Monday 12 April 2010

HBO creates new language for GAME OF THRONES

HBO have contracted linguist David J. Peterson of the Language Creation Society to work out a functioning grammar and vocabulary for the Dothraki language for the first season of Game of Thrones. A 1,800-word vocabulary is being developed for the scenes set on the eastern continent in the first season. The LCS has also said that if HBO want them to work on other fictional languages for the series (such as Qartheen or Valyrian) they will be happy to do that as well.

This is interesting news. Whilst the language is not as developed as Tolkien's two elven languages or Klingon, it is comparable to Robert Jordan's Old Tongue from the Wheel of Time books. Given that in the Song of Ice and Fire books themselves there are only a bare handful of Dothraki words given, it is impressive that the LCS have managed to develop a functional (if sparse) language out of them, and is another sign that HBO are taking this project very seriously.


Anonymous said...

Hey! That's NOT terrible news!

Sorry, it's just that ever since hearing that the LCS was going to be in charge (and hearing the pitch from HBO), I assumed that the end-product would be ghastly, but Peterson's actually quite respectable as conlangers go (can't say I've ever been struck by any of his languages, and I don't know him well, but he does seem to know what he's talking about). So maybe this won't be embarrassing...

[Admission: half of me really wanted to apply for the job, since it would be a dream come true (not literally - but it would have been a great thrill). But I knew I wouldn't get it - I conlang, a lot, but I have no finished conlang to show, and judging by the HBO pitch, I don't think that showing off my flashy deictic systems would have impressed them much. They seemed more interested in sound aesthetics, and frankly phonology bores me. To be honest, I suspect the job was awarded on the basis of, essentially, roulette (I question whether they can tell good conlangs from bad), and so I'm greatly glad that it has gone to somebody deserving.]

Noooo, I'm not bitter and jealous at all!

Anonymous said...

[I should clarify, by the way, that the 'LCS' is a somewhat controversial thing in the community - it is accused of being a vanity project for the creator, and being more interested in publicity and 'respectability' in academic circles than really with the art itself, and there is considerable hostility to the creator's perceived attempts to hijack and appropriate the conlanging community, becoming its mouthpiece to the external world.

This is an example of that process - the LCS was essentially the advertising agency (with its own cut, which was rather pointless since the community is pretty small and a few minutes research could have let HBO post to the same handful of places as the LCS did anyway), but managed to get both money and prestige out of it. I know several conlangers refused to participate just because the LCS was involved in the process.

Myself, I wouldn't go that far: the LCS can do good things, and it's probably good for us to have a spokesman to the outside world, even if we don't really like the spokesman himself. The 'Language Creation Conferences' or whatever he calls them are also a good idea, in terms of getting together conlangers - informal meets haven't been common for several years now, unfortunately (being a small community, we're greatly at the mercy of group dynamics on our handful of forums and lists, and things aren't as meety-uppy as they were some years ago - and in any case, looking at the last one, it seems they've been able to reach out to bring in people who aren't part of the orthodox community, but who have interests in the area, particularly those who come at it from different perspectives from the rest of us.

Anyway, just wanted to explain that note of tension in my first comment, for outsiders - the LCS is a small, young, self-proclaimed organisation that's quite different in format and ethos from a lot of the more 'traditional' community - although to be fair, I believe they are more popular with some of the crowd on e-mail lists.

OK, enough politics]