David Peterson Gives a Dothraki Language Lesson at Comic-Con


Nearly two dozen journalists gathered Friday morning for a David Peterson-delivered  primer in Dothraki. The event served as a kick off for Living Language Dothraki, a conversational course guide out October 7.

Peterson schooled the room in the basics, including four vowel sounds, pronounced much like they are in English. Tossing out terms like "dothralat" (to ride), he encouraged his class to give the word a try with conviction and to scare the rooms nearby. He used phrases like alveolar ridge, which turns out to be a part of the mouth and not a location Essos. 

One tricky detail about Dothraki, said Peterson, is that it's hard to "define without using other Dothraki terms." Who's the khal? He leads the khalasar, he said by way of example. And although the Dothraki alphabet looks familiar, the delivery of the letter sounds are a bit more complicated. The "q" sound is similar to the k in "sky," but should be pronounced "deep in the back of the throat." Peterson praised Ivailo Dimitrov, who appeared as Mago in Episode 108, for pronouncing the Dothraki "q" perfectly... "right before Jorah challenges and kills him."

Although Peterson fields a lot of translation requests, among the most popular are "moon of my life" and "my sun in stars," which he once saw tattooed in Dotharki around someone's upper body like a necklace. (For the record, it's "jalan atthirar anni" and "shekh ma shieraki anni," respectively, and would make for a pretty impressive necklace.)

A particular point of pride for Peterson is the word for dream: "atthirarido." "Literally, the phrase translates to 'a wooden life," he explained. "The word for "wood" is the word for "fake." When you dream, you're living a fake life because it feels real."

But the Dothraki isn't all tongue twisters. Peterson said that he deliberate left out masculine/feminine distinctions to "have fun and throw in a little gender equality." The biggest challenge, he said, is to have the "language fit the material as well as the spirit."