Relative Clauses in High Valyrian

Today’s post is going to be long and a little convoluted, for today I’m going to talk about relative clauses in High Valyrian. I promised this post to Mad Latinist a while ago, so there’s no avoiding it now: it has to happen. But worry not! If grammar isn’t your thing, I have below, in the grand tradition of relative clause posts to the Dothraki blog, a picture of my cat Keli against a dark background:

My cat keli.
Click to enlarge.

Now. To business.

Relative clauses are actually one of my favorite parts of creating a language. Unlike other clause structures, they tend to be very orderly, and so can be fun to put together. Basically, when it comes to me creating a language, a noun is to a verb as a relative clause is to a subordinate clause. I love me some relative clauses; subordinate clauses give me fits (so hard to get just right!).

High Valyrian relative clauses pose two types of problems for an English speaker trying to learn them. The first we can deal with quite simply before getting into the rest. In English, a relative clause is a sentence that follows a noun or pronoun that gives the listener more information about that noun or pronoun. Here are some examples:

  • The goat who tolerates me.
  • The octopus that I saw crying over a Twinkie.
  • The jaguar I sold a camera.
  • The penguin I rented Driving Miss Daisy with.
  • The duck whose uncle I glazed at the Super Bowl.

The underlined clauses all modify the non-underlined nouns on the left. All of them have something in common, though: The clause follows the noun it modifies, and there’s a gap in the sentence that corresponds to the noun being modified (e.g. “I rented Driving Miss Daisy with” is not a full sentence. There’s a gap after “with” that the noun “the penguin” should occupy).

In High Valyrian, the order of this is completely backwards. So starting with the simplest relative clause (the type where the modified noun is a subject in the embedded sentence), here’s a comparison between High Valyrian and English:

  • Ābre kustittas lua vala raqiros issa. “The man who encouraged the woman is a friend.”
  • Word-for-word, the above sentence is, “Woman encouraged who man friend is”. This is basically backwards when compared to an English relative clause. That said, once you get used to it, it’s not too bad. Instead of thinking of the relative clause as a clause, try thinking of it as a great big adjective. So instead of thinking of it as “The who encouraged a woman man is a friend”, think “The woman encouraging man is a friend”. Grammatically those two clauses are distinct, but I found it helped me to wrap my head around it the first time I saw a relative clause like this.

    Now we can move on to the complicated stuff.

    Aside from word order, the biggest difference between High Valyrian and English relative clauses is that while English has a relative pronoun, High Valyrian has a relative adjective: lua. The difference is subtle, if you stick to simple relative clauses, but becomes quite noticeable when you move outward. Let’s start with the simple ones. We’ve already seen an example where the target of relativization is a subject in the embedded clause. Now let’s look at some others:

    • Subject: Ābre kustittas lua vala raqiros issa. “The man who encouraged the woman is a friend.”
    • Direct Object: Ābra kustittas lua vala raqiros issa. “The man whom the woman encouraged is a friend.”
    • Indirect Object: Ābra rūklon teptas lua vala raqiros issa. “The man whom the woman gave a flower is a friend.”

    Notice that lua, the relative adjective, doesn’t change in any one of those sentences, while “who” becomes “whom” in the English translations. This is a direct result of the relativizer being an adjective. It agrees with the noun in case, gender and number. In all of those sentences, vala, the target of relativization (i.e. the noun being modified), is singular, lunar and nominative, because it’s the subject of the matrix clause “is a friend”. Watch what happens if we change the matrix clause (using just the subject example from above):

    • Ābre kustittas lua vala raqiros issa. “The man who encouraged the woman is a friend.”
    • Ābre kustittas lue vale ūndetan. “I saw the man who encouraged the woman.”
    • Ābre kustittas luo valot rūklon teptan. “I gave a flower to the man who encouraged the woman.”
    • Suddenly the relativizer is changing form just like “who” does in English. This is because the relative adjective has one foot in the embedded clause, and one foot in the matrix clause. Grammatically, it behaves as if it’s in the matrix clause, but semantically it links the two (basically the opposite of English “who”). This doesn’t cause any problems with sentences like the first three, where it’s pretty clear who did what to whom. But here are some further examples to complicate matters:

      • Possessor: Ābra kepe rhēdes lua vala raqiros issa. “The man whose father the woman knows is a friend.”
      • Location: Ābra morghūltas luon lenton pryjataks. “The house where the woman died was destroyed.”
      • Comparand: Ābra kirinkta issa lua vala raqiros issa. “The man who the woman is happier than is a friend.”
      • Adposition: Ābra dekurūptan lua vala raqiros issa. “The man the woman walked up to is a friend.”

      So, if you’re following the grammar here, you may be wondering: How do these sentences mean what they mean? The most literal translation of the first sentence would probably be something like, “The man whom the woman knows the father is a friend”. That’s not quite grammatical in English, but you get the idea. And actually it will probably seem more grammatical when you put it into English because word order does so much for it. An even more literal translation of the second sentence might be “The a woman died house was destroyed”. There’s nothing in it to tell you why the relative clause and the modified noun are related, because the relative adjective doesn’t bear the case of the noun in the embedded clause.

      Now here’s the crucial part: This was intentional. Certain languages allow constructions like this (Japanese is one, I’m pretty sure), and High Valyrian is one of them. Basically it gives you two clauses and the relative adjective lua says, “Figure it out”.

