Dothraki From Game Of Thrones Changed Because Of Dwight From The Office
The Dothraki in Game of Thrones really speak a full-fledged language, one that's fictionally constructed but has its own vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. To write it, HBO recruited David Peterson, who also invented such less known languages as Kamakawi, Zhyler, and one simply known as X.
We interviewed Peterson a few years ago, and also interviewed Paul Frommer, who invented the language from Avatar. You should read that article: We talked of such language aspects as ejectives and infixes, as well as Easter eggs they snuck in. But there was one topic we somehow neglected to touch upon: The Office.
In 2012, an episode of The Office featured Andy teaching Erin Dothraki. In 2012, many people knew enough about Game of Thrones to get the concept, but this level of obsession in the show was still quite nerdy (both The Office and Parks and Rec had jokes about this).
This wasn’t just your standard “someone references pop culture” joke, like a character offhandedly mentioning that Dwight knows Klingon. Dwight goes into detail about conjugation. The show did not consult the language’s creator, but Peterson noted that the show correctly managed the declension of the Dothraki word for throat (declension is when a word changes form, in this case when a noun takes on the accusative case). The show also added something that Dothraki had never previously included.
They added noun incorporation, by creating a noun-verb compound. That means the verb in the sentence changes form depending on what object it refers to, rather than just listing the object as a second word. Many languages do this, but English generally doesn’t, and Peterson had avoided it with Dothraki up to this point. But on seeing the Office episode, he decided sure, that makes sense, and he declared it a canon part of the language going forward.
The episode, “Andy's Ancestry,” is also remembered for the opening featuring Randall Park as “Asian Jim,” one of the best gags from an otherwise despised final season. Sadly, by canonically linking Game of Thrones and The Office, Peterson unwittingly unleashed a curse, dooming Thrones to have a terrible final season of its own.
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Top image: NBC