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Q&A with ‘Game of Thrones’ master linguist

Image: Dothraki
Khal Drogo (played by Jason Momoa) gives someone an earful in Dothraki during an episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” (Credit: HBO)

This season’s plot twists on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” are closely guarded secrets, but you can bet you’ll be hearing a lot from the horse lords known as the Dothraki, who have Queen Daenerys in their power as the season begins. And you can bet that linguist David J. Peterson has a lot of say over what those horse lords say.

It was Peterson who constructed an entire language for the Dothraki, building on the smattering of words that appear in the George R.R. Martin novels. The 35-year-old also created a fictional High Valyrian language for the nobles on “Game of Thrones,” as well as the Mag Nuk tongue that a giant spoke last season (“Lokh kif rukh?” … which roughly translates into “What the [blank] are you looking at?”)

But that’s not all: On one of his websites, Dothraki.com, Peterson delights in laying out the detailed vocabulary and grammar for the languages he’s made up, explaining how those languages translate into HBO screen time, and putting on haiku contests for his fans.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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