Me Reki Driva Laz Vo Drivoo Avvos

That was not an easy one to translate (and for ingsve: I used me there so that reki wasn’t stranded; I’m ambivalent as to whether to stick with reki, or jump to animate with rek). But no more of that: We have a lot to work to do! Episode 3 of the second season is in the books, so let’s jump right into all that Dothraki dialogue!

Oh, wait. Who wrote that episode? Oh, yeah: Bryan Cogman. What’s that mean? No Dothraki.

Heh, heh. I’m sure it’s just happenstance, but for the second year in a row, Bryan’s episode doesn’t have any Dothraki in it. That guy’s all right, though—a real rhaek—so I must give him a pass. (More on that later.)

If I may talk about the episode a bit, I think I’ll join the chorus in saying the whole bit with Theon was great! When you read the books, there’s this sense of disorientation you get with certain characters (and I’m sure this was done on purpose) when GRRM takes a non-point of view character and turns them into a point of view character. This happened with me with Theon—kind of like, “Who is this guy?!” The way Theon was developed in the show, though, you can see hints of the treachery coming early, but I think it’s fantastic to see him struggling—personally—with the decision he’s making to turn his back on Robb. It was a good overall choice, and the scenes in this episode were wonderfully written. Excellent job, Bryan!

Now let me detract from the chorus in talking about Shae (I’m looking squarely at you, Honestly, hearing all this talk about how Shae is nothing like the books, I feel like Toph watching The Boy in the Iceberg. The show nails Shae. Here’s what WiC has to say about Shae:

I think out of all the TV show versions of characters, Shae has suffered the most. In the books she didn’t come off nearly this unlikable. I don’t really get why Tyrion is risking everything by having her around. In the book, Shae came off as sweet and totally in love with Tyrion, so it made sense for Tyrion to want her around. But on the show, you don’t see that sweetness nor does she have any chemistry with Tyrion. At this point, I’m ready to say that the Shae character has been botched.

Not nearly as unlikable? This is the prostitute that (spoilers) and (spoilers), and then when Tyrion confronts her (more spoilers)? We reading the same book series? Shae doesn’t come off as sweet: She comes off as a whore who’s playing her part very well. And by the time she gets to King’s Landing, the only thing we ever hear from Shae is, “I’m bored!”, “I want more jewelry!”, “I don’t want to be a handmaiden!” Whine, whine, whine. That’s all she does!

Now the question of why Tyrion wants her around can be asked not only of the show, but of the book, as well. In fact, I’d say that’s rather a central question—one of the more important questions to ponder when it comes to understanding Tyrion’s character. Just why does he want her around? Why does he keep making all these sacrifices for her? Why does he bend over backwards to accomodate her when (and let me italicize this to emphasize it) all she does is get in the way and screw up his otherwise brilliant plans?! No, they’ve done well with Shae—mark my words. Once her arc has played out, I say we will look back and say, “Good show, writers.”

Anyway, since there was no Dothraki in this episode, I thought I’d use this space to respond to some of the requests I’ve gotten in the past week. Shae-enthusiast WiCnet asked on Twitter:

Is there a Dothraki equivalent to “rest in peace”?

The answer when they asked was “no”, but that really got me thinking. If there was an equivalent (whether uttered sincerely or in a threatening manner), what would it be?

As we’ve seen, the preferred method of corpse disposal for the Dothraki is a ritual cremation on a funeral pyre. The Dothraki believe that when they die, their souls join the great Khalasar in the sky led by Vezhof, the Great Horse God. The stars are the fiery khalasar of Vezhof, and it’s a Dothrak’s greatest wish to join the herd. Given the method of cremation, it’s reasonable (not set in stone, mind, but reasonable) to assume that they believe this allows the spirit to transcend the terrestrial plane and reach the heavens (the body is broken up and becomes lighter—transformed into ash—and the winds take the remains and swirl them upwards).

Given that state of affairs, it’s possible that the following phrase might actually serve:

  • Vod chafaan.
  • “Dust in the wind.”

