Reed College

The Art of Language Invention

Linguistics Talk by David Peterson, creator of the Game of Thrones languages Dothraki and Valyrian.

In creating a language (a conlang), determining the purpose of the conlang is key. Many creators have had many reasons for creating languages over the years, be it to promote international communication (as with Esperanto), to make communication more logical (as with Loglan and Lojban), or even to make communication needlessly difficult (as with William Spruiell’s Yešqūr—a bureaucratic language). The languages David Peterson is most commonly called upon to create are naturalistic languages: languages which try, as nearly as possible, to approximate the natural languages we have on Earth, quirks and all. In this talk, Peterson will introduce the historical method of conlanging, which seeks to evolve naturalistic conlangs from an earlier state, thereby producing a result which is more authentic and more likely to fool a linguist (aside from the overabundance of vocabulary having to do with dragons, zombies, giants, and the like).

David J. Peterson is a language creator and author. He received a BA in linguistics from UC Berkeley in 2003 and an MA in linguistics from UC San Diego in 2005. Since 2009, he’s created languages for a number of television shows and movies, including HBO’s Game of Thrones, NBC’s Emerald City, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, Legendary’s Warcraft, and the CW’s The 100. He is also the author of Living Language Dothraki and Penguin’s The Art of Language Invention.

Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Psychology, Psy auditorium (Psy 105)
3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

Event Type



Faculty & Staff, Students, General Public



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