"They don't have a word for toilet because toilets don't exist."
March 13, 2019 9:16 AM   Subscribe

 
The "toilet" thing I find a little weird...you don't need to have an actual toilet as a modern person would recognize it to have a phrase for "place/kind of place where you sit down to poop." Tudor England, for instance, had such: an important court position was "Groom of the (Close) Stool," who attended the monarch in his/her bodily functions.
posted by praemunire at 9:26 AM on March 13 [7 favorites]


Privy?
posted by LionIndex at 9:27 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


I don't think the Dothraki had privies either. They probably just shit on the steppe, like Harry Potter wizards.
posted by thelonius at 9:52 AM on March 13 [9 favorites]


Previous MetaFilter post: You're saying Khaleesi wrong, October 2015.
posted by ODiV at 9:53 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Having never watched more than one ep of Game of Thrones, I now choose to interpret that quote to mean that toilets don't exist in the GoT universe and that everyone just removes their solid waste with magic or some other fantastical means.

It's like Star Wars and wheels.
posted by FJT at 9:57 AM on March 13 [3 favorites]


Previous MetaFilter post

Oops! I try to be on the ball about acknowledging/referencing previous FPPs. In my defence, there are 137 (!!!) posts tagged with "gameofthrones."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:02 AM on March 13


That was really interesting, thanks.
The "toilet" thing I find a little weird...you don't need to have an actual toilet as a modern person would recognize it to have a phrase for "place/kind of place where you sit down to poop."
Depending on what dialect of English you speak (like mine, for instance), "toilet" is an object, not a place; the place has a different name. In some, it's even a verb.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:06 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


Hey, no problem! I had looked up this post yesterday for some reason and thought that if anyone's interest was piqued they might be interested in it too since the link isn't dead.
posted by ODiV at 10:07 AM on March 13


"toilet" is an object, not a place

My point is, even lacking an object such as a modern flush toilet, most cultures don't just poop while they are standing around. There will be some word referring to the arrangement, whatever it is.

(Because it refers to a generally taboo act, one would particularly expect a vagueness where a geographic location gets substituted in for the actual object.)
posted by praemunire at 10:46 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


I thought Tywin Lannister was explicitly sitting on the toilet when shot by his son Tyrion?
posted by Segundus at 10:52 AM on March 13 [8 favorites]


I thought the subtle joke there was that he’d spent his whole life protecting the renown of his family name, and now he was definitely going to be remembered as ‘that shit that got shot on the shitter.’
posted by Segundus at 10:55 AM on March 13


What is it about this place lately...?
posted by Segundus at 10:56 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


I mean he didn't shoot him in Dothraki.
posted by ODiV at 10:58 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


It's Game of Thrones. I thought it was obvious the characters just shit on each other.
posted by happyroach at 11:03 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


Daenerys and Ornela bump into Daario and Jorah after the latter two had killed a Dothraki in town. I remember them going out because she needed to take a dump, but I could be mistaken...maybe it was just to get some fresh air.

They went to some trees outside of the dosh khaleen perimeter.
posted by Chuffy at 11:25 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


> What is it about this place lately...?

*points vaguely in the direction of 2016*
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:48 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]


What is it about this place lately...?

Just open a window.
posted by rokusan at 12:40 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Even if the Dothraki don't have a word for "toilet", it would be easy enough to invent one. Say, on one of his many campaigns beyond the Vaes Dothrak, a Dothraki fighter observes non-Dothraki shitting in a latrine. On their return, they then try to convey this concept to other Dothraki. They easiest way might be to say "a hole into which one shits." This might not be as neat a construction as "latrine" or "privy," but it would convey the meaning effectively. Or, they might just borrow the word for "toilet" from another language, as every language in the history of humanity has done at one time or another.

What is more problematic for me, is translating things like the Dothraki steppe as "the Sea of Grass." Wouldn't the Dothraki be more likely to call the sea, "the Plain of Water"?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:41 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


I mean he didn't shoot him in Dothraki.

I think it was the chest or guts...
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:53 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


It’s a Game of Thrones — the shit is implicit.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:40 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


What is more problematic for me, is translating things like the Dothraki steppe as "the Sea of Grass." Wouldn't the Dothraki be more likely to call the sea, "the Plain of Water"?

Do the Dothraki actually call it "the Sea of Grass" or is that a term the other cultures use to describe the Dothraki homeland? I could see it being some Maester's (in universe) attempt to translate the connotation of the Dothraki term into the common tongue of Westeros.

If the Dothraki actually use a term that literally translates as "Sea of Grass" then I agree that's stupid, it's like calling your garden "the Cesspit of Flowers" which doesn't really ring as what you'd call someplace you enjoy being.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:00 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Here's an unofficial dictionary if you want to look it up:
https://docs.dothraki.org/Dothraki.pdf
posted by ODiV at 2:09 PM on March 13


Though it looks like it hasn't been updated in quite a while, unfortunately.
posted by ODiV at 2:13 PM on March 13


Part of the difficulty is that every reasonably acceptable term in English is itself a euphemism: “toilet” is from the French toilette which was the scrap of cloth you would wipe with after (“towelette” has the same root); “privy” is the place you go for privacy; WC, washroom, restroom, facilities, necessary, head, john... all of them euphemisms. You have to get down to “crapper” and similar to get away from the polite alternatives.

TL; dr — it is tricky to find a good translation of a word when you don’t have a solid word to start with.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:31 PM on March 13


Perhaps the Dothraki could simply use the term "shit-hole" to describe Westerosi toilet-practices, but they then might that extend that term to Westeros itself, leading to even more confusion.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:43 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Hey, Lannister’s horse dropped a big shit right outside the throne room.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:26 PM on March 13


The pro-tips on creating aesthetically pleasing/logical alphabets almost makes me want to try it!
posted by Corduroy at 4:11 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


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