In Dothraki there are several consistent examples of derivational morphology. For the most part these derivations are part of the structure of the established vocabulary and not used actively to invent new words. For some derivations a shift in meaning has occured, and a meaning that would derivationally make sense is just not present; for some derivations a word or expression of another background is used instead, and a word that would derivationally make sense is just not used. Be that as it may, if a desired word is not available in our vocabulary, creating one by these rules is at least an educated guess.
Affixes for Creating New Verbs
The multifunctional suffix /-o/ is explained in Types of verbs-article, as is causative.
The durative circumfix /v(i)- -(e)r/ is used to denote when the action of a verb is done continuously for a period of time without interruption. For example the verb tihilat means to look at or to glance at. When you add the circumfix you get the word vitihirat which instead means to watch or observe, and thus implies looking at something for an extended period of time. Derivational morphology affects the stem of the word, so the infinitival suffix -(l)at is attached after the circumfix.
- tihilat (to look at) → vitihirat (to observe)
- elat (to go) → verat (to travel)
English has no affixes with similar meaning.
This reverses the meaning of the verb.
- azhat (to gift) → esazhalat (to take back)
Compare to English: un-
This adds the sense of "bad" or "dire".
- oqolat (to to sound rythmically ) → ziroqoselat (to ache)
- chomat (to be respectful) → zichomelat (to be disrespectful)
- gerat (to lack) → zigerelat (to require)
Compare to English: dis-, mal-
Adding the sense of "covered in"
- qoy (blood) → saqoyalat (to be covered in blood)
- ido (wood) → savidosalat (to be protected)
Affixes for Creating New Nouns
/ath- -(z)ar/ The simplest way to create nouns from words of other classes is a straightforward nominalization. This can be done with the circumfix /ath- -(z)ar/. The words created thus are inanimate.
- drivat (to be dead) → athdrivar (death)
- ayolat (to wait) → athayozar (wait, waiting)
- manimven (anxious) → athmanimvenar (anxiousness)
Compare to English: -ing, -ness, -(i)ty
The agentive suffix in Dothraki is /-k/ or /-ak/ (if the stem ends with a consonant). So to form an agent (one who performs an action) out of verb you simply take the stem of the verb and add the agentive suffix. For example the verb dothralat means to ride so the agent noun dothrak must mean rider. This is analogous to the suffix /-er/ in English where when you go from the word "ride" to "rider" or "teach" to "teacher" etc. The words created thus are animate.
- dothralat (to ride) → dothrak (rider)
- ifat (to walk) → ifak (foreigner)
- lajat (to fight) → lajak (warrior)
Compare to English: -er
/-i/ or /-sh/
A diminutive is the form of a noun that denotes smallness which at the same time can be a term of endearment which is why the diminutive form in a lot of languages is used for nicknames. In Dothraki the diminutive is formed by adding the suffix /-i/ to nouns that end with a consonant, and adding /-sh/ for nouns that end with a vowel. For example lajak means warrior so the word lajaki can mean "little warrior". The suffixes can be stacked for greater effect. The words created with diminutive are inanimate.
The suffix /-i/ is also used for many other things, most notably to denote plural and genitive, and some nouns also end in i in their nominative, yet are not considered to be in diminutive.
- lajak (warrior) → lajaki (little warrior)
- hrazef (horse) → hrazefishi (very tiny horse)
- dorvi (goat, not in diminutive) → dorvish (little goat)
Compare to English: -(l)ette, -(s)ie, -ling
An augmentative is the form of a noun that denotes great size. In Dothraki the augmentative is formed by the suffix /-(s)of/. For example the word vezh means stallion which means the word vezhof instead means "great stallion". This also works metaphorically. We have the word fire which means ring. When we add the suffix we get firesof which literally mean something like "great ring" but in the Dothraki language this is the word they use for "year". The words created thus are inanimate.
