A Game of Tongues: Why George R. R. Martin is a Linguist After All

Word Jazz

George R. R. Martin. Photograph by Gage Skidmore (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGeorge_R._R._Martin_(9350730880).jpg) George R. R. Martin. Photo by Gage Skidmore: (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/George_R._R._Martin_%289350730880%29.jpg)

One of the great achievements of any work of fantasy or science fiction is the creation of an entirely new world – think of the Star Wars universe or Lord of the Rings’ Middle-Earth. Although many new worlds have been created by fantasy authors over the years, only a few can match the complex, beguiling and deadly world of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Of course, no new world would be complete without its own language or languages. Martin is quick to point out that he is no linguist himself. When creating the lands of Westeros and Essos, and all its linguistic complexities, Martin couldn’t rely on classical training as a philologist as J. R. R. Tolkien could. So, although he invented a few words and phrases of Dothraki for the original Game of Thrones novel…

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