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Notas Shekhaan…

majin zanissho varthasi irge yeri. That was the phrase I was asked to translate for a tattoo by Youyou. The French she gave me was Tourne toi vers le soleil et l’ombre sera derrière toi, which I translated as, “Turn yourself towards the sun and the shadows will be behind you” (I suppose it technically ought to be “and your shadow will be behind you”, but I interpreted it loosely). The translation into Dothraki was Notas shekhaan majin zanissho varthasi irge yeri, and Youyou recently sent me a picture of the completed tattoo, which you can see below:

A back tattoo with Dothraki

Click to enlarge.

Athdavrazar! Tremendous work!

I also wanted to share my Norwescon schedule. I first attended Norwescon two years ago, and I’m happy to be returning this year, where the guest of honor will be none other than George R. R. Martin. Consequently, this will likely be the biggest Norwescon in recent memory. Norwescon is in Seattle, and will be held April 2-5, which means that I won’t be at WonderCon this year (which is too bad, because it’s awfully convenient. I could almost walk there!). If you happen to be in the Seattle area and you’re interested in seeing me at Norwescon, you’ll have more than a dozen opportunities—literally. Check out this schedule (note: my re-printing of this schedule should not be taken as a personal endorsement of 24 hour clocks, of which I disapprove):

  1. Thu 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Cascade 3 & 4
    Creative Insults
    David J. Peterson (M), Marta Murvosh, S. A. Bolich, Pat MacEwen
  2. Thu 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Cascade 3 & 4
    Why Can’t They Get It Right?
    Matt Hammond (M), Bart Kemper, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Loretta McKibben, David J. Peterson
  3. Thu 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Cascade 2
    Speaking Amongst the Stars
    David J. Peterson (M), G. David Nordley, B. D. Kellmer, Dr. Ricky
  4. Fri 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Cascade 9
    How Are Games & Gamers Changing the World?
    Donna Prior (M), Elizabeth Sampat, David J. Peterson, Jonny Nero Action Hero, C0splay
  5. Fri 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Cascade 3 & 4
    Ask the Experts: Biology
    Dr. Misty Marshall (M), Alan Andrist, David J. Peterson, Stephanie Herman
  6. Fri 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Cascade 13
    The Languages of Game of Thrones
    David J. Peterson (M)
  7. Fri 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Cascade 12
    The Languages of Speculative Fiction
    Gregory Gadow (M), David J. Peterson, Kurt Cagle, Eva Phoenix, Nina Post
  8. Sat 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Cascade 1
    Reading: David J. Peterson (I’ll be doing a reading from Nina Post’s The Zaanics Deceit, for which I created the Væyne Zaanics language!)
    David J. Peterson (M)
  9. Sat 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Cascade 10
    SF & Fantasy Themes In Metal Music
    Lilith von Fraumench (M), David J. Peterson, Christian Lipski
  10. Sat 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Grand 2
    Autograph Session 2
    Jeff Sturgeon, Django Wexler, Randy Henderson, G. Willow Wilson, Kristi Charish, Frog Jones, Richard Hescox, Darragh Metzger, David J. Peterson, Esther Jones, Jeremy Zimmerman, John (J.A.) Pitts, Kevin Radthorne, Laura Anne Gilman, Michael G. Munz, Rhiannon Held, Leannan Sidhe, Steven Barnes, Tim McDaniel
  11. Sun 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Cascade 10
    Collaborative Writing
    Frog Jones (M), David J. Peterson, Nina Post, Steven Barnes, Esther Jones
  12. Sun 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Cascade 9
    Be Your Own Agent
    Kristi Charish (M), J. E. Ellis, Amy Raby, David J. Peterson
  13. Sun 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Cascade 3 & 4
    Alien Communication
    Eva Phoenix (M), G. David Nordley, David J. Peterson, Luna Lindsey, Sar Surmick

So…yeah. I’ll be busy. But that’s what I asked for. Load me up! I want my voice to be throaty and unrecognizable by Sunday! I want to be singing Johnny Cash!

In the interim, I’m going to be giving a talk at APOGEE in Pilani, India, in case you’ll be in the neighborhood, and I’ll also be heading to Nacogdoches, Texas to give a talk at Stephen F. Austin State University (that’ll be March 3rd). If you’re nearby, I hope to see you! Otherwise, I’m on Twitter, etc. World’s a small place.

Hey, guess what! Coming tomorrow, Game of Thrones season 4’s on DVD! And that means it’s just a couple of months until season 5! Eyelke jada!

