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HBO has sent out a press release concerning the Language Creation Society, which was hired to created the Dothraki language as shown in HBO’s Game of Thrones. That the producers had hired a linguist to develop the Dothraki language for the pilot has been previously reported at the time that the pilot was being filmed in Northern Ireland. The press release, with additional details and commentary, follows:
For Immediate Release April 12, 2010
EXPERT CREATES LANGUAGE FOR NEW HBO SERIES GAME OF THRONES
David J. Peterson, an expert language creator from the Language Creation Society (LCS), has been chosen to create the Dothraki language for HBO’s upcoming fantasy series GAME OF THRONES, based on the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” by George R.R. Martin.
When GAME OF THRONES executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss needed a language for the Dothraki, Martin’s race of nomadic warriors, they turned to the Language Creation Society. The LCS solicited and vetted a number of proposals for the Dothraki language from its pool of experts, with Peterson’s proposal ultimately being selected by the GAME OF THRONES production team.
Peterson drew inspiration from George R.R. Martin’s description of the language, as well as from such languages as Russian, Turkish, Estonian, Inuktitut and Swahili. However, the Dothraki language is no mere hodgepodge, babble or pidgin. It has its own unique sound, extensive vocabulary of more than 1,800 words and complex grammatical structure.
“In designing Dothraki, I wanted to remain as faithful as possible to the extant material in George R.R. Martin’s series,” says Peterson. “Though there isn’t a lot of data, there is evidence of a dominant word order [subject-verb-object], of adjectives appearing after nouns, and of the lack of a copula [‘to be’]. I’ve remained faithful to these elements, creating a sound aesthetic that will be familiar to readers, while giving the language depth and authenticity. My fondest desire is for fans of the series to look at a word from the Dothraki language and be unable to tell if it came from the books or from me — and for viewers not even to realize it’s a constructed language.”
“We’re tremendously excited to be working with David and the LCS,” says producer D.B. Weiss. “The language he’s devised is phenomenal. It captures the essence of the Dothraki, and brings another level of richness to their world. We look forward to his first collection of Dothraki love sonnets.”
Did you know? (Hash yer ray nesi?)
The name for the Dothraki people — and their language — derives from the verb “dothralat” (“to ride”).
The Dothraki have four different words for “carry,” three for “push,” three for “pull” and at least eight for “horse,” but no word that means “please” or “follow.”
The longest word in Dothraki is “athastokhdeveshizaroon,” which means “from nonsense.”
The words for “related,” “weighted net,” “eclipse,” “dispute,” “redhead,” “oath,” “funeral pyre,” “evidence,” “omen,” “fang” and “harvest moon” all have one element in common: “qoy,” the Dothraki word for “blood.”
Dothraki for “to dream” – “thirat atthiraride” – literally means “to live a wooden life”; in Dothraki, “wooden” (“ido”) is synonymous with “fake.”
The word for “pride” – “athjahakar” – is derived from “jahak,” the traditional long braid worn by Dothraki warriors (“lajaki”).
More information about the Dothraki language (and their love poems) will be released over the course of the series.
From a fan perspective, this latest news is quite remarkable because it shows the degree to which the producers envision the series as an immersive experience, bringing viewers into the living, breathing world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The novels only feature a handful of words and phrases in the Dothraki language, as Martin has noted he’s not a linguist and only creates words when he needs them. The television show is apparently intent on extending this, in a way not dissimilar to how the Klingon language was created around the nucleus of a handful of phrases written by James Doohan for the Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The number of words reported—1,800, with a detailed grammar—is said to be right in line with “language that is actually meant to be used to communicate.”
