Rhaeshi Ajjalani

Busy day, yesterday! In the morning (or at least morning on the West Coast), CNN’s The Next List did a show on Dothraki in Game of Thrones. It was a half hour and featured interviews with Dave and Dan, Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), and Amrita Acharia (Irri).

Oh, and a couple of other things: Two videos from our very own Daenerys and Hrakkar speaking Dothraki! They were awesome! You guys are the best! Now that the episode has aired, maybe we can see about posting their videos here, so you can see them in full. Since we don’t have any thank yous in Dothraki: Zhey Hrakkar; zhey Khaleesi: Fichi sen vezhi drogikhoon anni. Anha, zhey Deviddo, azhak mora shafkea. Haji!

On to last night’s episode “The Night Lands”. I know the show is based on the books and sticks to them, but Peter Dinklage is taking over. That dude’s bringing it every night! I should say, though, that I also have a new favorite that I’m going to be watching for: Salladhor Saan. He’s pretty cool in the books, but I never paid him that much attention. Lucian Msamati’s portrayal of Saan, though, really breathes some life into the character. I look forward to seeing him more as the season progresses!

As for our fearless band of Dothraki, things are looking pretty bleak. Poor Dany gets some grisly news in the form of a painted horse riding with a decapitated head. Funny story about this scene. Periodically on Twitter I search “Dothraki” to see what people are tweeting, and last week I saw several people tweeting that there were no subtitles on episode 2. “What a terrible defect to have on a shipped DVD!” I thought, thinking that everyone was talking about episode 2 of season 1 on the DVD release.

That’s when I realized they were talking about yesterday’s episode. Before it aired. Geez, internet, piracy is one thing, but before the episode even airs?! Serves you right! I hope that was a feature, and not a bug, and that if any episodes get leaked before the air date in the future, none of the Dothraki is subtitled. (In fact, maybe we should translate all the dialogue into Dothraki and dub it. Hmm…)

That got me to thinking, though: What Dothraki? As I recalled, there wasn’t any in episode 2 of season 2. But, of course, scenes get moved around a bit during shooting, so I went back to my dialogue sheet and saw that one scene from episode 3 was moved to episode 2, and that was the scene we all saw. So, without further ado:

We open on Dany et al. sitting around miserable and dehydrated. Off in the distance we see a horse arriving. As the horse gets closer, we see it has no rider, and it’s been painted with red Dothraki paint (an invention of the show, I think, but recall that the paint for Drogo’s khalasar was blue). Jorah goes up to the horse and sees a bag hanging off the side. It contains a head and a severed braid. On seeing it, Irri bursts into tears, saying:

  • Mori atthasish oakah moon!
  • “They killed his soul!”

Quick sidebar. Remember the mysterious ad lib by Drogo in the very first episode of Game of Thrones last season? It’s not subtitled, but I did a bit of retconning and decided that what he said was:

  • Itte oakah!
  • “Test your might!”

Or something close to that (that translation just comes to mind from my old arcade days). The noun oakah I decided would be a word that refers to one’s own worth or ability—perhaps something like “mettle”, but treated almost like a physical body part (as if one’s spirit was corporeal). So saying something like this would seem appropriate as Drogo as watching to Dothraki fight.

Fast forward to today, and commenter RavenB over at one of the blog posts I did for The Next List has discovered the secret behind the ad libbed line by Jason Momoa! What he says is the following:

I’m Maori (indigenous New Zealander) and I noticed that the very first line Drogo speaks is “I te waka” which is the refrain from a very well-known Maori haka.

So, what does it mean? By itself, it could mean several things, but in context, it means “on the canoe”. The equivalent word in Hawaiian is wa‘a, which has the secondary meaning of a chant one does in praise of a chief’s canoe, and the whole thing would be i ke wa‘a (though I could’ve sworn that would be a ka word…). Anyway, it looks like they wanted Jason to say something, and they didn’t have anything else, so I’m guessing he used a line from the haka he did for his audition. Ha! Well, now Māori has worked its way into Dothraki—though, of course, the words were Dothrakified.

Back to our episode, I had a hard time writing down exactly what I meant by oakah, but I really liked the word, and wanted to use it. When I got this line, I was like, “Yes!” The word translated as “kill” is atthasat, which I used here in a kind of metaphysical sense. If Dothraki ride on into the Night Lands (Rhaeshi Ajjalani) when their body is burned, then not doing so is the equivalent of causing their oakah to fall from their horse—which, in Dothraki terms, is about as bad as bad gets. One can understand why Irri is broken up.

