There are a plethora of reasons why learning a second language could prove beneficial. Some research, for example, suggests that those who are bilingual may benefit from a higher level of cognitive ability than those who speak only their native tongue.
With so many diverse and colourful languages to choose from, it may seem difficult to narrow down which you would like to learn first. For fantasy fans and avid watchers of the popular Game of Thrones, based on the best-selling books by George R. R. Martin, a unique opportunity has arisen for fans to learn Dothraki.
Dothraki is the language spoken by Khaleesi, the widow of Khal Drogo. Khaleesi was actually born and referred to as Daenerys Targaryen but took the honorary name Khaleesi, meaning wife of the Khal, after her wedding and continued to use it after her husband’s death. The Dothraki language was her husband’s native tongue and she uses it throughout the show.
Dothraki history and traditions are well documented in order to maintain the authentic character and storylines throughout the series. David J. Peterson, an acclaimed culture and language consultant, has worked on the show since its inception and has put together a compilation of over five hundred words and phrases to make up the Dothraki language.
From October, die-hard fans and linguists have been able to learn Dothraki using a range of materials which Peterson put together for the Living Language Dothraki course.
Whether you are a Game of Thrones fan or not, the creation of this language is fascinating in itself, especially as it ties in so well with the cultural background and traditions of the Dothraki people. For example, much of the language revolves around horses, which makes sense given the way that the Dothraki live and the importance put upon their horse. To illustrate, a Khal might share his wife – or Khaleesi – with his men; however, he would never share his horse.
Part of the course teaches learners valuable information such as never to refer to a Dothraki warrior as a walker, or Anifak. This is a terrible insult as it suggests that the warrior is no longer able or fit to ride a horse. Interestingly, yet not surprising if you have watched the shows or read the books, the Dothraki language has no word or phrase for “thank you”.
HBO Global Licencing alongside Living Language made the online course available in October. It includes a number of resources including a Dothraki dictionary and a mobile phone application.