Thanks for all the responses! I was quite pleasantly surprised to see how quickly everyone (pretty much) either hit on the right translations, or hovered right around them. Now I’ll go through them and make some comments.
First, big ups to ingsve, who responded with almost perfect translations only 26 minutes after the post went live. Nice job!
House Stark: “Winter Is Coming”
The unofficial tagline of Game of Thrones, and probably the most famous house motto of them all. Those who follow my Twitter will note that I tweeted this translation way back on December 14th of last year (or at least I think it was last year. They don’t seem to list a year on tweets…). I think ingsve took note of this on the Dothraki Wiki, and he also got the exact translation: Aheshke jada.
Some others that were offered:
- Qvaak added an interesting take on it with Aheshke zin jada, which he translated appropriately as, “Winter is still coming”. Personally, I like to think of zin as the counterpart to ray. It can mean “still”, but it also emphasizes that an action is being viewed internally as incomplete. I think Aheshke jada is the more appropriate translation, but you could say Aheshke zin jada, if you were, say, looking at winter, and it was charging right at you.
- Laura (hi, Laura! Nice to meet you!) and Daenerys each offered the same translation with a version of jadi rather than jada. Here jada is appropriate if you think of “winter” as a third person singular argument. Since aheshke is an inanimate noun, though, Aheshke jadi is grammatical: it just means something like, “The winters are coming.” Perhaps one might offer Chafi aheshke jadi, which would mean, “The winds of winter are coming.”
House Greyjoy: “We Do Not Sow”
I knew, of course, that ingsve had taken House Greyjoy’s sigil as his personal icon, but I had completely forgotten that I had already pretty much translated House Greyjoy’s motto for him (or at least created the words, and I think ingsve did the rest). So ingsve’s Kisha vo velaineroki is correct. Daenerys came up with the same translation, which is also correct. Nice job!
After that, both Laura and Qvaak came up with an interesting variant using a postpositive negative particle. Qvaak’s is based on a well-observed pattern: Kisha velaineroki vosecchi. I like it! It’s rather emphatic. Laura’s translation used vos postpositively, which is something I haven’t done myself before, but I really like it. After all, if you can have vosecchi, it seems like you ought to be able to have vos. So, for example, the usual negation pattern would be the ordinary version; using vos postpositively would be emphatic; vosecchi would be really emphatic; and the double negation (which is also possible) would be really emphatic (i.e. Kisha vo velaineroki vosecchi!).
House Tyrell: “Growing Strong”
This was one of the toughest. The word is obvious enough (since Dothraki has that inchoative, if hajat is “to be strong”, then hajolat is “to grow strong”. Nice and easy!), but it’s up to interpretation how “Growing Strong” works in English, and then how it should be rendered in Dothraki. Here were the options:
- The first offering was ingsve’s hajoy, which is, indeed, the active participle of hajolat, and means, roughly, “growing strong”. In English, our active participle is identical to our gerund, so, for all intents and purposes, the difference between the two is rendered trivial. In Dothraki, though, the participle form of the verb cannot be used as a noun, which would make hajoy look very strange standing by itself. One would see it and wonder, “Where’s the noun?”
- Qvaak, Laura and Daenerys offered the present tense form of the verb in the first person plural, which I thought was clever. It’s basically a statement that means, “We grow strong” or “We are growing strong”. I like this, but it wasn’t what I had initially imagined. (By the way, Laura’s conjugation mistake was, in fact, my fault. Remember how I remarked on how the stem should be separated from the infinitive suffix in a previous post? Yeah… I didn’t do that. Oops! If you know the verb hajat, the stem of hajolat is easy to guess, but if you’re just looking at it, it’s easy to mistake the stem as being hajol rather than hajo. My bad!)
Actually, the translation I was thinking of was simply: Hajolat. When I see “Growing Strong”, in English, I think of it as a self-contained, nominal concept. To me, hajolat seemed like the most obvious translation. But this is why it’s so interesting to see other translations: You get different interpretations.
Update: Oh, you know what? There’s one more I forgot to list: Athhajozar. That also seems to work.
House Mormont: “Here We Stand”
This one was probably fairly straightforward. Laura, ingsve and Daenerys came up with the same translation: Kisha kovaraki jinne. That’s pretty much, “We stand here”.