Dany tries to calm her:

  • Affa, affa. Mori laz vos atthi oakah vosecchi.
  • “Shh… They cannot kill his soul.”

Again, recall that an inalienable possessor does not need to be expressed if it’s understood in context. The word affa isn’t actually a word, but it’s old. Back when I was coming up with dialogue for the pilot (in fact, when I was applying), I came up with a bunch of horse commands, thinking they might enjoy some use in the series. Mostly they didn’t, but affa—a contentless expression used to calm a horse—seemed appropriate here. I imagine it’s something warriors would use with their horses, and also mothers with their children.

Next Irri has her longest line in the series since season 1:

  • Jin tish mori! Mori ogish ven mae ven rho. Mori avvirsosh khadoes moon. Me laz odothrae kimi mae she Rhaeshi Ajjalani avvos.
  • “They did! They butchered him like an animal. They did not burn his body. He can never join his ancestors in the Night Lands.”

In the first clause, you can see a bit of the old VSO word order of Dothraki popping up. It seemed like the best way to translate the emphatic in English. We also see word ogat being used in its original sense: to slaughter an animal. And we also see one of the words I coined based on the names of those who asked questions back during WorldCon! For three of those who really made my first WorldCon a great one, I made sure to coin words that I knew were going to be used in the upcoming season. As a result, kim became the word for “ancestor” specifically for this scene. San athchomari yeraan, zhey Kim Raymoure!

After this, Dany has another longish reply:

  • Affa. Kisha amariki vorsqoy ha maan. Majin anha astak yeraan asqoy, me-Rakharo adothrae kimi mae ajjalan.
  • “Shh. We will build him a funeral pyre. And I promise you, Rakharo will ride with his ancestors tonight.”

Marilat hasn’t been introduced yet, I think (“construct”), same with vorsqoyi, though that one’s an old one. (By the way, I’m not using interlinears here because Carsten’s plugin isn’t quite working the way I expected it to with this theme. I’m still testing it; give me a couple weeks.) Other than that, it should be pretty self-explanatory. More next week!

Before going, though, a recent commenter asked about getting some dog commands in Dothraki. I did a few, but I thought this might be fun for the main blog. So, if you want to train your dog using Dothraki (Dograki? Dothbarki? Barkraki? Dogbarki?), here are some commands:

  • Neva! “Sit!”
  • Vikovareras! “Stay!”
  • Asto! “Speak!”
  • Fichi! “Fetch!”
  • Chorki! “Roll!”
  • Zohhe! “Down!”
  • Yath! “Up!”
  • Sek! “Yes!”
  • Vos! “No!”
  • Jinne! “Here!”
  • Hazze! “There!”
  • Ajjin! “Now!”
  • Jadi! “Come!”
  • Anni! “Mine!”
  • Qora mae! “Seize him!”
  • Ostos! “Bite!”
  • Zoqwa! “Kiss!”
  • Akkovaras! “Stand up!”
  • Ayos! “Wait!”
  • Ifi! “Walk!”
  • Irvosi! “Trot!”
  • Nakhi! “Stop!”
  • Os! “Don’t move!”
  • Oho! “Be still!”
  • Navi! “Urinate!”
  • Vroz! “Slow!”
  • Dik! “Fast!”
  • Emras! “In(side)!”
  • Yomme! “Across!”
  • Saji! “On!”
  • Mel! “Bad!”
  • Mithri! “Rest!”
  • Nrisas! “Straight!”
  • Noti! “Turn!”
  • Sili! “Follow!
  • Vitihiras! “Watch!”

Whew! That’s a lot! I may add more to this if you need them, zhey kelly; let me know in the comments. I’ll definitely look forward to a video! If you get one, we’ll post it here. I tried to vary the command forms, bearing in mind that the prominent syllable is going to be the one the dog gets the best shot at hearing. Hopefully it won’t be too confusing for the dogs. Just how many words can a dog remember, anyway?

Until next week, fonas chek!

Update: It’s been pointed out that some of these words are just too long for a dog to learn. Here are some options for those words:

  • Vikovareras!Reri! “Stay!”
  • Akkovaras!Akko! “Stand up!”
  • Vitihiras!Hiri! “Watch!”

