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Conlangs Monthly © is a publication dedicated to
publishing articles concerning Linguistics, Literature,
and guidance on Conlanging as well as Conworlding.

High Valyrian
-Rolf Weimar

-Andrej Schütz (Gurtiskar)-

A short study of Arabic Phonology and Morphology
-Youness Faridi-

Exclusive: Interview with David J. Peterson
-Conlangs Monthly Team-

I Yulo Tolmo
-Kevin Banks-

A Pocketful of Rainbows

-Xain Xainson (Hawaiian Translation)-

Rantaa Homo-n Kestytsyy
-Elias Kroner-Boldizsár (Kuinki)-

Shgghaadu Coek
Every Child is a Natural Conlanger
-Gabe Witmonger-

Tower of Babel - Translations
-Kyle Farrington (Kaidu)-Gabe Witmonger (Veumlindel)-Reill Bautista (National Simphonian)-Rolf Weimar (Atlaans)-

International Phonetic Alphabet
-Rodrigo Pereira-

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disclaimer notice, and a link to the material are provided. Altering the
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© J Fleury and G Witmonger 2014 All Rights Reserved

Editorial Team
Editor in Chief:
Jonathan Fleury
Layout Design & Graphics
Gabe Witmonger
Senior Editor
Rolf Weimar
Senior Editor
Sabrina Palis
Gabe Witmonger
Jonathan Fleury
Wikipedia pictures

High Valyrian
High Valyrian is a language spoken by people in Essos in the
world of “Game of Thrones” (or “A Song of Ice and Fire” for you
book readers out there). It was the language spoken by the people
of the Valyrian Freehold. The Freehold was governed by the
Lords Freeholder, who were members of powerful families of the
Freehold. Families that controlled and rode dragons in battle were
known as dragonlords.
When the Doom fell on Old Valyria (as it is now known), a family
of the Freehold, the Targaryens, took their dragons west to the
continent of Westeros to conquer the Seven Kingdoms and take
control. The people of Westeros speak the Common Tongue, so
the Targaryens used this language to communicate with their new
While the first Targaryens in Westeros came from a place where
everyone spoke High Valyrian, as the generations wore on, High
Valyrian became more of an academic language (similar to the
current status of Latin in our world).
It was something that was taught to Targaryen children by scholars,
but over time, the Common Tongue probably eventually replaced
High Valyrian as the language they used in every day situations,
and maybe even within the family.
High Valyrian did, however, continue to be taught to the Targaryen
children until the time of the books. Daenerys Targaryen speaks
High Valyrian fluently. High Valyrian is referenced in the books
and does appear in small phrases here and there (“Valar morghulis”
is the most famous example), but it was never full fleshed out by
George R. R. Martin.
Enter David J. Peterson, a linguist, who was tasked by the creators
of the Game of Thrones TV show, to create the Dothraki and High
Valyrian languages for use on the show. David Peterson (from
here on in, shortened to DJP) took words that had appeared in the
books, like arakh and Vaes Dothrak, and used those as the basis of
Dothraki and fleshed it out from there.
“Valar morghulis” means “All men must die”

Jason Momoa & David Peterson

at Game of Thrones Season 2 Premiere Event

High Valyrian has a complex conjugation system based on person
(first person, second person, third person) and on whether the
verb stem ends on a consonant or a vowel.
Here is the conjugation table for “morghūljagon” (to die)

To those not linguistically inclined, case does not refer to upper
or lower case letters, but rather grammatical case, which marks
DJP used this as a starting point. He decided that valar meant “all the roles of words in a sentence. High Valyrian has a complex
men”, and became the basis of the noun system. In High Valyrian, set of cases, 8 in all. We will first look at the subject case, called
there is a singular form of a word, and three types of plural: paucal nominative.
(relating to a small group), plural (relating to many), and collective
(relating to all).
Vala gerpe ipradas
Here they are in use:
The man eats fruit (or “a man,” and/or “a fruit,” since High Valyrian
Notes: The u is actually a long vowel, which is marked with a doesn’t use articles, leaving it to us as translators to decide)
macron, and High Valyrian doesn’t use articles
“Vala” is in the nominative, which means the word is marked as the
Vala morghūljas
subject of the sentence. This is also the form of the word you would
The man dies
look for if you were looking for it in the dictionary.
Vali morghūlis
The men die

Let’s use the same words, but change the meaning.

Valun morghūlis
A few men die
Valar morghūlis
All men die

Vala - man

Gerpa vale ipradas
(A/the) fruit eats (a/the) man

Now here’s something interesting. I just translated that as “All men
Gerpa - fruit
die” not “All men must die”. Why is that? Enter the aorist, a form
of the verb used to make general statements about the nature of
things. Example of these types of statements are “Men eat food”. Yes, this is a silly sentence, but here we can see how the endings of
This is a general statement, and not specifically pointing out that the words change as we change the case.
there are men near the speaker that are eating food.
High Valyrian conjugates verbs for the aorist, so you can tell from Enter, the accusative, or the object case. We take off the -a from the
the verb form if it’s in the aorist or not. The aorist form for “to end of vala, and add -e to form the accusative.
die” is the same as the normal present form which means that
“Valar morghulis” can also take on the sense of something that The accusative marks the object of the sentence. Since the accusative
is inevitable. In other words, a statement about the nature of the is marked, we could conceivably put the object at any point in the
world. In the books, this sense is translated as “All men must die”. sentence, since we can tell from the ending what function it serves
in the sentence. Changing the position in the sentence would only
alter the emphasis.
What is conjugation you might ask? Conjugation is the term given Vale gerpa ipradas
to the variation in a verb according to the mood, tense and person. It is the man that the fruit is eating


To change the emphasis in English requires a bit more words, since Vocative
English does not mark subjects or objects, so we have to change the The last case to cover is called the vocative case, which is used when
phrasing in English to get the same effect.
addressing someone.
The next case to discuss is the genitive. The genitive, or the possesive
case, marks nouns as belonging to, or relating to something else.
Kesa gerpa valo issa.
This fruit is the man’s.


We have taken the word “vala”, taken off the -a at the end, and
added -o to it.
The next case we will discuss is called the dative, or the indirect
object case. It is used to mark the indirect object (something that
receives or has something done to it by the direct object).

