University students in California who are interested in learning Dothraki, the language spoken by the warrior tribe of Essos from the television show Game of Thrones, will have their chance.
As reported by Mashable, the university is offering a course titled “The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention,” taught by David J. Peterson, the linguist who created Dothraki, High Valyrian and a dozen other fictional languages for television shows and films.
If you speak Russian, the language of the nomadic, horse-riding tribe may come more easily to you. Dothraki borrows some of its components from the Russian language. Peterson, who studied Russian at Berkeley as an undergraduate, explains: “There was an element of the case system [in Dothraki] that was directly inspired by Russian, and the sound of it owes a lot to Arabic and Spanish.”
In addition to learning the languages of Game of Thrones, the students will receive instructions in language creation, known among fans of the subject as conlanging.
“Students are going to be learning how to create a naturalistic language. These are languages that attempt as nearly as possible to replicate the quirks and idiosyncrasies of natural languages,” Peterson said. “It’s not going to focus on the creation of alien languages, or auxiliary languages, or parody languages” … in case you were worrying about that.
Dothraki is “lightly inflectional,” with a vocabulary that reflects the nomadic life of the Dothraki and their archetype, the Mongols from the Genghis Khan period. Peterson constructed the 4,000-word language based on the few Dothraki phrases present in George R.R. Martin’s books that the show is based on.
To promote the course, the university has translated a part of “Sons of California,” a song associated with its sports teams, into Dothraki.
“To invent a new language is to invent a new way of looking at the world,” Peterson said.