      I decided to do relative clauses this way for two reasons. First, I always wanted to do it (I tried with Zhyler, I think, but it didn’t come out well). Second, I wanted to create a structure that was likely to be destroyed by daughter languages. Some of the Low Valyrian languages may keep this strategy, sure, but no one would bat an eye if they decided to do something more explicit. Thus it almost begs for the daughter languages to distinguish themselves. I did that in several places throughout High Valyrian, and did so on purpose.

      A result of this is that relative clauses in High Valyrian are much freer than they are in English. You can say just about anything and have it describe the target of relativization. However, repair strategies do exist. Basically you can include a pronoun if it’s absolutely necessary. Most of the time it’s not, though, and the natural strategy is to leave it be. Nevertheless, here are the four sentences above with a redundant pronoun (bolded):

      • Possessor: Ābra zȳhe kepe rhēdes lua vala raqiros issa. “The man who the woman knows his father is a friend.”
      • Location: Ābra konīr morghūltas luon lenton pryjataks. “The house where the woman died there was destroyed.”
      • Comparand: Ābra zijosy kirinkte issa lua vala raqiros issa. “The man who the woman is happier than him is a friend.”
      • Adposition: Ābra va zijot dekurūptan lua vala raqiros issa. “The man the woman walked up to him is a friend.”

      In High Valyrian, you can’t leave a preposition stranded, of course, so it’s reintroduced in the last sentence.

      But this isn’t the end. Oh no. For while lua above is an adjective, it can also be a pronoun. There are two forms of the relative pronoun: and līr. The former is for specific entities (and people), and the latter for generic. They can be used by themselves, as shown below:

      • Specific: Ābra kustittas lȳ sȳz issa.The one who encouraged the woman is good.”
      • Generic: Ābra kustittas līr sȳrior issa.That which encouraged the woman is good.”

      These are often used to say things like, “Whatever works”, or “Whoever can find it”, so another way to translate the above would be “Whoever encouraged the woman is good” and “Whatever encouraged the woman is good”, respectively.

      The pronouns can be modified by an adjective, rendering the meaning “that which is x”, where x is an adjective. Here are two examples:

      • Specific: Kaste lī ipradinna. “I’ll eat one which is green.”
      • Generic: Kastor līr ipradinna. “I’ll eat that which is green.”

      And finally, the relative pronouns can also take a nominal possessor in the genitive. The resultant meaning is either a possessive construction, or very similar to the adjective construction, but with a nominal adjectival interpretation:

      • Specific: Valo luo vaoresan. “I prefer one which is a man(‘s).”
      • Generic: Valo lurio vaoresan. “I prefer that which is a man(‘s).”

      The difference between the two should be clear from context.

      Finally, as those who follow High Valyrian grammar closely will note, the relative adjective and pronouns are irregular. The full declension tables for all three are listed below. First, the relative adjective (a Class I adjective):

      Singular/Collective Lunar Solar Terrestrial Aquatic
      Nominative lua lȳs luon luor
      Accusative lue luon luor
      Genitive luo luo luo luro
      Dative luo(t) luo(t) luo(t) luro(t)
      Locative luā luo(t) luro(t)
      Instrumental luos luos luos luros
      Comitative luom luom luom lurom
      Vocative lūs lȳs luos luos

      And here it is in the plural/paucal:

      Plural/Paucal Lunar Solar Terrestrial Aquatic
      Nominative lȳz lua lura
      Accusative lua lura
      Genitive luo luo luo luro
      Dative luo luo luo luro
      Locative luo luo luro
      Instrumental luos luos luos luros
      Comitative luom luom luom lurom
      Vocative līs lȳz luas luas

      Notice that these lack full forms. That’s because the relative adjective will always and only appear directly before the noun it modifies. Consequently it has no need of a full form (though, of course, it’d just be the same as any Class I adjective). The same notes apply for t in parentheses as for other Class I adjectives: it appears when the following word begins with a vowel, but disappears otherwise. Also the plural/paucal forms of the solar have a z when the following sound is voiced; voiceless otherwise.

      Now for the pronouns. First, the specific pronoun :

      Case Singular Plural Paucal Collective
      Nominative lȳn lȳr
      Accusative lȳni lȳri
      Genitive luo luoti lȳno lȳro
      Dative luot luoti lȳnty lȳrty
      Locative lȳnny lȳrry
      Instrumental luomy luommi lȳssy lȳrzy
      Comitative luomy luommi lȳmmy lȳrmy
      Vocative lȳs lȳs lȳssy lȳrzy

      And now the generic pronoun līr:

      Case Singular Plural Paucal Collective
      Nominative līr lura lurin lurir
      Accusative līr lura lurini luriri
      Genitive lurio lurȳti lurino luriro
      Dative luriot lurȳti lurinti lurirti
      Locative līr lurȳti lurinni lurirri
      Instrumental lurȳsi lurȳssi lurissi lurirzi
      Comitative lurȳmi lurȳmmi lurimmi lurirmi
      Vocative lȳs luas lurissi lurirzi

      And that’s the end of it. Now you should know how to do relative clauses in High Valyrian, plus a little bit extra. If you made it to the end of the post, I have a reward for you: Another picture of my fantastic cat. Here she is sleeping on my foot:

      Keli sleeping on my foot.
      Click to enlarge.

      Geros ilas!


  1. Nice juice bit of info! However, there appear to be three mistakes (correct me if I’m mistaken):

    Ābre rūklon teptas lua vala raqiros issa.

    It should say Ābra.

    Valo luo vaoresan.
    Valo lurio vaoresan.

    As I understand it, the pronoun should decline according to its role in the exterior clause, so:

    Valo lī vaoresan.
    Valo līr vaoresan.