Grey Worm (Turgo Nudho in Astapori Valyrian):
Leader of the Unsullied

When we change the form of a noun depending on the case, we
Gerpe valot tepan
decline it. Some nouns decline differently to others. Nouns that
I give the fruit to the man
decline in the same way are placed into groups. These groups
are called declensions. There are 6 declensions in High Valyrian.
Direct translation
Unfortunately, this is not where it ends. There are also 4 genders,
Fruit (accusative) man (dative) I give
lunar, solar, terrestrial and aquatic. These won’t be covered here,
but it is enough to know that it has an effect on declension. Nouns
High Valyrian is a pronoun dropping language (like Spanish or in the dictionary will have their gender, and declension group
Italian) where pronouns are optional since who performed the listed, which helps in looking up their declension table.
action is marked on the verb itself, unlike in English where it is
never clear who did what if we only have the verb.
Here is the declension table for vala (which is in the first declension,
and is of the lunar gender)
The next case to discuss is the locative, which marks the noun as
being the location of something
Gerpe valot Qelbriā tepan
I give the fruit to the man in the Riverlands
Qelbria means Riverlands.
If we lengthen the last a, it becomes Qelbriā, which is the locative
High Valyrian in Game of Thrones
The next case we will cover is the instrumental case, which marks Daenerys speaks High Valyrian, as does Thoros of Myr and
the noun as being used by or with (with in the sense of “by means Melisandre.
of ”) something.
What follows is some dialogue that appears in the tv show. Maybe
Vala gerpe zȳhos ondoso ipradas
I am being overly careful, but if you haven’t watched the show and
The man eats the fruit with his hand
don’t want anything whatsoever revealed about what is said in
them, you should maybe avoid this section.
ondos – hand
We add -oso to the end of word to form the instrumental (or just SPOILER ALERT!
-o if it ends in -os).
Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.
A dragon is not a slave
The second last case we will cover (we are almost there!) is the
comitative case, which indicates accompaniment, and can be This line is said by Daenerys. An interesting thing to note here is
translated as “along with”.
that “it is” is “issa” in High Valyrian, but when you use the negative
(daor – not), you have to use the subjunctive (used when imagining
It is formed by adding -om to the end of the noun.
a hypothetical thing or situation). Sagon (to be) is an irregular verb.
The subjunctive for “it is” is “iksos”.


Nyke Daenerys Jelmāzmo hen Targārio Lentrot, hen Valyrio Uēpo
ānogār iksan. Valyrio muño ēngos ñuhys issa.
I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, of the blood of
Old Valyria. Valyrian is my mother tongue.
Dovaogēdys! Āeksia ossēnātās, menti ossēnātās, qilōni pilos lue
vale tolvie ossēnātās, yn riñe dōre ōdrikātās. Urnet luo buzdaro
tolvio belma pryjātās!
Unsullied! Slay the masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who
holds a whip, but harm no child. Strike the chains off every slave
you see!
John Snow - A member of the Night's Watch

Daenerys Targaryen
A fluent High Valyrian speaker

Phrases from the books translated into High Valyrian
Lannister va moriot zyha gēlȳnī addemmis
A Lannister always pays his debts
Ziry kivio dārilaros issa, se zȳhon suvio perzō vāedar issa.
He is the prince that was promised,
and his is the song of ice and fire.

The Night’s Watch Pledge in High Valyrian
Bantis derēbas, sesīr urnēbion ñuhon sikaks.
Va morghot ñuhot kelīlza daor.
Ābrazȳromy dīniluks daor, dōrior tegori emilun,
dōre riñari sikīlun.
Dōre dārys keson se rijiluks daor.
Va urnebiot ñuhot glaesinna se morghūlīnna.
Egros zōbrivē iksan.
Dōroti bē urnēbiros iksan
Iōrvo hēdrȳ zālis lȳs perzyssy,
tubis maghas lȳs ōños,
ēdrussossa narughis lȳs molry iksan
Dāria ābraro sytivīlībis lȳs dōros iksan
Kesȳ bantī sepār bantirri māzīlarē ñuhon glaeson
se ñuhe hoskāzme tepan.

Skoriot ñuhys zaldrīzesse issi?
Where are my dragons?
Phrases from the books translated into High Valyrian
Lannister va moriot zyha gēlȳnī addemmis
A Lannister always pays his debts
Ziry kivio dārilaros issa, se zȳhon suvio perzō vāedar issa.
He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and
Skoriot ñuhys zaldrīzesse issi?
Where are my dragons?

Āegenkor Tistālior jāhor gurotriri emilza.
The Iron Bank will have its due.

Taking the pledge

A clerk of the Iron Bank
of Braavos

Skorī dēmalȳti tymptir tymis, ērinis iā morghūlis.
When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.
Kesrio syt bantis zōbrie issa se ossȳngnoti lēdys.
For the night is dark and full of terrors.
Daenerys Targarien, Jelmazmo, Dorzalty, Dāria Sikudo Dārȳti
Vestero, Muña Zaldrizoti.
Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, the Unburnt, the Queen of
the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the Mother of Dragons.

Night gathers, and now my watch begins.
It shall not end until my death.
I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children.
I shall wear no crowns and win no glory.
I shall live and die at my post.
I am the sword in the darkness.
I am the watcher on the walls.
I am the fire that burns against the cold
the light that brings the dawn
the horn that wakes the sleepers
I am the shield that guards the realms of men.
I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch,
for this night and all the nights to come.


