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I’m really grateful that one of my first speakers was badass Jason Momoa
July 10, 2014 9:12 PM   Subscribe

"I had been creating languages for 10 years. But everybody else applying was equally skilled. So I figured the edge that I had was pretty much an endless amount of time—I was unemployed. I just decided: Well, let's just try to create the whole thing. In those rounds of judging, I created about 90 percent of the grammar—which is ridiculous for two months. Then I created 1,700 words of vocabulary—which is equally ridiculous for two months. Overall, I produced about 300 total pages of material. I figure that was probably what put it over the top."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (23 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Paging zompist, who IIRC is a prominent conlanger (language creator)
posted by JauntyFedora at 9:21 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


So there’s Dothraki, and that’s a very easy one because it’s just a nice isolate. It’s related to another language in the universe, but we haven’t seen that and probably won’t, I’m guessing, in the show.

What language is Dothraki related to? I missed that if it was in the books.
posted by sbutler at 9:49 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


That was an interesting article. Thanks for posting it.
posted by medusa at 10:01 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


This is really awesome and might just be the straw that gets me to give the show another shot. I can't say I was paying any attention to this aspect.

The contest angle seems like it could have been really sketchy, but I don't really get that sense reading the interview, thankfully.

I'm going to have to look up the other shows he's mentioned working on too.
posted by ODiV at 10:02 PM on July 10


FYI: he runs a blog at dothraki.com. I started following it regularly after the first bits of High Valyrian appeared in Game of Thrones ;) It's pretty interesting if you're into these sorts of things.

In the sidebar are links to the Dothraki and High Valyrian language wikis.
posted by sbutler at 10:10 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


this article is giving me, like, bittersweet heart pangs remembering how excited I was about conlanging when I was a teenager (which, seriously, I can't believe zompist kicks it here, I literally would never have come to major in linguistics as an undergrad if I hadn't stumbled upon the Language Construction Kit ~15 years ago.)
posted by threeants at 10:10 PM on July 10 [7 favorites]


Also, that first phase he talks about where you create what you think is the best thing ever... I get the exact opposite with creative stuff. I'm acutely aware of how terrible and amateurish it is. Guess that's what separates people who daydream and procrastinate vs. those who get shit done. Or at least one of the things.
posted by ODiV at 10:21 PM on July 10


I just want to know how conlang managed to get two key figures named Okrent and Okrand. Those are obvious cognates, right? Some invisible hand at work?
posted by dhartung at 10:38 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Okrent and Okrand. Those are obvious cognates, right?

They're false friends. Okrent badmouthed my cooking in subtweets, and Okrand charged like fifty dollars' worth of Apple Pucker shots to my tab at Kasey's.
posted by Iridic at 11:58 PM on July 10 [8 favorites]


AVC: “The Mountain And The Viper” was probably the first entire scene with just two native speakers of a non-Westerosi language.

Can anyone point to a YouTube clip of this? I don't think I noticed this at the time.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:13 AM on July 11


The scene referenced, I believe.
posted by sbutler at 12:18 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


It's a nice article. Of course I envy the heck out of Peterson for getting his conlang on the screen and seeing actors speaking it. But I basically make a living selling conlanging books, so I'm not complaining.

I don't know much about Dothraki, but I'll mention that Okrand's Klingon is very well done. I can see just where he's imitated real languages (mostly Amerindian ones), but he very cleverly picked features that would seem alien to English speakers. (Plus there's some cute Whorfian jokes in the structure and the lexicon.)
posted by zompist at 12:42 AM on July 11 [9 favorites]


For anyone interested, here is a website devoted to The Divine Language of The Fifth Element, complete with English to Divinian and Divinian to English. (If you are interested in the pointless history of the project, here's an archived version of the site with another domain, which was created by a member of the Conlangs LJ group).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:29 AM on July 11 [7 favorites]


I'm amused by the idea of in-jokes in Klingon. There's a few silly examples here but I'd love to read more.

W(h)orfian?
posted by Gordafarin at 2:35 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


But I basically make a living selling conlanging books, so I'm not complaining.

I think it's pretty awesome you're able to do that.

