A few years ago, a certain pop culture era came to an end. In May 2019, the last episode of the iconic TV series Game of Thrones aired. Fans must have found it difficult to say goodbye to their beloved characters, and finding a worthy substitution for such a solid, elaborate story was also a rather challenging task. However, the time has finally come for us to enter the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire again. Currently, House of the Dragon, a Game of Thrones spin-off, is premiering. It tells the story of the Targaryen family, whose members are the only dragon riders in Westeros. They are also distinguished by something else, something particularly interesting. They speak the Valyrian language which was invented for this very story, completely from scratch.

In the footsteps of Tolkien

This is not the first time that authors have decided to give their characters their own unique language. The king of fantasy novels, J.R.R. Tolkien, created several languages, and the most popular and intricate one is Quenya, polished for many years and inspired primarily by Finnish, but also making use of Latin and Greek. The Elvish language that could be encountered in the stories of Middle-earth and their film adaptations.

Valyrian please!

In Game of Thrones a couple of languages are used, but it seems as if the most distinctive one is Valyrian. The author of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin, did not convey many messages in this language, just a few words and names. The idea to introduce a new language into the series, however, was enticing enough for the creators to hire a linguist, David J. Peterson, whose task was to create an entire system of fictional communication. Translating languages is one thing, but creating them from scratch – that’s a challenge! And yet Peterson managed to do an excellent job and thanks to him we can now enjoy the speech of Valyria.

Valar Morghulis

In the Game of Thrones world, Valyrian was spoken primarily by one of the main characters, Daenerys Targaryen. In the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, this fictional language was used as early as in the first episode and it promises to be spoken a lot more in this series; after all, it is a Targaryen story!
What is, then, the most popular exchange in Valyrian? Whenever one hears Valar Morghulis, they ought to reply Valar Dohaeris (“All men must die – All men must serve”).

Fictional languages are not just some linguistic fun facts – creating them involves a tremendous amount of passion and work. Amazon’s Lord of the Rings and Avatar: The Way of Water are premiering soon, and in both of them characters use their own languages. We are looking forward to going back to these unique worlds and listening to the speech of their inhabitants!

Ps. Did you know that you can learn Old Valyrian with the Duolingo app? If you want to feel like
a Targaryen, just go for it!

(Translation K. S.)

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