We Have a New Winner

I said in our last IRC chat that today would be the deadline for submissions, and since Qvaak has not submitted a haiku, we will have a new winner this year! But who will it be? First, let’s take a look at the contenders. Starting with Dothraki…

First, we have this entry from Zhalio:

Khal vezhven akka
laz drivo ki zisoshi
kash me vos villo.

The intended meaning is:

Even a great king
could succumb to a mere scratch
when his wisdom failed.

I don’t see how the last line works… It literally translates to “While he isn’t wise”. I would have used arrek for “when” rather than kash, but that would’ve exceeded the syllable count. I think kash could work in this way. Nevertheless, a nice reference to the untimely death of the mighty Khal Drogo, felled by a zisosh (or, maybe, a maegi).

Next, we have an offering from first-time haiku submitter vaqari:

Javrath aranas
fansa zin fredrilates
yer chir chafaan

It’s tough to understand, but I think what’s being said is, “Drop the reins! Let the dapple continue to gallop! You will nearly be the wind!” If that was the intended meaning, first, punctuation would’ve helped, and second, though a little unorthodox, I would’ve recommended Yer achafoe. That kind of turns chaf into a verb, but I think it works. I’m trying to wrap my brain around whether or not this works, but I very much like the aesthetic.

Now for High Valyrian, the number of entries of which absolutely dwarf Dothraki this year. What happened?! A lot of people turned in themed haikus, or multi-part haikus. I’m still looking for the best one, though. Let’s see what we’ve got!

Starting with Danny, check out this poem:

Gevives aōhon
Iderēpta issa
Ābrar bē.

The intended meaning is:

The beauty of yours
It is chosen
By the people.

Close! It should be aōho (the genitive of the second person possessive pronoun aōhon), although this technically could work as a kind of “Oedipus the King” construction. That’d be more “The beauty yours”. So yes, you’re good there. The second line, though, should really just be a verb. The “to be” plus participle strategy really isn’t done in High Valyrian, though it remains a plausible strategy for languages descended from High Valyrian. “It is chosen” can be done with a single verb form. Also, I know there are problems with the whole applicative thing. Let that lie; I’ll take care of it. I like your use of ābrar for “people” (it’d mean more “humanity” rather than “populace”), but I haven’t seen used for the reintroduced agent of a passive verb. That’d be new territory for High Valyrian. Innovative, though!

Next, let me turn my attention to what I’m calling Zhalio‘s Fig Cycle. For those unfamiliar, I gave a talk at Google where I talked quite a bit about dried figs, for which there is a word in Dothraki (kemis). For the record, I spent a year in my youth in Fresno, where my step-grandmother and step-grandfather owned a house on which were kept many, many fig trees. The smell of rotting figs is…unmistakable. So is the joy of not having to ever eat figs. What an ugly word: fig. It’s like “pig” plus some dirty word that starts with “f”… Anyway, playing on the theme of figs (the word, for which, in High Valyrian is rōbir—one of the earliest High Valyrian words, oddly enough), Zhalio produced this brilliant quartet of haikus:

yne sȳngus daor,

Relgot ñuhot
Dārenka jeme
ynot kessi.

Dōnykton ynot

«Sparos», limā,
«Rōbir angotas?»
— Nyke gōntan.

His fanciful English translations are even better than their comparatively spare High Valyrian counterparts:

Your unsightliness
Doth nothing to deter me,
O figs, fruit of gods!

Upon my palate
adorned in kingly splendor
you shall seem to me.

Hard-won victory
How much sweeter is your taste
Than all the world’s figs.

«Who», I hear thee wail,
«did bite this fig, mine by rights?»
— ‘Twas no-one but I.

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say. This transcends brilliance. There is a word for “ugliness” in High Valyrian, but Zhalio‘s use of qringevives I think adequately expresses the ambivalence a fig lover must have upon viewing the mawan that is a fig. Gevives (the High Valyrian challenge word) means “beautiful”, and qrin- is a kind of pejorative prefix. It doesn’t mean “un-” precisely, it’s more like “mis-” in “misinformation”. Very well chosen. Also, I love sȳngus supposedly from sȳngagon, which isn’t a word. I may add it as a backformation. The word for “royal” is actually dārōñe, but everyone would understand dārenka. There is a verb for “seem”, but the translation you chose works well. Masterful use of the instrumental collective of “fig”. I knew that case/number combination would come in handy one day. And finally your use of the independent pronoun in the nominative in the last sentence of the last haiku in conjunction with the regular conjugation of gaomagon was marvelous. Very well done! Truly better than figs!

Zhalio also gave us this non-fig-based haiku:

Valar iāris
hae jesot jelmiot
keso glaeso.

The fanciful translation is below:

All men must needs fly
like dust in the fickle winds
of this vengeful life.

In this case, though, I like the Valyrian better. Much sparser; to the point. Very nice poem. I also really like the use of the verb iāragon. Nice job!

