Phonology

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The Dothraki language has 20 consonants, 4 vowels and 2 glides.

Contents

Standard Orthography

Dothraki IPA Informal English example Notes
a a aah father
ch t͡ʃ ch check
d d dog dental
e e e then "Then" would be pronounced as [ɛ]. [e] makes the sound in say and great
f f ff fool
g g g good
h h hh ham
i i ee machine
j d͡ʒ j judge
k k k kill
kh x x Bach
l ll left dental
m m mm man, ham
n nn no, tin dental
o o oh mow
q q k
r ɾ, r rr trilled when at the beginning of the word and followed by a vowel; at the end of the word; when doubled; tap medially elsewhere
s s ss see, city
sh ʃ shh ship
t t' stop, top dental
th θ th thin
v v vuh voice, have
w w wuh wave, dowager
y j y' yes
z z zz zoo
zh ʒ azure

Apart from names, the letters p, b, u and x do not appear in the ortography of diegetically modern Dothraki, and c appears only in the digraph ch.

Geminates

For phonemes that are marked with digraph, the geminate has a reduced ortography, eg. kkh instead of khkh. This does not affect the pronunciation, these are geminates just as any others.

Dothraki IPA Never
kkh xx *kx
ssh ʃʃ *sʃ
tth θθ *tθ
zzh ʒʒ *zʒ
cch tt͡ʃ

Consonants

Dothraki has 22 consonant phonemes:

Consonnants of Dothraki
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m [m] n [n̪]
Plosive voiceless t [t̪] k [k] q [q]
voiced d [d̪] g [g]
Affricate voiceless ch [t͡ʃ]
voiced j [d͡ʒ]
Fricative voiceless f [f] th [θ] s [s] sh [ʃ] kh [x] h [h ~ ħ]
voiced v [v] z [z] zh [ʒ]
Approximant w [w] l [l̪] y [j]
Rhotic r [r ~ ɾ]

The digraphs kh, sh, th and zh are all fricatives, while ch and j are affricates.

Doubled consonants are always pronounced geminated.

Allophones of consonnants

As in any natural or natural-aspiring language, there are some phones in Dothraki that are considered—and even heard—the same with each other.

Complementary Distribution

Some phonemes change according to the surrounding phones, to ease the pronunciation.

  • In syllable-final position, h [h] shifts to [ħ]
  • Stop produced at the same region of mouth as the fricative following it changes to geminate of the fricative. This can occur when words are derived, especially when compounds are formed. The changed consonant cluster is marked in the ortography.

Free Variation

There is no definite line between complementary distribution and free variation; some variation happens always when the surrounding phones call for it, some may happen. Some variation is indifferent of the surrounding phones.

  • While Dothraki has no labial plosives, [p] or [b], both of these have been available in the past and have developed into [f] and [v], respectively. The [p] and [b] phones can still be met as free variants of f [f] and v [v], and should generally go unnoticed.
  • Voiceless stops, t [t], k [k] and q [q] even ch [t͡ʃ] may be aspirated.

Vowels

Dothraki has four vowel phonemes:

Vowels of Dothraki
Front Back
Close i [i]
Mid e [e] o [o]
Open a [a]

There are no diphthongs or long vowels.

Allophones of vowels

With only four vowel phonemes, Dothraki vowels have more room to shift than in other languages. They should be treated as little less precisely placed than vowels in English. Because the sound [q] is produced far in the throat, vowels immediately following [q] undergo a considerable shift:

Vowel shift
Normal After q
i e
e ɛ
o ɔ
a ɑ

In addition, o may be pronounced [u] after the velar consonants g [g], k [k], and kh [x].

Relevant Information Elsewhere

Phonology
DothrakiHigh ValyrianAstapori ValyrianMeereenese Valyrian
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