Useful phrases
Aōhys zaldrīzes yne vīlības!
Your dragon is attacking me!
Zaldrīzesse tolvī sȳngis!
Dragons scare everyone!
Davido zaldrīzes aōhos zaldrīzose rōvyktys issa.
David’s dragon is bigger than your dragon.
Dārys yno āeksion raqas.
My king loves gold.
Skoros ynot epilu?
What would you ask of me?
Quptenkos Ēngoso ȳdrassis?
Do you speak the Common tongue?
Dialects of Valyrian
If you asked the people of Slaver’s Bay or the Free Cities what
language they spoke, many would simply answer Valyrian. The
name High Valyrian was invented to distinguish the older form of
the language from the language spoken by the common people of
the Free Cities and Slaver’s Bay. David Peterson actually developed
2 dialects of Valyrian, Astapori Valyrian, and Meerenese Valyrian,
basing them off High Valyrian.
As an easter egg, the creators of Game of Thrones asked DJP if
he would translate the French Taunt from The Quest for the
Holy Grail into Valyrian for the Meerenese champion to shout at
Daenerys and her army as they stand outside Meereen. While DJP
did develop Meerenese Valyrian, he chose instead to translate the
French Taunt into Astapori Valyrian, so that viewers who had been
following Valyrian might be able to get the joke. Here is the French
Taunt translated into Astapori Valyrian.
Byjan vavi demble eva o, trezy eme verdje espo jimi!
I fart in your general direction, son of a window-dresser!
Oa mysa iles me nýnyghi, si oa kiba tuziles espo tomistos!
Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!
Já si hojgá oa gundja, trezy eme mero dovodedha!
Go and boil your bottom, son of a silly person!
Kiman nya másina orvorta va oi sodjistos!
I wave my private parts at your aunties!

Valyrian Historical Linguistics
The term “Low Valyrian” is used to refer to the group of all extant
languages descended from High Valyrian. It can be grouped into
three varieties, Northern, Southern and Ghiscari.
The Northern group is made up of Braavosi, Lorathi, Pentoshi,
Norvosi and Qohorik.
The Southern group is made up of Myrish, Tyroshi, Lyseni and
The Ghiscari group is made up of Astapori, Yunkish and Meerenese.
DJP says that Astapori and Yunkish are nearly identical to each
other, and that Meerenese has very different pronounciation but
the grammar hasn’t diverged as far as the pronounciation. Astapori
and Meerenese are the only varieties of Low Valyrian spoken on
the show so far.

The Ghiscari group is noted for the number of Ghiscari words used
in its varieties. One example is: mysa meaning mother in Ghiscari
Do eban av kimívagho dombo, o doru-borto pame espo gruzi evi varieties (cf. muña in High Valyrian).
havor espo begistos!
I don’t want to talk to you no more you empty-headed animal food The main developments in Ghiscari Valyrian is the reduction in the
trough wiper!
number of cases and genders, and the development of articles, of
which High Valyrian used none. Ghiscari Valyrian has merged the
Ghorgan ji pungo va o, nynta Dare espo Zaldrizes, o si une oi solar and lunar genders into the celestial gender, and the aquatic
dovodedhi, Vesterozi azzzzzantys.
and terrestrial into the terrestrial gender.
I blow my nose at you, so-called Dragon Queen, you and all your
silly Westerosi kaniggets!


Astapori Valyrian
Astapori Valyrian exhibits the following sound changes
from High Valyrian:
Consonantal Sound Shifts

Sigil of House Targaryen

Vowel Sound Shift

There is much more to learn about High Valyrian, Astapori Valyrian, Meerenese Valyrian and
even Dothraki. Surf on over to to get more information,
and join our little community.
See you in Essos!


The Wind and the Sun

Nurðvindar an Sylar
Nurðvindar an Sylar bèvægður,
aðrar starkira vas,
æn fararir kwam ýv, varman mantlè
klæþondur. Hit jatiður eð sumar ar fyrstar farari mundí sako sínan mantlè avneman, ihþras
starkira skuldí vera. Sva Nurðvindar alla sína avló blèlæs, mé mær blèlæs, mær þíhtvé sir fararir
mantlè ivi sek fèvelþ, an svivnó Nurðvindar ývgav. Æm Sylar varmó ýfskæn, an æntínvé sir fararir mantlè avnam. An sva Nurðvindar þurfté anhætan eð Sylar starkira bæs vas.

Original English text: The North Wind and the Sun
The North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a traveller came along
wrapped in a warm cloak. They agreed that the one who first succeeded in making the traveller
take his cloak off should be considered stronger than the other. Then the North Wind blew as hard
as he could, but the more he blew the more closely did the traveller fold his cloak around him; and
at last the North Wind gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shined out warmly, and immediately the
traveller took off his cloak. And so the North Wind was obliged to confess that the Sun was the
stronger of the two.

English retranslation:
The North Wind and the Sun argued, which of the two was the stronger, when a traveller came
past, wearing a warm cloak. They agreed that the one who could first make the traveller take off his
cloak, should be the stronger of the two. So the North Wind blew with all its might, but the more
he blew, the more tightly the traveller wrapped himself in the cloak, and finally the North Wind
gave up. Then the sun shone up warmly, and immediately the traveller took off his cloak. And so
the North Wind had to admit that the Sun was the stronger of the two.


Standard Arabic: Phonology, Morphology;
rapprochements with English.
Arabic belongs to a corpus of languages called the Semitic
languages. Different from other Semitic languages, spoken Arabic
has different vernaculars which vary from one geographic area to
another. For instance, Moroccan Arabic, Syrian Arabic, etc.

In addition, the following question must be raised: Where does
each syllable begin and end ? No definition has gained universal
acceptance, but linguists agree on two principles: the Maximalism
Onset Principle and the Sonority Principle.

Arabic is very well known for its complexity in the domain of
linguistics, it shares in common many things with other languages,
yet differs from them significantly as well in terms of phonology,
morphology, syntax, and semantics.

The former is respected in Arabic as all languages, but the latter,
which governs the distribution of sounds inside a syllable, is
violated in many cases which made modern linguists struggle
to think of another alternative. For instance, the word in Arabic:
SAXR ( rock in English) can be broken phonologically as the
Let us be more meticulous about two major components - following:
phonology, and morphology. In phonology, Arabic has consonants
and vowels which are shared with English, but Arabic has extra
sounds that English does not have, for example sounds that are
produced from the pharynx (called pharyngeal sounds), /‫ح‬/,/‫ع‬/,
and also Uvular consonants, when the back of the tongue comes
in contact with the uvula to pronounce /q/‫ق‬/. That is, if you ask an
American to prononce the word ‘qalab’ ( heart), he will certainly
pronounce it “kalab” (dog in English), meaning that certain sounds
are not learned correctly during language acquisition. Moreover,
in terms of syllable structures, which are phonological ‘units’
where vowels and consonants are grouped together, the syllable
is divided into three parts: the onset, the nucleus, and the coda. In
Arabic the onset is mandatory, every word must have an onset. The
coda does not contributed to the rhyme( the weight of the syllable),
it is considered to be extra-syllabic, and it attaches directly to the
In the example above, the position of the consonant coda /x/ and /r/
the syllable, for instance the word ‫( تاب‬tab), repents in English,
violate the sonority rule (as the sounds do not follow the principle
can be syllabified accordingly as the following:
of becoming more sonorous within the word). This shows that it
is quite difficult to make any theory universal and apply it to all
languages, let alone Arabic.
In morphology, Arabic is much more rich and complex if we
compare it to English, and the evidence seems to suggest that in
the majority of Arabic words, Arabic consonants have an exclusive
semantic function that differs from that of the vowels.
Consonants in an Arabic stem almost always carry the lexical
meaning of that stem. Vowels on the other hand have the function
of making grammatical distinctions.