Moving on to Joel W‘s submission, first we have:


Which is:

continue to see ourselves
in all beauty

I think the English translation of this one is clumsier than the Valyrian, which is good. I also like how “in all beauty” was put at the end; it’s a better capper for the poem than the verb. Very nice poem! Here’s the next:

The next is a cycle of poems called Zaldrīzero bē, “On Dragonkind”. Here they are:

Zaldrīzero bē

iā perzenka;
skorion issa?

Gīmin daor
Kostilus lantra
iā daorun

Yn otāpan
lo mirre drēje;

And here is the intended meaning:

Like flesh
or like fire;
which is it?

I don’t know
Perhaps both
or neither

But I think
if either is true:
what great beauty!

This is a great idea, but there are a few problems here and there. The first is the first verb should be gīmion (subjunctive), and the second is that I swear there’s a “to be” verb missing in the second half. Maybe it could work? The meaning would be “Perhaps both or none”, though. I think that works. The same is true of the next sentence, with a missing “to be”. In truth, the haiku format is simply unsuited to High Valyrian; it’s not as economical as Japanese. There are no null copulas in High Valyrian, so sometimes you just have to go without, and the result is a little clunky. I really like your use of the vocative in the last line, though! I’m not sure if that’s something I’ve done before (i.e. “what a x” or “such a x”, but I like it! I may add that to the official grammar. I like the first of these haikus the best. I think it works the best as a haiku and works the best grammatically. Excellent job!

To close, let’s look at Papaya‘s 12 (yes, 12) haikus. The first four were presented in a group, though they’re not thematically linked. Nevertheless, I will present them together, to make things easier on myself:

bantī gevives
jēdro gō.

Iosr’ issa
se sōnar māzis.
Skoriot ilā?


Se pikīptan
Raqan lī tembī
Se geviar udra.

The meanings are:

Your eyes,
beauty in the night
under the sky.

It’s cold
and winter is coming.
Where are you?

We fought
We were victorious.

And I read
The pages I love
And beautiful words.

Some notes: As Papaya realized, the fourth poem breaks the mora count, because what was initially lua should indeed have been . All good, though! The first and third are my favorite. I like how simple the third one is. It just takes an idea and expresses it. Very nice! By the way, after you had composed this poem—and for a totally unrelated reason—I created a new word: ēbrion. It refers to the sky specifically at night. Of course, ēbrio gō still works!

Up next is an epic eight haiku cycle called Embro gō, “Under the Sea”. Here they are:

Embro gō

Embar kesor
Dekossa rizmot

Embār glaeson
Dōnon ynot

Vestris hae
Dōnot averoti
S’ynot morghon

Tolmiot jagon
Se morghūljagon.
Kesir jaelan.

Kirine iksan
Yn iosre tolī
Embro gō

Yn skoriot iksan?
Kempr’ iēdro gō
Gīmion daor

Yn sparos iksan?
Zōbrȳr embro
Gō nyk’ ilan

Ñuhor lōgor
Ojūdan embrot
se qrimbughen.

And here are the intended meanings:

This sea
Kisses my feet
In the sand

Like silver
A life in the sea
Would be sweet for me.

It seems like
Sweet grapes
And death to me

To go far
And to die.
That’s my wish.

I’m happy
Although too cold
Under the sea

But where am I?
Under this heavy sea,
I don’t know

And who am I?
I lie
Under this dark sea.

I lost
my ship in the sea
And I sink/drown.

Wow. Stunning. Unless I’m missing something, these are flawless. A lot of nice choices made here. Some of the elisions are a little rough (in the sixth poem in particular), but they work! Excellent job.

And now the heavy burden falls to me to choose two winners. As I said before, from now on there’s going to be one winner for Dothraki, and one for High Valyrian. Competition was, uh, niqe for High Valyrian; not so much for Dothraki. First, then, I shall award the Mawizzi Virzeth—the Red Rabbit—given to the annual winner of the Dothraki Haiku Competition. This year’s winner is Zhalio!

Red Rabbit 2015 Winner Zhalio

Hajas, zhey Zhalio!

And now announcing a new award: The coveted Golden Owl (Āeksio Atroksia), given to the annual winner of the High Valyrian Haiku Competition. This year’s winner of the Golden Owl is Papaya, for his second haiku from the “Under the Sea” series!


Rijes aōt, Papayus!

It was tough to choose a winner for the High Valyrian side, but I thought that haiku of Papaya‘s was perfect, even apart from the greater context.

Fantastic work this year! Perhaps some of these may end up in the Game of Thrones Compendium? Here’s hoping!

(Note: I’ll still do recordings, but I’ll have to do them later today and add them. No time!)


  1. Athvezhvenar! Adakhates mawizze ajjalan! :)

    I’m not sure I understand your comment:

    It literally translates to “While he isn’t wise”

    According to the wiki, villo should be the past negative singular form, so: “While he wasn’t wise.” That should work, no?

