- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 28/06/2019
The premiere of the series finale might have come and gone, but the show’s impact still reverberates across the fandom especially for lovers of language.
Even if you haven’t seen the series, don’t worry. In this article, our focus is on the fictional language created from scratch that made Game of Thrones such an entertaining movie.
In the beginning…
In the original books, A Song of Ice and Fire, on which the series is based, the author George R.R Martin often allude to the languages spoken by the different people.
However, except for a few words, the dialogue is entirely in English. So, when it was time to adapt the novel to TV, writers faced a particularly hard problem: that is, writing dialogue in a language that doesn’t’ exist yet.
To tackle the problem, the series show-runner HBO partnered with the Language Creation Society, an organization of experts in creating fictional languages, to create an entirely new language from scratch.
They decided to hold a contest which was won by David J. Peterson, co-founder of the Language Creation Society. He created an elaborate Dothraki language complete with grammar and 2000 words.
…the Languages of Game of Thrones was Born
In Martin’s book, there are at least eleven languages spoken in Westeros – the giant Game of Throne’s continent that’s as large as the whole of South America. However, only a couple of the languages were prominent in the TV series.
Here are all the languages of the Game of Thrones universe:
The common language
A widely spoken language throughout Westeros. The language was introduced by the invading Andals 6000 years ago. And it has, over the years, evolved to become a sort of lingua franca spoken by everyone in Westeros including the Wildlings.
The Old Tongue
Though, restricted to the Wildlings now, it was widely spoken by everyone in Westeros before the Common Tongue overshadowed it.
Take note though, that almost half of the Wildlings understands and speak the Common Tongue too.
A language of the White Walkers – the undead, that’s said to sound like crackling of ice. Though, the language didn’t make it into the TV series. It was instead, replaced by actual crackling-ice sound effects.
Once a prominent language that held sway in Essos – the second largest continent of Game of Thrones world. It declined after the fall of the Valyrian civilization and over time became a status language of the elite, educated class.
These were common offshoot languages from the old High Valyrian language. It is spoken by the ordinary people of Essos both from the free cities and the slaver bay in the east,
A language of a nomadic horse warrior tribe. A spoken language only with no form of writing.
Dead Language of Ghiscari
An old dead language that predates the Valyrian era. Though, few words made it into Low Valyrian. “Mhysa” which means “mother” is borrowed from the dead Ghiscari.
Qarth, Lhazar, and Asshai’i
Living contemporary languages though little is known of them in the show.
So, there you have it. These are the languages that made the Game of Thrones a lively believable show.