Reading A Song of Ice and Fire and watching Game of Thrones are two different experiences. One difference that pops out to me is the language that the Dothraki speak, known by the same name.

Naturally the show seems to include much more of the language than the books do, as you need to have actors speak aloud for the audience to interact, where as in writing you can have the audience see the thoughts of the character.

This has me wondering how much of the language George R. R. Martin had developed prior to the production of Game of Thrones and/or how much was created for/by the show?

1 Answer 1


The majority of Dothraki was indeed created for the show.

George has stated the he is not quite a linguist in that sense (comparing himself against Tolkien).

I don't have a whole imaginary language in my desk here, the way Tolkien did.

Tolkien was a philologist, and an Oxford don, and could spend decades laboriously inventing Elvish in all its detail. I, alas, am only a hardworking SF and fantasy novel, and I don't have his gift for languages. That is to say, I have not actually created a Valyrian language. The best I could do was try to sketch in each of the chief tongues of my imaginary world in broad strokes, and give them each their characteristic sounds and spelling.

So Spake Martin, YET MORE QUESTIONS, July 22, 2001

He mostly just makes words as needed.


No he'll make up a word here and there but he does NOT have the whole language written.

So Spake Martin, BOSKONE (BOSTON, MA), February 14,2003

Even going as far to say that now he will have refer to the creator of the language for the show in his future writing.

Of course, he then added that with HBO having created Dothraki through the work of David J. Peterson, he feels like now if he wants to have Dothraki (and Valyrian as well) he'll have to refer to Peterson's work to get it "right", or ask Peterson himself how to say something in Dothraki.


The show selected David J. Peterson, an expert language creator from the Language Creation Society to create Dothraki for Game of Thrones

Peterson drew inspiration from George R.R. Martin’s description of the language, as well as from such languages as Russian, Turkish, Estonian, Inuktitut and Swahili. However, the Dothraki language is no mere hodgepodge, babble or pidgin. It has its own unique sound, an extensive vocabulary of more than 1,800 words and a complex grammatical structure.

Which as of September 21, 2011 has over 3,000 words

Also, for the curious, Dothraki is now up to 3,163 words: More words than Mr. Padre Tony Gwynn has hits, but still a ways to go to catch Pete Rose (and my guess is Dothraki will have double his number before he gets even a sniff of the Hall of Fame).

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