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Matt Smith initially dreaded learning High Valyrian, while Emma D’Arcy loved it




Learning a new language is a fairly difficult task, let alone learning a fictional language. Getting the intonations and pronunciations to the point takes months of dedicated practice. As some of you may know, the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages were fully developed solely for the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones, based upon the limited use of the languages in the books, by linguist David J. Peterson. Peterson has returned to recreate the languages for the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel House of The Dragon. The show’s stars Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy recently talked to SlashFilm about their experience learning High Valyrian for the show.

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Matt Smith, who plays Daemon Targaryen in the prequel, admitted, “I had pages of it. At first, I dreaded it. But when I got to it, I quite enjoyed learning it and quite enjoyed performing it. You get the sense of it and then you learn the language side of it and then you try and marry the two.”


He continued, “I found it really informative, actually, because it allowed me to understand a different sort of authenticity to Daemon that isn’t in the Common Language that I speak. He’s a different person in that language. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s who he is at his core.’ And the fact that he speaks it only to Rhaenyra is really telling.”

D’Arcy, who plays Rhaenyra Targaryen, joined in, “I actually really enjoyed the process. It’s like a fully functioning language — it’s fully operational and so it’s really gratifying to unpick. We did lots of different things like using gestures while practicing to just try and embed meaning into the sentences and looking at the English translation or saying the High Valyrian. I really enjoyed it.”

“It forms an envelope around them and plucks them out of the world and takes them to a different plane or somewhere incredibly private,” they said. “Even if they were in public, it creates an immediate intimacy and privacy. And it’s historic — so much of Rhaenyra’s identity is her grappling with Targaryen identity and trying to work out where she fits in that timeline, in that ancestry. And again, that language is something that ties her right the way back.”

Have you brushed up your high Valyrian for House of The Dragon? Tell us in the comments below!

Read Next: House of The Dragon will have more scenes in Valyrian than Game of Thrones


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