Do you consider yourself a linguist? Are you addicted to Game of Thrones? Have you ever wanted to understand every nuance and utterance spoken by the characters as they taunt each other in Dothraki? Well, UC Berkeley now has the course for you. David Peterson, the man who developed Dothraki, the language spoken by characters in Game of Thrones, will now be lecturing a three unit course at UC Berkeley called “The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention.” The course aims to have students create their own Game of Thrones-inspired languages.
Klingon is to Star Trek what Dothraki is to Game of Thrones, a fictional language that gained cult status due to the series it is spoken in. The language provides a depth of reality to a fictional world that the writers have created, and it lends an authenticity to the characters who speak it. The classes will start on Monday May 22, when Peterson will begin to guide the students in the intricacies of language creation.
David Peterson, who is a professional linguist, told CNBC that there are many similarities between languages and that there are a limited amount of variations within a language pattern.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) May 19, 2017
“When you’re creating a language, there are really only so many ways in which a language can vary. So, the language that you create is going to invariably end up looking like some others in any respect.”
Peterson said that Dothraki was inspired from the Game of Thrones book series which were written by George R.R. Martin. He says that Dothraki was the dominant language in the Game of Thrones book, although information about it was rather sparse.
“Dothraki, its modifiers come after the noun, in that way it looks a lot like Spanish. It’s a case language that has a minimal number of cases, in that way it’s going to look like other languages with a minimal number of cases like Russian.”
Peterson is a veteran in the field of language creation. He has developed languages for shows such as The Shannara Chronicles, The 100, Penny Dreadful, Doctor Strange, and Defiance. David Peterson has even worked on creating a language for the soon to be released Netflix movie Bright.
Linguistics and language creation isn’t a field that Peterson ever thought would be lucrative. The field of language creation seems to lend itself to the genre of fantasy and science fiction, such as Game of Thrones, where other world languages would be spoken. With the advent and huge success of fantasy and science fiction series and movies, there has been a sudden interest in language creation.
“There was honestly never a time where any language creator ever thought they would ever be paid to do what they were going to do.”
The class will not be focusing on the Game of Thrones language that Peterson developed, but it will rather help students to put together the steps of creating their own naturalistic languages. Peterson will teach students how he was able to create languages like the ones that he developed for movies and TV shows, by using the same methodology that he did. The languages that the students will be creating could theoretically be spoken in one of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones worlds, or a land of the students’ own creation.
Peterson is under no illusion about the limitations of his course, but provides a realistic outlook on what students can hope to achieve.
“I think that it’s a good starting point for those who are interested in language creation.
“It’s not as if that’s going to be your endpoint as an artist, maybe you want to do something more abstract but it’s useful to start with realism.”
Game Of Thrones Season 7 will premiere on July 16, 2017.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]