The complex linguistic universe of
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones has garnered 38 Emmy
awards for its portrayal of a world of sex,
violence and politics so real that some viewers
could imagine moving there. Part of that detail
has been the creation of the richest linguistic
universe since J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
In the field of language-creation for fictional
worlds, there is Tolkien, and there is everybody
else. But David Peterson, the language-smith
of Game of Thrones , comes a close second for
the amount of thought put into its two
languages, Dothraki and Valyrian. The interest
in these tongues is such that a textbook for
learning Dothraki has been published, while
Duolingo, a popular online language-learning
platform, now offers a course in High Valyrian.
Inspired by fictional languages such as those
in the Star Wars films and with a master’s
degree in linguistics, Peterson made Dothraki
and Valyrian as rich and realistic as possible.
Creating words is the easy part; anyone can
string together nonsense syllables. But
Peterson, like Tolkien, took the trouble to give
his words etymologies and cousins, so that
the word for “feud” is related to the words
“blood” and “fight”. To make the languages
pronounceable but clearly foreign, he put
non-English sounds in high-frequency words
(like khaleesi , or queen), put the stress in
typically non-English places, and had words
begin with combinations of sounds that are
impossible in English, like hr .
Armed with a knowledge of common linguistic
sound changes, he gives his languages the
kinds of irregularities and disorder that arise in
the real world: High Valyrian’s obar
(“curve”) becomes Astapori Valyrian’s uvor .
Words’ meanings—as in real life—drift, too,
giving the system more realistic messiness.
Languages also play a prominent role in the
storyline. Dothraki is the guttural language of
a horse-borne warrior nation, but high-born
Daenerys Targaryen does not look down on it;
methodically learning it is key to her rise.
Tyrion Lannister is left to administer the city
of Mereen despite his ropy command of
Valyrian, leading to some comic moments.
And a prophecy of a future hero acquires new
meaning when an interpreter explains that the
word in question is ambiguous in Valyrian—it
could be “prince” or “princess”.
It might seem odd that a highly sexist society
like the one of Game of Thrones would have
languages where sex roles were not clearly
marked, but languages are not always perfect
vehicles for a culture. Random change can
leave them with too many words for one
concept, and not enough for another. In this
way, the flawed nature of language reflects
the foibles of flawed humans and the
imperfect worlds they strive to create.
Acesso em: 21 nov. 2017.
Assinale com V (verdadeiro) ou F (falso) as afirmações abaixo, acerca do texto.
( ) O autor considera Peterson tão talentoso quanto Tolkien em termos de criação de línguas ficcionais.
( ) As línguas criadas soam estrangeiras por contrariar padrões fonológicos da língua inglesa.
( ) A parte mais fácil da criação das línguas, segundo o autor, é dar conta da etimologia das palavras.
( ) O autor considera improvável que, em uma sociedade sexista como a de Game of Thrones, as línguas não delimitem claramente os papéis de gênero.