    1. It should say Ābra.

      Fixed. Thanks for the catch!

      As I understand it, the pronoun should decline according to its role in the exterior clause, so:

      Valo lī vaoresan.
      Valo līr vaoresan.

      This is so, but in fact the forms are correct. The relative pronoun is the object of vaoresan, which has a locative applicative prefix. Objects of such verbs take the dative if the verb begins with a vowel, and the genitive otherwise. I probably could’ve chosen a better verb for those examples…

  2. Interesting. I agree relative clauses are fun. Natural languages can be so outlandish with them that it basically gives you carte blanche to do whatever you like :).

    And indeed, as you wrote, Japanese relative clauses are basically like that. Although they are even less marked than in High Valyrian: by a trick of historical changes, the form of the verb used in relative clauses ended up being identical to the form used in normal (non-polite) independent clauses. So relative clauses are basically identical to independent clauses. And since Japanese is aggressively pro-drop, finding the relevant gap in the subclause can be tricky. As a result, Japanese relative clauses can be only generally related to their head, i.e. sometimes the head just doesn’t seem to have an actual grammatical role in the relative clause (one could say the relativised role is that of topic). Rather, the subclause seems to take on a descriptive adjective meaning towards the head. Needless to say, those are a pain to translate in English :).

    Relative clauses in my Moten work basically the same way (with the only difference that the verb takes on a special dependent form distinct from its form in main clauses), because I just love ambiguity! :)

    By the way, you don’t need to go as far as Japanese to find languages with relative clauses that work the way you describe them: Modern Greek does it as well! In Modern Greek, the invariable που marks the beginning of a relative clause. It’s not a relative pronoun, although it may look like one. Being completely invariable, it’s more like a relative particle. And indeed, anything can be relativised in Greek, in the same way as High Valyrian. Repair strategies, when needed, are the same as you showed: add a pronoun to replace the gap and take on the role of the head in the subclause. Greek also has Western-style relative clauses with an actual, inflected relative pronoun, but those are only used in formal writing or speech, or when the normal strategy gets really too ambiguous.

    It’s all so much fun, isn’t it? :P

    1. It’d be cool to see a whole bunch of relative clause examples—assemble them all into one document (both nat- and con-) so conlangers can look at them all in one place. Sounds like a Fiat Lingua article to me. :)

      1. That’d be a nice idea, and I can get a hint ;) . It’d also make a nice Conlangery episode. I wonder if they’ve handled relative clauses already…

        That said, I’m not sure I want to touch some types of relative clauses with a 40-foot pole. I haven’t yet been able to wrap my brain around internally-headed relatives!

    2. You are right about Japanese. Allow me to give a simple example, for those who are curious:

      kinou okutta meeru wo mita
      yesterday/sent/email/(direct object marker)/saw? (‘you’ understood)
      Have you seen the email (that) I sent you yesterday?

      I quite like this aspect of Japanese, for it allows great flexibility and is less cumbersome than its English counterpart.

      1. Relative pronouns are equally unnecessary. All you have to do is to transform your entire sentence beginning with “who” or “which” into an attributive and you will never miss your relatives. “A man who comes” is “a comes man”, “a man who has come” is a “a went man”, and “the carpenter who fell off the roof and broke his leg” is “the fell off the roof and broke his leg carpenter”. It is all admirably simple, and the acquisition of the Japanese language with naught but the noun and verb to vex us is, from one point of view, as easy as Japanese housekeeping with nothing but floor and walls to keep free from dust. —Arthur Knapp in Feudal and Modern Japan, vol. 2, 1896.

        (I owe this citation to robin d. gill’s freely available & exceedingly entertaining Orientalism & Occidentalism.)

  3. Incidentally, that’s exactly how relative clauses work in my natlang, Züritüütsch. Even though it is generally less inflected than High German (it has no accusative, for instance), it can apparently afford to be fuzzier on relative clauses as well. Basically, all relative pronouns are replaced by wo “where”.

    De Maa wo de Hund bbisse hät…
    “The man where the dog bit…”
    — This can basically either mean “The man who bit the dog” or “The man whom the dog bit”.

    I suppose you could resolve the ambiguity by going passive in the (rarer) second clause:
    De Maa wo vom Hund bbisse worden isch…
    “The man where by the dog bitten become is…”

    S Huus, won ich uufgwachse bin, isch rot.
    “The house where I grew up is red.”

    Won ich uufgwacht bin, isch er wëg gsii.
    “Where I upwaked am, is he away been.”
    — Meaning: “When I woke up, he was gone.”

    D Frau, won ich ire Bappi käne, …
    “The woman where I her dad know…”
    — Meaning: “The woman whose dad I know…”

    1. What on Earth is this language?! You know I studied German (not for a long time, but for a year), so this is… I mean, a word starting with two b’s?! How is this written form standardized? Truly astounding! Also a fascinating relative clause structure, where “where” has essentially become the default relativizer. Fascinating! (Also, for others, here’s a Wikipedia link for Züritüütsch.)

      1. How is this written form standardized?

        Not at all. When we write, we High German (well, sort of). People who attempt to write Züritüütsch often produce horribly inconsistent things like “äs guäts Fest” for [əs kuəts faʃt], insisting on unnecessarily replacing the standard e for Schwa with ä but failing to recognize the dramatic deviation from High German in the noun. (I’d write that as “es guets Fäscht”, for instance.)

