Qute Responses

Last time I listed some sentences sample sentences featuring the Dothraki Q, and asked for recordings from readers of the Dothraki blog. Here are the results!

1. Qoy qoyi

This is the translation of the famous Dothraki phrase “blood of my blood”. The full phrase would actually be Qoy qoyi anhoon, but the anhoon is left off, as it’s understood (and this happens more often than not with inalienable possession). We got four responders: Hrakkar, ingsve and Qvaak from the Dothraki forums, and George Corley, one of the hosts of the Conlangery Podcast. Here they are (note: some are quite quiet):

George: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/george1.mp3

Hrakkar: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/hrakkar1.mp3

Ingsve: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ing1.mp3

Qvaak: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/qvaak1.mp3

Nice job! Most everyone got the [q] down. It’s a toss-up as to which comes closest, but I think it’s Qvaak. Nice job, all!

2. Hake mae “Haqe”

Next, the most ridiculous sentence of the bunch because I wasn’t clever enough to think up a realistic sentence with the words for “name” and “tired” in them (“What’s the name of that tired man?” Dang! Where were you last week?!). Anyway, it means “His name is ‘Tired'” (just totally bizarre; doesn’t look like a Dothraki name at all), and here’s the audio:

George: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/george2.mp3

Hrakkar: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/hrakkar2.mp3

Ingsve: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ing2.mp3

Qvaak: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/qvaak2.mp3

Nice job all, but this time, I give the horse heart to George (his A vowels were a little closer than Qvaak’s)!

(I suddenly just imagined a Dothraki award ceremony far, far in the future, where bronzed horse hearts are given out as awards. This should happen.)

3. Kisha dothraki yomme qeshah

In this sentence (which means “We ride across the sand”), I just wanted to get the word qeshah in there, because it’s one of my favorites. Truth be told, I really like the English word “sand” for sand, but qeshah is a close second. Here’s how it came out:

George: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/george3.mp3

Hrakkar: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/hrakkar3.mp3

Ingsve: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ing3.mp3

Qvaak: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/qvaak3.mp3

The Q’s sound pretty good, but the stress tripped some people up. Hrakkar got the stress of qeshah right and ingsve got all the stresses right, but George and Qvaak stressed it on the first syllable. Also, unless it didn’t get picked up by the mics, no one gave voice to the final H. That one ain’t there for a decoration, like it is in English! Amongst those who submitted, though, I’d say ingsve’s second reading comes the closest. Nice job!

4. Qafak qov kaffe qif qiya fini kaf faqqies fakaya

Finally, this tongue twister was put together with Qvaak in mind. He’s kind of famous for coming up with these really, really weird Dothraki sentences just to see if they work (check out his user page over at the wiki), so I decided to come up with one that was equally weird. Since I was trying to make use as much as possible of K, Q and F, that didn’t turn out to be too difficult. This sentence means, “The trembling questioner crushed the bleeding boar that squished a kicking corn bunting.” (What else should trembling questioners do?) Here’s the audio:

George: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/george4.mp3

Hrakkar: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/hrakkar4.mp3

Ingsve: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ing4.mp3

Qvaak: https://dothraki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/qvaak4.mp3

And, as promised, here’s me doing the tongue twister the first time through without editing:

Ha! I did all right, but the thing that screwed me up towards the end was the stress on faqqies. I was focusing so much on getting the i following the qq right that I begun stressing the word initially, even though it should be stressed finally. I tried to rescue it mid-word, and that just screwed everything up.

Listening through, it looks like everyone else had roughly the same problem. None of us got the stress completely right. It should be (using acute accents to mark it):

  • Qafák qov káffe qif qíya fíni kaf faqqiés fákaya.

All in all, though, good tries! Of all five of us, I think Qvaak did the best job. The moral of the story: Hard tongue twisters are hard.

Thanks for the great recordings! Hope you had fun. And clearly I’m going to need to come up with some sort of graphic for the Horse Heart Award…


  1. Hahh. I did pretty good, it seems. I thought I’d be in trouble enough anyway, so I elected on completely ignoring stresses and specifics of vowel enunciation (eg. going for very “finnish” accent), so no wonder qeshah got stressed wrong (I did take a trouble to voice the final h, I just didn’t do that very well).

    I really like the way ingsve gets natural rhythm into Qafak qov… Sounds like he’s not just reading some string of words but actually reading through the sentence with the meaning accompanied. I was trying to do the same, but with much less tangible results.

    You did not mention, how you thought we did with the q-induced vowel shift. I thought it would be worse to try to push it, so I just hoped some of it would slide in naturally.

    You translated Hake mae “Haqe” as “His name is ‘Sick’.” this time and “His name is ‘Tired’.” the last post. We have just “tired” for haqe in our vocab, but I seem to remember you mentioning that word extends to “sick” before, so I’m guessing this is no error?

    1. I really like the way ingsve gets natural rhythm into Qafak qov… Sounds like he’s not just reading some string of words but actually reading through the sentence with the meaning accompanied. I was trying to do the same, but with much less tangible results.

      Ya, I tried to get a little realism in the rhythm of the sentence. One of the things that bugged me slightly in the dialogue on the show was a few times where there was an odd pause between words where a pause was really out of place so I thought I’d at least try avoid things like that.

      It’s interesting to hear the difference accents in peoples attempts. Qvaak had a couple really Finnish moments, especially on “fakaya” I thought, and Hrakkar sounds almost like a text-to-speech syntheziser.

    2. Like ingsve’s use of the blockquote tag; going to copy it.

      You did not mention, how you thought we did with the q-induced vowel shift. I thought it would be worse to try to push it, so I just hoped some of it would slide in naturally.

      Actually, I didn’t listen to the vowels following [q], since I figured they’d come out right if [q] was pronounced correctly. For the [q], I just listened for that characteristic uvular “drop” (that’s a term I coined to try to describe what it is I hear when I hear a uvular). Yours were right on!

  2. I knew I had the stress wrong everywhere — I never bothered to look it up. I did, in fact, know that Dothraki has coda /h/, but for some reason I completely failed to read it. I think part of my problem there is that I have never learned a language with coda /h/ and have only trained myself to pronounce it in certain foreign names where it’s word internal (such as Ahmadinejad).

  3. Text to speech synthesizer? I guess pronunciation is not my strong point. ;-) I sensed one thing right away though, and that I am trying to say things too fast. On the final H on queshah, I kept pronuncing the final S as sh. I finally dropped it, but it sounds like a bit too much. I can see in revoicing it how the final h disappeared.

    1. Well, the pronounciation itself was pretty good. It was mainly the rhythm that made it sound like a speech syntheziser since there was a slight pause between each word and a monotone feel to it in a couple of the attempts.

  4. The spacing was intentional, to keep the words clear and separated. I am ssuming then, that the words normally ‘run together’ during normal speech. (Finding someone to speak Dothraki with is even a bigger problem than finding someone to speak Na’vi with!)

    1. On your last point, I would imagine so. I’m somewhat surprised by how few of my friends know about Game of Thrones. Then I remember that it is an HBO series (HBO being famous for locking their content down horribly — I still haven’t found a way to see it legally, not having a subscription), which is based on a series of enormously long fantasy novels and start to understand the problem.

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