Author Topic: Accents in Dothraki  (Read 11557 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

jojo

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Dothraki Fan
    • View Profile
Accents in Dothraki
« on: July 15, 2011, 09:28:14 am »
I was rewatching the series lately, and something occurred to me.  It seems like the "Native speakers" of Dothraki pronounce things a bit differently than the Westrosi who are speaking it.  I was hoping that some of you that have linguistics training can put some of my vague statements below into more specific terms?

As Dany learns Dothraki, it seems like her pronounciation starts off sounding very English/"Common" then becomes slowly more native-like as she is learning...

OTOH, Jorah's pronounciation seems to sound much more like the Dothrakis' than Dany's, which would match with the fact that he's been fluent for years, but is still a foreigner.

Dothraki speakers - my main question with them is whether the various Dothraki are all pronouncing things more similarly to one another than to the Westrosi? 
Drogo
Rakharo
Irri
Others (Qotho, Mago, Jhiqui, etc)

Also I am wondering if the conlang creator was by consulted the actors/directors on specific pronounciation for native/non-native speakers for particular lines?  I'm also interested in what the language makers and all you learners would say are some of the common mispronounciations/mistakes for English ("Common Tongue") speakers that are trying to learn Dothraki?  Which sounds are the most difficult and which words are likely to trip new learners up?

Thanks!

ingsve

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 578
  • Karma: +9/-0
  • Student of the stars
    • View Profile
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2011, 11:15:49 am »
There were no intended differences between native and non-native speakers on the show. Any difference in pronounciation is completely due to the actors. One thing that might explain the difference is that actors like Emilia Clarke that has a lot of dialogue in English and overall more to do probably had less time tp focus hard on learning the pronounciation than some of the actors that mostly had Dothraki lines and could probably focus a lot more on getting things right.

The main influence that the language creator David Peterson had on the pronounciations is that he recoreded all dialogue as MP3s that the actors could listen to and mimic. They also had a dialect coach on set that could help them with the basics.

One thing that David noted is that Jason Momoa while getting some things wrong he was very consistent with what he got wrong so it can easily be seen as a dialect rather than errors. Other actors very more varied in their errors so that they come off more as errors rather than dialects.

The most common mistakes are pronouncing /kh/ as if it was a /k/ when it's suppose to be like the /ch/ in Bach, loch or l'chaim. Other mistakes include devoicing sounds so that /zh/ turns into /sh/ or /z/ turns into /s/ etc. Another thing that I imagine people would get wrong a lot is to pronounce things like /-oon/ with a long o [o:] rather than as two separate o's.
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

jojo

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Dothraki Fan
    • View Profile
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2011, 01:51:54 pm »
There were no intended differences between native and non-native speakers on the show. Any difference in pronunciation is completely due to the actors.

Very interesting!  Well then I guess it was just a lucky coincidence.  :)

ingsve

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 578
  • Karma: +9/-0
  • Student of the stars
    • View Profile
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2011, 06:51:54 pm »
There were no intended differences between native and non-native speakers on the show. Any difference in pronunciation is completely due to the actors.

Very interesting!  Well then I guess it was just a lucky coincidence.  :)

One thing that was intended though is that when Dany is learning the language she starts out speaking ungrammatically and over the first couple of episodes her Dothraki becomes more and more correct in terms of grammar.
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

Qvaak

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 370
  • Karma: +29/-0
  • someone
    • View Profile
    • qvaak-dot-kuutikkaat
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 03:52:01 pm »
Your household doubting tom here.

Quote
There were no intended differences between native and non-native speakers on the show. Any difference in pronounciation is completely due to the actors.

Is this really a hard fact? There are half dozen people - director, language coach, writers...- that could have told the actors to let the pronunciation improve over the course of the series (in case of Emilia) or not improve at all (in case of Iain). They would not even have to instruct Emilia to mispronounce, just to take extra care on the later episodes. Or, in Iain's case just to take it easy. Even if that was an actor's choice, it still might be intentional and even might have gotten an approving nod or two.

Letting the pronunciation show the foreign roots is such a natural decision - the only right choice, I'd say - that even if someone has said that there is no intentional difference, I'd still hold it likely that the guy has just been misinformed or not informed at all.

Quote
One thing that might explain the difference is that actors like Emilia Clarke that has a lot of dialogue in English and overall more to do probably had less time tp focus hard on learning the pronounciation than some of the actors that mostly had Dothraki lines and could probably focus a lot more on getting things right.

Well, this is true, too. Overall, if I remember correctly, the episodes were for most part shot in right order. So if you just kept learning, kept listening the other people rehearse and act their lines, you should be better at the last episodes.
Game of Thrones is not The Song of Ice and Fire, sweetling. You'll learn that one day to your sorrow.

ingsve

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 578
  • Karma: +9/-0
  • Student of the stars
    • View Profile
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 04:13:52 pm »
Your household doubting tom here.

