Fictional languages on television programmes are nothing new. Star Trek fans have spent generations hearing Klingon spoken, while more recently the Lord of the Rings films included a range of languages constructed by J R R Tolkien.
Now, Game of Thrones has become the latest television sensation to spark an interest in translation.
Game of Thrones season six
Game of Thrones has become incredibly popular since its television debut in 2011. To date the series has won 26 Primetime Emmy Awards and has set the record for the most wins by one series in a single year. The show is aired in the US, Australia, the UK, China (albeit heavily edited) and a range of other countries around the world.
Season six has just revealed the much-hoped-for news (spoiler alert) that Jon Snow is once more back in the land of the living, after the Red Lady, Melisandre’s spell in the High Valyrian language. Fans around the world clamored for a translation of the Melisandre’s words, with the community on Reddit piecing together the translation.
Language creator David J Peterson kindly clarified the meaning by sharing it on his blog, to the delight of fans of the series.
Fictional languages and their impact
Fictional languages can have a lasting impact. Some 20-30 individuals around the world are believed to be fluent in Klingon. Bizarrely, a report surfaced in 2007 in Multnomah County, Oregon regarding the need for a Klingon translator for the county’s psychiatric hospital. The requirement was apparently in case a patient came into the hospital speaking only Klingon. The report was later withdrawn and deemed a ‘mistake’ by county representatives.
Game of Thrones’ languages have also made an impact. A 2012 study by Global Language Monitor found that Dothraki – the fictional language spoken by the Dothraki horsemen – was the fourth most used word from television on the internet. As Game of Thrones season six continues to air during 2016, it will be interesting to see what additional translation challenges are thrown at viewers during this fast-moving series.
Do you speak a fictional language? What value do such languages bring to our culture? Let us know what you think in the comments section.