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The Word

Yes, writing languages for ‘Game of Thrones’ is a real job

David Peterson, inventor of Dothraki and Valyrian, may be the first professional ‘conlanger’

(Warning: Contains some Season Three "Game of Thrones" spoilers.) For a scene in season three, episode four of "Game of Thrones," Daenerys Targaryen meets with the Astapori slaver Kraznys to carry out a prearranged trade - one of her dragons for his army of Unsullied, a horde of warrior eunuchs. It doesn't quite go as planned, and in the process Daenerys reveals something key through her use of language: She understands the Astapori Valyrian that Kraznys has been using to covertly insult her all season long. Astapori Valyrian is a descendent language of High Valyrian, the literary language of the upper classes in Essos and Westeros; a relationship somewhat like that of Italian and Latin. The fact that Danaerys grew up speaking High Valyrian is a reminder of her claim by birth to the throne of Westeros.

In preparing the actors to read lines in his invented languages, David Peterson tapes himself reading each one three times: once fast, once slow, and once in English. Watching this scene later, he said, "was a proud moment."

-- Britt Peterson

Translations of the clips below:

1. Kraznys, in Astapori Valyrian: "They have not been tested. The slut had better blood them soon. There are many small cities from here to Yunkai. All the plunder will be hers. The Unsullied care nothing for gold. If she takes any slaves, the masters will take the healthy ones, and will pay well. Who knows, maybe in ten years some of them will be Unsullied themselves! Thus, all shall prosper."

2. Daenerys, in High Valyrian: "A dragon is not a slave."

3. Daenerys, in High Valyrian: "Valyrian is my mother tongue."

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