Basics 1 Edit
Welcome to High Valyrian for English speakers! High Valyrian is the language of the old Valyrian Freehold, a thriving civilization destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm centuries before the action of Game of Thrones begins. It was a language of dragon tamers and warriors, but is now a language of refinement and education—a memory of a bygone era. It's the language of the Mad King Aerys, of Aegon the Conqueror, and of Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.
High Valyrian is an inflectional language, where the form of a noun changes to indicate the role it plays in a sentence, or verbs inflect for their tense, aspect, and voice. Generally, adjectives come before the nouns they modify, and verbs come at the end of the sentence.
As you begin your study of Valyrian, you may want to know how the Roman letters used to spell the language are pronounced. In Old Valyria, the language was written with a glyphic writing system, but in our world, we use a variant of the Roman alphabet for simplicity's sake. Here's a description of the system:
- B, D, H, L, M, N, Z are pronounced roughly the same as they are in English.
- IPA: [b], [d], [h], [l], [m], [n], [z].
- G is always pronounced hard, as in "get"; never as in "genre" or "gel".
- IPA: [ɡ]
- K, P, T are pronounced similar to English, but without aspiration (tenuis) (compare "pie" to "spy". The Valyrian P is pronounced as in "spy").
- IPA: [p], [t], [k]
- S is always pronounced voiceless, as in "dose"; never as in "rose".
- IPA: [s]
- R is always trilled, as in Spanish "perro".
- IPA: [r]
- V is now pronounced as in "vet", but used to be pronounced as the "w" in "wet".
- IPA: [v] (Modern); [w] (Ancient)
- J is now pronounced as in "jam", but used to have a slightly more palatal pronunciation.
- IPA: [dʒ] (Modern); [ɟ] and [j] (Antiquated)
- Q is pronounced like a "k", but much further back in the mouth, with the back of the tongue touching the uvula. There is no American English equivalent, but some dialects, such as non-local Dublin, have a similar sound to back.
- IPA: [q]
- GH is a voiced guttural sound like a noisier version of the "g" in Spanish "razgo". There is no English equivalent.
- IPA: [ɣ] or [ʁ]
- LJ is pronounced like the "lli" in "million".
- IPA: [ʎ]
- Ñ is pronounced as in Spanish "ñ", or rather like canyon said quickly.
- IPA: [ɲ]
- RH is pronounced like Valyrian R, but with no voicing.
- IPA: [r̥]
- TH is always voiceless as in three, never as in this.
- IPA: [θ]
- A is pronounced as in "father".
- IPA: [a]
- E is pronounced as in "get", and is never silent.
- IPA: [ɛ] or [e] (no distinction)
- I is pronounced as in "machine".
- IPA: [i]
- O is pronounced as in "note".
- IPA: [ɔ] or [o] (no distinction)
- U is pronounced as in "rude".
- IPA: [u]
- Y is pronounced like the "i" in "machine", but with the lips fully rounded as if one is pronouncing U, like in French tu.
- IPA: [y]
- Ā, Ē, Ī, Ō, Ū, Ȳ are pronounced exactly as their macron-less counterparts but are held for a longer duration.
- IPA: [aː], [ɛː]~[eː], [iː], [ɔː]~[oː], [uː], [yː]
Note: As a shortcut, you can type a double version of the vowel to stand in for a vowel with a macron. Thus, if you type yy it will be understood as ȳ by Duolingo.
SINGULAR AND PLURAL Edit
In this lesson, you'll be learning the singular and plural pairs for some common words. In High Valyrian there are a number of pluralization strategies, so pay close attention to the ending of each word you learn.
High Valyrian is a language whose nouns inflect for gender, number, and case. Adjectives will agree with all three of these elements. In this lesson, you'll only be focusing on plural agreement; other types of agreement will come later.
ADJECTIVE PLACEMENT Edit
Adjectives most commonly precede the nouns they modify, but they may follow the nouns they modify either for stylistic reasons, or to prevent overcrowding. Thus, if you have sȳz which means "good", then "good man" can be translated as sȳz vala or vala sȳz.
SIMPLE COORDINATION Edit
High Valyrian doesn't use a word like "and" when coordinating two non-modifying consecutive elements. Instead, the last word in a pair or trio of nouns, adjectives, or even verbs is modified in some way to indicate that it is participating in a coordinative structure. One common strategy is to lengthen the final vowel of the last word in a list and shift the word's stress to the end. Watch out for word-final long vowels in sentences with coordination!
You'll be learning some High Valyrian pronouns later. For now, if you see a verb, the subject will either be listed first, or will be a pronoun not present. Take, for example, the sentence Vala issa. Translated simply, it could mean "The man is", but that's not a very useful sentence. A better translation would be "He is a man", where "he" is simply not necessary.