The writer who invented a language

JRR Tolkien created Elvish and many other writers have made up new words and phrases. But can you really construct a whole new lexicon? Hephzibah Anderson takes a look.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan suffering from withdrawal, you might consider brushing up on your Dothraki while waiting to find out whether any of your favourite characters will live to see another season. How? With the Dothraki Companion app, of course, the latest creation of David J Peterson, who’s the man responsible for turning the handful of phrases found in the original series of books into a lexicon of more than 4,000 words.

Filled with fricative ‘kh’ sounds that underscore the essential harshness of life in the Seven Kingdoms, Dothraki is one of the show’s most distinctive features. But even though it’s a made-up language – or ‘conlang’, as in ‘constructed language’, to use  the proper jargon – bringing it to life has been no easy task.

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