How to Speak Game of Thrones' Languages at the Dinner Table
We spoke with the creator of Dothraki and High Valyrian.
Sunday night is the finale of season seven of Game of Thrones. And if last week’s episode was any indication it will be…well, if nothing else, it will be an hour and 20 minutes long. But even if the prevailing wisdom is that the show may have jumped the dragon last week with Jon Snow’s latest unbelievable escape from death’s icy grip or the perplexing time jumps involved in Daenerys’ arrival beyond The Wall, it remains one of the most exciting shows on TV. Millions of people will tune in to see what becomes of Westeros and many of them will be throwing viewing parties with plenty of Game of Thrones-inspired food.
If you want to be the coolest (or nerdiest, depending on your perspective) person at your watch party, we’ve got just the thing for you. We spoke with David J. Peterson, a linguist and master of creating fictional languages. Peterson invented both Dothraki and High Valyrian for Game of Thrones as well as languages for Thor: The Dark World, Doctor Strange and the World of Warcraft movie, amongst others. He is currently working with Canada Dry on their "busy is a four-letter word" campaign and recently shared with us how to say a few phrases you can use around the dinner table in both Dothraki and High Valyrian.
Now, there are lots of things even a fluent Dothraki or High Valyrian speaker (they exist) won’t be able to say, because there are some items or concepts the horsemen of the grass sea and the Valyrians have never encountered, and as such, have no words for. So if you’re hoping to ask someone to pass the guacamole, you’re probably out of luck. Peterson said that when he thinks about vocabulary in languages he creates he takes into account the history of its speakers. The Dothraki, for example, don't have a word for "bread" the way we think of it. "Ultimately, they borrowed the term from High Valyrian when they began trading with them and encountered their type of bread," he said. "Instead the Dothraki have native terms for the types of dishes they’re used to, such as fermented mare’s milk, blood sausage and stews made with sweet grasses or fresh water fish."
But even if you won't have mare's milk (lamekh ohazho in Dothraki by the way) here are a few phrases you can try out during the finale to impress your friends.
How you say:
“Whats for dinner?” in Dothraki
Fini she givasof?
“This is delicious” in High Valyrian
Bisy ēngenkēgrie issa.
“I’m full, thank you” in Dothraki.
Anha rah adakh nakhaan.
“Is there more wine?” in High Valyrian
Tolior averilla ilza?
“May I have some more?” in Dothraki
Azhas anhaan alikh!
“What’s for dessert?” in High Valyrian
Skoros hae lōtintyrry amāzīlza?