‘Game of Thrones’: Is Dothraki a Real Language?

While Season 8 of Game of Thrones may not have stuck the landing for many fans, the show is still fantastic for many reasons. One of the best things about the show is that, just like the books, there’s a lot of attention to detail.

This is one of the reasons why there are so many theories about what’s going on in that world since each little detail could mean something more down the road. This attention to detail also applies to things that don’t necessarily need it, such as the fictional languages in the show. But, that said, just like the Valyrian words that Daenerys says, Dothraki is a real language, too.

What ‘Game of Thrones’ is about

Daenerys looks up at Khal Dogo who is on a horse in front of the Dothraki - Game of Thrones
Daenerys with Dothraki | HBO

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Like the title implies, ultimately, the show and the books are about the politics in Westeros, which is, as its name implies, the western part of the world. Most of the characters in Game of Thrones are, in one way or another, trying to become the ruler of Westeros. Between the backstabbing politics and the many sex scenes, there’s also an ice demon, called The Night King, who’s trying to kill everyone with his zombies. 

That’s what’s going on with most characters, but there are also a few stories that are happening in the eastern part of the world which is called Essos. Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, starts her story in Essos. Her brother wants to be the king of Westeros, but he doesn’t have an army. So, he decided to sell his sister off to the Dothraki people in order to get an army. 

The Dothraki people

Dany, as most people call her, was forced to marry Khal Drogo, who’s the leader of the Dothraki and who’s played by Jason Momoa. Dany is a young woman at this point in time, and she doesn’t even know how to speak in the same language that Khal Drogo speaks in, which is Dothraki. But eventually, he and the other Dothraki teach her how to speak it, and she masters it not long after. 

Dothraki is a real language that was created by David J. Peterson, but, as Vulture wrote, one of the first things that Peterson had to do was think about who the Dothraki people are before he created their language. The Dothraki were modeled after nomadic cultures, such as Mongolians, various Native American tribes, etc.

As such, the Dothraki people, like those cultures, really value horses. Because of that, there are 14 different ways to say “horse” in Dothraki. Similarly, Vulture said that there aren’t any words in Dothraki for things that the Dothraki don’t value, such as toilet paper. 

Dothraki is a constructed language, though

Dothraki, like every “fake language,” is technically a constructed language, or conlang. A conlang isn’t just a fake language, it’s actually something that you can learn to speak and write if you try hard enough. That’s because, as Vulture said, there are grammar rules and a ton of official Dothraki words. In fact, there are so many Dothraki words that there are apps you can use to learn how to speak Dothraki in everyday life. 

That said, since Dothraki is a conlang for a TV show, the creators of both the language and the show had to do some improvising when things went wrong. According to Mental Floss, one time, Jorah Mormont, who’s played by Iain Glen, improvised a few Dothraki words since Peterson’s translations didn’t get to the actors before they had to start shooting. 

Since the creators wanted to make Dothraki a serious conlang, Peterson made those improvised Dothraki words the “official” words for the language. While this may seem like they’re putting too much effort into something that’s trivial, it has helped make Dothraki a true conlang, much like how Klingon is a real language, too.