Update: My schedule for Norwescon has been updated. No panels have been deleted or added and no times have changed, but I did them with a 12 hour (a.k.a. normal) clock, added room numbers, and changed some of the panelists.

Lirisir

Firesof athvezhvenari! Happy New Year! 2014 was a pretty swell year for Dothraki, as it saw the publication of Living Language Dothraki, the official introductory guide to the language, but onward we ride!

To start the new year off, I thought I’d go back and do a post I’ve been wanting to do for some time. A while back, Monserrat Vargas asked me for a translation of the famous Star Trek phrase “To boldly go where no man has gone before” into High Valyrian, as she intended to get it tattooed. I provided the translation here, and shortly thereafter, she got it tattooed—and sent me the pictures! Since I had her on the line, though, I decided to turn her new acquisition into an interview.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

You see, I, like the majority of Americans, do not have any tattoos. (A poll quoted here says about 23% of Americans have tattoos, as of 2010.) This is not something that’s likely to change, as I can’t imagine getting a tattoo, and my wife is opposed. Unlike the majority of people who actively do not want to get tattoos, though, I think tattoos are the absolute coolest things in the world. I have opinions about what makes a good tattoo, and how much is too much, for my aesthetic tastes, but in general, I find tattoos fascinating and, well, badass. Nothing’s tougher than a tattooed biceps.

Because of this fascination, I’m always curious as to why those with tattoos get them, why they chose the tattoos they chose, etc. In the case of Monserrat Vargas, the choice is doubly interesting—not merely because she decided to get a tattoo in High Valyrian, but because this was her very first tattoo! I’m not certain, but I think that may be a first, for my languages (as far as I know, everyone else who had something tattooed in one my languages already had other tattoos). To learn more about why she made this decision and what went on behind the scenes, I conducted an interview with Monserrat Vargas over e-mail, which is copied below (with pictures!). Enjoy!

Q: Is this your first tattoo? If so, why did you decide to get a tattoo? If not, why did you decide to get your first tattoo? (Feel free to go into the meaning, but I’m also curious why you thought a tattoo was the way to go.)

A: Yes, this was my very first tattoo. I’ve always known that I wanted tattoos. They do tend to get a bad rap because they’re so permanent and that’s an intimidating thought. But to me, they’ve always represented the wearer at their deepest—most honest—level. I wanted my tattoos to be a visual representation of who I am. However, I also wanted it to be subtle. Truly an art piece. Everyone chooses how best to express themselves—I chose tattoos! The decision to FINALLY get my first tattoo was made because I was about to embark on a new stage of my life. I was leaving my hometown of Los Angeles, California to move to Seattle, Washington. It felt right to get my first tattoo as a tribute to my hometown. It would be the ultimate reminder of family and friends!

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

[Note: I didn’t know you lived in LA! But now that you’re gone, I’m going to be in Seattle this April for Norwescon. We should meet up!]

Q: What’s your connection to Star Trek—and what’s your favorite instantiation of the series?

A: I’ve been a huge fan of Star Trek from a very young age. It inspired my love for the stars and most especially for the science-fiction genre. Of course I love TOS (Star Trek: The Original Series). That was how I discovered Star Trek and that’s a bond that can’t be matched. But, as sacrilegious as it may be to say, I especially loved Enterprise because I was old enough to catch the real time broadcasts as opposed to discovering it via re-runs. It was always such a thrill to be a part of their next, great, space adventure!

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Q: You kind of answered this already, but why this quote in particular? And then why around your ankle?

A: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” The quote that encompasses and defines Star Trek. This was a quote that followed me as I grew up. It became more than a symbol for the show—it became a value I chose to live by. It encouraged me to not do things just because they’ve always been expected and done. To genuinely consider new, and even scary, possibilities. It’s what gave me the courage to pack up and leave the home I’ve always known. The choice in placement… I’ll be answering that part of your question in question 7. ;)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Q: Who did the lettering? It’s gorgeous! Did you do it?

A: The lettering is intended to be Elvish from Lord of the Rings. I say “intended” because there are some slight modifications that needed to be made. When you get a tattoo you can’t just tell the artist, “I want this!” Certain alterations need to be made. What looks good on paper won’t necessarily translate well to skin. I researched heavily before I got my tattoo and I finished my journey at Ink Monkey Tattoo in Los Angeles (on the corner of Venice and Lincoln). I came across artist Juan Ramón Solano (goes by Ramón). He’s a magician when it comes to line work and lettering. When I saw his portfolio I knew I was in good hands.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Q: I’ve always been curious. A tattoo artist, in effect, has to be able to do every type of art—and well—in order to reproduce others’ drawings. And furthermore, they have to do it without making a mistake. So, like…how? How nervous are you of the tattoo artist making a mistake? Can you get your money back if they do make a mistake?