        The bb in bbisse [p:is:ə] is my attempt to write the fortification of biisse [b_0i:s:ə] “to bite”. I suppose one could write it as pisse, but that would elicit all kinds of wrong associations… anyway, since it’s basically an assimilation of German »gebissen«, it feels right from an intra-linguistic point of view to double the initial consonant, rather than to replace it with a different one. It’s also common to write the fortis /k:/ medially as gg, e.g., ligge [lik:ə] ~ »liegen« “to lie”, since k/ck typically stands for /kχ/, e.g., hocke [hok:χə] ~ »hocken« “to sit”.

      2. Interestingly (and no doubt just a coincidence. I’m writing that here lest linguistic conspiracy theorists try to explain this through a freak influence of Greek on German), the Modern Greek relative particle I was talking about (που), happens to be homophonous and nearly homonymous with the interrogative adverb πού, which means (you guessed it) “where” :) .

        1. Gah, Christophe beat me to it!! I was about to log on and note that Greek also uses “where” as the relative pronoun, at least in modern colloquial Greek. As I understand it, there actually *is* a “proper” way to do relative pronouns in Greek, but everyone just uses “where” instead.

          Regards the Swiss German examples, it’s also common in large parts of Germany. I just finished reading a cop novel written in “Standard Bavarian Dorfdeutsch”, so something halfway between Hochdeutsch and Bayrisch, and it used “wo” as the relative pronoun throughout, instead of the definite articles. I quite liked the language in it…

          Although in Germany, using “wo” as a relative pronoun is treated by most standard German speakers as sounding “bauernhaft” (something like “peasant-ish”)… Germans are often pretty narrow-minded about people using local dialects.

          Or a related phenomenon in many, many dialects, replacing the genitive relative pronouns with the dative (which is part of a wider genitive/dative blurring), thereby getting:

          Hochdeutsch: Ich kenne einen Mann, dessen Freundin…

          vs dialectal: Ich kenne einen Mann, dem die Freundin…

  4. Thanks! It’s been a long time since we’ve had a grammar post (and I imagine it will be a long time til we get another!) This will, of course, take a lot of work to codify on the wiki… I’m already imagining how drastically this will change the shape of [[High Valyrian Pronouns]], especially given that the section on relatives is just a tiny sliver currently. It may well be the longest section once that’s updated!

    So, questions. Zhalio already got my first one, namely what’s with luo/lȳro? Is this a mistake, or is it a grammatical quirk we need to know (perhaps the pronoun, under the influence of the adjective, winds up taking the embedded case? Perhaps vaoresagon takes a genitive?)

    Next, we have a good deal of new vocab here. The only one where I’m not reasonably confident as to the citation form is kustittas. Is it *kustikagon? Or maybe *kustitagon? (Thus far the only t-stem verb for which we have an attested perfect is tatagontetan, and I suspect that’s anomalous.) If you only have time to answer one question, I suppose it should be this one!

    Glad to finally have raqiros. When we last spoke of raqagon and jorrāelagon, you said you weren’t yet certain what the difference in sense was between them… should I take raqiros as evidence that the verb means φιλεῖν? Of course jorrāeliarza
    suggests that jorrāelagon is appropriate for familial love, or at least for a formulaic salutation in a letter (I was never clear on which you intended, which is why I didn’t use it in my postcard to you ;) )

    Undetan. Aha! So you used “my” eventative form here. But I’m still not clear on the semantic difference between urnegon and undegon… does the latter maybe mean “catch sight of”?

    Rhēdegon, vaorēsan … don’t see any problems with these (yet).

    Your glosses “the one who” vs. “that which” are very useful, thanks.

    1. Next, we have a good deal of new vocab here. The only one where I’m not reasonably confident as to the citation form is kustittas. Is it *kustikagon? Or maybe *kustitagon? (Thus far the only t-stem verb for which we have an attested perfect is tatagon→tetan, and I suspect that’s anomalous.) If you only have time to answer one question, I suppose it should be this one!

      It is kustikagon: to strengthen, to enable.

      Glad to finally have raqiros. When we last spoke of raqagon and jorrāelagon, you said you weren’t yet certain what the difference in sense was between them… should I take raqiros as evidence that the verb means φιλεῖν?

      That’d be one good way to define it. It’s more…light, if that makes sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if daughter languages developed this into their gustar verb.

  5. Alright, I’ve made some progress on my daktylic hexameter project, but I’m stuck on account of missing vocab at this point. I’m also sure the verse needs some extra coaching. I’m currently neglecting most of the stylistic rules in order to get things to scan in the first place. I find it surprisingly difficult to avoid diaereses; HV words tend to have light syllables at their end, if at all, and there’s a frustrating dearth of monosyllables.

    My project is the beginning of Aegon the Conqueror’s historic account of the war in Westeros:

    Vesterosīho vīlībāzmo bē.

    Vestero gierves va tegroti sīkudot rōvot ezīmiks:
    Sōnaro nākelirȳr dāriot Zoklar dekurūbis,
    Eglȳ blēnoti dārion sīr Hontī sytilībis,
    Qelbriā Klioss’ aderȳt iēdrarra bughessis,
    Rhakkar hen endiot dāriot GOLD? derēbis,
    Gerparo lēdot drāñȳr dāriot Rūklor iōris,

    Now, I don’t know any words for “gold”, “stag”, and “run”, and Rhakkar may be a poor choice for “lion”. Otherwise, do you see grammar mistakes?

    For the record, I’m allowing the -t in sīkudot rōvot to liaise with the following r-, since tr- is a viable initial cluster. It might not be allowed in Latin, but I bet they’d have allowed it if Latin were full of -ot endings!