- vezh (stallion) → vezhof (great stallion)
- fire (ring) → firesof (year)
Compare to English: grand-, over-, super-
/-asar/, /-eser/, /-isir/, /-osor/
The collective of a noun is when you form a larger group of out a single entity. In Dothraki this is done by various suffixes that depends on the last vowel of the word that is being changed. For example with the word fonak (hunter) the final vowel is an /a/ so the collective suffix would be /-asar/. The resulting noun would be fonakasar which means hunting party. Similarly we have the word oqet which means sheep and the collective noun would be oqeteser which means flock of sheep. Zir means bird and the collective noun zirisir means flock of birds. The word for dog is jano so the collective noun janosor means pack of dogs. The words created thus are animate.
- fonak (hunter) → fonakasar (hunting party)
- oqet (sheep) → oqeteser (flock of sheep)
- zir (bird) → zirisir (flock of birds)
- jano (dog) → janosor (pack of dogs)
English has no affixes with similar meaning.
This construction forms a noun that is in some way the result of another noun or verb. For example the word elzat means "to respond". Taking the resultive of this gives us the word elzikh which means "response" which is the result of responding. The words created thus are inanimate.
- dothralat (to ride) → dothrakh (a ride)
- elzat (to respond) → elzikh (response)
- lame (mare) → lamekh (mare's milk)
English doesn't have a similar suffix.
/-(e)ya/ (geminates last consonant; if the last consonant also starts the word, /e-/ is added)
This formation indicates a part-to-whole relationship meaning that the formed word is a smaller part of the root word. The words created with meronymic are inanimate.
- ewe (olive) → ewweya (olive pit)
- chot (beet) → chotteya (beet paste)
- she (on) → essheya (top part)
- khaleesi → khaleessiya (handmaiden)
Affixes for Creating New Adjectives
The similative suffix is used to derive a word that indicates likeness or resemblance. This can closest be compared to the suffix -like in English (as in "catlike") though it's not used exactly the same way. In Dothraki the similative suffix is /-ven/. An example of this can be found in the word vezhven which means great but that's of course just a metaphorical meaning of the word. The literal meaning is derived from the word vezh (stallion) plus the similative suffix so a more literal translation would be something like "stallionlike".
- vezh (stallion) → vezhven (great)
- san (heap, much) → samven (numerous)
here we see that derivational affixes may sometimes introduce a sandhi; san has changed to sam to ease the pronunciation
Compare to English: -like
This construction forms an adjective that expresses the absense of the word it modifies.
- jahak (Dothraki hair-braid) → jahakmen (braidless)
- zhav (lizard) → zhavmen (lizardless)
Compare to English: -less
Dothraki uses a lot of compound words, especially nouns. If in joining words a consonant cluster is created that is difficult or even phonotactically impossible to pronounce, usually an /-e-/ is added between the words. Sometimes the consonant cluster is changed instead. The nouns created thus are inanimate. Notice, though, that further derivation with eg. collective suffix may result in compound-based words that are animate.
An (uninflected) adjective is added after a noun in nominative case to create a new noun. If the resulting noun ends in a vowel (ie. if the adjective ended in a vowel), the resulting noun has an epenthetic /-e/ in accusative case.
- mahrazh (man) + kem (married) → mahrazhkem (husband)
Noun-Noun Genitive Compound
A noun stripped to its stem and another noun is added after it. If the latter noun's nominative ends in vowel, the nominative is added unaltered, though an epenthetic /-e/ may emerge in compound's accusative case. If the latter noun's nominative ends in consonant, an /-i/ is added, and there will be no epenthetic /-e/ in accusative. Calling the first noun A and the second B, the result means A of/from B.
- yot (fruit) + nhare (head) → yothnhare (brain)
- ase (word) + qoy (blood) → asqoyi (oath)
Noun-Noun Allative Compound
A noun stripped to its stem and another noun is added after it. If the latter noun's nominative ends in vowel, an /-n/ is added. If the latter noun's nominative ends in consonant, an /-an/ is added. Calling the first noun A and the second B, the result means A intended for B.
- firikh (ring) + nhare (head) → firikhnharen (crown)
- qemmo (cover) + tih (eye) → qemmotihan (eyelid)