Meet David Peterson, who developed Dothraki for Game of Thrones

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How to make your own language!

TED Blog

There are seven different words in Dothraki for striking another person with a sword. Among them: “hlizifikh,” a wild but powerful strike; “hrakkarikh,”a quick and accurate strike; and “gezrikh,” a fake-out or decoy strike. But you won’t find these words in George R. R. Martin’s epic series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is where Dothraki originated as the language of the eponymous horse-riding warriors; rather these and more than 3,000 other words were developed by David Peterson, the world’s authority on Dothraki.

At TED2013, Peterson gave this fascinating TED University talk on the process of creating Dothraki for the TV series Game of Thrones. Based on Martin’s books, the HBO series premieres its third season on Sunday.

Peterson, who has a masters in linguistics from UC San Diego, was teaching English composition at Fullerton College when he heard that HBO was hiring someone to develop Dothraki for Game of…

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Mind over matter

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“When a designer designs a beautiful product he had unveiled a simple truth. In short, this product of his creativeness communicates a simple message – a message that will outlast the product’s function or stability. The designer, furthermore, can then be said to have contributed something of value to his culture.” ~ Lester Beall

Earlier last night I gave a presentation on three great artists and designers one of them was Lester Beall.  The quote above by him struck me more than his art did. I am a sucker for language and words so naturally his words took a little higher priority over his art work.

The lasting effects of this quote have left me in a trance. In my head I see all this artistic greatness that my hands constantly refuse to produce. What could be so great that an entire culture would consider it valuable? Trying to communicate a single message to multiple people, have them understand it and somehow react to it has proved more challenging than is implied. Many times I wish the communication through art was as smooth sailing as non-artists make it to be.

I pray, therefore, that my mind is strong enough to take charge and command these hands, instructing them to create what it wills and imagines. A culture is in need of something that has great value.