Game of Thrones - Season 3

Guy who invented Thrones language says we've been pronouncing Khaleesi wrong

Contributed by
Apr 23, 2013, 6:07 PM EDT

 Looks like we all need to brush up on our fantasy languages.

Though George R.R. Martin created the characters, cultures, geography, politics and basically everything else that goes into HBO's Game of Thrones, he did not create most of the foreign language spoken by the show's characters. While Martin did dream up a few words in Dothraki (the language spoken by Daenerys' dead husband, Khal Drogo, and his people, who are now Dany's people) and High Valryian (the language spoken by the ancient civilization of Valyria, which Daenerys let loose with at the end of last Sunday's episode, "And Now His Watch Is Ended"), most of the foreign words spoken in the series came from the mind of David J. Peterson, the linguistics expert and founder of the Language Creation Society who came on board way back when the pilot episode of Thrones was filmed to flesh out a full speaking vocabulary and grammar structure for Dothraki, and later both High and Low Valyrian (the kind of Valyrian spoken by the Unsullied slavemaster Kraznys).

Peterson has created almost 4,000 Dothraki words, from insults to adverbs and everything in between, so he knows the language better than George R. R. Martin ever could. And according to him, we're all saying Dany's title - "Khaleesi" - wrong. According to him, we're putting stress on the wrong syllable, and the middle vowel sound is supposed to be completely different. Instead of “ka-LEE-see," we should be saying “KHAH-lay-see."

“Ugh. God. That’s not how it’s supposed to sound,” said Peterson. “The vowel change bugs me.”

So why have we all, including the show's cast, been saying a word the wrong way for three years? According to Peterson, the showrunners are to blame.

"The producers decided they liked the other way better. They probably thought most people were pronouncing it that way anyway, which is true.”

His disapproval of the pronunciation of what has become the most-said Dothraki word on the show hasn't stopped Peterson from sticking around to work on the Valyrian languages and who knows what else (he's even helping Martin with some language work for book six of the series, The Winds of Winter), so it seems he's not taking it too personally. In any case, the "wrong" pronunciation is here to stay.

What do you think? Do you like the way we say "Khaleesi" now, or would you have preferred Peterson's original plan?

(Via Vulture)