      1. How about “while he was being unwise”? “In a fit of un-wisdom”? The meaning is that Drogo might have been a wise person (for Dothraki standards) overall, but he allowed himself a brief lapse (discarding the maegi‘s bandages in favor of the Dothraki “medicine”, which unfortunately was changed for the series) that ended up costing his life.

        1. They did flip that around, didn’t they?! I knew there was something odd about the way it happened in the show. Honestly, though, I liked it better. In the show there was nothing wrong with him, but he agreed to let himself be treated by MMD because Dany insisted, and MMD betrayed them both for revenge. I thought that worked well and it also made his death Dany’s fault (or, perhaps, demonstrated how much she meant to him).

          And, yes, these English translations—which are valid—do make a lot more sense. I totally see that. Nice job!

  2. Oh, and if sȳngagon on its own isn’t a word (despite what the wiki says), I suppose I could replace the phrase yne sȳngus with ossȳngus.

      1. Honestly, I feel like I am more cautious about this kind of thing than most contributors. It’s just that I’m also by far the most frequent contributor, so I’m also responsible for most of the mistakes.

        And of course the information leaks out slowly, and I can get impatient, when I want to add a new lexeme, knowing it can be difficult to get you to comment on trivial matters. I think that by explicitly mentioning the “tacit permission” in the thread, I was trying to coax you into likewise explicitly commenting on this point, but clearly it would have been wise to leave the word off until such time as you commented on the matter explicitly.

        In any case, does this mean that ossȳngagon does not come from oz- at all, after all? Or does it just mean that the simplex verb never occurs? (Unless, of course, you do decide to canonize it as a back-formation.)

        1. If I do go with it, it will be a true backformation, meaning that sȳngagon will not have existed before ossȳngagon. The presence of ossȳngagon will be what prompts speakers to think that there must be a sȳngagon, and “to deter” seems like a highly likely definition for such a word. Nicely hypothesized on Zhalio‘s part!

          1. OK, better delete that etymology entirely, and remove ossȳngagon from the list of oz- words. That said, it will be awesome of you do decide to accept that formation.

      2. I don’t want to come off ungrateful here — it’s only thanks to ML’s tireless and underappreciated efforts the the wiki exist in this form. The whole endeavor of HV poetry would be unthinkable without him. Kirimvos!

  3. Thank you for the kind words! I’d be honored if you would add that as a usage for the vocative. It seems to me though, that the winning poem is also missing ‘to be’ (or ‘would be’ judging from the translation). Why is leaving it out grammatical in this context but not in my haikus?

    1. It’s not a full grammatical clause, per se, I just think it works in the context of that poem—almost as an aside. The English translation provided is not the most accurate one. I would do: “A silver life in the sea / Sweet to me.”

  4. Yep. Me and deadlines don’t mix well. I tend to be sporadically lost from time. I thought I might manage to fudge for the end of *American time zone* monday, but apparently that did not work. Here’s a haiku appropriate (in roughness and topic) for the situation:

    Irge dothraki
    Voj niq kovara azho
    Mra qora men thir

        1. OK, how about this:

          Do manera rije
          lu do sa ji tovi, se
          … ydra Astapri

          You do not win the prize
          if it is not the (right) day, and
          … you’re speaking Astapori

          It looks like we don’t have the AV for “after,” or “right,” or “wrong,” or any other thing I could have used as a circumlocution for “if it is after the deadline.” And of course we don’t have the Astapori word for Astapori. I guessed based on Astapr- (seen in Astaprot) + -rīha (seen in Valyrīha…. It seems altogether more likely that it’s just Astapori as in the Common Tongue but I couldn’t get that to fit the syllable count!

  5. DJP:

    I created a new word: ēbrion. It refers to the sky specifically at night. Of course, ēdrio gō still works!

    1. You spelled the word two ways here. It the b correct, or the d?

    Competition was, uh, niqe for High Valyrian;

    2. I take it this is the Dothraki word niqe “rigid?” (Especially since a Class II Adjective with a stem ening in q would be quite anomalous.

    Rijes aōt, Papayus!

    3. OK, so that will be rijes “praise,” the etymon of AV rije


    Oh, and if sȳngagon on its own isn’t a word (despite what the wiki says), I suppose I could replace the phrase yne sȳngus with ossȳngus.

    Here is the origin of that error (as DJP already discovered). Guess I was sloppy, sorry!

      1. No, it wouldn’t be a post by me if it didn’t have at least one crucial typo. It was supposed to be ēbrio; my bad. Though yeah, a cognate with ēdrugon would’ve been a neat etymology!

        1. This occurred to me as well. I rationalized it as being short for “(may there be) praise to you,” but I guess then it would have to be *rijys aōt.

          Well, at least in Latin, accusatives of exclamation are not anything like mandatory.

        2. I was thinking it’d be short for “Praise goes to you” or “Praise be upon you”, or something. I was imagining it as the subject. I guess it could go either way. But to answer Mad Latinist, it was just what I thought of at the moment; it’s not set in stone.

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