Author Topic: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation  (Read 9472 times)

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Lajaki

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HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« on: February 12, 2011, 06:20:09 am »
So, we've now got a pronunciation guide for Game of Thrones. This is how HBO is going to be pronouncing the names. I believe that George RR Martin said somewhere that he doesn't really care how people pronounce them, although he always uses the same ones. What is interesting is that we do actually have some differences between a) GRRM's pronunciation b) David Peterson's phonology and c) how the natives would potential pronounce them.

There were a lot of names mentioned here. I'm going to run through the ones that I found interesting. I think that all of these should be taken with a major pinch of salt. The pronunciation team was going to for a mix between what people would read and what would make sense, assumedly. These aren't given in IPA, which is fairly obvious, meaning that it is fairly ambiguous. Personally, I don't really like how they've done these. This will be become blatanly obvious.

<> is orthographic. [] is phonological, written in IPA. Their transcriptions are given in bold.

Edit: In the two hours since writing this post, I realise I may have been a bit harsh. First off, the HBO team has a hard job going for them. They've got to take GRR Martin's work and apply it to real life, which it was never meant to be originally. They've also got to consider the readers and the viewership. This means divorcing some of the more hard-to-pronounce words, possibly like Qarth. My beef stems from the fact that it looks like what they did here is use the standard American English-pronunciation of these names only, and didn't make them internally consistent either orthographically or in the context of the languages we do know in the books. Furthermore, they failed at several points in this post to correctly display Dothraki words, which makes me feel very queasy about the Dothraki on the show.

It just seems to me like this post was the easy way out - they're just trying to make all of the fans out there, now, have a standardised pronunciation, so that the show-talk doesn't end up mired in 'Oh! It's CAT-lyn? Woops!', but instead is more like 'Man, she was a good actor (and I'm therefore implicitly glad that HBO hired her).' That's all fine - but I think they could have done a better job of keeping hardcore linguistic radicals like me in mind. Not that I'd be happy on everything, of course.

CHARACTER NAMES:
Aerys Targaryen - AIR-eez Tar-GAIR-ee-in Right. Well. We can guess that this should be something like [ɛɹ]. That's fairly unspectacular. What's interesting is the transcription of <y> as [i:]. That's expected, but nice to know how they're going to do it. Rules out the possibility of a swedish front rounded vowel or something like that, though. Also interesting: different sorts of <a>, and the lack of syllable initial glide. They've opted for [i:] again in [taɹgɛɹi:en]. Weird.
Daenerys Targaryen - Duh-NAIR-iss Tar-GAIR-ee-in Same thing. They've reduced the unstressed syllable to schwa, which I doubt is what GRRM wanted to do with the orthographic spelling here. In any sense, we can see that they're clearly applying English stress rules. Note the different interpretation of <y> here: it's given as [ɪ] this time. Huh. Why would they do that? I'm guessing this is another English take on it.
Illyrio - Il-LEAR-ee-oh Ok, so here we have a third pronunciation of <y>, and a re-interpretation of <i> as the same as the <y> in Targaryen. I wonder if they actually put thought into this, or if they just applied English pronunciation across the board? Is this the pronunciation we can expect in the show? I realise that most people will be pronouncing these words the way they read them in English, but that doesn't mean that they should be pronounced that way, in my opinion, in an internal world.
Irri - I-ree Lack of gemination, different takes on <i>. This is unsystematic and probably wrong according to Dothraki rules. [aɪɹi:]  just isn't how I saw this one being pronounced, at all. As this is out first Dothraki name, I'm very dissapointed
Khal Drogo - KHAL DRO-go Ok, our first major controversy. Are they going to pronounce this as [kʰ]  or as [ x]? And as [ɹ] or [ɾ]? This is very important.
Nymeria - Nigh-MEER-ee-uh Wait, so, [nɑjmi:ɹiə]? SERIOUSLY? Well, I was going to take this seriously, but I think may just stop now. Maybe I should go for a walk. To be fair - they don't have access to the Rhoynar phonology, as no one as made it, and they haven't looked at my wiki. Still. Dear god.
Qotho - QUO-tho So you're saying that George RR Martin uses weird orthography for no phonetic reason? This is clearly, from a linguistic view, [qoðo:]. Not [kʷ], nor [kw]. This also has the problem of not being clear whether the [th] is voiced or not. The pronunciation they give indicates unvoiced. Alright. 
Rhaegar Targaryen RAY-gar Tar-GAIR-ee-in Another issue where <rh> is ignored. I would expect some sort of post-rhotic aspiration: [rʰæ]  perhaps. The interpretation of <ae> as [aɪ] kind of annoys me, but not as much as the <yen> being taken as [i:ɪn].
Syrio Forel - SEER-ee-o For-EL Why the final stress on Forel? Interesting!
Varys - VAIR-iss Another weird second pronunciation for <y>.
Viserys Targaryen - Vi-SAIR-iss Tar-GAIR-ee-in They seem to like doing weird things to stressed <e>. This goes along with my theory that they basically took English phonotactic rules and applied them with broad, broad brush strokes.

