If you’re following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’m at TED in Long Beach right now, and that it’s not likely that I’ll get out three more blog posts before the month is up. That, however (as well as the title to my last post), got me thinking about months.
In the Universe of Ice and Fire, we know there are seasons, because we’re told that there are. Seasons can last months, years—decades, even. We don’t know why, but I’ve heard that there is an explanation, and we’ll learn what it is when George R. R. Martin is done with the series. In the meantime, though, I have absolutely no idea what to do with month names—or dividing up months—in Dothraki, and so I’m going to leave it alone. After all, though summer will be the same every time one experiences it, whether summer lasts three months or three years, there’s no guarantee that a single month (e.g. September) will be the same year in and year out. What, then, would distinguish it? Why even name it?
That, though, doesn’t change the fact that we have months in our world, and that those months have names. So if one were to use Dothraki, we could use the English names and Dothrakify them (though “February” is terrible in any language. What an awful word! I think I’d Dothrakify it as Fevyuweri, which will betray my accent), but I thought it might be fun to come up with Dothraki words for our months—and so I’m throwing it out to you. What would be some good names for our months in Dothraki? You might find it useful to refer to the extant vocabulary of Dothraki in coming up with words, but feel free to be creative. As a reminder, these are the terms for the seasons in Dothraki:
- Spring: Eyelke
- Summer: Vorsaska
- Autumn: Chafka
- Winter: Aheshke
You might also find it interesting to look at how other cultures have named their months. For example, in Ancient Egyptian, the months were called Growth, Harvest and Inundation followed by a number (I always found that amusing). If we can come up with terms we like, we’ll start using them out of world.
Oh, by the way, I think it’d be helpful to come up with a list of out of character Dothraki vocabulary (e.g. some of the modern terms we’ve come up with). Possible expansion for the language wiki…?
You should come up with a Dothraki term for the ‘out of character’ vocabulary
This is a good point. I will give it some thought.
They do have “months” because they’re based on lunar cycles (“moonturns” as they call them in Westeros itself). They also calls a 12 month period “a year”, as opposed to a full seasonal cycle. It’s supposed to be a subtle hint that the seasons weren’t always like this, i.e. that the Long Night twelve thousand years ago screwed up the weather patterns. Martin has hinted, vaguely, that he will address why the seasons are the way they are before the series ends…but, that it is a “magical” reason, not a scientific one.
That is, in specific contrast to Dragonriders of Pern, where the twist is that we later find it’s really the far future of a colony that lost all high technology and the dragons are really bio-engineered from local exotic wildlife, etc. There’s no “scifi” explanation waiting to be revealed, but the implication is that the White Walkers are responsible.
As for the Dothraki…we don’t hear much about how the seasons affect Essos, but it’s sort of handwaved that it’s closer to the equator and thus not as badly effected by the seasons (Braavos and Vaes Dothrak are at the same latitude as the Vale of Arryn, so they don’t get hit by winter quite as bad as Winterfell).
July – Jalan Addrivat – to kill month. (what, the month was named for Caesar, right?)
August – Jalan Vorsakh – burning month. (if more of the Dothrak Sea is in their southern hemisphere, then freezing month?)
December – Jalan Zigerelat – to need month. (because without the last month, you can’t get to the next year)
I wonder exactly how many days a ‘moonturn’ is. And are their days exactly 24 hours? The theory that the seasons were magically altered is very intriguing. It will be interesting to see what the last two books tell us. Knowing GRRM, expect right-angle turns! (Ned Stark brought back to life by secret genetic engineering experiments in an underground Valyrian city?? We don’t see any mention of his body after the silent sisters leave Kings Landing with it.)
I have wanted to add a ‘out of world’ section to the dictionary for a long time. That is one of the easier things to add.
I hope your TED talking is going well!
Well, GRRM just said it was a magic-based explanation, not like Pern or something where we find out there’s a scifi explanation based on technology (a big part of GRRM’s fantasy is that “magic” is barely comprehensible, even to the people who claim to wield it – i.e. Melisandre is screwing with powers beyond her comprehension, and at times she can kind of get things she wants or prophecies, but it’s more hit or miss than she likes to admit).
Actually we’ve had no definitive statement on the years, though there’s no indication they follow the Gregorian calendar in Westeros with leap years and such. Frankly, I think they’re officially on a lunar calendar.
A lunar calendar makes a good deal of sense, doesn’t it? After all, in our world it seems like civilizations invent solar calendars only when they realize their months are out of whack with the seasons. The inhabitants of the World of Ice and Fire could, of course, invent a sidereal calendar as well, but without predictable seasons it hardly seems worth it….
Speaking as an amateur astronomer, a lunar calendar does make the most sense with their messed-up seasons. Like here, the lunar and sidereal calendars probably do not line up well. And there is enough history in that world that there should be records of geodetic precession, if that is at work in their world. So, 12 moonturns per year, and in this case, these define exactly one year (presumably until the seasons are ‘repaired’).
I’ll offer for January Jalan Evolat – ‘month to start’.
For July, I’ll offer Jalan Hrakkar for no other good reason than it is the month in our world when the astrological sign of Leo is supposedly happening. It could also be looked at as the ‘king month’ of the year, the best weather without the heat of August (presumably when they had regular years and seasons). I also suspect the Lannisters would approve of that name
I’m wondering if you could help me. I’d like to get a tatto but wish I could have the sentence in dothraki
unfortunately I can’t find all the words, so if you could help me out to translat this would be awesome!
so: “dare to live it’s easy to die”
how do you say it in dothraki?
Hey, I’ve got a response for you now in the next blog post.
The most important thing to dothraki is horses. So some month names could come from horse breeding. Perhaps Stallion’s month (mating) and Mare’s month (foaling). If you wanted to introduce ( probably more violent) equivalents of Mother’s day and Father’s day they would fit.
Well, certainly I thought some months could be related to when horses mate and when they give birth to foals. So you could incorporate those cycles into the names of some months.