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Perzo Vūjita

Of course the million dollar question is: Just what does that participial phrase agree with…?

“Kissed By Fire”, written by my old compatriot Bryan Cogman, was low on action (outside the first scene), but high on drama. There were some outstanding scenes, and nearly every major character made an appearance (no Bran, no Samwell, no Theon, no Joffrey, no Melisandre, but everyone else). We haven’t gotten to see that very often of late! This week’s episode featured not one, but two scenes where Tyrion is demolished by an elder—first by Lady Olenna, and then by my all-time favorite Ice and Fire character: Tywin Lannister. And though usually an episode will end with a twist or a bit of high drama, I liked that we close with Cersei, of all people, finally getting the dressing down she deserves from someone (namely [who else?] Tywin). The man is a beast!

As a happily married man, I will refrain from commenting on any redheads that did or did not appear in this episode.

On a different note, though, I wonder how many people thought what I did when watching this scene:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

So that’s Robb there staring over a large map with, well, what appear to be large Cyvasse pieces representing the various armies. Now, it’s no wonder that Robb would have a map. Maps are important. Cartographer is a noble calling even today, but especially back in the days before flight. Every lord worth his salt probably has dozens of maps, and has them updated routinely. Those figurines, though… They’re quite specific, no? He has figures for his house, for the Lannisters, and apparently for each of his bannermen. Just where do you think he gets them from? Did each bannerman bring his own…figurines? And does he have Frey figurines for the next part of his plan? If so, where does he store them? Does he go to his horse’s saddlebags and pull out the baggy of Frey figurines and put them in place on the map? And if he doesn’t have them, does he have someone carve them for him—one of his knights, perhaps? And is there any kind of quality control there? After all, these are not crudely made. They appear to be carved, shaped, sanded and finished. Quite a bit of work went into carving each and every one of those figurines—and transporting them. Even if he didn’t inherit them from Ned or some other bannerman, that had to be a conversation at some point—something along the lines of, “Okay, I have a big map. In order to discuss the movement of forces, I’m going to need about a dozen figurines—maybe more—with groups representing the various armies in play. I’ll need your finest craftsmen to get on this right away!” Not to say that they don’t look cool (they do) or that I don’t want some (I very much do), it just seems like this is the kind of detail we’re not meant to think about. And yet here I am…

Anyway, let us speak of language. Some major highlights and an oddity in this one. The scene across the Narrow Sea featured Barristan Selmy not so subtly disinviting Jorah Mormont to the Queen Daenerys party along with Daenerys having a discussion with the leaders of her new army.

First, a word. I have three versions of the translation I did, and three .pdf versions of this scene. Not one of them matches what eventually appeared on screen. Instead, there’s a mix of lines from the original translation I did and the revised translation I did—as well as a bit of a subtitle remix. I think I got everything, though, so I’ll do my best (though the same note applies regarding long vowels. I’ll try my best to get them all, but I may miss some; I’ll eventually get them all in). First, Dany addresses the group:

  • Keso glaesot iderēptot daor.
  • “You did not choose this life.”
  • Yn dāeri vali sīr issi. Se dāeri vali pōntalo syt gaomoti iderēbzi.
  • “But you are free men now. And free men make their own choices.”

Then comes a line whose subtitle changed, but I don’t think I was ever asked to retranslate (I could’ve; would’ve been relatively painless). I had this:

  • Jenti jevi jemēle iderēbilātās, qogrondo jevo hēdrȳ.
  • “You will select your own leader, from amongst your own ranks.”

But I believe the subtitle has her asking a question: “Have you chosen a leader from amongst your own ranks?”

Then comes a truly perplexing moment.

As one of the Unsullied approaches, Dany asks him to remove his helmet. I distinctly remember being asked to translate this line. In fact, I have the words “remove” and “helmet” in there that I specifically translated for this line. It should have been something like Geltī aōhe nādīnās. What she says sounds like derēpti, which means…nothing. (If it had a different ending, it’d be some irrelevant form of the verb “to gather, collect”.) I’ve scoured my e-mail, and I can’t find any record of the request, or of my sending off the translation. I also can’t seem to find the translation in my files. And yet I did not create the words for “remove” and “helmet” just because. I created them specifically because I was asked for the translation of “remove your helmet” for this season. I’m absolutely mystified by the entire situation, and am chalking it up to gremlins. And so I’m going to leave it at that.