Or, more literally, “dust to the wind”, but ha! How about that! Our old friend from the Kansas song enjoys a new life with a different meaning. In the song, the phrase is meant to be kind of a downer (nothing lasts forever, so no use attaching meaning to anything, for “all we are is dust in the wind”, emo tear, etc.), but this phrase is rather hopeful—more like “May you become dust in the wind, that you may join the Great Horse God’s fiery khalasar in the sky.” I like it!

In our last post, John Erickson asked for some more Mortal Kombat translations. Since I don’t think it’s showed up anywhere yet, the word for “scorpion” is shiro (animate noun). But more to the point:

  • Annakhos mae!
  • “Finish him!”

Annakhat is “to stop” and nakholat is “to finish” (intransitive), so annakholat I think gives the sense of it (more like “Put an end to him!” as opposed to “Stop him!”).

Next, if I may, I’d like to tie the current translation back into what we were talking about when we started. I’ll kid around about Bryan cutting all my juicy episode 3 Dothraki lines (I translated the entire scene between Renly and Loras into Dothraki! Why didn’t you use it?! They’re secretly fluent Dothraki speakers! It makes sense, dammit!), but really, I can’t say enough about this guy. From the beginning, he’s been the one working directly with me as I’ve been translating stuff for Game of Thrones, and has been the go-between while, at the same time, he’s been doing just about everything else. Those who watch the show will know he wrote episode 4 from the first season and episode 3 this season, but he’s also the keeper of the lore (making sure everything on screen makes sense with everything that’s come before and jives with books), he’s my “Dothraki wrangler”, he wrote an entire book—he pretty much does everything. And, on top of that, he’s an all-around good guy—and a husband and father.

So for quite a while, I’ve wanted to give Bryan a Dothraki word, but, of course, his first name is just about as non-Dothraki as you get, and his second is odd-looking, at least—until I remembered the suffix -men, which is kind of like “-less”, in English. I cogitated for a bit, and I came up with something good.

To get things started, we need a noun, so I came up with koge. Koge is an inanimate noun of class B, and it means something like “nick” or “blemish” or “imperfection” or “flaw”. As a class B noun, this one happens to end, phonologically, in a consonant (the only reason the e is there is because words can’t end in g in Dothraki). That means when you add the suffix -men to it, you disregard the final -e, and you get: kogmen “flawless”. And there we have Bryan’s word! Hajas!

Now back to our translation, if kogmen is “flawless”, then…

  • Iffi kogmen.
  • “Flawless victory.”


Thanks for stopping by! If my birds haven’t betrayed me, there should be some Dothraki for us next Sunday. Fonas chek!


  1. Thanks for answering my question. Dust in the wind, I like it!

    And you may be right about Shae, maybe she was this annoying in the books and I am misremembering it. It has been over 6 years since I read ACoK. But my impression was she seemed much more in love with Tyrion. Yeah, she complained about Tyrion not wanting her to be seen but it was with great, big puppy dog eyes and crocodile tears, not yelling “HE’S 300 MILES AWAY!” in the most annoying voice possible.

    1. What I suspect is that there’s a lot in the books that’s left implicit, which means that it’s entirely dependent on the reader to fill in the gaps. What’s happening with the show, then, is we’re seeing how the writers as readers are filling in the gaps—and sometimes this will jive with one’s own reading experience, and sometimes it won’t. For me, this was precisely how I read Shae, so it makes sense, whereas I was totally off on Renly (though in this case, I believe it was me who was just reading it wrong, and not simply an alternate interpretation).

  2. Iffi is a new word I think. Does it relate to ifat in any way? The word we have for victory (in battle) is najahheya, what’s the difference between that and iffi? I guess the difference lies in shoris tawakofi if we are to believe Hot Pie.

    Also Athaddrivar! would mean something like “The killing!”. Does it have a more suitable translation when used as an exclamation like that?

    1. Iffi does derive from ifat. It’s a nominalization off of iffat, which means, literally, “to make walk”. Iffi is “victory” in the sense of “force into submission”. I thought that made more sense in this case (translating it for Mortal Kombat). And if you didn’t play the game, athaddrivar is my translation of “fatality”. ;)

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