I Care!

Happy Wednesday! I thought I’d do a mini-post on a small question that’s come up a couple times and deserves a tiny bit of fleshing out (hashtag little).

More than a few people have asked how to say something along the lines of either “That’s important to me” or “I don’t care”. Our English verb “care” is a mystery to me. It’s so…squishy, if that’s a linguistic term. I’d fully expect it to have a quirky case subject in some language that’s prone to such things. It didn’t seem verb-worthy in Dothraki, so there is no equivalent verb for “to care”.

So how do you do it? Actually you do it with a prepositional phrase, much like the phrase mra qora which was used in the wine merchant scene of episode 107. The phrase is mra zhor, which means “in the heart”. Thus, if you say the following:

Sajo anni mra zhor.

It means either “I care about my mount”, or “I care for my mount”, or “My mount is important to me”. Though it’s an expression now, zhor is inalienably possessed (unless you’re eating it, I guess), so a possessor need not be specified if it’s clear from context. The default context is always the speaker (especially so when you have a possessor like anni right in there). If you want to specify an alternate context (or simply emphasize the one to who cares), all you need to do is add an inalienable possessor to the word zhor, as below:

Sajo anni mra zhor moon.

And that would be “My mount is important to him”, or “He cares about my mount”.

To say something like “I don’t care”, you just have to turn it around a little bit:

Hazi vo mra zhor.

That is literally “That isn’t in my heart” and would mean “I don’t care about that”. Conventionally, you could shorten it up and say Vo mra zhor, and you can intensify it by saying Vo mra zhor vosecchi. Also, though it’s not directly related, if you wanted to say “I don’t care anymore”, you’d say Vo mra zhor ajjinoon. Ajjinoon means “anymore” most of the time in negative contexts (or at least that’s how it’s translated into English. It has other uses in positive contexts).

That said, I hope your day is a good one. Why? Hajinaan meme mra zhor anhoon. Me nem nesa.


  1. Why is it |anhoon| in your final statement, rather than |anni|? Wouldn’t |anhoon| imply your heart has been taken from you? And |mra qora| appears to take the allative to specify a possessor.

    1. Why is it |anhoon| in your final statement, rather than |anni|?

      Because it’s supposed to be. (Cf. this.)

      And |mra qora| appears to take the allative to specify a possessor.

      It shouldn’t. Where’d you see that?

  2. I wonder if Zhalio isn’t a bit confused by the ablative being used as the possessor, and not the allative. Especially for inalienable possessions, this is kind of backwards from what you would expect. Perhaps you might want to explain why the ablative is the right choice for the possessor of an inalienable possession.

  3. Thanks, that website certainly clears things up. :) I was still going by a PDF version of the grammar that must be outdated by now. There it said there was no “form” for inalienable possessions, and it also contained the sample phrase “Arakh mra qora rakhaan”.

    @ Hrakkar: Exactly; I’d find the ablative intuitively appropriate for an alienated possession, as in: “Eat this. Heart from dog.” But it’s certainly realistic for languages not to work in what one would think of the most straightforward solutions.

    1. There it said there was no “form” for inalienable possessions, and it also contained the sample phrase “Arakh mra qora rakhaan”.

      That may have been a mistake (either on my part or the one who wrote it up). An unfortunate problem for Dothraki is that “allative” and “ablative” share all but one letter in common. Similarly, -oon and -aan are pretty darn similar. I can assure you for that, it’s supposed to be the ablative.

      As for your and Hrakkar’s intuition, I have to say, I have the complete opposite. If you were to use the allative, it could be any type of possession except inalienable, conceptually (if something is going towards you, how can it be a part of you? For something to go towards you, by definition it has to be separate from you).

      When it comes to defining things by opposition, it seems to me that languages will focus on specific aspects of a construction and attach meaning to it. The genitive is clearly older (not as a case, but as a method of marking possession). With that in mind, how would one specify that something isn’t necessarily one’s possession, but is actually an integral part of one? If you think of the body as the center of one’s physical existence, then various things spring out of it: the nose extends from the face; the face from the head; the head from the neck; the neck from the torso, etc.

      You see this kind of conceptual metaphor used with vegetation as well, with trees conceptualized as springing forth from the “torso” of the Earth: the word for “trunk” is the same as the word for “neck” and the word for the leafy part of the tree is the same as the word for “head”.

      Sorry if I didn’t explain this, but I kind of thought this was old hat—specifically because I thought I’d done a blog post on alienable vs. inalienable possession. Didn’t I…? A quick search suggests I haven’t. But that can’t be right. I could’ve sworn I went over this…

  4. What I’d find most intuitive is to use the genitive for inalienable possessions and the allative for alienable possessions (much like it’s done in Welsh or colloquial French — «c’est à moi»), but the historic development of Dothraki’s possessives certainly makes sense.

    Though I find it rather hard to wrap my head around the concept that one’s body parts (even the innermost ones, like the heart) be grown like branches out of one’s true self, though it’s certainly a nice bit of conculture.

    As for the different kinds of possessions being old hat: I wouldn’t be surprised if it had come up before. I’m only a casual dabbler in Dothraki, so no doubt I’ve missed lots of good stuff.

    Let’s see if this works: Anha ezo davrakh asshekh. Hash yer movee thagwa, yer eth fichi lamekhoon asshekhi. ;)

  5. Thank you, zhey David, for explaining why you would use the ablative for inalienable possession. I knew you would have a good explanation of this! Better yet, it is easy to remember. I also think its good you didn’t borrow from some existing language idea. That makes Dothraki all that more interesting!

    As far as the PDF grammar goes, that is now old and outdated enough that I think it should be removed (Qvaak has made some very useful changes to the wiki grammar as of late). I can ask Ingsve to do this. I’d like to make a better one, but my biggest enemy right now is lack of free time to work on projects :(

  6. ok i didn’t know where else to go so here goes

    can someone please properly translate “the ages have turned them to stone but they will always be beutiful”

    it is a quote from the wedding where daenerys is given the dragon eggs. i want a tattoo of a dragon egg with this around it in dothraki.

    my email is kolabugg13@gmail.com if you can help me

    1. Hehh. Sorry for the slow response time on the forum, but we would have said anyway, if you are going to get something permanent on your body, we must go to the creator, mr. Peterson. As this is his blog, you are on the right place, more or less. We (the fans) can make decent attempts at translating texts, but the language isn’t fully public and we can’t make a surefire translation. Let’s just hope David has time to help us on this.

    2. Let’s see…

      Vosma firesof ray acchongosh mora negwinaan, vosma mori alaini ayyeyaan.

      Yep. That’s how you’d do it. If you get the tattoo, take a picture and let us see! I’ll feature it on the blog.

  7. Hello! I also would like to get a tattoo in Dothraki. I am a doctor (Dermatologist) and my life phrase is “I take care” as in “I take care of you when you are sick”. Do somebody now how to write “I take care”? Is that different from “I care”? Thank you sooo much!

    1. Yeah. That’s tricky, and almost certainly would not stem from how Dothraki express “to care about”. Us learners can’t help you, and usually we are unwilling to go to tattoo level of certainity anyway. Mr. Peterson will most likely help, but that might take some time, so don’t hold your breath.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.