UPDATE: Okay, I’ve scoured my records, and I have found the answer. At 3:24 p.m. PST on Friday, February 8th, 2013 I was asked to translate “Remove your helmet” into High Valyrian (so this was for postproduction). I e-mailed back asking how quick they’d need it, but actually started recording then just for the heck of it. By the time I got a response back (they wouldn’t need it until Monday the 11th), I was done, and I sent off the translation and .mp3 that same day at 4:01 p.m. PST. The translation was:

  • Aōhi geltī nādīnās.
  • “Remove your helmet.”

Which, of course, was incorrect (it should have been aōhe), but I was working quickly. I received a response at 4:10 p.m. PST, and that was the last I had to do with. For whatever reason, it never made it to the screen.

Now I’m sure it wasn’t the messenger’s fault (the person I was e-mailing with); I’m sure they passed on the .mp3 and translation like they’d always done in the past. No, I think I know who’s behind it—and if it is, this is a person that’s run afoul of me before. And if, indeed, it was that person, they should know that my memory is long. Very long.

Back to the post…

Then things start cooking. One Unsullied steps forward and says:

  • Bezy eza ji rigle.
  • “This one has the honor.”

Dany asks him:

  • Skoroso jemēle brōzā?
  • “What is your name?”

He responds:

  • Torgo Nudho.
  • “Grey Worm.”

Dany turns to Missandei who explains that the Unsullied take vile names to remind them of how low they are. She doesn’t explain how they get a new name every single day (they draw them out of a bowl, or something). That’s kind of a neat little factoid that’s probably way too specific for TV, but I liked it, so I thought I’d mention it here. The well-meaning Daenerys, after learning this, tells the Unsullied:

  • Hēzīr, brōza jevi jemēle iderēbilātās. Mentyri idañe jevi ivestrilātās keskydoso gaomagon.
  • “From this day forward, you will choose your own names. You will tell all your fellow soldiers to do the same.”

When Dany continues, she uses an Astapori Valyrian word for “slave name”:

  • Gadbag aōhe qrīdrughās. Muñar aōt teptas lue brōzi, iā mirre tolie iderēbās. Avy hoskas lue brōzi.
  • “Throw away your slave name. Choose the name your parents gave you, or any other. A name that gives you pride.”

Then…this. Man alive! Who the hell is Jacob Anderson?! And I mean that in the best possible way. I mean, he may have messed up one vowel somewhere in this long, long speech, but if he did, I didn’t hear it. Jacob Anderson is now and forever afterwards my hero. If you didn’t get a chance to see this scene, watch it—by any means necessary. Seriously. This performance? Un. Be. LIEVABLE. I want to bake this guy a cake—or wash his car—whatever! I’ll drive him to the airport for the rest of his life for this performance. If I could, I’d have him do recordings for me, because I think he’s better than me. He may as well have created this language. I want him to teach me how to speak this language. I want to make this speech my ringtone—in fact, I’m tempted to record the audio straight off HBO GO and upload it here… But, no. I’ll be good.

Here’s his line:

  • “Torgo Nudho” hokas bezy. Sa me broji beri. Ji broji ez bezo sene stas qimbroto. Kuny iles ji broji meles esko mazedhas derari va buzdar. Y Torgo Nudho sa ji broji ez bezy eji tovi Daenerys Jelmazmo ji teptas ji derve.
  • “‘Grey Worm’ gives this one pride. It is a lucky name. The name this one was born with was cursed. That was the name he had when he was taken as a slave. But Grey Worm is the name this one had the day Daenerys Stormborn set him free.”

And that sound you just heard? That’s Jacob Anderson dropping the mic. IT’S DONE! Bar just got raised. This is the new standard—for everything. To everyone in the future: You must be at least this cool to ride. This man’s got serious skills—and he’s like ten years younger than me! Where does he get the nerve to be that good?! How can he do that?! My mind boggles…

Next week my post may be a day or two late, as I’ll be in Austin, Texas for the Fifth Language Creation Conference. If you live nearby, please come and visit! It’ll be a great event with a host of incredible conlangers both presenting and in attendance. Loads of fun.

So, until Monday or Tuesday of next week, geros ilas!

Update: And just in case you didn’t see it, here he is: Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm. My hero.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Mahrazh Oma Chomokhoon

No Dothraki this week—in fact, everyone around our khaleesi seems to be dropping like flies. And no dragons! Things are looking grim.

Speaking of today’s episode, it was awful quiet around the internet today. Or was that just me watching the episode late on account of Mother’s Day? Anyway, I thought this episode was outstanding—perhaps the best of the series. There were some changes, but I liked all the changes that were made. A controversial highlight for me was Jaime killing Alton. What a scene! First we get all this backstory and rapport, and then he busts out on Alton like a trained serial killer. I liked this, because, quite frankly, Jaime was too likable. We’re supposed to dislike him up to this point (at least a bit). Even pushing Brann out the window the dude was likable! This was a good twist.

