Where does the High Valyrian spoken by the Targaryens come from?

the house of the dragon is, in essence, an expansion of the universe into which we entered Game of Thrones. Not only does it allow us to delve into the past of Poniente, placing us 200 years before the events that occurred in the original series; also in the Targaryen House, absolute and almighty protagonists of the series.

with the ancestors of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) we plunge into a time when his lineage ruled the Seven Kingdoms. the house of the dragon start with the king Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) sitting on the Iron Throne, making the controversial decision to appoint his daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) as successor.

Little does the well-intentioned monarch know that he is about to provoke a civil war within his family that will lead to the brawl known as the Dance of the Dragons. The Throne has a sweet tooth and his brood is ambitious, a deadly combination in the Seven Kingdoms, as he taught us Game of Thrones.

At least, between conflicts and collusion between relatives of platinum blonde hair, we will be able to learn more about this powerful family, their dragons and, yes, also hear more. High Valyrian. Daenerys has already introduced us to the language of Ancient Valyria (Essos), that in the novels of George R.R. Martin was described as a dead language, of the elites, as an equivalent to Latin, but the house of the dragon has normalized its use with characters like Rhaenyra or Daemon (Matt Smith) communicating through it.

Where does it come from?

'Game of Thrones'
‘Game of Thrones’

the linguist David Peterson developed for Game of Thrones a vocabulary and grammar of High Valyrian and its derivations, inspired by fragments that were collected in Martin’s work.

It should be noted that Martin never cared too much about the linguistic aspects of his invented language when writing the story, and his books include few High Valyrian terms: “Valar Morghulis” (“All men must die”) and “Valar Dohaeris” (“All men must serve”).

However, these were enough to inspire Peterson and served as the basis for some grammatical endings in the language. Peterson has said that when he created the language for the third season of the bet, he had about 500 words, but by the eighth installment it was already around 2,000 words. The word ‘cat’, ‘keli’ in High Valyrian, it is inspired by the name of the linguist’s pussycat; and the word ‘son’, ‘three and’, he came up with in honor of his 3,000 Twitter followers.

As a curiosity, High Valyrian evolved over the years and led to Valyrian dialects or languages ​​(similar to Romance languages) that were spoken in different regions. Peterson created them from High Valyrian, getting rid of vowels or diphthongs, and reducing the grammar.

The dialogue in Valyrio and Dothraki of the successful series were written months in advance and the actors used to need time to memorize them, but there were unforeseen events such as a speech that was totally improvised by Emilia Clarke.

During the fifth season, Daenerys ordered the execution of one of the three nobles of Meereen. The first two shots of the sequence in question were shot in English, as was written in the script, but at a certain point the showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss they proposed to make it in Valyrian. Without Peterson around, Emilia was asked to rewrite the monologue in Valyrio, and she did so in just 10 minutes.

More Valyrio in ‘The House of the Dragon’

In an interview for the podcast BaldMove, Peterson has discussed his experience developing High Valyrian more in depth for the house of the dragon and has claimed that these scripts are better than anything he’s done before, including Game of Thrones. “There was a lot more dialogue than I expected, which I liked,” he revealed: “It has changed me as a translator.”

Thanks to this, he has been able to include more nuances and personalize the language for each protagonist: “There are characters that, when they speak in English, they do it in their own way, differently from others with whom they interact. I wanted to capture that in the Valyrian.”

Let us bear in mind that, being a fiction centered on the Targaryens, this language has much more weight in the narrative than in Game of Thrones. In its first two episodes, we have already shared several moments with Rhaenyra and Daemon speaking in the language of their ancestors.

“This series is the season in which I have worked the Highest Valyrian the most”, acknowledges Peterson, stating that in installments 3, 4 and 5 of Game of Thrones above all they worked the dialect Astapori Valyrio; and in 6 the time spent on the Valyrian on screen was much less: “The house of the dragon It’s not the season I’ve worked the most, but it’s the season I’ve worked the most on the Valyrian.”

The advantages of speaking High Valyrian

'The house of the dragon'
‘The house of the dragon’

As we said, in the house of the dragon Rhaenyra and Daemon are the characters who communicate the most in this language. “I really enjoyed the process,” he said. Emma D’Arcy, Rhaenyra as an adult, about her experience learning High Valyrian in an interview for SlashFilm: “It’s a fully functional language, and it’s very rewarding to crack.”

Smith wasn’t all that thrilled, at least at first, with the amount of High Valyrian he had to learn: “I had pages and pages of this. At first, I was scared. But when I got around to it, I had a good time learning it and performing with it.” the”.

D’Arcy, Smith and the rest of the actors who pronounce phrases in this language received English translations with their lines of dialogue and a recording of what they had to say so they knew how to pronounce it. “We tried different things like using gestures while we practiced or trying to give meaning to the sentences,” says D’Arcy about the learning process.

On the positive side, Smith the High Valyrian has allowed him to approach another side of his character: “It has taught me a lot, really, because it has allowed me to understand another type of authenticity of Daemon. He is a different person in that language. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s him in the essence of him.’ And the fact that I talk about it only with Rhaenyra speaks volumes.”

And it is that, as D’Arcy points out, for both characters it is like their language of love: “It creates an envelope around them, it takes them out of the world and takes them to a different plane or to some very private place. Even when they’re out in public, it immediately creates intimacy and privacy.”

Without a doubt, this language will continue to be fundamental in the interaction between niece and uncle. Her passion for dragons and her language, with which they joke and show their most tender side, are two points of union that show their complicity and that connection that has exploded in the fourth episode. We will see if the actors gain ease and dare to improvise speeches like Emilia Clarke.

And, as a climax, if you also want to start learning High Valyrian, you can do it in the application Duolingo, dedicated to free language learning, which allows you to perfect this language of nobles, poets and dragons at the hands of Peterson, and sound like a Targaryen or a Red Priest. From here we can only add: “Dracarys” (“Dragonfire”).

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