Other languages

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Martin used other languages, besides Dothraki, in the Song of Ice and Fire world. Although Dothraki has the most amount of words, there are other languages such as High Valyrian whose grammar may be deduced from the examples which occur. All information on those languages, whether referential or evidential, should be included here. All references to Dothraki should be put on the Corpus page.

Contents

On Westeros

The Common Tongue

The Common Tongue was brought to Westeros by the Andhals and the Rhoynar. It is spoken in the entirety of Westeros. There are regional accents, as "Pyp had travelled the Seven Kingdoms with a mummers' troupe, and bragged that he could tell what you were and where you'd been born just from the sound of your voice",[1] but there is no lack of comprehensibility, in any region. The largest dichotomy of speech appears to be between the lowborn and the educated: note Mycah the butcher's son's few lines:

"She ast me to, m'lord," Mycah said. "She ast me to."..."It's not no sword, it's only a stick." [2]

Another stablehand in the Red Keep has other non-standard usages:

"She don't know me," he said, "but I knows her, oh, yes...I says, come."[3]

Even the warriors of the Mountains of the Moon, who have not had much contact with anyone for at least several hundred years, have little difference in their speech.

Shagga glowered, a fearsome sight to see. "Shagga son of Dolf likes this not. Shagga will go with the boyman, and if the boyman lies, Shagga will chop off his manhood."[4]

The Old Tongue

The Old Tongue was brought over to Westeros by the First Men, over 12,000 years prior to the start of the series. It is a harsh, clanging language. Names originating from the Old Tongue tend to be short, simple, and descriptive. The language is all but extinct in Westeros, except for the lands beyond the Wall, where it is still used by the race of giants and a few other wildlings. It is possible that it has a runic writing system, as Lord Yohn Royce has armor which "is bronze, thousands and thousands of years old, engraved with magic runes that ward him against harm."[5]

The Others' Language

In A Game of Thrones, there is a reference to a language used by the Others beyond the Wall.

"The Other said something in a language that Will did not know: his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking."
"Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles." [6]

Elsewhere

High Valyrian

The Targaryen family came from Valyria, after the Doom, and thus can be considered to have High Valyrian names. They also most likely gave names in Valyrian, as the dragons: "The singers had given them the names of gods: Balerion, Meraces, Vhagar."[7] Other names include: Aegon, Aemon, Aerys, Jaehaerys,Rhaegar, Visenya, Rhaenys, Aenys, Maegor, Daeron, Rhaenyra, Baelor, Naerys, Daeron, Maekar, Rhaella, Viserys and Daenerys.[8]

The phrase, "valar morghulis" [9], is translated as "all men must die."[10]. A counterpart phrase, "valar dohaeris"[11], is translated as "all men must serve."[12]

The word "dracarys" is translated as meaning "dragonfire" [13]

The Valyrian writing system, or at least a Valyrian writing system, is described as involving glyphs.[14]

Valyrian steel is forged with spells, as well as hammers. Those spells were assumedly in Valyrian, or another, unknown language. [15]

Low Valyrian

Bastard Valyrian, as it is also called, is the language of the Free cities.[16] Each city may have it's own variations, as Moreo, the captain who ferried Cately Stark to Kings Landing, "spoke the Common Tongue fluently, with only the slightest hint of a Tyroshi accent."[17] Danaerys, when trading in the Western Market in Vaes Dothrak, spoke in "Valyrian, Valyrian as they spoke it in the Free Cities. The words felt strange on her tongue, after so long." The merchant, upon hearing this, guesses that she is from Tyroshi. She replies, "My speech may be Tyroshi..." [18]

Also, Syrio Forel of Braavos "had an accent, the lilt of the Free Cities, Braavos perhaps, or Myr."[19]

The Free Cities probably still use Valyrian glyphs, as "Arya could not read the name painted on the hull; the words were strange, Myrish, Braavosi, perhaps even High Valyrian."[20]

The Language of Asshai

The Asshai'i, as they are known,[21] are well versed in witchcraft and wizardry, and appear to have a language of their own, used in their spells (as did the Valyrians). Mirri Maz Duur, who learned in Asshai, sang in a foreign tongue, her voice described as "shrill" and "ululating".[22] Furthermore, she:

...chanted words in a tongue that Dany did not know, and a knife appeared in her hand. Dany never saw where it came from. It looked old; hammered red bronze, leaf-shaped, its blade covered with ancient glyphs.[23]

The Lhazareen

The Lhazareen have a language of their own, with "songs and spells pleasing to the Great Shepherd."[24] Few names are known: Mirri Maz Duur, and Eroeh.[25]

Other Languages

There is not much information given about other languages, besides a few proper nouns. Some of these proper nouns have odd plurals, or constructions which might suggest something concerning their phonotactics: "She enjoyed watching all the people, too: dark solemn Asshai'i and tall pale Quartheen, the bright-eyed men of Yi Ti in monkey-tail hats, warrior maids from Bayasabhad, Shamyriana, and Kayakayanaya with iron rings in their nipples and rubies in their cheeks..."[26] Also, there is Jhalabar Xho, of the Summer Isles, who doubtless speaks his own language.

References

  1. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  2. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  3. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 538. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  4. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 607. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  5. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  6. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  7. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  8. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 832-5. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  9. Martin, George R.R. (1999). A Clash of Kings. Bantam Dell. p. 520. ISBN 0553108034. 
  10. Martin, George R.R. (2000). A Storm of Swords. Bantam Dell. p. 308. ISBN 0553106635. 
  11. Martin, George R.R. (2005). A Feast for Crows. Bantam Dell. p. 95. ISBN 0553582038. 
  12. Martin, George R.R. (2005). A Feast for Crows. Bantam Dell. p. 507. ISBN 0553582038. 
  13. Martin, George R.R. (2000). A Storm of Swords. Bantam Dell. p. 93. ISBN 0553106635. 
  14. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  15. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  16. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  17. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  18. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 589. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  19. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  20. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 721. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  21. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 587. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  22. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 804. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  23. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 711. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  24. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 672. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  25. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 758. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
  26. Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. Bantam Dell. p. 587. ISBN 978-0-553-57340-4. 
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