We believe we’ve discovered the original call for submissions sent to the conlang community. It was first posted on September 4, 2009. One can see that the details fit the series: graphic violence, a fantasy setting with some prepared vocabulary, a pilot with the possibility of 10-12 episodes a season. According to this page, David Peterson provided the most interesting proposal but other names are mentioned.. One leaps out at us: Bill Welden, a Tolkienian language expert who was involved in The Lord of the Rings films. On his Livejournal, Peterson wrote at the end of 2009 of 2009 that the, “biggest bit of unexpected news was the television job to create a language. Still can’t wait to say more about that. Come March, I should be able to say everything. This project, though, cut into my August, September, October and November.” He had posted some additional information at the start of November:
But, of course, the largest enterprise I undertook over the course of the last month (two months, really) was I applied for a job posted by the LCS. Without going into details, the job was to create a language for an upcoming television show. The application process was exhausting (took most of my free time for the past two months), and there were a ton of excellent conlangers applying. At the beginning of this month, I was informed that I’d moved onto the final round, and this past Friday, I was informed that I’d won.
Until someone somewhere leaks the information, or I’m given the okay by the network, I signed a thing saying I wouldn’t say anything about the series, so all I can say for now is that it’s a major TV network, and the show is, at this point in time, guaranteed a pilot (and I’m guaranteed work for the pilot). If the pilot is picked up, the show will get a one season run, and I’m guaranteed work for the first season. Thereafter, I imagine it will depend on the show’s popularity, the quality of my work, and the direction of the show. Still and all, very exciting!
On December 2nd he remarked that the job proved to be less work-intensive than he had expected, suggesting that the amount of Dothraki used in the pilot is not as great as first envisioned; or at least, the amount of work that went into preparing the “artistic language” for the show was greater than what ended up on screen to start with. Examples of Peterson’s constructed languages can be found at his page on the Language Creation Society website.
The Language Creation Society was founded in 2007 and it seems they offer language creation services for television, film, fiction, and other endeavors, with Game of Thrones appearing to be their first major client.
This Is Local London, a conglomerate of local newspapers, has posted a brief article concerning a 26-year-old dancer, Kelechi Nwanokwu, who appears in HBO’s pilot for Game of Thrones. It seems likely she is one of a number of dancers who performed in the Dothraki wedding scene, a scene we’re guessing was choreographed by Javier de Frutos. A picture of Ms. Nwanokwu and other dancers can be found at GRRM’s “Not a Blog”, when he posted about the wrap party in Ouarzazate, Morocco.
This is what we get for being over-excitable at the moment. Below we discuss a casting call for a new TV series from a “Major American production company”, shooting to start in June, lasting 6 months. We assumed that it was very likely for Daenerys. However, a bit of googling reveals more details of the role:
Playing age 14-18 years.
With the face of and Angel and the Heart of a devil, the leading lady in this groundbreaking TV series is from a Spanish family that have moved to Italy. Has to be very petite and Manipulative in nature. RP / Neutral Accent.”
At a guess, this is for Showtime’s Borgias. For the sake of completeness, we’ll maintain our full speculation below, but we’ll emphasize that it’s clearly wrong. False alarm!
Thanks to the sharp-eyed Rabbit, it looks like the mystery of U.K. casting calls for Dany—something we were sure was taking place, but could never find any evidence for—may have been resolved. There’s a notice at the Casting Website in the U.K. which states the following:
“Major American production company is launching a new TV series to be aired to a UK audience. Looking for the leading girl to star in this ground breaking production. 6 Months filming from June.”
Most notably? Closing date is given as March 21st, which implies a couple of things: the call must have gone out at least a week prior to that date, and perhaps longer, and that the U.K. casting may have already progressed to the point of narrowing down to a couple of choices there. Given GRRM’s recent reference to looking at audition tapes from HBO, we might assume they’re starting to get pretty close. However, we do know that casting is still going on in New York City, with head shots and resumes still being solicited for actresses.
It’s entirely possible that this is for some other show entirely, but the timing fits perfectly with what we’ve been told before: June start and ~24 weeks of filming. To be fair, the same might be said of Starz! Camelot, also set to begin production in June in Ireland. If we can get a definitive answer as to what production the breakdown was for, we’ll report it.
George R.R. Martin clarifies the situation for international viewers, in regards to if and when they will be able to watch HBO’s Game of Thrones on television in their native countries. GRRM goes through a list of countries and territories:
Canada: HBO Canada will air it at the same days and times as in the U.S. Canada, the show will be seen on HBO Canada, same days and times as in the US.
Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Chile: It will air on HBO Latin America, though days and times may vary.
France: It will air on Orange.
Israel: It will air on DBS.
Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic: It will air on HBO Central Europe
Asia: It will be offered by HBO Asia to countries within their territory, but not all will necessarily carry it (in some cases due to content restrictions in those countries).
As for the countries not listed here… next week in Cannes, the MIPTV trade show will be attended by broadcasters and program directors from around the globe. HBO will have a presence, screening its shows and selling foreign broadcast rights. Game of Thrones will be on the table as well, and Martin says that in a few weeks HBO should know which countries will be opting to air the series.
GRRM has shared a great pair of photos showing Maisie Williams—cast as Arya Stark—posing with Valyrian Steel‘s replica of Arya’s sword, Needle. She looks very Arya-like, if we may say so! Valyrian Steel has two additional photos on their site
GRRM also confirms that filming commences in June in Northern Ireland. Not all actors may be in the area at that time, however, as Jason Momoa and Nikolai Coster-Waldau have both indicated they’re scheduled to start in early July.
George R.R. Martin is keeping himself very busy, with Dance with Dragons, Fort Freak, and a host of other tasks and projects now that he’s gotten taxes out of the way. Among them? Reviewing the latest batch of audition tapes. This follows our previous report on the fact that casting is going on for the role of Daenerys Targaryen, which may or may not mean that Tamzin Merchant is definitely out of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
However, one other thing that hasn’t been mentioned very much is that it’s quite possible that casting has begun in the U.K. for the many roles that will need to be filled by the time late June roles around. As always, more information as soon as we get it.
Harry Lloyd is once again loquacious about his work in an interview in Re-Bel on pages 7 and 8. At the bottom of page 7, he directly discusses his role in the Game of Thrones pilot, and the following question discusses the possibility that being involved in such a major, American production could open doors to Hollywood. Nothing really new here, but it’s good to see actors involved in the show taking time to make sure people are aware of it.
Thanks to firestar267 for the tip!
While this may be old news for some, we haven’t reported it up until now because we’ve had no official confirmation of any kind regarding it. We had contacted HBO about this immediately after the rumors based on Showfax’s new casting sides (pages of dialogue for use in auditions) had gone up. From our discussion with HBO, all we can say is that officially, HBO’s policy is to never discuss recasting or even rumors of recasting, and they’re unable to offer any information either confirming or denying recasting.
However, as we saw on Twitter, more than one actress has allegedly confirmed via Twitter that they are pursuing the role of Daenerys. So, we’ll take this as its being highly likely that casting is taking place for the role. However, we caution that we know nothing yet as to the reasons or the end results. Having read around a bit, there are possibilities that suggest that Tamzin Merchant remains the primary choice for the role, but additional casting is taking place as insurance against her departure for reasons unknown. While we agree that the likeliest supposition is that Merchant is no longer in the role, we’ll caution against taking this as an absolute certainty.
But if Merchant is out of the role, what does this mean? Well, it seems they’ll be forced to go back to Morocco—or build fresh sets in Belfast to represent it—to reshoot all the scenes there. As some may recall, GRRM indicated that a return to Morocco was a possibility but not a certainty. Starting the renewed production with major reshoots—on top of any new reshoots needed now that Michelle Fairley is in the role of Catelyn Stark—is not the greatest way to start a production, and may lead to a tight shooting schedule to begin with, but should be entirely manageable. Recasting is more the rule than the exception when it comes to pilots, and consequent reshooting goes hand in hand with that.
We’ll provide more information when we can.
A small update, as production preparations on HBO’s Game of Thrones begins to pick up pace as the late June start date draws nearer. Over at Extras NI, they’re again recommending that extras avoid cutting or dying their hair, and that male extras consider frowing out their beards and getting a “timeless look”. One funny bit of trivia in the recent past was that for the pilot, members of an Irish heavy metal fan forum were recruited to play extras because they had the requisite look. Seems like Extras NI doesn’t want to be in that position again.
Most notably, they’re recommending that extras stay with this look until January 2011. This fits pretty well with our previous information concerning the many weeks of shooting, beginning in late June and apparently running through the end of the year.