I started conlanging with the Language Construction kit--the online one, years ago. I haven't stopped conlanging since. Conlanging is a big reason that I'm now doing my PhD in linguistics. I still work on my languages on my off time.

Whenever articles like this do the rounds, I feel a little jealous, especially if the article treats it as a novel thing. I want to say "hey, look over here, there are a lot of us." For most conlangers, it's a pretty solitary hobby. We do creative work, but there are very, very few people who are interested in reading it. That's okay, but sometimes, I wish I was as lucky as this guy.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:00 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I was one of the first-round judges for the contest, at the Language Creation Society stage! And it was awesome being involved in getting an actual conlanger, as opposed to another LA linguistics professor, in with Hollywood --- though most of the credit has to go to saizai for that, who was the one Okrent contacted and who organised the selection process, not to mention taking charge of much of the contractual wrangling and all that. We've had a handful of other requests for conlangs since, though nothing quite so star-studded; we announce them on the jobs board or mailing list (self-link disclaimer).

(The application procedure for the Dothraki job, which we had to invent on short notice, was perhaps not sketchy but still somewhat unfortunate, in the "all of you do lots of work and one of you gets paid for it" sense. We've ameliorated that now, for later jobs.)

Anyway, Peterson's work is delightful. For instance, his Castithan writing system is as far as I know the first invented script on TV with realistic complexity, that looks like it might have actually been invented more than a century ago in-world; contrast e.g. the too-clean Klingon writing system.
posted by finka at 3:31 AM on July 11 [8 favorites]


The part about Westerosi not being the same as English kinda broke my brain, in the sense of how that idea could possibly apply to like, uhh, all other fiction I've ever read.
posted by dogwalker at 3:34 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I'm amused by the idea of in-jokes in Klingon. There's a few silly examples here but I'd love to read more.

I read somewhere that the only way to say "I Love You" in Klingon is basically "I hate you less than anyone else".
posted by empath at 3:49 AM on July 11 [6 favorites]


The part about Westerosi not being the same as English kinda broke my brain, in the sense of how that idea could possibly apply to like, uhh, all other fiction I've ever read.

Tolkien (of course) was one of the few authors to take the consequences of this seriously. If Westron, the common tongue, was going to be replaced by English, then it wouldn't do to leave the related language Rohirric of Rohan alone. Thus Rohirric, which had an archaic tint to the Westron ear, got replaced with Old English: Westu Théoden hál!. The people of Dale speak Old Norse for similar reasons.

Or again, Bilbo's actual Westron name was Bilba, but a male name in -a wouldn't do for Westerners. And Bilbo's name was atypically little remade: e.g. Frodo's name was properly Maura, in which maur- was a (pre-)Westron base meaning 'wise', which Tolkien swapped out wholesale for its Nordic match Fróði vel sim.
posted by finka at 3:57 AM on July 11 [10 favorites]


I have found my alternate-life career.
posted by the_blizz at 5:31 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Whelp, this was an amazing post. Conlanging and Jason Momoa have been two of my favorite things, long before GoT.

Here's my favorite conlang: http://www.rickmor.x10.mx/lexical_semantics.html

(It's not an artlang. Those are awesome, too.)
posted by zeek321 at 5:51 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I've been enjoying the languages in GoT - trying to figure out if certain words are related, being able to tell from the sound of it what language someone is speaking.

Constructed languages are a great bit of worldbuilding when done right. It was a great bit in the movie Senn I saw at the Boston SciFi movie festival this past Feb - It could've been just throwaway background stuff but the continuity just adds depth.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:43 AM on July 11


empath: I read somewhere that the only way to say "I Love You" in Klingon is basically "I hate you less than anyone else".

Sadly, this FAQ states otherwise
Klingon			: bangwI' SoH	("You are my beloved")
			: qamuSHa'	("I love you")
			: qamuSHa'qu'	("I love you very much")
			: qaparHa'	("I like you")
			: qaparHa'qu'	("I like you very much!")
			  (words are often unnecessary as the thought is most
			   often conveyed nonverbally with special growlings)
Though in the vein of "Klingons are really aggressive in all aspects of their lives," the translation for "Hello" is "nuqneH" ('What do you want?'), general 'greeting' used when confronted by another
posted by filthy light thief at 6:11 PM on July 11


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