Some of the oldest remaining ancient texts were written by Andals, Valyrians, Ghiscari, and Asshai'i. After the Old Empire of Ghis was conquered by the Valyrian Freehold in the Ghiscari wars, the Ghiscari began speaking the High Valyrian of their conquerors.
High Valyrian is no longer widely spoken due to the Doom of Valyria, and most Valyrian records were destroyed in the catastrophe. The tongues of the Free Cities have continued to evolve from the original High Valyrian.
Queen Alysanne Targaryen is said to have begun learning how to read from Valyrian scrolls while still at the breast of her mother, Queen Alyssa Velaryon. Alysanne's husband, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, was fascinated with the Old Valyrian scrolls in the library of Dragonstone.
Racallio Ryndoon is said to have spoken a dozen dialects of Valyrian. Lord Alyn Velaryon studied Valyrian treaties about warship design and sea tactics when he visited the Citadel. Larra Rogare, the wife of Prince Viserys Targaryen, was fluent in High Valyrian and the dialects of Lys, Myr, Tyrosh, and Volantis.
Some highborn children of Westeros are still taught Valyrian as a sign of their noble education. Songs and scrolls are still sung and read in High Valyrian, although by 300 AC most Westerosi nobles cannot understand the language.
The word dracarys is translated as meaning "dragonfire". Obsidian is called "dragonglass" in the Common Tongue, but "frozen fire" in High Valyrian. Valonqar is the word for "little brother". High Valyrian is the most likely source language for maegi (pronounced differently from 'Maggy'), which means "wise".
The Valyrian writing system, or at least a Valyrian writing system, is described as involving glyphs. It was also probably standard practice to write on scrolls, and not in books. The glyphs can also be inscribed, as on an old Valyrian dragon horn, which, when sounded, had "every line and letter shimmering with white fire". Valyrian carvings have been found on obelisks.
Velaryon first names include:
The Valyrians most likely gave Valyrian names to their dragons, as the dragons Balerion, Meraxes, Vhagar, and Syrax were named after Valyrian gods and goddesses. However, not all dragons of House Targaryen had Valyrian names (e.g., Queen Alysanne Targaryen's dragon, Silverwing).
Volantis's satellite towns of Selhorys, Valysar, and Volon Therys likely have Valyrian names as well. It is also probable that Elyria, Mantarys, Oros, Tolos, Tyria, and Velos are Valyrian in name, being cities close to Old Valyria.
Bastard Valyrian includes the languages of the nine Free Cities. Each of the cities has its own dialect, and each dialect likely has its own separate derived vocabulary. Syrio Forel of Braavos speaks the Common Tongue with a lilting accent. One of the Brave Companions is described as having a thick Myrish accent.
The Old Empire of Ghis was conquered by the Valyrian Freehold five thousand years ago, and the Ghiscari have since spoken High Valyrian. The Slaver's Bay cities of Yunkai, Meereen, and Astapor have their own versions of bastard Valyrian, which have been influenced mainly by Old Ghiscari, the ancient language of Old Ghis. Like the Free Cities, the people of the Slaver Cities use glyphs to write Valyrian.
Yunkai used to be part of the Old Empire of Ghis, and has multiple languages spoken in the city. Mhysa, Maela, Aelalla, Qathei, and Tato are given as words for "mother", but which tongue fits which word is unknown (excepting the first, which is Ghiscari).
Characters familiar with High Valyrian
- Gerris Drinkwater speaks a halting approximation of High Valyrian.
- Haldon Halfmaester
- Tyrion Lannister learned to read High Valyrian on his maester's knee.
- Quentyn Martell can read and write High Valyrian but has little practice speaking it.
- Melisandre is known to pray in High Valyrian, the Common Tongue, and the speech of Asshai.
- Moqorro can apparently sing in High Valyrian.
- Collio Quaynis can sing in High Valyrian.
- Septa Saranella tells Cersei Lannister the meaning of valonqar.
- Ser Barristan Selmy has some High Valyrian, though not as much as Daenerys Targaryen.
- Arya Stark knows some High Valyrian but the kindly man insists that she improve it.
- Catelyn Stark considers the speech of Moreo Tumitis of Tyrosh to be the vulgar Valyrian of the Free Cities.
- Sweets is fluent in High Valyrian
- Aegon Targaryen is fluent in High Valyrian.
- Daenerys Targaryen
- Samwell Tarly only has a little High Valyrian.
- The closest thing the Windblown have to a company tongue is classic High Valyrian. Their leader, the Tattered Prince, says "and now we ride" to his men in the language.
Each of the Free Cities has its own history and character, and each has come to have its own tongue. These are all corruptions of the original, pure form of High Valyrian, dialects that drift further from their origin with each new century since the Doom befell the Freehold.—writings of Yandel
Behind the Scenes
According to George R. R. Martin,
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[sic], 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.
David J. Peterson further developed High Valyrian for the television adaptations Game of Thrones and its prequel House of the Dragon. According to Peterson, George R.R. Martin considers High Valyrian the cultural equivalent of Latin, a language that has been “built up over time, and then [its civilization] was destroyed and then it became altered.” Peterson has commented that he considered Martin's word dracarys unfortunate because of its (presumably intended) similarity to the Latin word for dragon, draco. Because Latin does not exist in the fictional world of A Song of Ice and Fire, Peterson chose to treat the similarity as coincidental, and made dracarys an independent lexeme; his High Valyrian term for dragon is zaldrīzes. Peterson has supplied Martin with additional Valyrian translations, presumably for the forthcoming novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Dawn Age.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Valyria's Children.
- Fire & Blood, The Year of the Three Brides - 49 AC.
- Fire & Blood, Birth, Death, and Betrayal Under King Jaehaerys I.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Voyage of Alyn Oakenfist.
- Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 9, Tyrion I.
- A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 27, Daenerys III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 6, Arya I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 36, Cersei VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 72, Daenerys X.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Grasslands.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 40, Bran III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- Citadel. Heraldry: In the area of King's Landing
- The Citadel. Heraldry: Houses in the Riverlands
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: Sothoryos.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Doom of Valyria.
- Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Map of Valyria
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 39, Arya VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 59, The Discarded Knight.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 60, The Spurned Suitor.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 47, Tyrion X.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 25, The Windblown.
- So Spake Martin: Yet More Questions (July 22, 2001).
- Tharoor, Ishaan (3 May 2013). "Tongues of Ice and Fire: Creating the Languages in Game of Thrones". Time.com. http://entertainment.time.com/2013/05/03/tongues-of-ice-and-fire-creating-the-languages-of-game-of-thrones/.
- Peterson, David J. (22 April 2013). "Sesīr Urnēbion Zȳhon Keliton Issa (comment at 10:12 pm)". Dothraki.com. https://dothraki.com/2013/04/sesir-urnebion-z%c8%b3hon-keliton-issa/#comment-1180.
- Valyrian languages on Wikipedia.
- High Valyrian 101: Learn and Pronounce Common Phrases By Katie M. Lucas
- The Languages of David J. Peterson: High Valyrian