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David J. Peterson talks about creating language for White Walkers and more in an interview



George R. R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, has really been a true upholder of the fantasy genre. The books are believed to be the best work of fantasy since Lord of the Rings. What’s even better is that the screen adaptation of the books, Game of Thrones, is doing a pretty good job bringing out the story onto our screens. Now, as we know, an important part of a good fantasy is making sure it sets itself apart from reality, and a key component at that involves languages. As some of you may know, the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages were fully developed solely for the TV adaptation, based upon the limited use of the languages in the books, by linguist David J. Peterson. He recently talked about developing a language for the White Walkers, and more.

As we had recently reported, David J. Peterson will be teaching a Game of Thrones language class in University of California, Berkeley, this summer. He was recently on the Game of Owns podcast, and discussed a few things about the show. He started off talking about some of the languages that he had developed for Game of Thrones, in addition to Dothraki and High Valyrian, that didn’t make it to the show.

David J. Peterson, apparently, had created a language for the White Walkers, called Skroth, and another called Asshai’i, for the people of Asshai, way back in Season 1. However, they ended up being not used in the show. Talking about Skroth, Peterson said :

“Basically, they just say, ‘Try to wow me.’ And then when my stuff doesn’t make it into the show, I figure, ‘Well, I failed.’”

The language was based on the sounds White Walkers are said to make in the books, but ended up getting replaced by the sound of ice cracking, on the show. Talking about Asshai’i, Peterson said that it was (somewhat) heard on the show in the scene where Mirri Maz Duur sings in Khal Drogo’s tent, after his wound gets infected, but still not the way he had intended it. He said :

“I created stuff for it…but it just kinda gets buried…There’s nothing I can tie to the original recording I made.”

He then talked about the Game of Thrones spinoff ideas, and if either of the languages he had created that weren’t used, could be used in them. Peterson said :

“If I were to work on any of these prequel things that are going on, my guess is that if there would be any language bits that haven’t already been created that would be called for, they would probably be created and new.”

He also said that Season 7 will have a “a significant amount of dialogue”, in his languages, and that the first episode will not have any, the second and third will have a “good amount”, while the rest have “not much” dialogues in his languages. Judging by his previous comments, we expect the dialogues to be in languages we have already heard on the show.

Peterson also expressed his desire to craft more languages for this series, or the spinoffs, now that we know that we’re gonna be having them. He said :

“I’ve always wanted to do a Volantene language. That would be really cool…I always wanted to do a Ghiscari language, but of course there would never be a reason to do that. It’s deader than High Valyrian within the context of the fiction world. It might be cool to see the history of conflagration between the Valyrian Freehold and the Ghiscari Empire.”

As far as the spinoffs go, David J. Peterson said that he thinks we’re likely to see more of Westeros, even though he would like to see the other continents explored. He also said that his idea of a good spinoff was one set in a time of peace, where Daenerys is on the throne, and sends out men to check up on the other continents. Quite interesting!

You can listen to the full podcast on the popular Game of Thrones fansite, Watchers on the Wall, on iTunes, or download it from here. What do you think about this? Tell us in the comments, below!

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Founder at Wiki of Thrones and a full-time Game of Thrones fan who does other work when he has finished reading and writing about Game of Thrones and also dreams about playing a role in the show.