To the extent that you think of the “here” as being emphasized in the English, I could see fronting the word jinne, which is exactly what Qvaak did: Jinne kisha kovaraki. I think I prefer this translation, though it is possible to emphasize jinne in final position. Qvaak also suggested the order of the subject and verb might be flipped. Here’s what he wrote:
I almost flipped the word order to VS, too, while I was at it, but then I felt that the phrase sounded more solemn than lofty, so I left it simple[.]
I wanted to quote this because I have to say I think exactly the same thing! I don’t know if I would’ve put it into those words beforehand, but when I read it, I thought, “Hey, yeah! That’s exactly how it feels!” Nice observation!
House Tully: “Family, Duty, Honor”
I thought this one would be the simplest, since, as ingsve, Daenerys and Laura did, you could just translate it word for word: Rhojosor, atthar, chomokh. There’s nothing wrong with that translation. The words in English are separated from usual English syntax (after all, you’d expect an “and” in there, too, if it were a part of a sentence), so it stands to reason that they might fall outside the usual syntax in Dothraki as well.
Qvaak elected to insert the “and”, giving us: Rhojosor ma atthar ma chomokh. However in order to do this properly, it would need to be Ma rhojosor ma atthar ma chomokh (it wouldn’t work without an initial ma—in fact, it might sound like “Family is duty and honor” without it).
House Lannister: “Hear Me Roar!”
This was the most challenging one by far, because there are different ways of rendering the sentence, and they’re a little tricky. Here are the translations with comments:
- The first is ingsve’s Charas m’anha zorak! (as Qvaak pointed out, it’d be m’anha not meanha). Daenerys also offered a version similar to this. The literal translation would be, “Hear that I roar”, which is close. To me, it puts a little bit of distance between the hearing and the roarer—kind of like, “Take note of the fact that I’m roaring”, rather than, “Listen to me, and note that I’m roaring”.
- Qvaak’s translation fixes the above: Charas anna fin zora! The odd thing about it is the relative clause attached to the first person pronoun. I mean, you can do that, but is it just me, or does that sound a little funny? Think about this one in English: “Talk to me, who is/am from California.” Should that be “is” or “am”? And why do both sound wrong? Weird! The translation does work, though.
- Believe it or not, Laura’s translation was exactly what I was thinking of. It is literal, but it works: Chari anna zorat! Note that she used the formal imperative, which seems appropriate for a house motto. Anyway, this structure is grammatical, as it is in English. It’s probably not how you’d always do it, but it serves for this.
Actually, I rather expected someone would come up with my other preferred translation: Chari athzorar anni! or “Hear my roar(ing)!” It’s not an exact translation, but I think it serves—and it neatly avoids subordination. Great translations!
House Arryn: “As High As Honor”
This translation showcases a feature of Dothraki which is different from English except in this very construction, in which it’s identical. Both ingsve and Laura got the translation: Ven yath ven chomokh. In Dothraki, both ven’s are obligatory, unlike in English (i.e. “High as honor” also works). Not only that, but all coordinators double in Dothraki in most situations (as we saw above with ma). There are some that can occur by themselves, but only in very specific grammatical contexts. For usual situations, coordinators appear before both elements being coordinated.
Qvaak mentioned that he thought it was strange to compare two words from different classes, but, in fact, that happens all the time and is perfectly normal in Dothraki with ven.
So, that’s it! Thanks to those who participated. You all did great! Also, props to Laura for attempting a translation of “Say your right words!” I’d offer my own translation, but I can’t quite figure out how it works in English… Maybe Asti as jili yeri…? It’s quite a quaint version of English, though, so I’m not sure if the quaintness would translate correctly.
Labyrinth is an incredible movie that stars my personal hero David Bowie, along with a number of charming puppets (as well as, of course, a very young Jennifer Connelly). When Sarah (Jennifer Connelly’s character) is reciting from her book The Labyrinth, she says, “Say your right words!” (quoting the goblins). She threatens to say the words to have the goblin king (David Bowie) take her baby brother away, since he’s annoying her. Later the goblins do come and take the baby away, and when David Bowie appears before her, she recants, saying she wants her brother back. David Bowie’s response is, “What’s said is said!”
Oh, and, by the way, in the movie, David Bowie’s character performs some contact juggling using see-through “crystals” (plastic or glass spheres). The title from the last post is the word “fire” from the blog magnified through my own glass sphere which I bought in order to master contact juggling just like the goblin king many years back. I, uh…never got too far with it.