  6. Hi David, I am currently working on a hexameter as well, and I have some questions related to vocabulary. If there are any, I would like to know the words for “flame”, “beast” (as in dangerous animal), “to tame” and “shepherd” (or alternatively “sheep” and “to herd”). Any help is appreciated, choose the word(s) you feel you have a suitable translation for. Thanks.

    1. And as a quick reminder, I still need a word for “stag”… “run” and/or “roam” would also be appreciated, but I suppose I could just find a less fitting pastime for the Stags of the Stormlands.

      Currently, I have “flower” for “rose” and “bird” for “eagle”. Do you happen to have words for “rose” and “eagle” that I should be using instead…?

      1. You could always use espes for stag, haha! Also, the sigil of the Arryns is a falcon, not an eagle, if that is what you poem is making an allusion to.

    2. Oh, and a word for “when” to begin subordinate clauses would be very helpful. Actually, this is probably what I need most.

    3. Can you use “fire” for “flame”, “dragon” for “beast” (though that would likely be taken too literally?), “soften” for “tame”, “goat” for “sheep”, and “lead” for “herd”?

      1. I did of course consider “goat” as an alternative, but I’d rather not start off my hexameter with a “factual” error, since GRRM has name the Valyrians of old shepherds and not goatherds. However, it seems likely that it will be 4sol (-es), since many other animals are in tht class. “Fire” I have aldready used, “flame” would mostly be a nice touch since it has less of the character of a mass noun. It’s also supposed to refer to the Fourteen Flames, volcanic mountains on the Valyrian peninsula where dragons were first discovered. That is why I want a slightly more tangible feeling to it. “Dragon” for “beast” – I’m not thrilled really, since I am planning to introduce the specific word zaldrīzes a bit later in the poem.

        “Soften” for “tame” and “lead” for “drive” are pretty good alternatives though! I wonder if one could draw some parallel between “domesticize” and lenton?

        1. Dȳñes won’t suffice for “beast”? Certainly AV dyni is glossed that way on the show.

          I need to add a note to the vocabulary, btw, I’m pretty sure rāpūljagon is intransitive: it means soften as in “become soft,” not as in “make soft” (that’s English for you….)

      2. Trying my best to keep up, but I don’t have as much time for straight up conlanging lately! Coining words is my favorite part!

        But yeah, dȳñes is “beast”, and I thought that one was established (it’s on the Swadesh list, isn’t it?).

        A female sheep is a bianor, which is aquatic (oh, and note: This one is subject to the n-deletion rule, so bianor~biādra). A male sheep, or ram, is ōtor (also aquatic). I imagine you’d use the female one to talk about a herd?

        As for “fire” and “flame”, that’s something very Englishy (or Germanicky). I’m not sure how to quantify the difference… Perhaps the count version of fire? Really that would be perzys, and its plural would definitely refer to the count version. Perzyr is actually better to refer to the substance “fire” (in fact, Perzyr Ānogār is probably better for “Fire and Blood”).

        I don’t have anything specifically for “tame” or “herd” yet, but it feels to me like those should be separate lexemes. I’ll see when I have time to coin more words and I’ll add those to the list.

        1. Thank you for the help! I do of course understand that you don’t have a lot of time for this. Should I take biādra to be the plural, and the collective to be biādor? Could one use the collective to refer to a herd of sheep?

          Good to hear that you’ll be coining new words, but could one form a verb from for example lenton? Is this something High Valyrian does or has done in the in-universe past? We have dekuragon “to step” from deks “foot”, but you have stated that -uragon is not a common derivational suffix. I should probably give my questions some structure:

          – Is there any other way to make verbs from nouns?

          – Is lenton > lentenka > lentenkemagon something that could happen or is it just crazy?

          – If there would exist a verb lenturagon, would it mean “to tame, to domesticate” or “to harbour, to shelter”, or something else entirely?

          1. Answering in order:

            -That requires more space/time than I can devote to a comment reply.

            Lentenkemagon looks crazy to me.

            Lenturagon wouldn’t be my first choice for a word. It would mean pretty much whatever you wanted it to mean (i.e. with it somehow being related to the meaning of lenton), and it’d be up to the listener/reader to decide to accept or reject the word. If it were transitive, my guess would be that it’d mean something like “to house”, but even that has a couple of different meanings in English. It’s kind of up to you.

            1. Okay, thanks for the reply! What about the collective of bianor though?

              Also (if it doesn’t take too much time), is there a word for “when” to begin subordinate clauses? Assuming it’s not skorī, of course.

        2. We actually hadn’t learned the n-deletion rule. I mean, we’ve encountered it once or twice, most noticeably in ēza, but we hadn’t known there were nouns that behaved this way. That does make a hell of a lot more sense than ˣbianra though. But when you say “This one is subject…” should I take that to mean we can’t assume all aquatic nouns whose stem ends in n are also subject to this rule? Or is this a regular thing?

          Joel, I assume the collective would be *biādror.

          David, can I take it as official that *biādror (or whatever the correct form is) means “herd of sheep”?

          Seems like the fire/flame distinction exists in Latin and Romance as well… and actually Hebrew now that I think of it. But perzys vs. perzyr is a clever way to deal with this. In my humble opinion this does not preclude using perzys for “fire” as well, and that would be doubly true for the Targaryen words.

          Joel & Zhalio: I’m at a Latin conference this weekend, so I’ve been totally unable to help with your hexameters. Sorry! In fact, I need to get back to doing my readings and going to bed, so geros ilas, tolvias!

