Lei Harenhaloon

Drogon roasting his meat.

I’m watching the Clipper game right now, and I’m not happy. Going to write this to take my mind off things.

Yesterday’s episode, “The Ghost of Harrenhal”, was a bit easier to watch than last week’s. Or, at least if you’re not a fan of Renly who wasn’t familiar with the books. If you are, well… Props to the fallen. Big ups to Gethin Anthony for portraying a Renly Baratheon that I think all of us were really coming to like. For myself, I could really see him as the likable character he’s supposed to be in the books. I didn’t see that so much in the books. Gethin Anthony did a fantastic job, and he will be sorely missed.

Let me step out for a minute to say that I just saw one of the most ridiculous comebacks I have ever seen. I could see the Clippers maybe making a run. But winning that game? Are you kidding me?! Unbelievable. Memphis is not going to enjoy looking at the film of this one!

But yeah, back to Game of Thrones. I like Jaqen H’ghar. I like Brienne and Cat. I like Pyat Pree. And I like Dany teaching her little dragon how to eat. More of that please!

But before getting into Dany’s scenes, a quick note about the translation of the title. There are a couple of ways to do “The Ghost of Harrenhal”, and I decided on the ablative for two reasons—first, it could be “The Ghost From Harrenhal”, which gives a bit more of a locative feel than the genitive would, and also because it makes it sound like Harrenhal is an entity, and that the ghost is a part of its body. I kind of like that, so I went with the ablative over the genitive.

And, of course, the word for “ghost”, lei, got its form from the fabulous Leigh Bardugo, whose debut novel Shadow and Bone is coming out this June (look out for it!).

And since we’re talking shout-outs, let’s jump right into the Dothraki dialogue for Episode 5. We open on a scene with Dany and Doreah giving food to my good friend and trusted advisor Bitey, shown below:

Drogon roasting his meat.

Irri is a bit miffed by Dany saying how much Drogon loves Doreah, so she points out how she’s been fixing up her native Dothraki garments. First Irri says:

  • Anha soqe akka jin sacchey essheyi.
  • “I rewove this part of the top.”

We have, I believe, a new word in soqat, “to weave”, and following it up with akka renders “to reweave”. The word saccheya (seen above in the accusative) derives from the root sach, which gives us words for “half” (sachi, class B) and “to divide” (sachat). With the part-to-whole morphology, you get kind of a part of a half (literally), which becomes a very general word for a part or a piece of something. You’d use the same word (saccheya) for a piece of pizza, a piece of pie, a part of a story—or, if the Dothraki ever developed mathematics, for a word for “fraction”. Then the word essheya (above in the genitive) is formed using the same pattern off of the root she, which is a general locative preposition that most commonly means “on” or “on top of”.

After this, we get to the sentence I was referring to last week featuring Hrakkar’s word! Here it is:

  • Qisi tim, anha arrisse vemishikh jinoon akka.
  • “And I fixed the heel on this one.”

Literally, though, that begins with “Regarding the boot(s)”. So there you go, Hrakkar! A Dothraki word based on your name made it onto TV. Thanks for all the help at WorldCon (which, by the way, it currently looks like I will be returning to this year. I’ll likely have more details later). In fact I had to kind of throw that in, because the line was rewritten. Originally it had the word “boot” in the line, but all that remained was “heel”, so I kind of shoehorned (if you’ll forgive the pun) the word “boot” back into the line, and it made the cut. Hoorah!

The word for “heel” is kind of fun. It starts with vem, a word that means either “elbow” or “knee”, depending on contexts. From that we get vemish, which means “heel” (both of the foot and the hand [the part you hit the board with if you’re doing a palm strike]), and then from that we get vemishikh, which is kind of like “artificial heel”, or, specifically, the heel of a boot or shoe (and this one just refers to the footwear, really, since gloves don’t have an equivalent part that’s equally important).

Later when Dany mentions Drogo’s name, Irri offers up this short prayer/saying (I like the Dothraki term asto for this):

  • Me dothralates she Rhaeshi Ajjalani ayyeyaan.
  • “May he ride through the Night Lands forever.”

Last week we got caught up talking about the jussive because I confused the terminology, but the use of dothralates above is a true jussive (used optatively here).

