Halahasar Tolorri

Another week, another episode of Game of Thrones—this week, “Garden of Bones”, which I rendered as Halahasar Tolorri. Yeah…not much we can do with “garden”. Can you imagine! Drogo out with his visor on, water bucket in hand, tending his garden… “Daffodils coming in well this year. Me nem nesa.” Dothraki wouldn’t even have time to set up a vegetable garden with the way they move from place to place. So until there’s a language to borrow a word for “garden” from, halahasar it is.

The mystery is solved regarding the missing Dothraki from Episode 3: About half went to Episode 2, and about another half went to yesterday’s episode. When I say “about”, though, I do mean “about”, as some of the lines didn’t make the cut—including (and I’m totally bummed about this) the line featuring Hrakkar’s word. Sorry!

Oh, but wait! I take that back. I’m looking back at the scripts, and thought what I’d translated was for Episode 4, it’s clear that the action that’s going on takes place after the action in tonight’s episode, so perhaps it will show up in the coming weeks! We’ll have to wait and see. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t (and if it does, of course).

So, yeah, “Garden of Bones”… Hard to watch, no? I mean, there was some heavy graddakh in this episode. I will say this, though: That scene with the rat and the bucket could have been worse. How you might ask, trepidatiously? Let’s just say that they could have attached the bucket to something other than his stomach, and leave it at that (or if you don’t want to leave it at that, get a hold of this novel, which I don’t recommend [because it simply wasn’t very good (nice intro, though)]). But, hey! Didn’t Qarth look good? (Why would she want to leave…?)

Before getting to the Dothraki, I wanted to note that:

  • That scene between Renly and Stannis was brilliant.
  • Harrenhal looked stunningly hideous.
  • The scene with Melisandre and the shadow baby looked exactly as I envisioned it in my head. Exactly!

What an extraordinary job D&D are doing (and kudos to Vanessa Taylor, the writer of the episode)! Glad to be along for the ride.

The Dothraki in today’s episode was originally written for Episode 3, as I mentioned, but Dany’s story got shifted a bit, so here we are. I watched today’s episode with the folks at Streamin’ Garage, so I wasn’t prepped to follow the Dothraki with my script materials. As a result, there might have been less Dothraki in the episode than I’m giving here (i.e. some of these lines may have been converted to English). We’ll see!

In the opening, we see Jhogo-usurper Kovarro riding in on a brand new horse. Dany remarks on this fact:

  • Jin vos sajo yeri.
  • “This is not your horse.”

Kovarro responds:

  • Me nem azh anhaan ki Senthisiri—jin Fozaki Qarthoon.
  • “It was given to me by the Thirteen—the Elders of Qarth.”

Senthi is “thirteen”, so Senthisir, I reasoned, would be “the Thirteen” (made sense to do a direct translation since we hear it that way in the book). We also see the deemphatic structure used in Dothraki, where extra information is deliberately pushed to the end and introduced with jin. So the last three words don’t translate to “these Elders of Qarth”, but just “the Elders of Qarth”.

Dany responds with, Zhey Qarth? (a kind of echo question, hence the lack of hash), and Kovarro responds:

  • Sen asshekhi tithaan, qisi havazzhifi.
  • “Three days to the east, on the sea.”

Now here’s the part I can’t remember. I have these lines translated and sent them off, but I can’t remember if they were said in English or Dothraki… Funny how that happens. I had a similar experience when I was learning American Sign Language, and when I’d get home from class, I’d remember the class being loud, and remember signed instructions as if I’d heard them, even though everything was purely visual… The brain is funny that way. Anyway, Dany asks of Kovarro:

  • Hash mori vazhi kishaan emralat?
  • “Will they let us in?”

The main verb is the future non-first person plural of azhat, which means “to give”. It’s used in jussive contexts, and also in granting permission (sorry, the jussive is actually a different construction. Thanks, Esploranto!), as here. The literal translation is, “Will they give us to enter?” Kovarro responds:

  • Mori astish memori nem achomoe hash mori viddee Mayes Zhavvorsi.
  • “They said they would be honored to receive the Mother of Dragons.”

And come to think of it, I do remember this in Dothraki. We see a truly irregular word in mayes, the accusative of mai, which means “mother”. Then we have this word iddelat. Those who know some of the basic verbs may be able to guess that this is the causative form of indelat, which means “to drink”. Basically, this word is to “drink” as “feed” is to “eat”. In Dothraki, though, what the verb means is “to welcome”. To offer someone fresh water (especially for the horses) is to welcome them, and so iddelat means “to welcome”.

That brings us to the end of the Dothraki scenes in Episode 4, and into the magnificent city of Qarth! I’ve seen a tiny bit of Episode 5, and I’m looking forward to it.