Hat-tip to Winter is Coming for bringing this update from Extras NI to light.
Variety has a brief report on television success for literary adaptions turning into publishing success. The obvious example is Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series which, boosted by the massive smash hit True Blood, have increased her sales across all her books. The article doesn’t mention the fact that all her Sookie novels were holding on to places on the New York Times Bestseller List (paperbacks) for weeks on end as the series surged in popularity week over week. We’ve had it at secondhand that sales of Harris’s books increased twenty-fold thanks to True Blood:
True Blood isn’t the only example, however. The Dexter series on Showtime has given the original novels (especially the first, which most closely formed the basis for the series) a significant boost, with sales having “have doubled every year since the series debut”. Another genre show, The Vampire Diaries, has helped sell a million additional copies of the series on which it’s based.
Random House is indicated as certainly being hopeful that HBO’s series will prove a success and will help fuel the growing fanbase for A Song of Ice and Fire. However, they do acknowledge that the significant length of the novels of the series—especially compared to the much shorter, lighter, self-contained Harris novels—mean that a greater commitment is needed from readers, and that this commitment may reduce the size of the boost in a series which is already very popular by any standard.
Via her blog, visual effects producer Julia Frey has indicated that her professional involvement in HBO’s Game of Thrones has ended. As she notes, chances of her being involved for a full season were slim, so this was no surprise for her, though of course many fans assumed she’d be part a continuing part of the series. Having first come to our attention back in October, Frey has proved very approachable via Twitter and was among the members of the project who joined fans for drinks at McHugh’s in Belfast (where she revealed an impressive poker face).
Where does this leave Game of Thrones? Our guess that the almost exclusively U.K.-based shooting will lead to much of the permanent crew being from the region. If we had to speculate, visual effects supervisor Robert Stromberg is also unlikely to return, given his recent successes (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland) which likely leave him much in demand for other big-budget film work.
Besides Twitter, those who’d like to continue following Julia Frey’s doings are recommended to follow her blog, and also her separate blogging site, Safety Graphic Fun, devoted to weird and amusing safety signs from around the world. Best wishes, Julia.
The new WWII Drama Age of Heroes has cast its leads, and Sean Bean is among them, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Filming is due to take place beginning in early April. If a success, the film could lead to two planned sequels to make a trilogy.
In related news, Death Race 2—in which Bean was cast as the primary antagonist at the beginning of March—has already wrapped shooting and is aiming for a June release. Given the quick turn around on smaller productions such as these, we’ll suppose that Age of Heroes won’t film for more than a month or two, and so will not conflict with Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin has confirmed that he’ll be writing episode 8 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. This means that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write episodes 1 (the pilot) through 3, episode 5 and 7, and then the final two episodes. Bryan Cogman will write episode 4 and Jane Espenson will write episode 6, as we’ve previously reported.
Variety reports that Gemma Jackson, an award-winning production designer, is returning to resume those duties on HBO’s Game of Thrones after having done so for the pilot. It seems that her contract with the production did not, strictly speaking, lock the production or Jackson to signing on for the series but now it’s moot, as she’s signed on.
Her previous credits include HBO’s magesterial John Adams (for which she won an Emmy). She appears in is “Making Of” video at the 1:40 mark, discussing the gigantic set and how it was reused to represent several different cities:
(Watch past that mark to see Gemma Jackson later on, when the sets and locations are discussed, and to see Robert Stromberg—visual effect supervisor for Game of Thrones—showing some of what can be done with digital mattes.)
An online petition has been started by fans, attempting to bring composer Bear McCreary to the attention of HBO and the Game of Thrones producers. McCreary has extensive credits, having composed the music in part or in full for such series as Eureka, Human Target, Terminator: The Sarah Connors Chronicle (starring Lena Headey, cast as Cersei Lannister), and most famously Battlestar Galactica and its spin-offs Battle Star Galactica: The Plan and the currently-airing Caprica.
The Westeros network consists of several different sites, including a forum and a wiki, for all your A Song of Ice and Fire needs.