Season’s Bleatings

In the end, it was not close. Though my goat put up a valiant fight, there was to be one winner, and that winner was chosen decisively. With 42.86% of the vote, I present to you Winter Goat, 2013:

Winter Goat, 2013!
Winter Goat, 2013!

All hail Winter Goat, 2013!

This year’s Winter Goat is named Caspian, and is an actual goat, unlike Dorvi #3, Molly the sheep (my favorite [I know it’s a sheep! But she’s such a charming sheep! (Though I do admit it would be quite un-Dothraki to name a sheep Winter Goat…)]). The picture was taken by our own Hrakkar, and Caspian hails from Sierra Safari Zoo, where Hrakkar works (and I have visited). Caspian is a fine goat, and it gives me great pleasure to name him Winter Goat, 2013!

And just what has Winter Goat shook from his hoary beard for all who would seek his frosty counsel? Why, it’s an azho for our Valyrian friends! I have to present to you the 207 word Swadesh list in High Valyrian. Merry Goatmas! Here it is:

There isn’t as much information as there could be on this list, but it’s at least a good chunk of vocabulary—most of which hasn’t been released before today.

So as you venture forth today to bask in the glow of pine trees, candles, ducks and windows, take Winter Goat’s shaggy beard with you, and let his goatish presence engoaten each and every one of your wintry endeavors!

Also, if you plan to be in the Houston area next week, I will be at SpaceCityCon! I’ll be talking about the Game of Thrones languages, the Defiance languages, and about language creation in general. If you come, find me and give me a good bleating, and I shall rebleat you, in the spirit of the season.

Once again: Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerry Goatmas, one and all!


  1. Rovys biarves! Joy to the world! Mele Christmas!

    CLEARLY Astapor is derived from HV ātsio, and HV uēmā from PIE *wem- ;)

    I had some serious questions, but I just noticed they’re all (so far) answered by the note at the end. Well, except I guess in some cases I’ll need to ask whether a noun is terrestrial or paucal, aquatic or collective. For instance, I bet kyndrir is a collective. Oooh, and the new vocab item sōna raises that same question for sōnar!

    1. Jaos:jaes::dog:god? Is that an Easter egg? ;)

      (More seriously, is jaos in the same declension class as jaes? I worry whenever I see a one-syllable word that looks 3rd declension.)

  2. I am very happy to see our Caspian made ‘Winter Goat 2013’! The zoo folks will be very happy! We have put all our goats in one area this winter, and I have been hoping to get a picture of them. But a pesky knee injury has been keeping me out of the zoo the last couple of weeks :(

    2013 has turned out to be a bummer year for me. I had hoped to be more involved than I have been in the Dothraki/Valyrian world. But between dealing with much new equipment for the ‘broadcast museum collection’, fighting a terrible law in the legislature, and now, some nagging health issues, I have had to back off of things a bit. I will continue to keep the Dothraki dictionary going, as well as the forum and wiki. I am hoping as bugs are worked out of the underlying code, to get the dictionaries going for the Valyrian languages, as well as make significant improvements in the Dothraki dictionary. WorldCon in London is probably out, but I do hope this year to spend more time at BayCon in Santa Clara. The day I spent at BayCon this year ranks as the #1 or 2 best day of this year! (Interestingly, the other ‘best day’ candidate was spent just a couple miles away from there, at NASA’s Ames Research Center.)

    So Happy Holidays to everyone here, and I hope to join you all for an IRC chat once we get through the holidays!

  3. Hahh! The gift was just what I wished for. I take it that this is “anything that could translated as” list just like the Dothraki one, so we should expect the same kind of surprises as ammemat – play (but only in the sense “to play an instrument”).
    …What does tymagon mean – to act a part in a dramatic performance? :)

  4. Given the lack of news lately, I hope you’d have time to ask an old question: this may have been asked before, but I couldn’t find it, and I figured it was best to get it straight from the vezhof’s mouth.

    Have you developed an Asshai’i language? Apparently one was developed because you’re credited in Season 1 for developing “Dothraki, Asshai’i, and Skroth” (the White Walker language, which ultimately was never used in the TV series in favor of using ice-cracking sound effects).

    We sort of *assumed* that the one point that Asshai’i appears is when Mirri Maz Dur is chanting in her tent over Drogo – though we don’t hear what she’s saying clearly.

    I wanted to make sure and ask you to confirm that this is, indeed, the only time Asshai’i has appeared in the TV series.

