Have you ever watched Game of Thrones, listened to Daenerys Targaryen speak and thought “I want to learn to speak like the Mother of Dragons.” Well, hardcore fans, you’re in luck. Language learning app Duolingo will be offering lessons in High Valyrian for watchers who want to go the extra mile and go for full immersion.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who understands the geek community, since dedicated fans have been learning their favorite nerd languages for decades. One of the best known of these is Klingon, and the Star Trek Klingon Dictionary has sold over 300,000 copies since its release in 1992, and has been used by fans from different countries to communicate at conventions. (For curious Star Trek fans, the Duolingo Klingon Course will be available August 8th).
So why not High Valyrian?
It’s a rather pleasant language to listen to, with words that don’t seem to be terribly difficult to pronounce, though as of now it’s unclear what language patterns it follows. If it has parallels to an existing language, there will be an influx of High Valyrian speakers before long. If the language has its own rules, however, it will be much more difficult to learn.
David Peterson, language developer for the show, says he set out to create a language unlike any existing, but it has parallels to Latin. The upper class would speak High Valyrian while the lower class would speak a lower dialect that spun off from it. This is similar to how Latin eventually branched off into those we know now as the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, etc). Peterson has even developed differences between high and low Valyrian, and Dany appears to speak both of them.
Those who set out on the path of knowledge and learn the language of Old Valyria may find they catch humor that non-speakers will miss. According to an article by mental floss, there is even a Monty Python joke included in the scene where Dany is being taunted outside Meereen (think the French taunter on the battlements).
The lessons were slotted to begin the day of the season premiere, July 16th, but Duolingo says it’s still in the incubator (their way of saying in production), so it’s unclear if fans will be able to start lessons with the new season. Fans can follow updates on the course’s development here, direct from Mr Peterson himself, who appears to be heading the project.
Good luck to all who make the attempt! I’ll be trying but I make no promises. Here are a few phrases to get you started.
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