Pueblo Inglés Blog

The Language of Game of Thrones: new words and aphorisms

Is it contemporary English? Archaic English? An old language spoken in Albion, the earliest name of Great Britain? The language of Game of Thrones is actually a complex mixture of all this and more.

By Beatriz Calvo

"game of trones" protagonistsThe acclaimed TV series HBO‘s Game of Thrones which hit our screens last year is an adaptation of George R. R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire. The boundless fantasy is spread over 5 novels, they have sold over 15 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Set in an imaginary world, it makes sense that the characters speak an imaginary language as well. Spicing up the TV Series created by David J. Peterson we find an interesting mixture of Medieval English and the English we speak in the XXI Century, together with several fantasy languages: “Dothraki”, “High Valyrian”, “Braavosi”, etc.

Small bits of Dothraki language are found in the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire. Spoken by the Dothraki people, a race of nomadic horse warriors who live on a large plain known as the Dothraki Sea, it is one of the main elements of the language of Game of Thrones. Although David J. Peterson made up some words for the characters in his novels, the Dothraki has turned out into a fully-functional language with a vocabulary of over 3,000 words, which is growing thanks to the collaboration of common users through the Dothraki wiki.

game of thronesWhat we find in the language of Game of Thrones is a recreation of the one in Martin’s novels. But Martin does not follow in the footsteps of Tolkien or other fantasy writers who fully developed fantasy languages. The characters still use English language, which is seasoned with several colloquial phrases and invented words throughout the seven kingdoms, giving the impression that the inhabitants of each kingdom have a different local tongue.

Vocabulary of the language of Game of Thrones

Invented words:

Turncloak = turncoat
Sellsword = mercenary

Archaic words:

Ser for Sir
Southron for Southern
Craven for cowardly

Dothraki language:

Khal = warrior king
khaleesi: “your Royal highness” (when talking to the warrior queen)

Aphorisms:

Words are wind”, a common aphorisms used by the characters, meaning ‘actions speak louder than words’.

Seven hells” is used as an exclamation of shock, sometimes with humorous connotations.

Gods be good”, expresses the hope that the gods will be favourable.

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