    (Why would a Lhazareen woman be speaking Asshai’i? Well, the books say she spent time in Asshai and learned much there).

    I ask because I’m always hoping that an excuse is found to have Melisandre or Quaithe speak in Asshai’i. I was rewatching a previous production video recently and was reminded that Quaithe’s costume was specifically designed to have a stylistic similarity to Melisandre’s neck piece: apparently Asshai loves elongated hexagons (also, Melisandre’s alternate dress features the hexagon motif, the one she wears when she seduces Stannis).

    1. I’m pretty sure this was asked before, and I thought I had talked about it already. Yes, I developed something for Asshai’i, as well as for the White Walkers, but based on what you see in the show, I’m pretty sure they didn’t use it. In fact, even if they did use what I provided, it’s so unintelligible that if an Asshai’i language were ever needed, I wouldn’t feel the need to build off the old language (though I might. I had some neat ideas for it). And it was, indeed, developed for MMD for the scene in the tent.

  5. Unrelated question, but I know that it will fall into the right hands here.
    I want to get a tattoo that says “To boldly go where no man has gone before”
    … But I want it written in High Valyrian.
    I’m hoping I could get some help with the translation? I want to get it JUST right!

    1. I’m going to give it a go but do not get this tattooed. I’m just an eager student of the language, Mr. Peterson is the master. Whatever I come up with is just for fun. What he comes up with will be official ;)

      Daorys istas luro konriot nēdenkī jagon.
      “Bravely to go to that (place) to which nobody has gone.”

      I had to guess a lot of how to do this, and had nothing for “before,” so I’ll be happy to see what Mr. Peterson comes up with ;)

  6. “Kill the masters” – Why would people in Slaver’s Bay write graffiti in the Common Tongue of Westeros?

    Valyrian is in glyphs in the books…or at least some variants. We did see Talisa’s letter (in a unique font) – but regardless of the means of writing, the words are Common Tongue.

      1. Yeah, we should be camped at Meereen for a while, hear their variant more. Given that they’re more like accents and mutually intelligible, I just called them “Ghiscari Valyrian” but I’m trying to be concise for the noobs on the wiki…

        1. Yeah, for better or for worse we wound up going with “Astapori Valyrian” on the language wiki. If we do get significant Meereenese Valyrian, things may get complicated. I suppose I would most likely change the article names to Ghiscari Valyrian and use superscript letters to indicate the dialects, like Coptic scholars do.

          Ghiscari Valyrian is, of course, an official term used by Mr. Peterson himself, so it’s appropriate. But to my mind it always begs the question of what they speak in New Ghis and its holdings.

    1. “Kill the masters” – Why would people in Slaver’s Bay write graffiti in the Common Tongue of Westeros?

      This is precisely the question I asked. The answer: They wanted the viewers to be able to read it.

      1. I hold out a slim hope that so many people will remark upon this in the twitterverse that there is still a small chance that they might “fix it in post”, digitally. It just doesn’t. Make. Sense.

        1. Wikia made a “fannotation” video for the Season 4 trailer. One of the other Admins over on Game of Thrones WIki posted the new trailer as a blog post, and several of us posted comments. The higher ups at Wikia Central then did made a promotional video by taking the trailer and adding in fan annotations based on our blog comments. Among these was my complaint about Common Tongue graffiti. I hope this raises awareness:

          A couple of these are from me: the dragon shadow being either artistic or a dream, no Jaime-Joffrey scenes, Common Tongue in Slaver’s Bay, Yara/Asha not searching for Theon, the Red Viper’s “penchant” for poisoned weapons, and the note about Margaery’s hair (someone actually asked “why is her hair different?” not grasping from the visuals in a religious building that this is her wedding outfit). Also I noted the thing with Jaime reading the White Book.

          I wish they hadn’t included comments about Tyrion’s imprisonment or Oathbreaker; Battle of Castle Black is sort of obvious based on the footage they show.

            1. Good news: at my request the Wikia people re-edited the video to be less spoilery – there were one or two things in the original which gave away too much. Turns out they were inspired to make this in the first place because they thought my extensive blog comments on the trailer were fun. Anyway the only mild “spoilers” are things like “Jaime doesn’t return to King’s Landing at this point so the scenes he has with Joffrey are TV-only”, or “these Asha scenes are an invention of the TV series not in the books” etc.

