make this a lot easier is the word assokh, which means “message” (also means “instruction”; comes from the same root as ase, “command”). The question then becomes, though, is it important to distinguish between text message and e-mail? It is in our world (so you don’t waste time checking your texts if someone’s sent you an e-mail, and vice-versa), but it may be hard to distinguish without more specific vocabulary having to do with “writing”.

Thanks for the comments, though! I had a lot of fun reading through them. Look for this to become a regular feature on the blog. I’ll have to think up a title for it, though, so we know what we’re talking about… Any suggestions?

Fog Talking

The title for today’s post comes from the word athastokhdevishizar, which means “nonsense”, but which literally translates as “fog talking”. It was also used in the first Dothraki haiku submitted in response to last week’s post. As it happens, it was authored by ingsve, whose (at the time of writing) birthday it is! Happy birthday, ingsve! Here’s what he wrote:

Anha tokikof?
Anha dirgakof!

Which translates to (translating loosely):

I’m a big idiot?
I’m a deep thinker!

You can let me know how close I got to what you were thinking. Ordinarily yes/no questions are preceded by hash, but I think the lack of hash here works to make this kind of an echo question (e.g. “You’re nothing but a lazy daffodil!”, “I’m a lazy daffodil?!”).

Another of ingsve’s is his birthday-inspired haiku:

Kisha vazhaki
Chisen ma at halahis

Which is:

We will give
Thirty-one flowers
To the conlanger.

San athchomari, zhey ingsve! I’d coined the word lekhmove for “conlang” previously, but this is the first time I’d seen lekhmovek for “conlanger”. I like it!

I made one correction above: What was halahi in the original should be halahis, as it’s a plural direct object (and halah is an animate noun). And, since it’s his birthday (and I believe we’re the same age), here’s a haiku back, zhey ingsve:

Ma anha vazhak
Chisen ma at halahis

It’s funny. A lot of times it’s hard to fit large Dothraki words into the slender frame of a haiku, but in both of these, we had to not contract a word in order to get the right number of syllables.

One more of ingsve’s: An ambitious attempt to translate Robert Oppenheimer’s quoting of the Bhagavad Gita. Here’s what he came up with:

Ajjin anha ray
athdrivaroon, drozhak

For those unfamiliar, the quote is, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. If I were to translate the above, this is how I would translate it:

Now I was already
Death, killer
Of worlds.

In order to tackle this translation, one has to come to terms with the English, which, I think most native speakers would admit, is fanciful, at best. If one were to switch out “Death” for, say, “teacher”, one would probably say, “Now I’m a teacher”, or, perhaps, “Now I’ve become a teacher”. The use of “am” is reminiscent of an older form of English where people said things like, “Now I’m come” to mean “Now I’ve come” (if you want to learn more about it, look up unaccusative verb and prepare to have your mind melt). Dothraki doesn’t have anything like that (he said, sweeping under the rug material for potential future blog posts), though, so before one translates the quote, one has to reword it a bit.

It was Qvaak, I believe, who pointed out that I translated something similar for the LCC4 relay. In that text, I translated the line, “The crone turned into a wolf” as follows:

  • Yesi nemo ficho mehas venikh veri.
  • /crone REFL obtain therefor semblance-ACC wolf-GEN/
  • “The crone got unto her the semblance of a wolf.”

That could work, technically, but I get the sense that it would mean something more like, “I took on the semblance of Death”, or, “I turned into Death”, which I think kind of defeats the tone of the thing. It’s more direct as it is, and the translation should reflect that.

So if I had to translate it, I would probably just have it as (not trying to keep to the haiku form):

  • Ajjin anha Athdrivar: Ohharak rhaesheseri.

Perhaps one could say “Athdrivaraan” and cast it as the future tense. Depends on how you read it. Nice job, ingsve! Way to push the envelope.

Next, Qvaak did a series of seasonal haiku, which I’ll look at it inverse order. Let me know if I got these right. The first:

Hrazef vos govo.
Chaf ish atthasa okre,
Chiori memras.

The horses don’t mate.
The wind maybe fells the tents,
A woman therein.

I made a slight correction (typo: hrazhef for hrazef), but otherwise I think that’s about how it translates. Nice use of the adverbial preposition! Next:

Halah she sorfo;
Negwin nem eyyelie.
Dani vekh hazze.

A flower on the ground;
A stone is spotted.
A gem is there.

I have to admit this one sent me to my dictionary. I knew eyel was “rain”, but the verb eyyelilat is something that Qvaak coined for this poem. The verb eyelilat is a stative verb meaning “to be spotted” (like the ground after it’s begun to rain lightly). Qvaak causativized it to produce eyyelilat, which means “to spot” or “to put a spotted pattern on”—then he passivized it! Nice.

I was trying to figure out what the poem actually means, and what I can guess is that there’s a rock, and there’s actually a gem inside, which you can see sparkling? Reminds me this old thing. The meaning of the flower, though, escapes me.

Edit: If you take a look at Qvaak’s comment below, you’ll see that he meant “ford” when he used dani. “Ford”! I never thought I’d see another person use that word in a million years. The idea is to evoke spring rains and spring flooding.


Kash shekh vervena,
Kash hranna veltoroe;
Voji virzethi.

When the sun is violent
The grass yellows;
Red people.

Yet again, Qvaak coined a word, and it makes perfect sense. Veltor is the word for “yellow”, and veltorat means “to be yellow”, so, of course, veltorolat means “to yellow” or “to grow yellow”. Very nicely done! If only it would have fit the syllable count, I think vervenoe would’ve worked even better in place of vervena.

Now, as for “red people”, I have to ask: Did you mean “sunburned people”? If so, nice try! When I get around to it, there will probably be a different word for “sunburned”. (Virzethoe would also work well, though, again, it’d be one syllable too many.)

Edit: Qvaak intended “People are red” as the translation of voji virzethi, but either translation works.

Excellent haiku, you guys! But, of course, there can only be one “winner” (in the non-contest sense): Only one that can claim the mighty and fearsome Mawizzi Virzeth (the Red Rabbit). And here it is, the first from Qvaak’s seasonal series (and below that an audio file of me reading it):

Vorsa erina.
Ikh dozgosoon anni;
Ahesh sash qisi.

At first I didn’t even read it right, because I thought the verb in the first line was an adjective. But, indeed, it’s a verb. Here’s my translation:

Fire is kind.
Ashes from my enemies;
Fresh snow nearby.

Now that’s evocative! Nicely done! And for penning my favorite of the bunch, you win the “coveted” Mawizzi Virzeth:

The 2012 Red Rabbit Award presented to Qvaak.

This precious award comes with no physical prize. In fact, as the Dothraki don’t value money, it doesn’t even come with a virtual prize. It does, however, come with much respect. San athchomari, zhey Qvaak! And thanks to both Qvaak and ingsve for submitting haiku! I know specific grammatical information on Dothraki isn’t easy to come by even now, and the available lexicon is smaller than the total lexicon, but you took the plunge! And for that, I salute you.

In other news, if you haven’t seen it elsewhere, I’m going to be presenting on Dothraki at the Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association Conference next month. The conference is being held from February 8th to the 11th, and my talks will be during the day on the 9th, and in the evening on the 10th. The latter is open to the public. So, if you happen to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, stop on by! It’ll be lots of fun.

Update: Added audio of Qvaak’s poem.