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Dothraki (language)

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"There is no word for "thank you" in Dothraki."
Jorah Mormont[src]

Dothraki is the language spoken by the Dothraki people, the nomadic mounted tribes of the central plains of Essos, known as the Dothraki Sea.

The Dothraki do not have their own writing system, nor much use for the writing systems of neighboring peoples, so they are an illiterate society.[1]

Important TerminologyEdit

  • ​athjahakar​ - "pride, prowess". Derived from "jahak," the traditional long braid worn by Dothraki warriors ("warriors" being "lajaki").
  • Dosh khaleen - council of crones. Widows of deceased khals, who preside over the Dothraki city of Vaes Dothrak. Wise-women who are essentially the leaders of the Dothraki religion.
  • dothrakaan - a single Dothraki rider.
  • Dothraki - lit. "men who ride", "riders"; the Dothraki people.
  • Dothrakhqoyi -  "Bloodrider", a Dothraki warrior that has pledged his life to the service of a khal.
  • Khal - Dothraki warlord.
  • Khaleesi - the wife of the khal.
  • Khalasar - Dothraki clan or tribe, led by a khal.
  • Ko - Kos are lieutenants of a khal, commanding subdivisions of a khalasar. On the death of a khal, a ko may try to become the new khal, or split off his own riders to form a new, smaller khalasar.
  • Me nem nesa - "it is known"[2]
  • Qoy Qoyi - (literally, "blood of my blood") the style of address between Khal and bloodrider.
  • Vaes Dothrak - the only Dothraki city, located deep within the Dothraki Sea.
  • zhey - the Vocative particle in the Dothraki language, used when directly addressing the object of a sentence; thus it is very frequently heard in Dothraki dialogue. While the Vocative case was present in the Proto-Indo-European language, it fell out of use in modern Romance languages, as well as Germanic languages such as English and German (but is still present in Celtic and Slavic languages). Thus there is no direct English equivalent for zhey, though it basically means "you", or more loosely, "hey", and often isn't directly translated as its own word in a sentence.  For example, Rakharo says to Irri, "Hash yer ray tih loy alegra, zhey vikeesi?" (Have you seen any ducks, woman?). However, Daenerys says "Zhey qoy qoyi!" (Blood of my blood!) when addressing her bloodriders, or simply "zhey Rakharo" (literally just "Rakharo"), when trying to get Rakharo's attention. However, the Vocative particle may also be used reflexively when the subject is referring to himself: Khal Drogo swears "Anha, zhey Drogo, atak jin" (I, Drogo, will do this).[3]

Season 1Edit

See: Season One Dothraki Dialogue on Dothraki.org

Season 2Edit

See: Season Two Dothraki Dialogue on Dothraki.org

Season 3Edit

According to an interview with David J. Peterson on Forbes.com in November 2012, there is actually only one line in the Dothraki language in Season 3 of the TV series.[4] This brief line occurred when Daenerys and Missandei are discussing the Dothraki language in "Second Sons":

Zhey Drogo ast me-Dothraki thasho h’anhaan ven anha ray yol mehas. Me azh maan atjakhar.

"Drogo said I spoke Dothraki like one born to it. It gave him great pride."[5]

"Athjahakar​" was intentionally slurred as "atjakhar" so Missandei could correct Daenerys's mistake.

Behind the scenesEdit

The Dothraki language was created by David J. Peterson of the Language Creation Society, and as of May 2011 has a vocabulary of over 2,500 words. He has also worked on other languages for the show, such as Skroth and Asshai'i.

While Peterson does transfer his final notes on languages he has invented into computer files, during the earliest stages when he is sketching out the details of one of his constructed languages he prefers to work with a pen and paper. Peterson's initial drafts of the Dothraki language were actually written in a Winnie the Pooh brand children's notebook.[6]

How to learn DothrakiEdit

David J. Peterson has produced a guide for learning the Dothraki language, Living Language Dothraki, due for release on October 7th, 2014.

In the booksEdit

Arguably, given the sheer size of the Dothraki Sea, the Dothraki language approaches the Common Tongue of Westeros and the Low Valyrian languages spoken throughout the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay in terms of overall geographical spread. However, the actual population density of the Dothraki Sea is very small, as Dothraki khalasars ride through massive grassy plains which are otherwise devoid of permanent habitation. If plotted on a map, this makes the Dothraki language look disproportionately common.

The population of the only Dothraki city, Vaes Dothrak, varies from time to time: there are rarely more than a few khalasars stopping in the city at any one time, before leaving again to find plunder. As a result, the permanent population of the city isn't much compared to one of the Free Cities or to a Westerosi city such as King's Landing. However, Vaes Dothrak is physically large enough to hold every khalasar if they return all at once (for special religious ceremonies, etc.). Daenerys estimates that it physically has ten times as many buildings as Pentos does, and Pentos is one of the more populous Free Cities (the most populous, however, is Volantis). This might give a general idea of the size of the overall Dothraki population.

On the other hand, the Dothraki do not engage in long-distance trade, which has severely hampered the geographical spread of their language. Some of their neighbors have learned Dothraki in order to treat with them (i.e. in the TV series, Illyrio Mopatis of Pentos is seen speaking Dothraki to Khal Drogo), but their language has not spread with trade along sea lanes. In contrast, the Common Tongue of Westeros has spread along with merchant ships so that many traders in the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay have some knowledge of it to conduct business in. Even the inhabitants of distant Qarth conduct sea trade with Westeros, and thus some knowledge of the Common Tongue may be found there. Similarly, Valyrian-speakers from the Free Cities may be found in the five major port cities of Westeros.

ReferencesEdit

See alsoEdit

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