Oh, but a note on realism: How’s he going to surprise somebody in a cage that’s visible from the outside?! How are we supposed to believe he hid from that guard who came in in plain sight? Did he forget he was there? Those Northmen…

Since we’ve got nothing else going on today, I thought I’d go over how names work in Dothraki. There’s not much to it, as I wanted to remain maximally faithful to the books. We’ve got a handful of male Dothraki names and, unless I’m missing one, two female names (Irri and Jhiqui) that come directly from the books. Of those names, the male names end in -o and the female names end in -i. I took these as male and female name suffixes, respectively, with names becoming animate nouns. But what do they suffix to?

This is where I got to have some fun. The name suffixes are kind of like the agentive -k suffix, only with a bit of a broader interpretation. Using the male suffix as an example, -o will mean something like “He who is x“, “He who does x“, “He who is characterized by x” or “He who is similar in some way to x“, where x is a root.

One thing I picked up directly from the book, though, is the preference for names stressed on the second syllable. By naturally reading the names, most that are three syllables long are stressed on the second syllable, and one way this is achieved is by doubling the last consonant (part of what inspired the stress system of Dothraki), as in “Cohollo”. As a result, even though a doubled consonant ordinarily makes a difference in meaning, in names a doubled consonant is often used purely to get the stress on the second syllable of a name with more than two syllables. The practice is so common, though, that doubled consonants are used even in disyllabic names just because, at this point, it makes the name sound like a good name.

So let’s look at some names we know and how they’re formed:

  • Drogo < drogat “to drive” (i.e. “he who drives”, or “driver of beasts”)
  • Irri < irra “trout” (i.e. “she who is like a trout”)
  • Kovarro < kovarat “to stand” (i.e. “he who stands”)
  • Qotho < qothat “to be loyal” (i.e. “he who is loyal”)
  • Jommo < joma “salmon” (i.e. “he who is like a salmon”)
  • Zollo < zolat “to be exceptionally small” (i.e. “he who is exceptionally small”)

That’s about the long and short of it. Dothraki don’t shy away from names that refer to one’s physical appearance or temperament, and also take names from animals or objects whose characteristics a parent desires their child to emulate. Here are some potential Dothraki names:

  • Hliziffo < hlizif “bear” (i.e. “he who is like a bear”)
  • Halahhi < halah “flower” (i.e. “she who is like a flower”)
  • Qanno < qana “black stork” (i.e. “he who is like a black stork”)
  • Tehinni < tehin “breed of horse” (i.e. “she who has reddish/brown hair like a tehin“)
  • Vrelo < vrelat “to leap” (i.e. “he who leaps well”)
  • Zali < zalat “to hope” (i.e. “she who hopes”)
  • Chako < chakat “to be silent” (i.e. “he who is silent”)
  • Emi < emat “to smile” (i.e. “she who smiles”)

Those with doubled consonants above can be made into singletons, and those that are singletons can be doubled. Anyway, that’s about the run of it. You can use the strategies above to create your own Dothraki name, if you wish, or (even better) Dothraki names for your cats, accompanied by pictures of them looking ferocious! To get some more roots, take a look at the vocabulary list over at

Next week, Episode 8! Boy, this season’s going to be over in the blink of an eye…

Valshe Vinesera

Kisha ray essash!

For those who were able to watch the season 2 premiere of Game of Thrones, I hope you enjoyed it! (And for those who have yet to watch it in their home markets, I hope you enjoy it!) I saw the first episode about a week ago, and everyone there (myself included) was mightily impressed.

In fact, I think it’s worthwhile to meditate on that experience a little bit. For each of the first two seasons, HBO had this premiere event for cast and crew and their +1’s, and the events were pretty much the same in structure, but the atmosphere was quite different. The first time around, of course, George R. R. Martin was there, which was awesome, but overall, there were fewer people in attendance. The crew, of course, knew the show, but outside of that, I got the impression that a lot of folks there didn’t know what the books were all about, and didn’t know what to expect. They were there to support their friends and families, and to get a glimpse of a new show.

For the second premiere event, the place was packed. Not only that, but you could tell that everyone there was a fan of the show. We were allowed to invite one person, and I’m sure the first time around, guests were probably like, “Well, I’m not doing anything else, so that could be neat. Sure, I’ll come.” This time they were fighting over who would get to go. Plus, everyone knew every character, and knew all the ins and outs of the first season, and reacted appropriately to the action on screen. It was like going to a midnight showing for a blockbuster movie—not with Hollywood types, but with actual fans. That was really cool.

