Note: This post originally appeared at dothraki.conlang.org. As it makes more sense for it to be here, I’ve moved it over (though the original post still exists).
So it turned out to be more than a few days, but I’ve finally finished coining new Dothraki words based on the names of those who asked questions during my Dothraki presentation at WorldCon 2011. It involved me reviewing the history of boot, and making and coining dozens of unrelated words, but I’m all finished, so here they are (note: if I’ve spelled your name wrong, or you’d like to give me your last name and/or website to link to, tweet at me here):
- Key: Name – Dothraki Word (part of speech) definition.
- Dave – dave (animate noun) rosemary bush (also an adjective meaning “pungent”).
- There’s already a stem dev (based on my name!), so I went with the spelling, even though it’s pronounced nothing like “Dave” in English. The inspiration for this word came when I was sitting at my computer trying to come up with words and my wife said, “Dave, can you get me some rosemary from the bush outside?”
- Dan – dan (inanimate noun) ford (i.e. a place where you can cross a river comfortably on horseback).
- There was already a word based on the stem dan, so I just had to coin a homonym (not much else you can do with “Dan”!).
- Ryan – rayan (inanimate noun) summit, top, plateau (mainly geological).
- The stress shifts to the final syllable, of course, but that just makes the word sound more epic, in my opinion.
Jon (or perhaps John…?)John – jon (adjective) closed, shut, sealed (refers to a seal on a container or something that fits tightly).
- My friend Jon already claimed the root jan, which is used for jano, the word for “dog”, so I had to go with the spelling rather than the pronunciation here.
- Rick or Rich – rich (inanimate noun) a bubble or swelling of some kind.
- I got a lot of mileage out of this root, coining six related words from it.
- Perry – ferri (inanimate noun, class A, stem fer-) hemp (the material).
- Likely to be abundant in, at least, the southern half of Essos, hemp is a useful thing to make stuff out of. Regarding the form, older Dothraki *p became modern Dothraki f, and so the old word *perri has become modern ferri
- Sondra (or Sandra…?) – sondra (inanimate noun, class B) obsidian (or what the Valyrians and Westerosi call dragon glass).
- I was wondering what to do for this word, but your name looks so much like another pattern of words I’ve set up for precious gems and metals, this seemed like kismet. Oh, and by the way: if your name is spelled “Sandra” rather than “Sondra”, it’s not too late to change the word!
- Gene – jin (animate noun) goat (female).
- I know you’re male, Gene, but I needed a word for a female goat! This just seemed to fit. (Perhaps as consolation, there is another word jin which means “this”—probably one of the most commonly used words in Dothraki.)
- Mapu – mafo (animate noun) young goat, kid.
- A member of the Brotherhood Without Banners hailing from New Zealand! Note that the older form of this word was, in fact, *mapu, but due to regular sound changes, it is now mafo
- Sierra – siera (animate noun) nephew.
- Your full name would, in fact, be a licit form in Dothraki, but siera fits a previously-established pattern really, really well, so I dropped one of the rhotics.
- Janice – janise (animate noun) niece.
- As with siera, janise (with the -e pronounced at the end) fits a previously-established pattern very well, so I added it on the end.
Finally, there are three people I’d like to mention specially (and for whom I’ve coined words):
- Kim Raymoure – kim (animate noun) ancestor (also an adjective meaning [roughly] “original”).
- Kim came to all my panels at WorldCon (and the LCS workshop!), and helped to make my first foray into cons a pleasant one. (It’s so nice to see people in the audience who are interested and not scowling.) In addition to being generally cool, she’s written a book on Linear A, which is about as wild as wild gets.
- Tim Stoffel – tim (inanimate noun) boot.
- Tim—known as Hrakkar over at the Dothraki fora—really went above and beyond for my wife and me at WorldCon. We were staying at Circus Circus, which was quite far away from the convention center, and Tim offered to basically shuttle us back and forth the whole time. It saved us a lot of money and a lot of hassle. Tim is also a keeper of big cats, but since I (quite coincidentally) had already coined the Dothraki word for cat (havzi) after the name of his former liger (Hobbes), I felt another word was in order.
- Leigh Bardugo – lei (animate noun) ghost (also the adjective for “lost”, this is a term for an adult whose body is not burned, and, hence, is not able to ride into the Night Lands).
- Last, but certainly not least! Leigh bravely ventured forth during my presentation to read a dialogue with me, and did her best to power through an incredibly long Dothraki passage I sprung on her. She’s a good sport (a real lajak), and so I wanted to honor her with a nice, meaty word that will certainly enjoy use at some point in time. Ultimately, the word derives from *leɣi, which one might spell “leghi”, which contains all the letters for Leigh’s name, so she can always know that it was her name this word was coined from (thanks for passing along your card so I could get the spelling right!). (Update: Check out Leigh’s official site, and look out for her first novel, Shadow and Bone, coming June 5th, 2012!)
Thanks again to everyone who came out to the Dothraki presentation! If all goes well, I hope to be at future WorldCons, and to meet many more who are enthusiastic about language and want to talk conlanging.