Tongues of Ice and Fire: Creating the Languages in ‘Game of Thrones’


Fans of Game of Thrones now know the character of Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) has truly arrived. Sure, the erstwhile heir to the Iron Throne has already eaten a horse’s heart raw, wandered barren wastelands and escaped a gaggle of amphibian-faced warlocks. But at the end of the fourth episode of season three, Daenerys utters words for the first time in her mother tongue of High Valyrian — and, in so doing, takes command of an army, orders a shock-and-awe dragon strike and emerges the Stormborn Queen she was meant to be. Never, as my TV-critic colleague Jim Poniewozik wrote, has she “been more compellingly terrifying.”

A big reason for that (at least, judging from fan reactions on Twitter) is the awesome authority this language seems to give her. It’s new, of course, to viewers, but not in the universe of Game of Thrones:…

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