This isn’t a standard way of abbreviating in Dothraki, but if you want that dog to stay put, well, sacrifices need to be made. Thanks, E&L!


  1. Wow, so CNN indirectly solved the mystery of that first line. Very cool!

    Linda did want me to point out that generally dogs do a lot better with one or two syllable commands (emphasis on final vowel)… and that the all-important “Stay!” really should be as short as possible. It’s an emergency command, and there shouldn’t be any ambiguity as far as the dog is concerned. Short and clipped is best.

    Of course, this may be why we don’t see any Dothraki dogs — they’ve all fallen off cliffs, or been crushed in a stampede, or eaten after they were caught following confused stares at Dothraki cooks telling them, “Vikovareras!”

    1. Of course, this may be why we don’t see any Dothraki dogs — they’ve all fallen off cliffs, or been crushed in a stampede, or eaten after they were caught following confused stares at Dothraki cooks telling them, “Vikovareras!”

      Ha! Yeah, that was my concern in varying the command forms of lots of these words. If a word ends in s, it’ll always be stressed on the final syllable—and with so many having a stressed syllable ending in -as, I thought it’d be confusing to the dog.

      So with Vikovareras and a couple other of the long ones, we’ll have to find a shortened form… I’ll update the above. Thanks!

  2. I’m guessing you misspelled the final word in the dog commands? Vihitiras! I’m guessing it should be Vitihiras?

  3. In fact, maybe we should translate all the dialogue into Dothraki and dub it.

    Take that, ye pirates! Only, it was HBO Europe that made S2E2 available online via the HBOGo service a week before its first airing on US cable. HBO HQ has nipped that policy firmly in the bud.

    On a more prosaic note: this show is going to be distributed in lots of countries where English is a foreign language. All of the Dothraki lines are therefore going to be subtitled in the local language, unless they’re butchered by – egads! – dubbing.

    Hopefully HBO will remove the English subs in the master copies for those markets, otherwise they’ll end up with subtitles on top of subtitles. If viewers have to expend extra effort on recognizing the letters in the time available, it’ll be that much harder for them to appreciate Dothraki as a language and reflection of a culture. You might want to mention that to the producers.

    1. Take that, ye pirates! Only, it was HBO Europe that made S2E2 available online via the HBOGo service a week before its first airing on US cable. HBO HQ has nipped that policy firmly in the bud.

      Ohhh… I didn’t know that. Thanks!

      Regarding subtitles, they do strip the English ones out, I believe. Everything gets translated, and it all gets the main subtitle line. Though for CC, I believe they actually transcribe the Dothraki (or at least that’s what I’ve seen before) in addition to the subtitles. I can’t say for sure since I haven’t seen a non-English broadcast, but I’m pretty sure that’s what happens.

    2. With regards to dubbing it varies between countries. Spanish seems to dub all Dothraki by having the voice actors redo all the Dothraki lines themselves. In other languages this is only done for situations with only a show word here or there and otherwise they use the original Dothraki by the real actors.

      One weird example is from episode 3 in French where Jorah and Rakharo are talking about weapons and fathers. There Jorah is completely dubbed, even his longer Dothraki lines while Rakharo switches between dubbed and original.

      1. The dubbing is a separate (though equally fascinating) issue. But do you know about the subtitles? I.e. we see English subtitles for the English broadcast. When Dothraki is spoken, do you see English subtitles and local language subtitles for non-English broadcasts?

        1. I only know how it is on the DVD where you either get no subtitles or subtitles for all dialogue. I know I checked rips of some broadcasts as well but I don’t remember how it was done there. I believe it may have been foreign subtitles on top of the English ones.

  4. In reality i’ts HBO which aired by error the episode 2 last week on the internet. Everyone had access. Excuse my English I am French. We have also subtitles of the Dothraki dialogues!

  5. As far as I know, it wasn’t subtitled on HBO GO and still isn’t subtitled. I’ve listened to it a few times, and Irri’s speech is spot-on, but Dany’s is much different. Perhaps simplified to remain audible with all the crying.

    I’m not familiar with your transcription methods, but to my untrained ear Dany’s first response sounds like
    [Affa. Affa vosecchi.]

    Her second response is much different:
    [affa lezeyak affa jelu…]
    a short pause
    then [Marila-u… maja adothrae ajan] I’m guessing to an actual speaker, it could be /mae adothrae ajjalan/ but the [j] is definitely there, so perhaps /majin adothrae ajjalan/

    I have no idea what she meant.