Consider the following list:
1. qatala ‘he killed’
2. qatiil ‘killed singular’
3. qaatil ‘killer’
4. muqaatil ‘fighter’
5. qattala ‘he over killed’
6. qitaal ‘fighting noun’
7. qitaali ‘fighting adj’
8. qatl ‘the act of killing’
9. maqtal ‘fatal wound’ or ‘the killing of’
10. qtlaa ‘killed plural’
The above is but a subset of possible stems that can be generated
from the root [QTL] meaning ‘killing’. Derivations of different
forms do not alter the members of the root nor their order. Instead,
derivations are accomplished by modifying the vocalism. Each
stem has a different vocalism while the consonants of the root
remain constant. This well known and attested observation has
profound implications for Arabic speech recognition and Arabic
language teaching. Arabic speakers seem to have intuitions
about the role of consonants and vowels in their language.
Unlike speakers of other languages, Arabic speakers can afford
to pay less attention to the vowels than the consonants since only
consonants carry the semantic meaning which is more crucial
to understanding the message than the grammatical information
carried by the vocalism is.
The Arabic word for ‘here’ is /huna/ in MSA (Modern Standard
Arabic), /hina/ in Egyptian Arabic, /hoon/ in Levantine Arabic
and /hni/ in Gulf Arabic. An Arabic speaker hearing this word by
a speaker of another dialect does not need to think twice before
relating what he heard to the equivalent in his dialect because
they share the same consonants and differ only in the vocalism.
The implications for speech recognition is that training Arabic
speech recognition systems would be different from training the
system for other languages. Training for Arabic could assign
more weight to consonants than to vowels. {aa ‘killed plural}’.
In spite of the complexity of Standard Arabic, it can not be easily
tested within the framework of generative grammar - that is, in
order for a language to be studied we must rely on intuitions of
the native speakers of a certain community. This is impossible,
because Standard Arabic is not used as the primary language
of communities around the word, rather it is used as a second
language and is learned at school.

And there was evening, and there
was morning—the first day



~ Conlangs Monthly: We appreciate the time you’ve taken to
answer some questions we have for you, so to start with, when
did you first become interested in conlangs?
David: I guess I became interested in conlangs in general when I
started conlanging my freshman year of college in 2000.
I wasn’t actually aware that there were people who created languages
outside L. L. Zamenhof and some of his competitors from the late
19th and early 20th centuries.
That information I got from the Esperanto class I took as a freshman
at Berkeley. Outside of that, I wasn’t aware of any other language
~ CM: How do you think wider society perceives language

Interview with
David J. Peterson

David: That’s something that’s changed radically over the years—
in fact, it’s changed the most over the years I’ve been active. When
I started, to the extent that anyone had heard of language creation
(and those who had were few and far between), the most common
reaction was one of stupefied disbelief. Most people I encountered
or heard of thought it was really, really weird, and of no practical
value. Every so often there would be someone who thought it was
neat, and somewhere in between those two groups were those
who reacted negatively, attributing the desire to create languages
to anything from mental instability to megalomania. Undoubtedly
there were and are language creators who are mentally unstable
and also megalomaniacs. Nearly all the language creators I’ve met,
though, were just ordinary folk especially interested in language—
and I think of late, this is what the majority of people have come
to understand. Ever since The Lord of the Rings movies debuted,
more and more people have heard of language creation, and so now
it, just like fan fiction, is a thing people have heard of, which makes
it much more normal and acceptable to the majority of people who
wouldn’t otherwise be interested or opposed.

~ CM: As a professionally trained linguist, do you feel that
David J. Peterson is an American linguist and language creator. conlanging is taken seriously in the field of linguistics?
Studying at University of California, Berkeley from 1999 to 2003,
he received B.A. degrees in English and in linguistics. He received David: It depends what taken seriously means. Again, the general
an M.A. in linguistics from University of California, San Diego.
opinion has improved greatly over time, and I think I and other
conlangers in the field of linguistics have had a lot to do with that.
David Peterson is best known for creating the Dothraki and For example, the first time I mentioned conlanging to a professor
Valyrian languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones (since of mine—John McWhorter—in 2001, he laughed and asked if I’d
2009) and the Castithan and Irathient languages for Syfy’s Defiance been messing around with Esperanto.
(since 2011), but has been creating languages since 2000.
In 2013, twelve years later, he put together this video for TEDEd
He also created the language used by the Dark Elves in the movie
Thor: The Dark World. In 2007, he co-founded the Language
Creation Society, with nine other language creators, and served as
its president (2012-2014). -WikipediaAnd, honestly, I think that’s one of the best popular defences
of conlanging I’ve ever seen—certainly the best done by a nonconlanger.
This is really how public opinion changes. It starts with personal
interactions that eventually lead to changes. I think linguistics is
in the midst of that, with respect to conlanging. A lot of linguistics
students show an interest, and a lot of departments are responding,
some using more created language examples in the classroom;
others even offering conlanging courses.


