Asshekhqoyi Vezhvena!

My friend Ash's 30th birthday cake.

I just learned that today is the birthday of forum member Daenerys. Majin yeraan, zhey khaleesi, astak anha ki, “Asshekhqoyi vezhvena!”

I’m not sure how (or if) the Dothraki would celebrate a birthday, but it occurred to me that they’d probably have a word to describe it (it’s a significant enough day in a given year [and I’m going to ignore the entire discussion of how seasons and years work in the Song of Ice and Fire universe. Consider that discussion permanently tabled]). The issue was raised during an IRC chat with members, but I forget by whom… It was probably someone’s birthday, and I could’ve sworn the conversation would be in my chat transcripts, but it isn’t (so if someone wants to post a comment and remind me, please do).

As I recall, what we discussed is what, if anything, would be important about commemorating the day of one’s birth. Aside from one’s coming into the world, the day of one’s birth is the day one first bleeds (due to the cutting of the umbilical cord). That seems like it would be pretty important to a race of warrior nomads. Thus, one’s birthday is one’s asshekhqoyi—literally, one’s blood day.

The phrase Asshekhqoyi vezhvena! is actually a shortening of a longer phrase: Anha zalak asshekhqoyi vezhvena yeraan!, “I wish for an excellent blood day for you”. The word asshekhqoyi itself is in the genitive (the accusative is used with zalat only when the subject wants something that they will then possess), which means that vezhven, the word for “excellent”, takes a suffixed -a (a form of agreement). If you want to add someone’s name in there, simply add zhey followed by their name at the end.

And there you have it! That’s how to wish someone “happy birthday” in Dothraki. And, of course, I hope you’re having a good birthday, zhey Daenerys. Saqoyalates gavat hrazefoon yeri! (I.e. “May your horse meat be bloody!”)


  1. Is the final sentence, Saqoyalates gavat hrazefoon yeri!, perhaps a teaser for a forthcoming post ;) Saqoyalates is more than little bewildering. Is it really an informal imperative of a verb saqoyalatelat, build around a nominative of a verb qoyalat? How come the imperative is in third person and how come what is a subject in English still follows the verb? Could that all be the work of the prefix /sa-/? How can I sleep at night with such questions in my mind?

    1. First, just to clarify, the verb is saqoyalat. There are several things at work in that example sentence; not sure how many have been discussed… I’m sure I’ll eventually get to explaining all of it. :) It is known that the original word order of the language was VSO, right?

  2. Me nem nesa. Sek. ..And for modern Dothraki, VSO is still kinda secondary word order popping up here and there in special sentence structures. So is it just the way imperatives generally work? Like: Addrivas mawizze. → “Kill a rabbit.” Addrivas mawizzi fonakes. → “Rabbit, kill the hunter.” Is the Dothraki sentence in question then a second person imperative directed at the heart?

    1. Which one; the one beginning with saqoyalates? Directed at the heart? No. And for your second sentence, you’d certainly want to express the subject with zhey (i.e. Zhey mawizzi, addrivas fonakes! or Addrivas fonakes, zhey mawizzi!). The subject for the command from the post shows up in old subject position because it’s an impersonal command (not finding the right term off the top of my head; check out this article).

      1. Hortatives were interesting, but I didn’t find the term from there, either. Third person imperative or third person optative would work for me, but I guess that isn’t quite right.

  3. Zhey David, san athchomar yeraan! ^^ I should have had horse steak for “asshekhqoyi anni” dinner, (I am sure my word order there is off, but I couldn’t find a word for dinner or meal), but alas, I could not find a local eatery with such fare. Though I love the picture of the cake. That the Dothraki have chocolate – “me san allayafa anna!!” :)

    1. Being serious: You probably enjoyed what you ate on your birthday much more than you would have bloody horseflesh (just a guess). ;) And that cake is my good friend’s 30th birthday cake. I doubt the art of Dothraki baking has advanced so far, but thank goodness ours has!

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