High Valyrian

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High Valyrian was the language of Valyria and the Valyrian Freehold. It is no longer widely spoken due to the Doom of Valyria, although there are songs and books still sung and read in it. In Westeros, highborn children, specifically the Targaryens, are taught Valyrian as a sign of their noble education.[1][2] Corrupted dialects known as bastard Valyrian are spoken in the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay.

According to GRRM,

Tolkien was a philologist, and an Oxford don, and could spend decades laboriously inventing Elvish in all its detail. I, alas, am only a hardworking SF and fantasy novel, and I don't have his gift for languages. That is to say, I have not actually created a Valyrian language. The best I could do was try to sketch in each of the chief tongues of my imaginary world in broad strokes, and give them each their characteristic sounds and spellings.[3]

Contents

Language

House Targaryen came from Valyria and thus its members can be considered to have High Valyrian names. Such as:

  • Ayrmidon [4]
  • Aegon
  • Aemon
  • Aerys
  • Jaehaerys
  • Rhaegar
  • Visenya
  • Rhaenys
  • Aenys
  • Maegor
  • Daeron
  • Rhaenyra
  • Baelor
  • Naerys
  • Maekar
  • Rhaella
  • Viserys
  • Daenerys [5]
  • Aerion [6]
  • Maelys [7]
  • Alysanne [8]

Houses Baratheon, Velaryon and Qoherys, being of Valyrian descent, are probably also Valyrian names. [9]

The Valyrians most likely gave names in Valyrian to their dragons, as: "The singers had given them the names of gods: Balerion, Meraxes, Vhagar." [10] However, not all the House Targaryen dragons have Valyrian names: Queen Alysanne's dragon was named Silverwing. [11]

Eight of the nine Free Cities, being founded as colonies of the Valyrian Freehold, most likely bear Valyrian names,

As well as Volantis's satellite cities,

It is also likely that Tolos, Elyria, Oros, Tyria, Velos and Mantarys are names in Valyrian, being cities so close to Old Valyria. [12]

The phrase, "Valar Morghulis‎" [13], is translated as "all men must die." [14]. A counterpart phrase, "Valar Dohaeris" [15], is translated as "all men must serve." [16]

The word "dracarys" is translated as meaning "dragonfire." [17] Obsidian is called dragonglass in the Common Tongue, but frozen fire in High Valyrian. This may be a direct translation of obsidian, the word, but given the word dracarys, it is not likely. [18] Valonqar is the word for little brother.[19] High Valyrian is the most likely source language for maegi (pronounced differently from 'Maggy') [20], which means wise. [21]

The Valyrian writing system, or at least a Valyrian writing system, is described as involving glyphs.[22] It was also probably standard practice to write on scrolls, and not in books.[23] The glyphs can also be inscribed, as on an old Valyrian dragonhorn, which, when sounded, had "every line and letter shimmering with white fire." [24]

Valyrian steel is forged with spells, as well as hammers. Those spells were assumed to be in Valyrian, or another, unknown language.[25] Some smiths still know them, although not entirely.[26]

Bastard Valyrian

Bastard Valyrian is the languages of the nine Free Cities,[27]. Each of the cities has its own dialect, and each dialect likely has its own separate derived vocabulary. See here for examples of names from each of the Free Cities.

The Free Cities use Valyrian glyphs, as "Arya could not read the name painted on the hull; the words were strange, Myrish, Braavosi, perhaps even High Valyrian." [28] The Ghiscari certainly use glyphs to write Valyrian.[29]

Valyrian is described as sounding "liquid". [30]

Slaver Cities

The Slaver Cities of Yunkai, Meereen, and Astapor have their own versions of bastard Valyrian, which have been influenced mainly by Ghiscari.

Astapori Valyrian is described as having a "characteristic growl," influenced by Ghiscari.[31] Also, Syrio Forel of Braavos "had an accent, the lilt of the Free Cities, Braavos perhaps, or Myr."[32] One of the Mummers is described as having a "thick Myrish accent."[33]

Yunkai has its own variations on Valyrian.

Dany asks: "Missandei, what language will these Yunkai'i speak, Valyrian?"
"Yes, Your Grace," the child said. "A different dialect than Astapor's, yet close enough to understand. The slavers name themselves the Wise Masters."[34]

Yunkai used to be part of Ghis, and has at least languages tongues which are spoken in the city. Mhysa, Maela, Aelalla, Qathei, and Tato are given as names for mother, but which tongue fits which name is unknown (excepting the first, which is Ghiscari).[35]

Some characters that are familiar with High Valyrian

See Also

Valyrian languages on Wikipedia.

References and Notes


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