What remains to be seen is what role conlanging will play in
academic linguistics. Currently I think the jury’s still out. I don’t
think there’s anyone seriously studying any particular conlangs
for any reason, and probably few if any who study conlanging the
activity. I think there’s something of interest there scientifically, but
I’m not sure what (there’s a reason I’m not in academia anymore).
I imagine someone will figure it out and it will work its way into
academic linguistics, but I think that will actually happen much
later than general public awareness and acceptance.
~ CM: What is your language-developing method?
David: In my senior year in college, I decided to get serious about
creating naturalistic a priori languages, and that’s pretty much all
I’ve been doing ever since. When I initially set about doing this, I
did the façade method, if you could call it there, where you make it
look like your language has an in-depth history behind it, despite
the fact that it doesn’t. So, for example, knowing that natural
languages feature irregularity, one will randomly sprinkle irregular
forms into a conlang to make it look natural. The result is slightly
more naturalistic looking than a straight up regular language, but
most conlangers can spot it straight off.

For myself, I’ve read everything but the Dunk and Egg tales, and
I’m not yet finished with The World of Ice and Fire.
I was quite grateful for the latter, though, as it promises to fill
in some information about the lives of the original Valyrian
speakers—something that remains mysterious in the five books
published thus far.

Late in graduate school and in the years to follow, I became more
interested in the roots of irregularity and the origins of grammar.
~ CM: Can you tell us about an interesting situation concerning
Since then I’ve worked from proto-languages, or, if there’s no
conlanging you went through?
time for it, proto-states that result naturally in irregularity and
naturalistic inflection systems and derivation. That’s where I’m at
David: One of the more interesting and challenging things I’ve
at the moment.
done as a conlanger I’ve done twice: the Inverse Conlang Relay.
Most conlangers know what a relay is at this point. the Inverse
~ CM: Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
Relay had participants write a text in someone else’s language and
send that text to the creator of the conlang.
David: Depends on the project, really. With the shows I work
on, it always comes from the scripts or the people—or external
I participated twice, once using Jim Henry’s gyâ-zym-byn, and
constraints the directors, writers and producers have. That makes
once using Sylvia Sotomayor’s Kēlen. I think gyâ-zym-byn broke
it random, which can be frustrating, but it’s fun.
me; I did a terrible job. It was really interesting to see someone use
I had a really specific idea in mind for the language I created for
my language, Kamakawi, though. It was Arthaey Angosii who used
Star-Crossed on the CW, but the show’s creator wanted pretty much
mine both times. She did things I totally didn’t anticipate it, which
anything but that, which forced me in a totally different direction.
makes you both rethink your documentation, but also rethink how
The result was something pretty wild that I ended up liking quite
your language can possibly work. It was a great exercise.
a bit.
For my own projects, I was always influenced either by natural
languages or linguistic phenomena I saw and was interested while
taking classes. But I haven’t actually created a new language for
myself since I was in graduate school. In between that and Game
of Thrones, I was mainly working on Kamakawi, as well as some
of my other languages. When I eventually stop working in TV and
film, I’m not sure where inspiration will come from—or if I’ll even
create a new language again, rather than working on the ones I’ve
already created. I guess we’ll find out!

~ CM: Which conlang of yours was the hardest to make and why?
David: Each of them had different challenges. The one I generally
think of as the hardest is Irathient, but it’s actually just the hardest
to use. It came together fairly well. Probably the hardest is one I’m
working on right now, though I can’t talk about it yet.

I’m having some real blocks with it, though. It’s odd. I’m creating
two languages right now for two different shows, and one is going
great; the other I’m constantly getting stuck with. I’m sure I’ll work
through it. I also spent a lot of time with the High Valyrian verb
~ CM: How is your relationship with George R. R. Martin and
his work?
I wanted that to work out just right, so I put a lot of work into. It
David: George R. R. Martin is very busy, so we don’t communicate
was taxing, but I’m quite pleased with the way it came out.
much at all, but we have and do on occasion. He’s supportive of
the languages I’ve created for the show, and has taken steps to
incorporate them in his work, which is really cool.


~ CM: In 2009, you were firstly called up to work with the series ~ CM: Did you ever expect that you would be employed to create
‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. How did that happen? Had you had any languages?
previous professional conlanging experiences before that?
David: When I first started creating languages, I thought it would
David: In the summer of 2009, the Language Creation Society be possible, because I thought I was the first one since Zamenhof to
(LCS) was contacted by Dan Weiss and David Benioff, the creators create languages—and certainly the first ever to create a language
of Game of Thrones. They wanted someone to create a language not intended for international communication. When I found the
for Game of Thrones. The president of the LCS, Sai, then worked greater conlanging community, though, and learned about their
with HBO to put a contract in place, and he set up a competition struggles and interactions with the wider world, I was quite certain
which he announced to the language creation community at large. that it was totally unrealistic to think anyone could ever make
I applied along with forty or so others who were interested. The money doing so. I think this is the way most of us felt until Game
contest involved two rounds of judging, the first by language of Thrones happened all of a sudden.
creators, and the second by the producers.
~ CM: And lastly, what advice would you give to beginning
The competition lasted a couple months, and many applicants conlangers?
dropped out along the way. It was an open-ended application, so
there was no cap on the amount of material you could create and David: Just as beginning writers need to read and write constantly,
beginning conlangers need to study language and conlang
submit for judging.
constantly. In addition to studying diverse natural languages (if
I worked on my application pretty much every waking hour of the you speak English and have studied Spanish in school, it’s not
day throughout both rounds. By the time our final proposals were broadening your horizons enough to study French of German.
due, I had over 300 pages of material, and the Dothraki language Go outside Indo-European. Study Japanese, or Warlpiri, or
was mostly done. I was fortunate enough to be selected as the Chichewa), there are a wealth of excellent conlangs which have
winner, and from then on I was the language creator on the series. been documented online. Chances are if you can think of it, some
Oh, and no, I hadn’t had any other serious professional conlanging conlang or natlang has done it already (likely both). It pays to be
well-read, when it comes to conlangs that have been created in the
jobs before that.
past. I learned pretty much everything I know by studying others’
conlangs: Sally Caves, David Bell, John Quijada, Matt Pearson,
Sylvia Sotomayor, Amanda Furrow, Mia Soderquist… There are
scores available, and much of the work that’s been detailed in full
online is excellent.
Thank you very much for your words, I wish you all the best.