Also, as I mentioned briefly above, last night I was on the live streaming show Stupid For Game of Thrones (that’s their YouTube page; their Facebook page is here), hosted by Sarah Penna and Bob Jennings. If you missed it, you can see the whole thing on YouTube here. It was fun, and we even got a question from ingsve, but I totally didn’t recognize it even though I’d seen it before! I also totally messed up the pronunciation of nhizo, the word for “raven” (I pronounced it as nhizho). In my defense, while I have slept in the past 72 hours, I spent every waking minute until 10 p.m. last night working. My brain is fried.

Oh, and just in case any of the Stupid For Game of Thrones folks are reading this, I think I am going to have to come up with a word for Jonathas. It looks like the imperative of the verb zhonathat. That doesn’t mean anything yet, but when I need a verb next, I think that’s destined to be a verb; I really like the sound of it. I’ll note it here if I come up with something for it.

Oh, and looking at that screenshot, I now know why my barber calls me “Elvis” whenever I come in. I think it’s about time for me to pay my respects again… I’ll have to find some sort of battle to lose, though. Anyone want to take me on in bowling? I’m straight-up terrible at it.

Dothras chek!


  1. A lot to look forward to, then. (Not the rat thing; I assume it’s linked to the Tickler, and I hate that train of thought…)

    The derivation and use of |iddelat| is awesome. Sometimes Dothraki feels naggingly constructed, especially concerning the ubiquitous and completely regular |-ak| and |-ikh| derivations for what I’d expect to be root vocabulary (“wool”, for instance?)… but it’s words like |iddelat| and the aforementioned |athchilar| that really sell it as an organic language.

  2. The title of this episode and blog post brings up an interesting question. We know from the books that the City of Bones is called Vaes Tolorro. Following Dothraki grammar that name should instead be Vaes Tolorri since “bones” is in genitive. Have you created any explanation for why the name differs from normal grammar? Are there any other examples of where the book language needed a special explanation or irregularity to fit into the created grammar?

    1. Dothraki allows for simple apposition in a number of contexts, including naming conventions. One of those conventions is “Vaes _” (hence Vaes Dothrak). The difference would be the same as “City of the Riders” vs. “Rider City”. You see a lot of this phonological reduction with older or fixed expression (e.g. in English “hand to mouth”, “willy nilly” [originally “will he or nill he”]).

  3. Could it just mean “city which is bone” rather than “city of bones”? Or would such appositive constructions also require the genitive in Dothraki?

  4. “The beauty of Quarth—”


    Love it! :) After HBO’s teaser videos led us to believe they were going to call it [kwɑrθ]… I guess a [q] would have been too much to ask for. And the initials of Xaro Xhoan are apparently just [z z], or at least Mr. My Name Is Too Hard For You thinks so.

    I agree Harrenhal is well-modeled, and I’ve never been so relieved to see Tywin “Epic Toga” Lannister. :P That storyline proves to be as sickening on screen as it is in the book.

    1. And the initials of Xaro Xhoan are apparently just [z z], or at least Mr. My Name Is Too Hard For You thinks so.

      Yeah… I don’t think we could’ve expected too much from that. So we have Xaro (x = z) Xhoan (xh = z) Daxos (x = ks). I don’t think one could have done anything else without completely violating the expectations of native English-speaking readers (and ultimately, I think that’s the audience they have in mind when rendering names like this).

        1. That would have been neat!

          I would have settled for [ksaro kʃoan]

          Oh, and did you see the warlock in the background? Very convincing. I wonder how they found an actor desiccated enough to play him. Or maybe it’s just CGI. ;)

      1. Well, I must say in my head it sounded like xylophone the first initial X, the Xh = sh and the final a normal X = ks. I know it’s not exactly regular, but that’s how it sounded.

  5. So, maybe this has been answered somewhere else, but how would you render “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die” in Dothraki? I can get the rest, I think, but the only word I see for “play” means playing a musical instrument, so it’s driving me crazy.

    1. I’ll have to give that some thought. The Dothraki don’t have board games, or anything, and we never see or hear about Dothraki children as children—and that’s usually where the most playing qua playing happens. Not quite sure how the term would translate…

      1. I would assume a culture like the Dothraki would be into competitive games of some sort. THough I suppose the idea that losing = dying might not seem so novel ;)

      2. I thought about using “lajat,” but I wasn’t sure if that would work…
        There’s a word for “game,” so I would think there’d be a word for “play.”

        (Also, minor nerd-squee moment.)

        1. Hey Justin!

          Actually, that’s not a bad idea… So I have a verb lajilat, which means “to spar” or “to train”. No reason that word can’t be further extended to “to play”.

          And so it is extended.

          If you want to play something (like a game), use the preposition ma, which assigns the ablative.

          1. Actually, changed my mind. The preposition you use is ki (which assigns the genitive), not ma. I knew what I wanted in my mind, and got confused about the best way to map that onto Dothraki.

            1. Athdavrazar!

              “Affin yer alajili/alajie(?) ki Vilajeroshi Adori, yer anajahi che adrivoe.”

              Hash anha jilak?

            2. >Athdavrazar!