A: You’re putting a permanent piece of art on your body, of course you’re going to be scared that something’s going to go wrong! But you do your best to mitigate that fear beforehand. You REASEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. I can’t stress that enough! Do NOT go into some random beach tattoo parlour, do NOT make this choice when you’re inebriated. Do NOT make this choice unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure it’s what you want. If you interview with an artist and you’re not comfortable, don’t do it. There was an artist I interviewed with whose portfolio was promising and seemed capable—but their station was a mess! That immediately drew me away. There were establishments I didn’t even consider for more than a minute because the entire place was a mess. If you sense a tiny bit of unease, red flag that place and walk away.

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Click to enlarge.

When I walked into Ink Monkey it was immediately welcoming. The atmosphere was clean, professional, and fun. Ramón sat me down and we talked at great length about what I wanted and what options I had. We worked together on reworking the idea in my head into something that would complement me. He knew I was nervous so he thoroughly explained every part of the process and repeated himself as he began every step. He attended to my needs and helped keep me calm and happy. We build a bond of trust between artist and canvas.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

He actually did make a slight mistake! Sometimes no matter what you do—mistakes happen. But Ramón handled it like a pro! In the word nēdenkirī what he thought was an n was actually the . Ramón immediately realized his mistake—confirmed with me that it was a mistake—and set it right. He mixed an ink color that perfectly matched my skin tone and broke the line between the two letters. When he was done, you couldn’t even tell that there had ever been a mistake! When mistakes do happen, any reputable tattoo artist has methods in place to correct it and make sure you walk away absolutely thrilled with your decision. There are even tattoo artists whose portfolio consists of fixing the shoddy work of other (less talented) tattoo artists!

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Q: And, of course, the top question on the mind of anyone who’s never gotten a tattoo: On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most), how much did it hurt?

A: In regards to pain, that depends on the location of your tattoo. If you get it in a location with more fatty tissue or muscle to cushion you, it will hurt less. But if you get it somewhere where there’s very little to cushion the bone, then be prepared for it to sting! Since I got my tattoo on my ankle, I was in quite a bit of pain! The WORST bit was closer to the heel. I was handling it like a champ until he got to that part. Ultimately, it’s a needle piercing just underneath your skin. If you can’t handle a shot—then I’d rethink a tattoo. In answer to your question I started out with a 6/10 but it definitely ended with an 8/10!

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Q: Any ideas for another tattoo if you’re getting one?

A: As far as other tattoos I plan to get… Now that’s where this gets pretty dorky. I got the tattoo around my ankle because this tattoo will be part 1 of a 3 part tattoo. This part is a matrimony of 3 television/book series that I deeply enjoy (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Trek), all represented in a way meant to represent my love of language.

Part 2 (which I’ve already gotten as of July) is a representation of my love of music. It is located on my other ankle and it’s a musical arrangement containing pieces from Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

The final part—which is still in the planning stages—will represent my love of symbolism in art and it will be an homage to some of my favorite video games (Gears of War, Bioshock, and World of Warcraft) that will be located between my shoulder blades. Thus turning myself into a visual representation of a Triforce. The ULTIMATE homage!

[Note: As a ten year WoW player, it’d better be the Horde emblem you’re getting, and not the Alliance!]

Thank you for taking the time and sharing your photos, Monserrat Vargas! Your tattoos are awesome! You’re a lajak tawak in my book.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Coming soon: The Dothraki Haiku Competition. Maybe now that Living Language Dothraki has come out, we’ll see even more challengers trying to knock Qvaak off the throne!

Ma Yer Ashili Mae Ki Shirani Moon

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

And speaking of tails…

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

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

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

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Click to enlarge.

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

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Click to enlarge.

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

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Click to enlarge.

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

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Click to enlarge.

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

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Click to enlarge.

I don’t even know with me sometimes…

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

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

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Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

Chafka Jinne!

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

Copies of Living Language Dothraki

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

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

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

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

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

Dothraki: Coming to a Store Near You

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

SEPTEMBER

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

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

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

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

Dothras chek!

Dothraki at Comic-Con

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

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

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

Anha zalak m’anha atihak yera rekke!

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