Back to the show, I love how the first thing we see is Peter Dinklage’s name—and his entrance is wonderful (as is his quip about Cersei’s cheekbones [which is true!]). Before his return, though, I wonder: Did anyone else think of the pit stage on Mortal Kombat seeing the Hound topple Ser Red Shirt over the edge? Because that’s the very first thing I thought of.

Other favorite bits of mine: The scene where Maester Cressen attempts to poison Melisandre; Cersei playing Simon Says with her guards at Littlefinger’s expense (“Power is power.” Ha!); Grey Wind menacing Jaime; and, of course, Joffrey getting slapped.

But, of course, we’re here to talk Dothraki, so talk it we shall!

First, a new character is introduced: Kovarro. As mentioned before, this was a name that the writers came up with (or perhaps Bryan Cogman specifically…?) based on the information I included about how to come up with Dothraki names (which, by the way, is a post that’s seriously overdue. Remind me if I forget). Dothraki makes a distinction between single and double consonants (e.g. ige “bowl (accusative)” vs. igge “bucket”), but I decided very early on that this wouldn’t necessarily be the case with names. Instead, consonant doubling is stylistic. It can also be functional, because a trisyllabic name like Hadoro would be stressed on the first syllable, even though the word hador, “gust of wind”, is stressed on the last. By doubling the last consonant, we get Hadorro, which keeps the stress on the same vowel as the original word, making the tie between the name and word more recognizable.

Our new name Kovarro, then, derives from the verb kovarat, which means “to stand”. Kovarro, then, is kind of like “stander (who is male)”: a tough guy who stands his ground. Of course, the name always reminds me of the wedding episode of Home Movies, which features one of Brendan’s films Landstander, with the main character, Landstander, whose key ability is that he can “stand on the land”.

Oh, and, of course, we also see Bitey! (I’ve named the little shoulder-standing dragon “Bitey”. Seems appropriate.) That’s really exciting. Can’t wait to see more dragons!

Back to Dothraki, we find Dany and Jorah et al. wandering the Athasar Virzeth, the Red Wastes, looking mighty dusty and bedraggled. And then, sadly, we lose another horse: Dany’s present from Drogo, her silver. To honor the poor horse’s memory, here’s a line from season 1 that never saw the light of day, but which readers of the book will remember:

  • Vizhadi vizhadaan norethi shafkoa. “Silver for the silver of your hair.”

This is what Drogo says to Dany on giving her his present. In the show, Drogo ends up not really saying anything to Dany until, like, episode 3, so, naturally, this line had to be cut—and, quite frankly, it’s a good thing it was, because in the original script I sent, I made a mistake: I wrote shafki when I should have written shafkoa. Oops! I was still a beginner when it came to Dothraki grammar at that point, though, so I hope the gaffe can be overlooked.

As things become more desperate, Dany gathers her bloodriders together (Zhey Rakharo, zhey Aggo, zhey Kovarro), and says the following:

  • Fichi hrazef zinayi kishi. “Take our remaining horses.”

A short bit, but we see a couple of rare things in here. First, if the form zin looks familiar, it’s probably from a sentence like the second one below:

  1. Anha adakhak. “I’m eating.”
  2. Anha zin adakhak. “I’m still eating.”

Zin is one of those post-subject particles that acts like certain auxiliaries do in English. Now we see a bit of its history in the word zinay, which is itself in a rarely seen form: the Dothraki active participle. (In case you’re wondering, no, there is no [longer a] verb associated with this word.) And, also a bit rare, the adjective zinay agrees with the inanimate noun in plurality, even though the inanimate noun can’t display number. And rarer still: the sequence yi, which is quite rare in Dothraki (e.g. no word begins with yi). So a small phrase, but some fun stuff going on.

Once Dany has her bloodriders’ attention, she tells them what to do:

  • Ma yer adothrae tith; ma yer heshtith; ma yer valshtith. “You ride east; you southeast; and you northeast.”

Never thought the ordinal directions would ever see the light of day. Glad I’d already coined them, though! After this, it’s Rakharo, I believe, who asks:

  • Fin kisha fonoki, zhey khaleesi? “What do we seek, khaleesi?”

Fonat means “to hunt”, and by adding the suffix -(s)o, you get fonolat, which focuses on the beginning of the event: the event’s inception. This translates in various ways in English (e.g. “to track”), but in a non-hunting context, it means something like “to seek” (i.e. to search for with an uncertain chance of success).