  7. Thanks for supplying the missing vocab! I believe I have a first complete version of the beginning of “Vesterosīho Vīlībāzmo Bē”. There’s still a boorish overabundance of diaereses, but perhaps that can be fixed later.

    Vestero gierves va tegroti sīkudot rōvot ezīmiks:
    Sōnaro nākelirȳr dāriot Zoklar dekurūbis,
    Eglȳ blēnoti dārion sīr Hontī sytilībis,
    Qelbriā Klioss’ aderȳt iēdrarra bughessis,
    Āeksion kēlior hen endȳr dāriot jāla derēbis,
    Gerparo lēdot drāñȳr dāriot Rūklor iōris,
    Jelmāzmiā daomȳti hēdrȳ velkryssy dakossis,
    Mōrī bānior dārion Vēzos sēnire zālis.

    Is the stag named velkrys for the sticky velcro part on his head? ;o)

    1. Argh! I just noticed the very first line doesn’t scan: |gierves va| is long-long-short. Back to the drawing board…

  8. Just curious if you would kindly be able to give a translation in High Valyrian for “All Men Must Wait”…. I think it’s a mantra all GRRM fans will need to say to themselves over and over again :) I know ‘to wait’ is umbagon, but I’m not sure if it would be like that on it’s own with ‘Valar’.

      1. A quick question, Mad Latinist, I’ve run into an alternate Latin form which I didn’t know existed:

        Now I understand that syncopation with perfect often removes the “V” or “VI” etc: Audivisse–>Audisse.

        But for “Haurio, Haurire, Hausi, Haustum”, the Vulgate translation of the wedding at Cana uses “Haurierant”.

        This is driving me crazy. It’s active third person. Did they just slap the Pluperfect ending onto the Present stem instead of the Perfect stem? The Imperfect would be “Hauriebant”.

        And this website I linked seems to indicate that this was common.

        Is this a rule I don’t know about? Or, is it simply a matter of mixing up imperfect and pluperfect endings?

        1. I think it’s just an alternate form. These things do happen. Think of things like “shined” vs. “shone” (“The sun shone on the sea”) or “well-lighted” vs. “well-lit” in English.

          As to how common it is, I’m not sure. The L&S lists a couple instances of hauritum as the perfect passive participle, but for the perfect active indicative the only instance of hauri- given is haurierint in the grammarian Varro (in a passage thatsurvies only in quotation, by the grammarian Priscian!) This would imply that the form is rare… but they don’t give that Vulgate passage to which you refer, which suggests they’re only showing us the tip of the iceberg here.

          1. Thanks. Well my point is, was this just an irregular verb, or is this an actual “alternate construction” like the alternate 2nd person passive ending -re?

            1. It’s not a regular alternate construction no, but I’d hesitate to say it’s an irregular verb either. After all, in Latin the principal parts are often unpredictable, but so long as all the forms of the verb are predictable from those four forms, it is not usually considered “irregular” (e.g. tollō tollere sustulī sublātum, as crazy as it looks, is still considered regular; but the similar-looking ferō ferre tuli lātum is irregular because of forms like fers, fert which you could not predict from the principal parts.)

              So all that’s going on here is tat the third and fourth principal parts of the verb have an alternate (apparently less literary) form: hauriō haurīre hausī/hauriī haustum/haurītum. In Real Latin, as opposed to what you learn in your text book, such alternate forms are not at all unusual.

              While we’re on that topic, it turns out that in Real Latin -re is more common, and -ris is the alternate ending. They just teach you the -ris form first because it makes more intuitive sense (indeed, that’s how the form was created in the first place: -re makes no sense, where’s the -s?)

          2. Another major question: is it true that Future Participles in Latin are “restricted to the nominative”? In translating Latin to English I didn’t notice because I don’t have a choice in the matter, though I can’t find an official example that used, say, genitive (accusative could possibly only exist for indirect discourse). This may be a future problem in English to Latin, or simply slow down translation if I needlessly deliberate if something is a nominative or not.

            So are future participles in fact only limited to the nominative?

            Is it also true that “all compound tenses” are restricted to nominative?

            1. Future participles:

              No? I have never heard such a claim, and really it makes no sense. Future participles, whether active or passive, can occur in any gender case or number (the gerund, which looks a lot like the so-called future passive participle, cannot occur in the nominative or plural, but that’s another matter entirely.)

              Compound tenses:
              That is mostly true. After all, compound tenses are nothing but forms of esse with a participle, and therefore require a predicate nominative. (Think about it, what would Puella amātam est even mean? The only possible interpretation is that it should be ēst, in which case it means… well I won’t translate that because it sounds dirty in English ;) )

              The one major exception is that in the accusative infinitive construction, the participle will be in the accusative to modify the subj.-acc. So, for instance, “I know that the girl was loved” > Scīo puellam esse amātam. Get it?

              I suppose you’re perverse and nitpicky you could argue that the future passive infinitive is also an exception, but we’re not (and besides, that form is exceptionally rare in Latin, unless you happen to be Caesar.)

  9. Good news, GRRM will soon be releasing a prequel novella to “The Princess and the Queen”, called “The Rogue Prince” – it will cover the life and career of Daemon Targaryen (which was only mentioned in passing during TPATQ, which is set during his 50’s).

    Of major interest to Valyrian study is that most of Daemon’s career was spent in the Free Cities, so we may get a lot of new Valyrian names or terms from it.

