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Game of Thrones language gets a Berkeley course devoted to it

By dailymail / Published on Sunday, 16 Jul 2017 18:44 PM / No Comments


Move over Klingon—a new language created especially for the small screen is coming to the classroom.

Similar to the fictional tongue made famous by the alien antagonists of “Star Trek,” Dothraki is a language spoken by characters from the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Now, professional linguist David Peterson will soon instruct students on how he did it.

In a three unit course called “The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention” that begins this week, the U.C. Berkeley alum will teach students at the school how to create their own language — and how he crafted the languages spoken by the Dothraki and High Valyrian in Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones’ season 7 premieres July 16th—but students under Peterson’s tutelage took a class back in May.

“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 told CNBC recently, explaining his thought process.

The inspiration for the language came from the book based on the “Game of Thrones” series authored by fantasy writer George R.R. Martin, Peterson said. Though there wasn’t much information, there was more on Dothraki than any other language in the books.

“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,” he added.

Peterson has worked on creating languages for several movies and network shows, running the gamut on shows like “The Shannara Chronicles,” “Penny Dreadful,” “The 100,” “Doctor Strange” and “Defiance.” He also worked on a language for an upcoming Netflix movie, “Bright.”

Speaking about his unique line of work, Peterson said “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 itself won’t focus on teaching languages Peterson has created, but will instead let students focus on creating naturalistic ones, not unlike those he has created for movies and shows and are spoken on Earth. They will be creating languages from somewhere else in Martin’s world that could be featured in future spinoffs.

“I think that it’s a good starting point for those who are interested in language creation,” Peterson told CNBC. “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.”

This story updates a version which originally published on May 21.