David, giving a speech
during a meeting of
the Language Creation Society


I Yulu Tolmo

I Yulu Tolmo
Leatan cahtenne wan.
Nwaneten tarie, ahtea.
Silyalle Arono lilli non rúseti,
Ar rosa'lánalle non homor rúseti.
Quessi cultate Yalvinye, yalvaten meliér yalvár.
Ar circatan limbesse.
Varatan ol nollo yulor
Ar sambatan milbane tucunne.
Etye lur cúnie
Alye astaiten torieta,
Vatatan có rómea ar có melie,
Ar vinyo'sellana nwanete nonne.
Ar vaseten malealá yulú.
Aloanna alqualvo.

The Wine Dream
I was planted in the field of Being.
I grew high and tall.
My leaves reached for sunlight
And my roots reached for rainwater.
When Autumn came, I bore sweet fruit
And was cut from the vine.
I was pressed for my juices,
And left to rot in a jar.
But after a long time,
Although I suffered greatly,
I was made stronger and sweeter.
The liquor of joy grew within me
And became the finest wine
Praised by many.


A Pocketful of Rainbows

Literal translation:

`A`ole he pilīkia
Ā `ele`ele ka lani
He pūkeke o ānuenue
Na`au o aloha

It's no problem
When skies are grey above
Got a pocket of rainbows
Got a heart of love

Kane o kaumaha
`Ike au hu`e ho`i `o ia
He pūkeke o ānuenue
Ko`u he hōkū

Man of sadness
I last saw you so long ago
Got a pocket full of rainbows
This star is my own

Henoheno nui honi au
Likiliki nui api
Aloha au i kou aloha-ha-ha-ha

Kiss me with extra passion
Hug me extra tight
I love your love so much

`A`ole he pilīkia
Ā `ele`ele ka lani
He pūkeke o ānuenue
Na`au o aloha

English original:

It's no problem
When skies are grey above
Got a pocket of rainbows
Got a heart of love

I don't worry
Whenever skies are grey above
Got a pocket full of rainbows
Got a heart full of love.
Mr. Heartache,
I haven't seen you since I found love so true
Got a pocket full of rainbows
Got a star up my sleeve
Kiss me extra tender
Hold me extra tight
'Cause I'm saving your sweetness
For a lonely night-ight-ight-ight
I don't worry
Whenever skies are grey above
Got a pocket full of rainbows
Got a heart full of love.


Rantaa Homo-n Kestytsyy


”Kimaraa oistus kuinkututta?
Sokos neilu paskikunta.
Keremaa ulitus heelekasta?
Puola raavanu piankauta.”

Ëse ita, ëse ta dank dae;
Clom ish costa , clom ish terank, ae!
Nikït-amada cöm ish coek;
Catü gghaebona n, catü ghusoma n.
Nikiït-amada cöm ghus dishk laba n;
Coöm dishk shgghadï, baeche ghus löban.
Kï ish shggha du, a da sa kï dae;
Catü klap;
Sa ta costa ;
Sa ta pghhem dae, cöm esna .

Puukus maista kistarantaa,
hulletust olla kummarattaa,
nukka mastakestuset maan,
kossu olavan, maja ylitsän.
”Ylössä meenna”, puola Kauna.
Jo, oon nyöltä kauppataa,
haluun keskusut pystyää.
”Sakset mään, kuin kunta maa.”
Loila, loila! Kaikke sanaa!
Ylöhtä meenna ulitu tänää!
Homo-iluu ja meestilyy
Oo rantasa kestytsyy

In this place, in this heart of mine;
Multiple worlds and languages coexist, hey!
There's something deep;
High up to the sky, reaching beyond
There's something that can't be understood;
That can be felt, and that will not cease to exist.
That is love, of me, it's mine;
Towards us;
This world;
And this good life of mine.


Every Child is a Natural Conlanger
Much of the marvel of human communication comes from the fact
that it is not adults who learn to communicate in a such a complex
and infinite way but children who can barely run or perform any
other challenging activity. Yet, it is children who can, by both
imitation and reasoning, decode and recode any message they
perceive in whatever language their parents communicate.

The possible permutations for communication given a set of
algorithms under which operate are endless; and children as soon
as they realse this begin to make use of the intricate mechanism of
language’s software and hardware. In the end what humans strive
for by means of language is to understand and to be understood, to
inquire about something and to relate about something.

Some Scientists in Sweden even argue that, because babies only
hours old can differentiate between sounds from their mother’s
native language and a foreign language; they indeed learn language
while still in the womb1. As early as around 7 months into
pregnancy a baby’s sensory and brain mechanisms for hearing are
developed and during the last 10 weeks of gestational age babies
are already actively listening to their mothers talking. In just 0-12
months babies learn to match the parents’ voices to their faces and
smile at the sight of the faces or the sound of the voices. They learn
to repeat the same sound/word a lot and make gurgling sounds,
eventually easy sounds like (a, i, p, b,w, m) will be the first to be
used. They also learn to respond to the word “No” and begin to
keenly listen when talked to, by the end of the first year babies can
easily differentiate concrete words like car, keys, cat and produce
easy ones like “mama, night, bye bye, daddy”.

Not so long ago a linguistics researcher noticed something
peculiar concerning how children learn and use language, Derek
Bickerton realised that even when a language is not immediatly
available for them to use, they would generate their own means of
communication and create “out of thin air” the necessary rules to
meaningfully arrange their “sounds-inventory”.

In that systematic and unperceived way children begin to
accumulate linguistic data until around 4-5 years old when they
surprise adults by their command of language and dexterity of
their capacity for speech; they can now utter sentences like “We
went to the park but had to come home early because it was raining
hard”- a 5 years old boy talking to his father, or “You are a bad girl,
very bad, no more candy for you until you say sorry, ok?” - 4 years
old o girl playing with her dolls. Without any formal instruction
per se, children grow up to produce consistent interpretations of
their reality in novel sentence constructions they probably never
heard before, and if taught to read soon at around 4 years old, they
will be much prone to use language proficiently before 6 years old.
These facts teach us something we have known for long but never
really tried to understand it; children do have an inner superior
capacity for complex mathematical communication which operates
by means of algorithmically ordering already created elements
and shaping them according to particular conditions and after
prestablished patterns.