PLACES:
Asshai - Uh-SHY Did NOT see that coming, meaning the stess on the second syllable.
Braavos - BRA-vos Doesn't appear to be any gemination of the first vowel.
Essos - ESS-os Well, might have gotten the geminated s right, here.
Eyrie - EAR-ee I was expecting [aɪɹi:]. American versus English pronunciation, I guess. I've also seen [ɛɹi:].
Harrenhal - HAIR-in-hall Another weird <e>.
Pentos - PEN-tos Expected.
Qarth - QUARTH ... I've talked about this above. I really don't like it.
Vaes Dothrak - VIE-iss Doth-RACK Stress on the final syllable when it is closed - this is good. Why didn't it happen with Vaes, I wonder? It should have.
So, I guess they're saying [vɑjɪs]. That's really weird. Like, really weird. Was expecting [vaɛs], or maybe [væs] as a loose interpretation.
Westeros - WES-te-ros Alright.

MISCELLANEOUS:
Andals - AN-dals Good.
arakh - Ah-rock Different a-vowels. They've now completely done DP's interpretation wrong. He has it as [a'ɾax]. Should we email them?
Dothraki - Doth-RACK-ee This isn't how DP or GRRM does it. [dɔθ'ɹæki] is how I see theirs. GRRM does [dɔ'θrakaɪ]. DP does it ['dɔθɾaki], I believe. Not to mention the dentals!
khalasar - KHAL-uh-ssar Wrong. No reduction to schwa. Trilled [r]. [ x] not [kʰ]. Aarrrgh!
Khaleesi - Khal-EE-see At this point I think it's not even worth me finishing this list.
Tyroshi - Ti-ROH-shee Why won't they take the <y> at face value? Ever?
Valyrian - Vuh-LEER-ee-un Annoyed.

Right. Sorry, that turned into a rant.

Update: @westerosorg pointed me to this on twitter. Phonetic spellings with IPA from GRRM. A lot of these make more sense, now!

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/24292-character-name-pronunciations/page__st__40__p__2104529#entry2104529
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 08:15:02 am by Lajaki »

ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 12:19:18 pm »
Ya, it all seems like they simply went around to some people are listened to how they pronounced things. The dohraki words are all pretty much wrong. I simply view it as how some arrogant person with a common tongue accent would pronounce things.
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ShadowedSin

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 02:17:28 pm »
The Westerosi would most likely speak the language with a different accent than how the great Dothraki would.

ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 02:47:53 pm »
The Westerosi would most likely speak the language with a different accent than how the great Dothraki would.

The problem with that however is that the people of the common tongue that speak dothraki names probably don't have the words written down so they would be repeating how they have heard the words spoken. These are more like examples of how someone speaking english would pronounce the words as they are written.
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

ShadowedSin

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2011, 01:04:39 am »
Ah well, the reason I brought up the Westerosi is the are the closest thing to an English Speaking population in ASOIAF.

Lajaki

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2011, 02:01:58 am »
Ah well, the reason I brought up the Westerosi is the are the closest thing to an English Speaking population in ASOIAF.

The main issue isn't that there's a divide between Westerosi and English that isn't being taken into account. Rather, it's that there's a lack of uniformity in the actual names themselves, both internally (when two names come from the same source language but have different pronunciation), and externally (when English stress rules are used, or avoided without reason.)

ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2011, 02:05:02 am »
Ah well, the reason I brought up the Westerosi is the are the closest thing to an English Speaking population in ASOIAF.

Ya, that's usually the way I think about it. Like english=common tongue sort of.

In the end I guess this list doesn't matter. What's more interesting is how they actually pronounce things on the show. Though I'm sure there will be inconsistensies and strangeness there as well.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 02:06:49 am by ingsve »
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 02:13:19 am »
Another thing about names etc is who you are talking to. When I speak english and meet someone and give them my name I tend to pronounce my name in "english" rather than in swedish since it makes it easier for the person I'm talking to to understand me and come close to pronouncing it in a fair way. That could at least explain some instances of names being pronounced in a strange way.

We could call this my early entry into the  No-Prize awards for Game of Thrones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-Prize
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2011, 01:38:16 pm »
To get an example of actual dothraki pronounciation the language creator David Peterson has provided us with some recordings of certain released words: http://dedalvs.com/dl/dothaudio.zip The words he reads are the ones that can be found listed at the beginning of this document: http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/storage/dothraki-language-guide.pdf

There was also some audio clips released along with the initial dothraki press release: http://dothraki.conlang.org/press-release-audio/
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly

zhalio

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2012, 05:52:39 am »
I was also pretty disappointed at many of the pronunciations (do they have to call it "official"...?), but I presume it's just what the Westerosi-speaking man from the street might make of these names.

I'm assuming the Westerosi speak "Sept Valyrian" at best, comparable to the mangled "Church Latin" spoken long after the extinction of spoken Classical Latin. In my mind, Daenerys is pronounced [deɪ'nɛɹɪs] or even [də'nɛɹɪs] in Sept Valyrian, but [daɪ'nɛ:ɾys] in High Valyrian coming from an older [daɪ'nɛ:ɾus]. I realize I'm heavily leaning on the analogy of Ancient Greek phonology, but I think that's pretty much the flavor that GRRM was trying to convey.

