Dothraki at Comic-Con

If you’re heading down to San Diego for Comic-Con this year, be sure to stop by the Random House booth (booth #1515) on Friday and Saturday from 3-4 p.m. I’ll be there in support of the upcoming Living Language Dothraki book (which you can pre-order now). If you come by and practice your Dothraki I’ll have prizes to give out! I’m not sure what the prizes are because I haven’t seen them, but I bet they will be worth having. Because I want them. And I’m’a get them, too, because I can speak Dothraki. You feel me?

Anyway, if you prefer info in party-invitation-style-list form, here it is:

  • WHAT: Dothraki language practice
  • WHO: Me and you
  • WHERE: San Diego Comic-Con, Booth 1515 in the Random House LLC block (.pdf map)
  • WHEN: Friday, July 25th, 3-4 p.m. and Saturday, July 26th, 3-4 p.m.
  • WHY: Because conlang.
  • HOW: Ambulatorily
  • HOW MANY: Very good question. I have no idea. We’ll see, I guess.

Anha zalak m’anha atihak yera rekke!


  1. I can only go to New York Comic Con these days, and I’m not even sure about this year. We’ll see what happens.

    Will one of the practice questions be if they pronounced “Khaleesi” properly?

    (sigh, I anticipate wave after wave of fans who refer to Daenerys as if “Khaleesi” was her actual name)…

  2. Unrelated question about High Valyrian familial terms: I was updating some of the historical Targaryen pages on Game of Thrones Wiki and a thought occurred:

    Some languages have specific names for familial relationships which others do not. I.e. Japanese has distinct words for “older brother” and “younger brother” etc. Or languages that may have specific terms for “first cousin” or “second cousin”.

    The Valyrian Freehold extensively practiced incest and polygamy among the forty ruling families of Dragon-lords (of which the Targaryens were one, but not the strongest).

    So I was updating the Conquest-era Targaryens with a family tree and putting in info about Rhaenys’s son Aenys and Visenya’s son Maegor. I had to use things like “half-uncle” a lot….or how Maegor is technically Rhaenys’s nephew twice over, as he is the child of both her brother and her sister.

    Logically, would High Valyrian develop intricate, specific terms for these relationships? The term we throw around for Aegon’s marriages is that Rhaenys was his “sister-wife”. Would HV have distinct terms for “sister-wife” separate from “wife”? You’ve got situations where someone is both the grandparent and first cousin of another character. Ack.

      1. Oh please oh please, don’t settle for that! Familial terms are one of the few places where culture clearly shapes language, and oh please, don’t settle for something boring!

        European aristocracy ISN’T the same thing; it’s inbreeding, but not hard-core nuclear family inbreeding. If you marry your cousin, well, the word for your cousin’s kid is “cousin once removed” but that’s unwieldy, and people don’t use that much anyways.

        But if kids are growing up in a household with a Aegon-Rhaenys-Visenya type parental setup, they need to call their aunt-stepmom SOMETHING. She’s Ego’s aunt on both sides. In English, a parent’s half-sister gets the term “half-aunt”; surely double-aunts warrant their own term too.

        And then as Ego’s father’s wife, I guess you could say she’s a stepmom, but (at least in English) “stepmom” sounds like she’s taking over motherly duties to Ego, because Ego’s mom isn’t around. If Ego’s mom IS around, and the stepmom’s motherhood to Ego is additional, rather than replacing, it’s different.

        In English, we have words like “stepmom” because it’s a common family arrangement in a world where divorce is the norm. In a world where polygamy is the norm, surely there would be words for that.

  3. The Dothraki are known to sometimes practice polygamy, with a Khal married to a harem of wives. In this case, is there one “primary” wife, as a separate term from just “wife”?

    Specifically, the ironborn have a system of formalized concubines: an ironborn’s “rock wife” is his legal wife, while he may take multiple “salt wives” through raiding, which is a fancy way of saying concubines. Thus “rock-wife” is the term for the primary wife, “salt-wife” the term for all of the secondary ones.

    Would the Dothraki actually make such a distinction? (while such polygamy does occur I’m not sure if it’s very common)

    1. This is a very good question, but not one I think I can answer; I think George would have to. If my memory serves, the men only marry once, but have intercourse with whoever they want, and the latter have no special status; only the wife does. That was my understanding, at least.

  4. My computer died, stone dead, so I’ve had to postpone the “Ides of August” yet again (used to be set for Bastille Day).

    I’m still not sure if the Dothraki practice polygamy (in actual marriages) but I’ll ask about that on

    Another major concern I’ve come around to with no clear answers from the text:

    In Native American culture, a “Two Spirits” concept was actually fairly widespread. Many culture groups accepted that there were up to four genders: masculine men, feminine women, masculine women, and feminine men. “Two spirit” men were biologically male but behaved feminine.

    This doesn’t even bring up the whole idea of cis-gendered gay men: Richard the Lionheart probably had sex with men at various points in his life, but was one of the greatest warriors of his generation. He behaved very “masculinely”.

    For that matter, the obvious example of Ancient Greece: the hyper-masculine Spartan warriors or Theban Sacred Band encouraged sex between the men in their military, to form stronger social bonds.

    So a rather large unanswered question is, how would Dothraki and Valyrian languages deal with terminology for same-sex relationships? “Homosexual” isn’t a word even in Westeros, not a term they’d use.

    So what do the Dothraki make of men who have sex with men? (Be they feminine in behavior, or very masculine warriors). The Valyrians were sort of pseudo-Rome, and the Rhoynar strike me as pseudo-Greeks of a sort. The Rhoynar fought long losing wars against the Valyrians, and you’d get the impression that the Valyrians would be staunch social conservatives (much like the Romans, who saw Greek sexual mores as loose and frivolous). Then again…the Valyrians were marrying brother to sister on a regular basis. Who knows what they thought “normal” sexual standards were.

    On the other hand, the Valyrians knew that dragons can shift gender, and this had a major impact on their vocabulary (many terms such as “Prince” are actually gender neutral).

    I don’t expect answers on this, I just thought to raise the question: how much do we know about Dothraki or Valyrian conceptions of sexual/gender behavior and identity?

  5. David, not to derail the conversation, but how did SDCC go? I have folks here trying to talk me into going to SDCC next year…and we have a new comic-con right here in Reno at the end of November!

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