How do you translate that headline into the guttural tongue of Essos’ nomadic horse lords?
Until this fall, you’ll find the answer to that question only by asking David J. Peterson, the linguist hired by HBO to spin an entire fake language out of the few Dothraki phrases that George R. R. Martin invented for his Song of Ice and Fire series. But when Oct. 7 rolls around, there will be another option: Living Language Dothraki: A Conversational Language Course Based on the Hit Original HBO Series Game of Thrones.
The made-up language lesson will contain “more than 500 [Dothraki] words and phrases,” as well as “never-before-heard material and words coined exclusively for the Living Language Dothraki course,” according to a release. And it won’t just be a glossary, either: “Like a traditional language course, users will learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and even cultural notes, which lay out context as well as dos and don’ts,” the release explains. “For example, since horses are so central to Dothraki culture, many phrases have their roots in the equestrian. Whatever you do, never call a Dothraki warrior an ifak (walker): the ultimate insult since it implies he can no longer ride his horse.”
“I’m thrilled to be working with Living Language to produce the first official Dothraki text,” Peterson adds in a statement. “This book will take you from arakh to zhavvorsa in no time, and the audio samples will help you perfect your pronunciation. I often get the question, ‘When will there be a Dothraki guide I can buy?’ The answer is now, thanks to Living Language, me nem nesa!” Which… means Oct. 7? I can’t say for sure; I haven’t taken the course yet, after all.
Eager pseudo-linguists who’d like to take a crack at Dothraki will have three course options, including a standard language guide and audio CD, an “expanded online course,” and (of course) a mobile app that will help you growl like Drogo on the go. Could other Thrones-inspired language courses, such as one on High Valyrian, be next? There’s no word yet – though you can learn a few handy phrases (including “Where are my dragons?) at this link. Valar morghulis!