              >“Affin yer alajili/alajie(?) ki >Vilajeroshi Adori, yer anajahi che >adrivoe.”

              >Hash anha jilak?

              Hmm, why are you writing it in the future tense? That makes it “when you will play the game of thrones you will win or die” rather than the original that is in present tense.

            3. I think my thought was “you’re not playing the game yet.”
              Sort of like Drogo’s quote about the crown where he says “men will tremble when they will see it.” (implying that they haven’t yet seen it)

            4. To me it’s more of a general statement like a saying rather than referring specifically to Ned playing the game of thrones. It’s one of those situations where “you” refers to “someone” rather than “Ned”; “When someone plays the game of thrones, they win or they die”. So it’s not really referring to any specific point in time.

              As for the translation, I wouldn’t use affin since that is more of a question word. It’s better to use kash I believe;

              “Kash yer lajie ki Vilajeroshi Adori, kash yer iffi che yer drivoe”

              Let’s see how it fits with what David comes up with.

            1. It’s a -lat verb. The original root is /laj/ which refers to fighting and in this example it uses the diminutive /laji/ instead and since the word now ends in a vowel the infinitival ending becomes -lat instead of -at.

            2. But… I think you use the pronoun too much, as in English. Also isn’t “che” used in combination with another “che”?

      3. Would halahasar be “flowering meadow” (finnish: kukkaketo) by it’s core meaning?

        “Zhey Qarth” is a curiously put. I originally took “zhey X” to mean pretty much “I’m talking to you, X” – or as “O X” with pathos and reverence stripped off, but it seems more and more like “name follows: X”. A lesson to Dothraki vocative is thus added to my wishlist for future blog posts.

        These empathic and deemphatic structures, are they fully symmetric; can you say “Jin jolino, finne yer ez mae?” the same way as “Finne yer ez mae, jin jolino?”..?
        Is jin fixed part of the expression or are all demonstrative modifiers used?
        What’s the word for these foreword/footnote type half sentence attachments? These things are a bitch to google. qisi tim.. jin alegra.. zhey Drogo…

        Rat torture: 1984, 101.
        And (almost) speaking of Newspeak, English “play” is terribly wide scope word. Without even going to any minor extesions, Finnish needs at least four words to encompass the field “play” manages alone.

        1. Sorry about dropping that in the middle of conversation. I didn’t mean to. Luckily I did mention “play”, so the comment isn’t totally out of place.

        2. Would halahasar be “flowering meadow” (finnish: kukkaketo) by it’s core meaning?

          No. It doesn’t really have a meaning: I just used it here as the closest thing I think of to “garden”.

          These empathic and deemphatic structures, are they fully symmetric; can you say “Jin jolino, finne yer ez mae?” the same way as “Finne yer ez mae, jin jolino?”..?


          Is jin fixed part of the expression or are all demonstrative modifiers used?

          Just jin.

          What’s the word for these foreword/footnote type half sentence attachments?

          They have various names, depending on the focus: adverbial clause, prepositional phrase, adpositional phrase, etc. But I think the word you’re looking for is adjunct.

    1. Ha! I’d seen the Drogo/Robb one, but hadn’t seen the Cersei/Tyrion one. Poor Cersei doesn’t look too good there (Lena Headey is hot), but, yeah, that game looks awesome. Hope that guy goes through with it and actually makes it.

  6. Great post! I like the introduction of this jussive construction. I would like to know, this jussive could be used in contexts that other languages would use a subjunctive? And what’s its relationship with the exhortative construction, that one with the accusative often translated as “let’s…”?

    1. You know what? I used the wrong term here; I’m sorry about that. I think I got a little confused by what English does. So in English, you use “let” to cover both permission (e.g. “He let me use his horse”), and jussives (e.g. “Let them eat cake” and “Let’s go”). The examples above aren’t jussives at all: they’re simply permissives. My bad! I’ll go fix the post.

      1. Thanks for that mention :)! So this is not a jussive, although I read somewhere that jussives could be exhortatives, so it could’ve worked too ;)

        And you mention that a real jussive is the one that uses the accusative of the infinitive. My question is: which one is more formal and less formal? Also does this mean that the infinitive + accusative can be used in contexts that would require a subjunctive in other languages? For example Latin “adveniat” or the like?

        1. It would probably be used in places where other languages would use a subjunctive, but you’d have to look at that on a language-by-language basis—and my Latin isn’t that great. :(

            1. They’re not actually equivalent. The “give” construction is for “allow” specifically (asking permission). The accusative+infinitive construction is for things like “May he ride through the Night Lands forever”, or giving indirect commands like, “He will shoe my horse directly.” It’s also used by itself for informal exhortatives like, “Let’s go!” or “Let’s eat!” or “Let’s ride!”

            2. Great then! Thank you so much for the reply. I think one might use that construction to make translations such as the Pater Noster or something. Great job with the lang and thanks again! Looking forward to reading more of this!

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