I noticed some youngsters, like Jon, pronounce the ae in Maester or Aemon as [eɪ], whereas I remember Maester Aemon rendering Maekar as [maɪkɑ:]. I would assume that Aemon, being an ancient Targaryen, preserves an older and truer pronunciation of the Valyrian names than the newer generations.

ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2012, 08:28:55 am »
I was also pretty disappointed at many of the pronunciations (do they have to call it "official"...?), but I presume it's just what the Westerosi-speaking man from the street might make of these names.

I'm assuming the Westerosi speak "Sept Valyrian" at best, comparable to the mangled "Church Latin" spoken long after the extinction of spoken Classical Latin. In my mind, Daenerys is pronounced [deɪ'nɛɹɪs] or even [də'nɛɹɪs] in Sept Valyrian, but [daɪ'nɛ:ɾys] in High Valyrian coming from an older [daɪ'nɛ:ɾus]. I realize I'm heavily leaning on the analogy of Ancient Greek phonology, but I think that's pretty much the flavor that GRRM was trying to convey.

I noticed some youngsters, like Jon, pronounce the ae in Maester or Aemon as [eɪ], whereas I remember Maester Aemon rendering Maekar as [maɪkɑ:]. I would assume that Aemon, being an ancient Targaryen, preserves an older and truer pronunciation of the Valyrian names than the newer generations.

Ya, pronounciation of a lot of the words from the books are all over the place depending on who you listen too and what their native language is. One that makes me cringe is GRRMs pronounciation of Dothraki which he pronounces as [doθrakai] or something to that effect.

With Valyrian words even I find myself pronouncing the /ae/ differently in different words which I guess is wrong but a lot of the time I see /ae/ as the letter /ä/ which commonly is pronounced [ɛː] in Swedish.
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Hrakkar

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2012, 10:47:25 am »
My recollection of how GRRM speaks (he was at Worldcon, and I talked to him on a couple of occasions) is very sketchy, and I hadn't given how he speaks much thought until I saw this thread revived. I seem to remember he spoke a pretty 'plain' English, if there is such a thing. In any case, his pronunciation of the words he created would be, of course, colored by his lingual/cultural background. Do you think (Insgive and Qvaalk, especially because your native language is not English) that GRRM's pronunciation of words is colored by any particular linguistic background? I've noticed that my pronunciations seem to be closer to DP than the others discussed here, even without DP's influence. But then again, we were both raised on American English, so this isn't at all surprising.
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ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2012, 04:04:09 pm »
My recollection of how GRRM speaks (he was at Worldcon, and I talked to him on a couple of occasions) is very sketchy, and I hadn't given how he speaks much thought until I saw this thread revived. I seem to remember he spoke a pretty 'plain' English, if there is such a thing. In any case, his pronunciation of the words he created would be, of course, colored by his lingual/cultural background. Do you think (Insgive and Qvaalk, especially because your native language is not English) that GRRM's pronunciation of words is colored by any particular linguistic background? I've noticed that my pronunciations seem to be closer to DP than the others discussed here, even without DP's influence. But then again, we were both raised on American English, so this isn't at all surprising.

I think the main problem with GRRM is his spelling. He may have one idea of how he pronounces names but then he is also rather adventurous by using non-standard spellings of his names without really reflecting on how that would influence pronounciation.

I can't really say if there are any specific influences behind his pronounciations. His pronounciation of Catelyn for example is just strange. I guess the point is that it should mimic Kathrine or something. I don't know.
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Hrakkar

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2012, 06:51:00 pm »
Interesting. Your observations kind of confirm what I am thinking-- that GRRM may have some somewhat different ideas on how to pronounce the names he has created. Yet, I think I heard or read some place that he is not real concerned with how people pronounce these names.

'Catelyn' is interesting. Besides being one of my favorite characters, her name has made me start noticing real people with the same, or a similar name. As I pronounce it, it would be KATE-lyn, whith KATE rhyming with 'plate'.
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ingsve

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Re: HBO Dothraki Pronunciation
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2012, 08:08:07 pm »
Interesting. Your observations kind of confirm what I am thinking-- that GRRM may have some somewhat different ideas on how to pronounce the names he has created. Yet, I think I heard or read some place that he is not real concerned with how people pronounce these names.

'Catelyn' is interesting. Besides being one of my favorite characters, her name has made me start noticing real people with the same, or a similar name. As I pronounce it, it would be KATE-lyn, whith KATE rhyming with 'plate'.

Ya, that's how you normally pronounce it but for some reason GRRM pronounces it as CAT-e-lyn.

He has said on many occasions that people can pronounce the names however they like. He doesn't support any form of canonical correct pronounciation.

One thing I'm curious about is how they are going to pronounce Jaqen H'ghar and R'hllor.
"I just need to rest, that’s all, to rest and sleep some, and maybe die a little" – Samwell Tarly