Quote
There were no intended differences between native and non-native speakers on the show. Any difference in pronounciation is completely due to the actors.

Is this really a hard fact? There are half dozen people - director, language coach, writers...- that could have told the actors to let the pronunciation improve over the course of the series (in case of Emilia) or not improve at all (in case of Iain). They would not even have to instruct Emilia to mispronounce, just to take extra care on the later episodes. Or, in Iain's case just to take it easy. Even if that was an actor's choice, it still might be intentional and even might have gotten an approving nod or two.

Letting the pronunciation show the foreign roots is such a natural decision - the only right choice, I'd say - that even if someone has said that there is no intentional difference, I'd still hold it likely that the guy has just been misinformed or not informed at all.

Quote
One thing that might explain the difference is that actors like Emilia Clarke that has a lot of dialogue in English and overall more to do probably had less time tp focus hard on learning the pronounciation than some of the actors that mostly had Dothraki lines and could probably focus a lot more on getting things right.

Well, this is true, too. Overall, if I remember correctly, the episodes were for most part shot in right order. So if you just kept learning, kept listening the other people rehearse and act their lines, you should be better at the last episodes.

Well, yes calling it hard fact would not be correct since we don't know what was said on set but we also have no indication that this would be the case and since the mistakes are most often so random it's a strong indication that it's all just mistakes made by the actors.

It seems that Mia Soteriou (who seems to be of Greek decent) who played Mirri Maz Duur had some inpact on the pronounciations. She came in and started pronouncing /kh/ correctly but also pronounced anha as [anxa] and after that Emilia started pronouncing those words differently as well.
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

alegra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Dothraki Fan
    • View Profile
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2011, 05:00:22 am »
So I've been thinking of getting a dog within the next month or so... and I first  I was thinking of the name Khal.. I've noticed in the show that sometimes it's pronounced more like cal... and sometimes like carl. I would hate for it to sound like my dogs name is Carl, I'm not too fond of that name. How is it supposed to be said?
Now I'm thinking more along the lines of Ko as my pup would be my bodyguard. It's nice and short and a good name for a pup. I'm assuming it is just pronounced CO?   ::)

ingsve

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 578
  • Karma: +9/-0
  • Student of the stars
    • View Profile
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2011, 05:06:43 am »
So I've been thinking of getting a dog within the next month or so... and I first  I was thinking of the name Khal.. I've noticed in the show that sometimes it's pronounced more like cal... and sometimes like carl. I would hate for it to sound like my dogs name is Carl, I'm not too fond of that name. How is it supposed to be said?
Now I'm thinking more along the lines of Ko as my pup would be my bodyguard. It's nice and short and a good name for a pup. I'm assuming it is just pronounced CO?   ::)

The correct pronounciatio is  [xal] where [x ] is the sound from the /ch/ is Bach, loch or l'chaim. You can hear a sample of it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_velar_fricative
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

Qvaak

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 370
  • Karma: +29/-0
  • someone
    • View Profile
    • qvaak-dot-kuutikkaat
Re: Accents in Dothraki
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2011, 01:32:17 pm »
First of all. Check the full pronunciation guide from our wiki's Learning Dothraki pages. That's mostly what we know.

Quote
I've noticed in the show that sometimes it's pronounced more like cal... and sometimes like carl. I would hate for it to sound like my dogs name is Carl, I'm not too fond of that name.

English has such different dialects (and I, as a foreigner, confuse them all the time) that it's hard to discuss pronunciation based on just english examples. If you use a rhotic accent, "carl" is a clear mispronunciation. But either way, how do you pronounce the vowel in "cal"? Looking at english dialect chart the possibilities are myriad. If you sport a general american accent, to my ear that's severely off from supposed correct dothraki pronunciation.
Dothraki don't have phonetically different vowel lengths1, so it's quite possible that there happens some less phonetic variation: stressed words and syllabes might have somewhat longer vowels, more like in that non-rhotic "carl".

Quote
The correct pronounciatio is  [xal] where [x ] is the sound from the /ch/ is Bach, loch or l'chaim.

It's a funny question, if it's a good idea to use a presumably exotic phoneme in dog's name. People would generally pronounce it wrong, even the owners might get bored of a foreign sound and just move to an easier and more natural nick name. On the other hand animals are much better at learning to recognize sounds than sound sequences, so if the name would hold, it might be very recognizable for the dog.

1If a word has a pair of same vowels after each other, they are still pronounced separate. As far as I understand there is no glottal stop, diphtong or any such clear trick to mark the separation, so it is quite subtle, mostly just some stress on the latter vowel.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 01:39:45 pm by Qvaak »
Game of Thrones is not The Song of Ice and Fire, sweetling. You'll learn that one day to your sorrow.