    We also don’t know a lot of basic history for the Free Cities in the time period between the end of the Century of Blood (which ended a little before Aegon’s conquest of Westeros), and the time of the War of the Five Kings (three full centuries later). Daemon’s adventures there would stretch from circa 90-130 years after Aegon’s Landing.

    What little was mentioned in The Princess and the Queen is that Daemon fought with his dragon Caraxes a lot in various wars in the Stepstones, where the rival Free Cities were playing out their rivalries.

    Daemon fought for Pentos, and had great allies there (to the point that his younger daughter was born there and they wanted to send the younger royal princes there fore safety during the war). Pentos was resisting the advances from the south of the “Kingdom of the Three Daughters” (Hāro Taloti Dārion, as Peterson said). It’s either an actual unified kingdom, or perhaps a triple-alliance, of Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh. It’s ruled by a Triarchy (which led by to think they were speaking of Volantis at first). Surprising, given that Lys and Myr are bitter rivals by the War of the Five Kings era – I always assumed they were rivals ever since overthrowing Volantis with Aegon I’s help….maybe the official falling-out that started the rivalry came later (the Kingdom of the Three Daughters sided against Rhaenyra and Daemon in the Dance of Dragons, but lost so many ships in a massive naval battle that their government was greatly weakened – it’s mentioned in passing that within a few months the Kingdom of the Three Daughters was falling apart.

    1. Out of interest, what happens if GRRM invents new Valyrian vocab in future books that conflicts with David’s show iteration of High Valyrian?

      Retcon into the HV canon à la Jorah’s ad libbing at the end of S2?

      Or have GRRM and DJP collaborated to avoid this happening?

      1. Well, the functional plan so far has been to say “that’s just a peculiarity of that variant of Low Valyrian” — i.e. “oh, that wasn’t a High Valyrian name, that’s a Volantene Low Valyrian name”

        Or that there was some sort of vulgate intermediate – “Old Volantene” between High Valyrian and Volantene Low Valyrian (think like Latin to Old French to French).

        And we can always play the card that “there were Vulgate forms poorly recorded in the history books” just like with real life Classical versus Vulgate Latin.

      2. I suppose that depends on just how it conflicts.

        GRRM has of course consulted DJP on Dothraki, but at least last time the question came up, DJP clarified that this had never happened with Valyrian.

  10. Anyone else excited that we might finally see Old Tongue next Sunday when they introduce the Thenn?

  11. GRRM just released another excerpt from Winds of Winter, another chapter with the Cat of the Canals in Braavos:

    Not really any Valyrian information, unfortunately, besides a proper name or two.

    At this point in the story, the girl actually speaks Braavosi so well that people think she was born and raised there….

    …some envoys from Westeros show up, and thus characters switch back and forth between Common Tongue and Valyrian — the problem is that the narrative just says “she said in Braavosi” but afterwards “then she switched to Common Tongue”.

    So nothing in particular.

    1. Minor point I noticed: one of the Braavosi characters explains that the Westerosi envoys have sigils on their clothing – Illyrio in Dance with Dragons explained that the Free Cities don’t make as much use of family heraldry.

      But the Braavosi mispronounces it as “siggle” – multiple times so it’s not just a typo.

      Cross-referencing with’s notes is interesting:

      Mispronouncing “sigil” as “siggle” actually fits the vague Braavosi pattern that their language favors geminates (doubled-up consonants).

      …it also leads me to vaguely suspect that soft-G or “J” sounds might not exist in Braavosi. A spot check shows that the letter J is rare to non-existent for Braavos characters. Can’t find many examples of a single “G” which wasn’t doubled-up — which could plausibly be soft, though GRRM has said nothing definitive about pronunciation.

            1. What I’m saying is that the character – transliterated into English but understood to be speaking Braavosi – literally says the Common Tongue word “sigle” but seems to slur it as “siggle”.

            2. Right, but the idea is that it’s a Westerosi word that’s not terribly familiar to the Braavosi-speaker in question, so he’s not sure how to pronounce it… and I think GRRM is just exploiting the common English mispronunciation to represent that. I doubt it has anything specific to say about BV.

              But ultimately that’s up to GRRM and DJP.

            3. Mad Latinist is right.

              Don’t get confused by English spelling. There is no possible way that there would ever be an actual geminate in something spelled “siggle” (honestly, sometimes it feels like you’re joking with this stuff; trying to poke fun).

              Actually, this is a weird thing that I wouldn’t have advised, if I were a language advisor. It depends crucially on knowing the English spelling of the word “sigil”. If a Braavosi speaker had only heard it and didn’t know how to pronounce it, I would’ve guessed it would have been replaced with [], or something to that effect.

              In fact, the only way to get “siggle” is if, in fact, Braavosi does have a /ɡ/ > [dʒ] / _[i, e] rule. The way that would be done is by misinterpreting “sigil” as [si.dʒal]. Since [a] is not [i, e], the Braavosi speaker would have back-formed it to [ɡ], which is what it “ought” to be. So, in fact, it argues the exact opposite of what you were suggesting.

              Personally, I’d just throw this out as an artefact of the writing process (and that it was written in English), and just ignore it. The dramatic effect (that they pronounce it differently) is achieved, so no need to bother with the details.

  12. “(honestly, sometimes it feels like you’re joking with this stuff; trying to poke fun).”

    Well, more like wild speculation due to paucity of new information.

    It shows how used to the TV series I have become when I subconsciously expect “new material set in Braavos” to contain actual Valyrian dialogue….as if I had a mental image of a book containing subtitled English or something.