              But the important thing is that it highlights the graffiti.

              Funny thing about graffiti, Latinist. Three to four years ago I was able to visit southern Italy with my family (I rubbed my Latin pocket dictionary on buildings in the Forum so it can have the dust of Rome in it :) — but we spent a day walking through the ruins of Pompeii…and the funny thing is that I sort of hoped to see the famous raw Vulgate Latin graffiti on at least some of the walls. I even asked the tour guide about it, but he explained that graffiti like that was considered important enough that they cut it out and put it in the museum – otherwise if they left it outside the elements would weather it way. It’s good that they’re preserving it, though.

              Side note: I also see from the trailer that they went with a Spain-esque accent for the Dornish. Which makes sense, given that they’re basically based on Moorish Spain. But how to reconcile this with what “Old Rhoynish” is supposed to sound like. Why we’d need some sort of expert on Iberian languages to accomplish such a task.

            2. OK, that kind of spoiler is no problem, on the contrary I crave it.

              What pocket dictionary do you have, Collins Gem?

              Yeah, sad about the graffiti. They recorded everything they found in the CIL of course, but not every entry has a hand drawing, and hardly any have photographs. If someone got a reading wrong, we are in too many cases out of luck.

              When I went to Rome as an undergrad I wrote a paper on the continuity of Italian graffiti, comparing and contrasting the graffiti I saw there with those ancient equivalents. It really surprised me how much more like Roman graffiti theirs is than ours is in the US. One that was particularly off the wall (in at least two senses) was an “X loves Y”-type graffito I saw written on the seat of a bus, IN THE PHOENICIAN ALPHABET. Mind you it was in Italian, using Phoenician as a cypher, but it was still hilarious. And not long after I got off the bus, I saw an unencrypted graffito with the exact same text on a nearby wall.

              So just what do we have on Old Rhoynish? Is there more than onomastic evidence?

      2. This decision is so stupid that I just can’t. They want the readers to be able to understand the text?!? Well, I suppose that having spoken High Valyrian is a rather bad idea as well. Since, you know, that would make the viewers not understand what is being said. Well, no matter, it’s not like they hired a professional linguist to create the language and had actors perform in said language…………..

      3. Sorry to pry, but when you say “what I said” – do you mean there was an actual on-set discussion about this? But the producers officially felt it was more important for the audience to be able to read it at a glance?

        Meanwhile, I do think the Volantene Font from Talisa’s letter was nice, but man since early Season 1 I’ve been thinking in the back of my mind, “what the heck will the Valyrian glyphs that the books mention look like?”

        1. lol Well, not on set, since I was a part of the discussion. Over e-mail. When I got the bulk of the scripts on July 1st, as always, Alanna, D&D’s assistant, asked me if I had any questions. I did, of course, and the major one was this:

          In [redacted] there’s a scene where we see “Kill the masters” graffitied on the wall. Fans of the books will be expecting to see this in Valyrian glyphs as opposed to English characters, but thus far we haven’t discussed creating a writing system for Valyrian. This is something I’m able and willing to do (I created the writing systems used throughout Defiance), and can do if D&D are interested.

          When the response came back, it was that D&D wanted the graffiti to be in Common (English).

          So that was that. But I did do my due diligence.

          To me it seems likely that we’re not, in fact, going to ever get an actual writing system for the show. You never know, of course, but that seems to be the way the winds are blowing. Perhaps after the show is finished I and/or others can take a crack at it, though I doubt GRRM would ever sanction such a thing, so it would never be canon.

          1. I doff my hat, ser, at your devotion. Yes, I am “a fan” who wanted Peterson-created Valyrian glyphs!

            Frankly I was willing to meet them half way on this and at least have Valyrian words, just written in a different font (Talisa’s letter).

    2. A friend of mine suggests that the Great Master just happened to stop in front of the one graffito that happened to be written by a slave of Westerosi origin. Obviously that same slogan was written in Qartheen, Lhazareen, and every kind of Valyrian on other walls ;)

  7. I’m hoping to get the tattoo on Sunday so if anyone else wants to give it a shot – I really want it to say, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” (In High Valyrian, of course.)
    Thank you so much for your time and I seriously appreciate any and all efforts!

  8. “Kill the Masters” could’ve been written in the Slaver’s Bay dialect of High Valyrian and a subtitle in English could’ve been done… just like when actors spoke in Valyrian or Dothraki

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