That’s my nearest approximation of “quick hits”. A chiftikh is a word for a strike (with a blade) that we might describe as a “glancing blow” in English—a nick. Only a flesh wound.

A friend of mine—and one of the Old Guard conlangers—Barry Garcia has taken recently to conscripting (minus the conlanging), and this past week he wrote up a version of the numbers one through ten (and also one hundred) in Dothraki. Here’s what they look like:

Barry Garcia's Dothraki numerals 1-5.

That’s 1-5. Now for the rest:

Barry Garcia's Dothraki numerals 6-10 and 100.

The numeral glyphs above are from his own script, and the writing below is a transliterated form of the Dothraki words (i.e. at, akat, sen, etc.) The glyphs at the beginning and end are used to demarcate paragraphs or set off quotes. If I know my modern “literary” press publications right (Vintage, I’m looking at you), the English equivalent would be:

Since I introduced one at the beginning of this post, now might be as good a time as any to discuss sword fighting (or arakh fighting) terminology in Dothraki. While there are basic words like “to cut” and “to stab” in Dothraki, there are also a series of specific terms used for types of sword strikes one employs in a fight. They’re all derived in the same fashion from native animal terminology. Since we’ve already seen chiftikh, I’ll use that as my example.

A chiftikh is a weak or glancing blow with a sword—something that was intended to hit, but missed the mark (or, perhaps, was too weak to do much damage). It derives from the word chifti, which means “cricket”. To use it in a sentence, you use the verb ildat, “to strike”. The direct object, then, is the type of strike, rather than the one struck. To indicate the one who is struck, you include an allative object (optional), and if you wish to mention the weapon used, you can include an ablative object (also optional). Thus, if you wanted to say the equivalent of (I think this is the best way to word this in English), “I fetched him a glancing blow with my arakh”, you would say:

  • Anha ilde chiftikh maan arakhoon anni.

And there you have it. Below I’ll list the various ildo (i.e. “sword strikes”), along with the animal they’re associated with and their meaning:

Animal Term Ildo Meaning
chifti “cricket” chiftikh A weak hit or glancing blow.
gezri “snake” gezrikh A feint (a strike intended to throw the opponent off and disguise one’s true intent).
hlizif “bear” hlizifikh A wild but powerful strike (effective if it lands, but relatively inaccurate).
hrakkar “lion” hrakkarikh A quick, powerful and accurate strike.
kolver “eagle” kolverikh A straight sword thrust (middling and relatively uncommon).
ver “wolf” verikh A defensive strike intended to back an opponent off, but not necessarily to land.

As a framework, this isn’t intended to encompass swordsmanship (or arakhsmanship) in any way. These are just older terms that are intended to be employed in discussing a sword fight. They’re not meant to run the gamut of sword fighting terminology, or to dictate a particular style: they’re just there to make discussion move along a bit more easily.

And you may also notice that the word for “eagle” up there drew its inspiration from Stephen Colbert. I felt I needed a word for “eagle”, and in searching for a phonological form to fit it, I decided that Stephen Colbert embodied eagleness quite well. As his last name fit Dothraki’s syllable structure rather nicely, the word for “eagle” became kolber—or, at least, in the oldest form of the language. In modern Dothraki, it, of course, comes out as kolver, with the older b changing to v, but if the t can become silent on account of a historical sound change, I figure a change from a stop to a fricative shouldn’t be all that alarming.

I’m off to Chicago on Thursday! If I get any good pictures, I’ll be sure to post them here. Fonas chek!


  1. I feel I should make some comments here. First, thank you David for posting my script sample. It was really done on a whim and as a writing exercise, but I am pleased that you enjoyed it enough to post it here!

    That said, a few notes about the script. The script is an abugida, and follows an Indic model in form and function. I’d actually derived the letter shapes from Takri, taking it from a very north Indian looking script to something that was more rounded and reminiscent of Southeast Asian or South Indian scripts. I will fully admit that Thai is a huge influence, as well as Indian scripts like Kannada. Javanese gave a rather large design cue, particularly in some of the shapes of the glyphs as well as conjunct character creation.

    Functionally, the script is actually rather straightforward. I’m not exactly the type of conscripter who enjoys very complex, hard to write scripts, so I’ve kept it (relatively) simple. This also means that most characters generally have a one sound to one glyph ratio, but as I use it for writing English, this isn’t always possible. For English in particular I choose to go “close enough”.

    My intent for the script was to be able to write English, Spanish, Filipino and Hebrew and Arabic, as well as to be able to represent Sanskrit, which means I’ve kept the retroflex series. For Hebrew and Arabic, I added in a character for the pharyngeals (taken from a reversed Arabic Ayin).

    Ultimately, the script is used for calligraphic purposes. It’s sort of my way of having an exotic script but not stepping on cultural toes as the whole thing is entirely mine. Arabic is actually a huge influence on the calligraphy that I practice with the script. It’s actually quite rare for me to write out pieces in the simple “normal” mode of it. David has seen some of the samples I’ve done.

  2. Justin: I haven’t got it up online yet really, so other than me, no there’s no further info you can find.

    Carsten: Thanks!

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