  13. relative clause is similar in Mandarin Chinese too – it precedes a noun which it modifies. but there is a special particle which marks it in a sentence so it’s hard to be mistaken with something else.

  14. So the Thenns don’t speak Old Tongue (in the Season 4 premiere anyway)….and they’ve been combined with the cannibalistic Ice-river clans?

    1. Not much really happened this week; I did find it odd how they have *yet again* used Volantis as their go-to Free City, changing it from Tobho Mott of Qohor reforging Ice, to just “a blacksmith from Volantis” — what, was the actor unavailable? Ack.

      In other news, I just finished my graduate-level exam for Latin – specifically Medieval Latin, with all of that crazy “use Present Participle for whatever you want” and ae to e vowel shift stuff.

      Good news is I see they finally posted a Defiance Season 2 trailer.

  15. Could you, if you haven’t already, translate the phrase “Dragons Plant No Trees” in High Valyrian? That would be very amazing.

    1. perhaps zaldrīzer ?? dōri guēser—these for “dragons”, “no” and “trees”, but I don’t know what’s the word for “to plant”…

      more experienced people: is this grammar correct?

      1. Well, assuming we stick with collectives (and I’ll be curious to hear DJP’s thoughts on this), then:

        The accusative of guēser is probably guēseri (but we can’t be sure yet. Oh, and there’s a good chance guēser has some sort of idiomatic meaning).

        We want dōre, because collectives count as singular.

        The verb, whatever it is, should go at the end.

        Other than that, good!

    1. There was a ton of Valyrian this week! If we’re lucky, maybe DJP will post about it here. Maybe.

      That would be awesome. We’ve particularly been biting our teeth out on that Meereenese! The only thing we have so far is Manneken Pis’ dissing speech starts with “Yo momma”, and the bark at his squire started with “to” (as in, “to the gates” or “to the inside”?).

  16. Mad Latinist
    Seems long back David said he had to put in dome ‘delta time’ before he talked about this season.
    I hope we are approaching that.
    I am curious to know if Dany’s oration is the longest stretch of High Valyrian ever in the show.

  17. Trivia:
    Noticed preview of next weeks show, there was a graffiti on a Meereen(?) wall that said:
    Kill thee Masters (in Common Tongue, English).
    Cooler if it had need in Valyrian with an English subtitle.

    So what is it in Valyrian?

    1. This has come up before:

      In HV we have already had it, “Āeksia ossēnātās!”, as Dany shouts to the Unsullied. There of course it’s in he plural… Latin graffiti addressed to the general public are often in the singular (e.g. cave canem “beware the dog”), which if true in this case would be āeksia ossēnās.

      In AV (can’t yet speak to Meereenese, but it seems to be very similar) it would be something like sena p’aeske (the way I wrote it when this came up last time is in correct, by the way.)

      1. I’m not a native but is “kill thee masters” grammatical English? Wouldn’t it be “kill thy masters”?

        If we wanted to do “kill thy masters”, would it be āeksia aōhī ossēnās?

  18. Yes I had a key bounce!
    That should have been ‘the’ not ‘thee’.

    It was interesting that Oznak zo Pahl was identified as ‘Champion of Meereen’, well that’s ok, he lasted for such a short amount of time not worth elaborating on in a teleplay.

    Still, that guy has some words that Missandei translates. Got pretty nasty but she did not censor them as with Kraznys mo Nakloz.
    The actor(stunt man?)I can’t find identified anywhere, maybe in the closing credits?

    What was the guy speaking?
    Was it real made up language?

    1. “I shall kill thee, master!”

      Oznak was apparently played by Daniel Naprous.

      I can confirm that he’s speaking real Ghiscari Valyrian, at least in some parts. I’ll be posting what I can figure out later this week… but let’s just say I’m pretty sure the opening line is a Python reference (and beyond that I can hear little but “ass” and possibly “ignorant.”)

      1. If you can find anything I’ll help disseminate it by loading it up to the Game of Thrones Wiki.

        P.S. Moving on from Latin to French…what have they done to her?! The Subjunctive has been split between “Subjunctive” and “Conditional”, this Past Definite crap is just some sort of hybrid between Latin and French forms, and the Future uses “to have” like Medieval Latin (at least that was a gradual progression). Conditional looks like some idiot in the ninth century thought “hey, Imperfect Subjunctive is used to say present things in conditional sentences…so in French, let’s use *Imperfect* endings on the infinitive to make it! (While Latin uses the *Present* endings to do that). But at least that also vaguely makes some sense, or at least you can see the thought process (similar to how Medieval Latin switched from using Laudatus sum to Laudatus fui, and it sort of makes more sense to use the Perfect of Sum in a Perfect construction). French Perfect Subjunctive, meanwhile? That’s….they can’t do the internal vowel shift anymore, so it’s basically “slap the -er verb endings onto everything”…meaning that Present tense Indicative and Subjunctive are *INDISTINGUISHABLE* for the largest of the three verb families.

  19. Specific: Valo luo vaoresan. “I prefer one which is a man(‘s).”
    Generic: Valo lurio vaoresan. “I prefer that which is a man(‘s).”

    Wait, what do you mean “a man(’s).” Does that seriously mean that valo lȳ can mean either “one which is a man’s” or “one which is a man”??

    1. I guess it’s because in the specific example both valo and luo/lurio are genitive? But then can this type of construction be used with a nominal predicate? Could I say, for instance, Vala lȳ sȳz issa, or Klios lī ipradinna?

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