As we shift scenes, Dany’s out in the courtyard talking and out of the corner of her she sees her Dothraki up to no good. We don’t really hear what they’re saying, but what Jorah says as Dany walks up is:

  • Chaki, chaki. Khaleesi jada. Me vakkelena jin.
  • “Quiet, quiet. The khaleesi is coming. She’ll decide this.”
  • Then we have a bit of rapid-fire discussion between Dany, Jorah, Kovarro and Malakko. After Jorah explains the argument, Kovarro adds (regarding that boss peacock statue):

    • che ivvisaki mae. Disisse.
    • “Or melt it. Very simple.”

    Dany responds:

    • Kisha nevaki mae! Yer laz vos vefenari mae, vos tavi mae, vos ivvisi mae.
    • “We are his guests! You can’t pry it or chop it or melt it.”

    The vos, you can see, is required since the verb has a second person subject, and the positive and negative conjugations are identical. Kovarro objects:

    • Vosecchi, zhey khaleesi! Kisha vayoki athezaraan kishi.
    • “Of course not, khaleesi! We will wait until we leave.”

    Literally the second bit is, “We will await our departure”. Dany responds:

    • Kash athezar kishi vos akka.
    • “Not even when we leave.”

    Or more literally, “During our departure, not even”. Kovarro, curious, asks:

    • Vos arrek? Kifindirgi?
    • “Not then? Why?”

    And then Dany says, at the very least, some of the following:

    • Hash idrik kishi vijazero kisha Athasaroon Virzetha hash yer zali zifichelat moon? Anha acharak vos alikh.
    • “Our host saved us from the Red Waste and you want to steal from him? I will hear no more.”

    Of this, well…Dany’s pronunciation of “alikh” was spot on! But I think everything after Athasaroon got cut off, and a stray kishi was inserted somewhere. So it goes.

    Overall, I thought the Dothraki scenes were pretty good! Any time I get to see a little dragon roasting a little bit of meat and eating thereof it’s a good day. (Plus I got to see the Clippers come back from an eleventy-billion point deficit to win.)

    As a final note, Justin commented on the last post asking:

    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.

    Up to then I didn’t have a word for “to play” in the usual sense. As I commented, I did have a word for “to spar” or “to train” which is based on the word “to fight” (in fact, it’s a diminutive thereof). I decided it made sense to extend the meaning of that word (lajilat) to “play” in the sense of children playing, or playing a game. To play in general, then, is lajilat, and to play something, you’d use a preposition phrase headed by ki, which assigns the genitive case. So, to translate the phrase “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die”, I would do the following:

    • Hash yer lajie ki Vilajeroshi Adori, hash yer che najahi che drivoe.

    I decided to use the present tense here rather than the future tense to make it more of a “when…then” phrase as opposed to an “if…then” phrase. Somehow it seems like the present does a better job of that than the future.

    Halfway! Only five more episodes of season 2 of Game of Thrones. Been good so far! See you all next week.


  1. You say you choose the present tense to make it “when…then” rather than “if…then”;So why do you use hash instead of kash? In the vocabulary we have hash meaning “if…then” and kash meaning among other things “when…then”. Is the vocabulary wrong in some sense or is there another reason to choose hash over kash?

    In my attempt I also kept the second yer ahead of drivoe since that reflects the English version as well where “you” is left in eventhough it could have been dropped. I was alao a bit unsure how the double che would work when you start with another conjunction so I left it out. I see you put it after the pronoun instead, is that how you usually do it when there are two different conjunctions needed?

    Also, you referred to the dragon as Drogo when it’s name is Drogon.

    1. I’m certain it’s hash and not kash, but it’s kind of hard to explain… With kash, it’d be more like, “While you’re playing the Game of Thrones, you win or you die”. Using hash makes it a bit more hypothetical (e.g. “Should you play the Game of Thrones…”). It also suggests a perfect as opposed to imperfect reading more naturally (i.e. looking at the event as a whole, as opposed to looking at some point in the middle of it).

      I left out the second yer specifically because of the presence of che. If you wanted to include it, it’d probably be che yer najahi che yer drivoe. And actually, now that I see it in print, I might like that one as well, if not better.

