Learn to speak High Valyrian from Game of Thrones

Learn the lingo of the Mother of Dragons with language app Duolingo

Feature by The Skinny | 13 Jul 2017
  • Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones

At the end of season six of Game of Thrones, we saw Daenerys Targaryen, aka ‘the Mother of Dragons’, at long last crossing the Narrow Sea with her army and trio of dragons in tow. So there’s a fair chance we’ll be hearing some more High Valyrian as she stakes her claim on the Iron Throne as the popular HBO show returns this weekend. The question is, though: do you fancy following her progress in the seventh series without subtitles?

Now you can, as popular language learning app Duolingo has launched an online course in High Valyrian. And the app is definitely legit: David J Peterson, the linguist who created the language for the show based on George RR Martin's best-selling book series, has been working with Duolingo to design the language course.

Is it worth your while learning High Valyrian, you might ask? It is, after all, a dying language: as far as we can tell, Daenerys is the only person who can speak it. But admit it – it would be fun to be able to command dragons like Khaleesi. Plus if Daenerys conquers all in season seven, we might see everyone in Westeros speaking it by season eight.

On the other hand, as anyone who’s ever taken the time to learn other fictional languages – say Klingon or Lord of the Rings' Elvish – will tell you, your linguistic skills are not necessarily going to impress people at parties. But any form of learning is worthwhile, we suppose. If you’d like to learn something more practical, however, there are plenty more courses to partake on the Duolingo app.

You’ve not long to reach Daenerys' level of proficiency. The new season of Game of Thrones kicks off this Sunday (16 Jul), so you better get practicing. Here’s a handy phrase for starters: “Skorī dēmalȳti tymptir tymis, ērinis iā morghūlis,” which of course means, "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." Better than just asking where the train station is, we suppose.

To start learning this language of nobles, poetry and dragons, head to the Duolingo site.