How many languages ​​does Daenerys speak

Which is why 1.2 million people learn a language from “Game of Thrones” that does not even exist in reality

Thanks to a language platform, fans of the fantasy series “Game of Thrones” can learn High Valyrian. The language spoken by the mother of the dragons, among others, is pure fiction.

(This text does not contain any spoilers for the current eighth season of "Game of Thrones". So if you haven't seen the last few episodes, you can continue reading without any worries.)

With the final episode of the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones”, the game for the iron throne ended on Monday night (Swiss time). However, fans do not have to say goodbye to the world of the successful HBO series. Several series offshoots are already being planned for the fantasy epic, which is based on the series of novels "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin, as well as numerous merchandise products on the market.

The die-hard fans can even learn the languages ​​specially created for the “Game of Thrones” universe. Duolingo, an online service for learning languages, offers an online language course for so-called High Valyrian. The language spoken by the main character Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, among others, can be learned on Duolingo for free with various tools - in about five minutes each - as the operators write on the website. According to CNN, 1.2 million users worldwide have registered for the online courses so far. Thanks to the international reporting in the last few weeks about the high Valyrian offerings on the website, it should soon be significantly more.

Brought to life for the TV series

The American linguist and writer David J. Peterson, who has already designed a total of 50 fictional languages, developed the High Valyrian language for the TV series. To do this, he took individual words and sentences from Martin's books and created matching grammar structures, phrases and additional words. The novels published so far contain only a few words from High Valyrian. These include the phrases known from the TV series “valar morghulis” (“all people must die”), “valar dohaeris” (“all people must serve”) and “dracarys” (“dragon fire”).

In the series "Game of Thrones" it sounds like this:

In the same way as the High Valyrian, Peterson previously developed the fantasy language Dothraki, which also occurs in Martin's novel. In the course of a competition that the "Game of Thrones" makers had started before the production of the first season, he created a set of 300 pages of rules on the Dothrak language within a month. Peterson eventually won the competition and was hired for the television series. Later he was also commissioned to further develop the Valyrian language.

In this video, Peterson explains how he constructed the two languages ​​High Valyrian and Dothraki:

Extensive vocabulary

Today, Valyrian comprises around 2000 official words, Dothraki even around 4000. Up to now, Duolingo has only had one course for High Valyrian, the noblest dialect variant of Valyrian. However, the course is not yet available for German-speaking users. Good English skills are therefore an advantage.

In order to help the actors of “Game of Thrones” with the correct pronunciation of the lines of text written in Valyrian or Dothraki, Peterson recorded audio versions of each line. So the actors had a template that they could use as a guide. Peterson has a clear favorite when it comes to which of the "Game of Thrones" actors interprets the constructed languages ​​best. "Jacob Anderson (who played Gray Worm) is the best performer I've ever seen in a made-up language," he said in an interview with CNN. "I love to hear him speak."

Popular since Star Trek

That a constructed language from a TV series enjoys such popularity among fans and viewers, however, is nothing new. Since the advent of the Internet, invented languages ​​have enjoyed a steadily growing following. In the vastness of the World Wide Web, like-minded people and appropriate platforms for exchanging and learning the language can quickly be found.

One of the best-known constructed languages ​​is probably Klingon from the Star Trek universe, which has had a large following since the 1990s. To this day, the creator Mark Okrand publishes new words at regular intervals. Just like High Valyrian, Klingon is available as a language course on Duolingo. Online learning tools are also available for the constructed languages ​​Elvish from J. R. Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings” saga and Na'vi from the 2009 blockbuster “Avatar”.

According to Peterson, while learning a constructed language may be of little practical use in everyday life, other than that, it has similar benefits to learning an ordinary language. "Anyone who learns a fictional language generally improves their ability to learn a foreign language," he was quoted as saying by CNN. In both cases, the same part of the human brain would be claimed. And the more languages ​​you speak, the easier it becomes to learn a new one.