He claimed that children by means of an inner, universal and
instinctive, superior capacity for communication can bring to
life any language they need to; as proof of this phenomenon he
demostrated how children born and raised in multicultural and
multilingual communities which employ “pidgins” as means of
communication always generate, without any linguistic direction,
creole languages which are very structured and systematic and
which also share common characteristics among them regardless
of the languages used as linguistic foundations.
Some few Syntactic simmilarities are the following:
• SVO word order
• Tense-Modality-Aspect systems
• Adjectives as verbs
• Question words
• Passive equivalents
McWhorter, another reasearcher and contributor to the “Language
Bioprogram Hypothesis” claimed that all creoles share certain
similarities that set them apart from other “natural languages”, he
identified these 3 main characteristics:
1. Grammatical inflection by means of “Affixing”
2. Development of productive, nontransparent derivational affixes
3. Usage of tone to mark lexical differences or to use them as
grammatical markers


To test things further Bickerton had this unorthodox idea to fully
demonstrate his claims in which a group of families spreaking
mutually unintelligible languages would be set on a uninhabitated
island for some years to see how the adults would develop a pidgin
to communicate with each other and later on how children would
use this “imperfect pidgin” to create a systematic creole to fully
express themselves.
Obviously the experiment was cancelled on moral grounds due
to the claimed hazards of it; nonetheless, some answers to the
questions sought after in this experiment already were available.
The first data comes from the history of slavery in America, from
the Atlantic slave trade and indentured servitude in the South
Pacific where one of the best examples is Haiti.

“When the infernal machine of plantation
slavery began to grind its wheels, iron laws of
economics came into play, laws that would lead
to immeasurable suffering but would also, and
equally inevitably, produce new languages all over
the world – languages that ironically, in the very
midst of man’s inhumanity to man, demonstrated
the essential unity of humanity.”
– Derek Bickerton, PHD.

The second source of data cames from Nicaragua where until
around 1970-80 there was no sign language as aid to deaf-mute
people. Until then, deaf people were largely isolated from each
other and in order to communicte at home they would use basic
private signs with their close friends and family, however several
cases of idioglossia had already been attested in many homes.
Then, in 1977 the conditions required for a language to develop
emerged when a centre for special education stablished a program
for educating and treating young deaf people. As expected the
teachers’s preferred method for teaching communication to these
impaired children was lipreading and alphabetical sign spelling in
Spanish; and as predicted, the program achieved little succes in
improving or attaining children’s literacy.

Thousands of slaves from different regions of Africa working
together in the sugar, tobacco, cotton, etc plantations and needing
to communicate with each other for performing tasks and whatnot
devised a language made up of pieces of the many original langauges
bounded in an flawed grammar that would still allow them to
understand each other. These slave-parents when at work could not
take care of their offspring and would leave them to baby-sitters
who would speak to them in their mother tongue and the common
pidgin used as lingua franca around. These children perceiving the
limitations of the pidgin began to introduce complex grammatical
features wich the “native pidgin” was lacking in order to expand
their range of communication which resulted in a new unattested
langauge, a creole.

At school children, while interacting with their teachers, persisted
linguistically detached, they simply could not grasp the concepts of
Spanish words, at least not in the way their teachers were teaching
them; yet during the break, on the street, and in the bus to and from
school, children were actively communicating with each other. Just
as in the case of the slaves in the plantations, they brought their
own signs from home and mixed them and used them as they
thought appropiate and before their teachers realised so, these
children had already created a pidgin and later on a very functional
and grammatical creole; they had created their own language, a
“Natural Conlang”.


“Creoles are not bastard tongues after all.
Quite the contrary: they are the purest
expression we know of the human capacity
for language.”

– Derek Bickerton, PHD.

The teachers were amazed at this phenomenon and at first they thought
it was merely the clumsy mimical representation of a butchered Spanish,
until they decided to ask for help to the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education
which in turn contacted Judy Kegl, an American Sign Language linguist
from MIT to provide these teacher with an answer and guidance over these
Contrary to what the teachers thought Kegl and other researchers pointed
out that those signs were not pantomimes and gestures, plain clumsy
inventions of children, or ciphers of spoken Spanish; older students were
actively using a pidgin form and the younger ones were already developing
a creole with verb agreement and other elaborated conventions of grammar;
and in time from these signs ISN was born - (Idioma de Señas de Nicaragua)
Nicaraguan Sign Language.
These examples and the data collected from research show us that every
child has the innate need and capacity to communicate and even when the
environment does not provide the necessary tools for achiving the complex
degree of human communication, children will find a way to naturally
create meaning of their own will and pleasure, as any good conlanger does.
*The study was co-conducted by professorHugo Lagercrantz and funded by the National Institutes
of Health and Pacific Lutheran University’s S. Erving Severtson Forest Foundation Undergraduate
Research Program.
* Picture of comparative table from Wikipedia


The Tower of Babel
1 Mpos fu hubric rud mpusim can du af fu gempric nkab.
2 Az venru soneson to diof ser potmires can somwio nac Sinar af
sontiases ntum.
3 Ser mpages to ser af ser dant “nisoint, niuroim niurdainru af hubric
citoboim ser.” Ser zores niurdainru adcit zainru, af zores duipdain adcit
4 Ntos ser mpages dant “nisoint, niuroim can ntias wit can agsir dant
ciawim to fu noidom, bun kar sondaroidkim pod kar. Ob kar caitenk
tant fu hubric pomp.”
5 Vef Iawbei mpornises bun se miroidkim fu ntias af fu agsir dant fu
ven niureson.
6 Iawbei mpages “gai ntai venru nkabim fu gempric du. Af ka mirim dant
ser wit ser koroicim pod ntai zor. Se ziurim cen fu zori deki sondiur. Ser
tamsof zoroidkenk vai dant ser ginim.
7 Nisoint, mporzonoim af siasunmponcoim sei du bun ser wint
mpancoidkim ser af ser.”
8 Bun Iawbei caites ser fo ntum tant gai pompi go, af se hares fu ntiasi
9 Ziurim ntic dant siadaroices Paper—pod ntum Iawbei siasunmponces
fu hubric rudi du. Fo ntum Iawebei caites ser tant fu rud.