      Responding to a comment from the last post, I was actually thinking of the actual quote in the series (the one directed at Ned), as opposed to a general quote.

      Also, you referred to the dragon as Drogo when it’s name is Drogon.

      I think you meant I referred to him as Drogo, when I should have referred to him as Bitey, right? ;) Fixed. Thanks for the catch!

      1. Ok, so hash can also mean “when…then” then. I’ll add that to the vocab.

        How would the quote end up if you went with the version of keeping both yer in? Can you have two conjunctions after one another?

        “Hash yer lajie Vilajeroshi Adori, hash che yer najahi che yer drivoe.”

        As for the quote. In my mind Cersei says it in a general sense even when she directs it at Ned. She’s not telling him about what happens when Ned plays the game but rather she is informing him about what the rules of the game is. Would Dothraki use the same word “yer” for both the direct adress “you” and the general someone sense of “you”?

        1. “Hash yer lajie Vilajeroshi Adori, hash che yer najahi che yer drivoe.”

          Yes, that’s how it would look.

          And if you wanted a general interpretation, then it’d change: You’d use me instead of yer (with the conjugations changing accordingly).

          1. But if Dothraki has conjugations already, does it really need to include the pronoun both times? For example Spanish would use no pronoun at all in that sentence, but the conjugations in Dothraki may not be that strict, since you have 1st and non-1st person.

            1. Well, spanish is a pro-drop language while Dothraki is not. The conjugations are not specific enough to make it clear all the time which person or plurality that is subject.

              I think the reason the second yer could be dropped is if you see “live or die” as a complete phrase of some sort, if that makes sense.

  2. Yes, I thought of that too, because they have 1st and non-1st. But that’s why I say that if it’s not like Spanish (with no pronouns at all) it can drop at least the last one. Japanese is pro-drop and has no pronoun indication in the verb.

    1. That’s just a way that languages differ. French and German have far more person marking on their verbs than Japanese, and yet you can’t drop pronouns in those languages. Dothraki is the same. I think a language like Japanese (no marking but with lots of dropped pronouns) is much rarer than a language like Dothraki (subject agreement but no pro-drop).

      1. Great thing to know and have in mind. So Dothraki is not pro-drop but can drop the second “yer” in this case. Also heard in an interview you had recently that they officially asked you to create Valyrian, so I’ll be looking forward to that as well!

  3. Ya. I too would (intuitively) read “Yer che najahi che drivoe.” as a sentence with a …complex verb phrase?.. I bit like you might say “He feeds, clothes and houses the children.”

    As for pro-dropping, it seems languages aren’t truly just full-on or completely off. As far as I can see, Dothraki is happy to drop pronouns in later parts of complex and compound sentences, if the subject stays the same. I would guess that there are so strict non-pro-drop languages, that even that would be askew. And in indefinite relative clauses the modified me is optional. That’s kinda pro-drop too.

    If essheya is a top (part), then what is a bottom (part)? Torraya.. (hey, torggaya might be a legal construct? I don’t think I’m well versed on this gemination business) Back piece: irreya?; front piece: hatiffeya?; lining: emmaya?

    1. And a couple of derivation questions, too :)

      Is ivisat the intransitive (non-causative) word for to melt?

      Vefenarat looks like durative negative of fenat. Is it, and what does fenat mean, then?

      What’s the story of vijazerolat? We have vijazerat as “to protect” on our vocab page, and that synchs well. Concepts of saving and protecting are interesting, per Dothraki culture, and we are not familiar with jazat…

      1. Is ivisat the intransitive (non-causative) word for to melt?

        Yes. Just the regular intransitive version.

        Vefenarat looks like durative negative of fenat. Is it, and what does fenat mean, then?

        Fenat means “to attach” or “to affix”.

        What’s the story of vijazerolat? We have vijazerat as “to protect” on our vocab page, and that synchs well. Concepts of saving and protecting are interesting, per Dothraki culture, and we are not familiar with jazat…

        Vijazerolat is “to rescue” (the inchoative suffix focuses on the beginning of the action). Jazat is “to block” (e.g. to block a blow with one’s arm).

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