After this, Daenerys delivers one of her longer Dothraki speeches—perhaps her longest to date. Here’s the whole thing:

  • Vaes, che thiri che drivi. Ma verakasaris ma voji. Che ashefaes che tozaraes che Havazzhife Zhokwa. Ezo athchilar Athasaroon Virzetha hatif kishi, ma reki vekha yomme moon. “Cities, living or dead. Caravans and people. Rivers, or lakes, or the Great Salt Sea. Find how far the Red Waste extends before us, and what lies on the other side.”

In fact, there was actually one more line after this that got cut. I looked at that the first time and thought, “Are you sure? That’s pretty long…” And, indeed, it was. Better to have more to choose from than less, though.

I had to ponder what the Dothraki might do with the concept of “caravan”. Certainly caravans would be known to them: they travel all over and caravans exist. I came up with verakasar, which ultimately derives from the root e (heh, heh) which is used in the verb elat, which means “to go”. Through regular derivation, we get verat from elat, the former of which means “to travel”. One who travels, then, is a verak, and a group of them is a verakasar. And, ultimately, that’s what a caravan is: a group of travelers. Many are commercial in nature, but the Dothraki don’t trade, so probably would have little interest in that aspect of it (well, save that a traveling merchant would probably make a good target for sacking and pillaging).

In the third sentence we see two of my favorite words that I wasn’t sure would ever see the light of day: ashefa “river” and tozara “lake”. Both were created at around the same time, and were created very early. I was looking to create vocabulary sets that fit together, and so both of these (bodies of water, trisyllabic, ending in -a) helped to establish a semi-regular pattern for animate nouns. There are a number that fit this description, and it also says a little bit about the Dothraki worldview (i.e. the agency present in natural forces like a river or the wind).

The last sentence was actually quite difficult. I had to think for quite a bit how it would make sense to express that sentence in Dothraki. A more literal translation will give you a better idea for how exactly it works:

  • Ezo athchilar Athasaroon Virzetha hatif kishi, ma reki vekha yomme moon. “Find the extent of the Red Waste before us, and that which lies beyond it.”

Athchilar there might also be translated as “limit”. It derives from chilat, a verb that means “to be prostrate”. A closer English expression might be “the lie”, in…huh. Having trouble coming up with an English expression. Well, there’s also “the lay”, as in “the lay of the land”, but I’m sure you can also say something like, “Give me the lie of your proposal and I’ll tell you what I think of it”. We also see an indefinite relative clause in the second part of this sentence (I mentioned these initially here, but never discussed them—and there’s certainly no room to discuss them here. I’ll get to it, though). That single example may be enough to help the folks to figure out the rest.

Finally, Dany approaches Rakharo individually and says:

  • Yer athzalar nakhoki anni, zhey qoy qoyi. “You are my last hope, blood of my blood.”

Or at least that’s what I have written down. Thinking back, doesn’t she start out with zhey qoy qoyi? I need to hit up HBO GO and watch it again (though maybe someone will remember). Whichever order it is, athzalar should look familiar. The verb zalat is both “to want” and “to hope”, and here it’s fulfilling the latter function. The word nakhok is actually very similar to an ordinal number in its behavior. It derives from the same stem that gives us nakhat, which means “to stop”, and nakholat, which means “to finish”. In order to modify a noun with an ordinal like “first”, “second”, etc., you put the ordinal after the noun and put it in the genitive. That’s what you see here.

Finally, Rakharo replies with:

  • Anha vos oziyenek shafkea, zhey qoy qoyi. “I will not fail you, blood of my blood.”

The verb there is ziyenelat, derived from the same stem that gives us yeni, “failure”, which features in the Dothraki translation of “WTF?” (i.e. Ki fin yeni?). The circumfix zi(r)- -(s)e is something like “mis(o)-” in English (borrowed from Greek), and indicates some sort of a value judgment—i.e. that whatever happened happened and it was bad. That seemed appropriate for this type of failure.

And, there you have it! Just a short scene in episode 1, but a good chunk of Dothraki. I can’t at present recall if Elyes Gabel’s ad lib made it in (it was such a short thing), but perhaps those who have it fresh in their minds can let me know. Did you hear the mysterious word gwe?

Great to have Game of Thrones back on a weekly basis! There’s some really cool Dany/Dothraki scenes on the horizon, so stay tuned!

Update: Whoops! Missed a line. Nice catch, zhey ingsve!