1 Ben Ulaimmish fal de Tenerotum aevimer shanlon Oin Veumvon un
Oin Liervon Voresneu.
2 Un ovaimer ta nerum vailolen Fetsovir, Fes vider mistemer ain
Likanvon Iudamish Shinarmoi, un Fes aenemmer genaumir hal.
3 Un Fes aenemmer taumir Odevon: “Aia! Des Jheital Fergavon un
kalental fesvon un irdatal fesvon vaunolo.” Un Fes shanmer Fergavon
Graldaf un Gundeivon Grilendaf.
4 Un Fes filen taumer Odevon: “Aia! Desalin öfaital ain Ishitovon un
ora ain Tsukivon jelmoi de Huo karinmar de Aerivon, un Des afiotal ain
Lovivon deslum, inai Des okuomar plaseel fal de Feinlen Teneromoi.”
5 Un Jiova boheimer tidamir un doumir de Ishitovon un de Tsukivon
ta de Veres öfaifer.
6 Un Jiova taumer: “Lomental! De Veres imar Oinalin Teredar un timar
Oin Veum fal Feslum, un ban imar ta Fes aenemmer jheimir: Tor timar
ta Fes nei ormar isnormir un jheimir.
7 Aia! Des aenotal, tidatal un udoital fesli Veumvon, son Fes nei ormar
eimamir de Alauvon Odemoi
8 Bio, Jiova plasemer fesvon fal de Feinlen Teneromoi, un Fes nidelo
sinaevimer de Öfaivon Ishitoneu.
9 Seu, feli Lovi okuomer Babel, lom Jiova udoimer de Veumvon fal de
Teneroneu, un Jiova plasefer fesvon halvir fal de Feinlen Teneromoi.


The Tower of Babel

National Simphonian


The Tower of Babel

Nu de gansa veld hab een spraak en een gemeenda aksent. As looda
oos bevech, esse find een ruksha in Shinar en siedel dord.
Esse saach su mekaar, "Kom, las un bousteenen machen, en esse
gans doych baken".
Esse benoot bousteen instat fon steen en teer voor morser. Dan
esse saach, "Kom mal, las uns een staad bouen, mit een turm das
bis in de himel reech, so das we kan uns ruum machen; zonda we
wou serstreet over de gesich fon de gansa aard"
Aver de Heer kom runa om de staad su sienen en de turm das de
looda bou.
De Heer saach, "Ob as een folk das de selber spraak praat esse begin das su dun, dan ken esser plan wou unmooglich for essech.
Kom, las uns runa gaanen en fervir esser praat so dass esse wou
niet mekaar ferstaan"
Dan de Herr serstreet essech fon dord over de gansa weld, en esse
is das bouen fon de staad stopd. Deshalb ar es Babel nend - veel
da de Heer fervir de spraak fon de gansa weld. Fon dord de Heer
serstreet essech over de gesich das gansa aard

1 Now all the earth continued to be of one language and of one set
of words.
2 And it came about that in their journeying eastward they eventually discovered a valley plain in the land of Shinar, and they took
up dwelling there.
3 And they began to say, each one to the other: “Come on! Let
us make bricks and bake them with a burning process.” So brick
served as stone for them, but bitumen served as mortar for them.
4 They now said: “Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also
a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a celebrated
name for ourselves, for fear we may be scattered over all the surface
of the earth.”
5 And Jehovah proceeded to go down to see the city and the tower
that the sons of men had built.
6 After that Jehovah said: “Look! They are one people and there is
one language for them all, and this is what they start to do. Why,
now there is nothing that they may have in mind to do that will be
unattainable for them.
7 Come now! Let us go down and there confuse their language that
they may not listen to one another’s language.”
8 Accordingly Jehovah scattered them from there over all the surface of the earth, and they gradually left off building the city.
9 That is why its name was called Babel, because there Jehovah had
confused the language of all the earth, and Jehovah had scattered
them from there over all the surface of the earth.


The International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic writing system serving as phonetic notation, and is primarily based
on the Latin alphabet. It was created by the International Phonetic Asssociation and aims to represent each distinct sound that
exists in human spoken language. It contains 107 letters, 52 diacritics and 4 prosodic marks. It is used by linguists, speechlanguage pathologists, singers, actors, conlangers, translators and foreign language students and teachers.
Brief History
The IPA was devised and published in 1888 by the Association Phonétique Internationale (International Phonetic Associtation),
a group of French language teachers founded by Paul Passy. The alphabet was based on pre-existing orthography designed for
English, known as the Romic Alphabet. Since its creation, the IPA has suffered minor changes through time. The last revision
took place in 2005.


Here is the full official IPA chart:


The IPA is ruled by the phonemic principle, i.e. to assign a sole symbol to each speech sound,
but this rule is not applied to sounds that are built on pre-existing ones by adding diacritics. The
letters o f the IPA are based on t he L atin a lphabet, a lthough s ome are based on t he G reek
alphabet. Some letters are based on other glyphs like t he glottal stop [ ] which looks like t he
question mark b ut d erives o riginally from a n apostrophe. O ther l etters a re i nspired in o ther
writing systems, such as the voiced pharyngeal fricative [ ], which was inspired by the Arabic
letter ‘ain. Some new letters are created by just rotating a pre-existing Latin letter.
Now I w ould l ike to p resent y ou a c onsonantal c hart a dapted b y me. It f eatures several
consonants marked w ith diacritics. It h as t he a dvantage o f showing you some i mportant
distinctions made b y languages, and can be u sed as a t ool for designing phonologies f or


A chart for vowels as well
IPA is used:
• In dictionaries to indicate pronunciation of words;
• Sometimes used as a basis for creating a new
writing systems for unwritten languages;
• In some foreign language learning materials to
teach pronunciation;
• By linguists (phoneticians and phonologists,
• By classical singers who have to sing in a variety of
foreign languages;
• In standard orthographies of some languages
(mainly in sub-Saharan Africa).

An exemplification of the standard consonantal English phonology
(phonemes mark in red and major allophones marked in yellow).

Note: some of the vowels are not
monophthongs but diphthongs.
(The source of the adapted
IPA charts was Wikipedia).

I leave you some resources that you may find useful:
For typing the IPA:
Sounds samples of all letters and diacritics: http://web.uvic.
A complete description of the IPA:
A great list of resources for learning and more: http://www.