    1. If you check other episodes as well you’ll see that Emilia often skips a lot of syllables here and there so the actual dialogue that is seen on the show isn’t always an exact representation of what was written. One reason could be that Emilia has a lot more English dialogue to learn while the Dothraki can focus fully on memorizing their Dothraki lines. We also don’t know how many takes they did and if they used these takes because they flowed better than other attempts. And since no one except David and a few of us others can tell if something goes wrong in the Dothraki dialogue it’s not really something they would bother fixing in ADR.

  6. Good to know. In this case, she is skipping a lot of syllables. the first response still makes sense, but the second one goes from about 35 down to 20 syllables. Not very good if using the show as a learning resource.

    Has anyone seen the subtitles for this scene yet? I wonder if this blog be the go-to resource for what Emilia means anytime she is not subtitled…

    1. Well, I did translate the dialogue. I just take the lines directly from the scripts I send them. Sometimes things change after I send them on, but for the most part, it’s pretty close.

      1. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful for your work. I wouldn’t have understood the scene otherwise, and perhaps you will be the go-to resource anytime they don’t subtitle a scene. But this brings up many interesting questions.

        Is what Emilia speaks even Dothraki? Is this some kind of butchered ideolect? Should her shortened “words” be accounted for in the language?

        If not, can the TV show be used reliably as an audio-visual resource for learning the language?

        Gives me something to ponder. I’m sure Klingon had these same problems.

        1. My take would be that the show would be uneven in it’s reliability to be used for learning the language but large parts of if can definitely be used. If you watch season 1 again and compare it to the season 1 dialogue which you can find here (http://wiki.dothraki.org/dothraki/Season_One_Dothraki_Dialogue) you’ll see that a lot of the dialogue is very close to what’s written while other parts would require the script to get things right.

          I would simply view Emilias shortening of lines as mistakes rather than to see it as any type of canon for the language.

        2. Recall that Daenerys (the character) has been speaking Dothraki for a little over a year. Using her speech to learn Dothraki would be kind of like learning Spanish from a high school sophomore. (Though through the magic of fiction [and, perhaps, desperation at being a stranger in a strange land], she’s actually much better than an ordinary language learner would be at this point.)

          1. But with this reasoning, we will run into another problem. Do her Dothraki companions understand her?
            And if they do understand her fairly complex speech despite the phrases being near unrecognizable, are they mistakes after all? Maybe it’s a unique Khalasar-lect. Perhaps Dothraki needs terms for dialects now :) lekhosor?

            While I don’t think miscommunication of this kind was a feature of the books or will be in the TV show… it would make for some interesting linguistic conflict you’d normally not see in fiction. I’d love it if this was all on purpose, actually.

        3. > Gives me something to ponder. I’m sure Klingon had these same problems.

          Okrand retconned a lot of this into idioms and dialects in Klingon for the Galactic Traveler

    2. The subtitles tend to match the intended line rather than what was actually said. In this case I believe the subtitles match what David has written in this post rather than the shortened version that Emilia spoke.

  7. Navi for ‘urinate’? I hope this isn’t a statement on what you think of the Na’vi language ;) (I am a Na’vi speaker as well as a Dothraki speaker.)

    Seriously though, I have never heard of anyone training a dog to urinate on command. But that said, I almost had our liger Hobbs trained to spray on command. He had too much fun trying to catch zoo visitors off guard and spraying them!

  8. Fashionably late again…

    We met “Oho!” already on the first season, but it seems the expression has never been explained, or at least we have the explanation lost. I could be some negative construct from the same root as holat..?

    As Dothraki have plenty of animals to command, dogs among them, even the irregular derivations (reri, akko, hiri) seem pretty plausible as diegetic words. Have you welcomed these to the language proper or do you consider these extented, non-canonical vocabulary?

    1. Oholat is “to be still” or “to be motionless”. The root is oho.

      As far as those shortenings go, I haven’t added them to the official vocabulary, but if the full terms would enjoy use in real Dothraki life, I imagine the shortenings would as well.

  9. Hi, I want to teach my service dog these commands you have listened. However I need the word for find.

    Are there any plans on doing audibles of these commands for novices to listen and learn from? Would be extremely helpful to have them down at before my service dog puppy comes in 6 weeks

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