Our days of learning a foreign language based on our next vacation are over. There’s a new language that over a million people are flocking to learn – and it’s not even spoken anywhere. Duolingo now offers courses in High Valyrian, a dialect of the language spoken by “Game of Thrones” nobility.
Valyrian is the language spoken by much of Westeros. If it sounds totally made up when its spoken, that’s because it is – but not without some logic behind it. The fictional language is, in fact, grammatically and structurally correct in its own right, created by linguist David J. Peterson. The language connoisseur has created over 50 fictional languages for movies and TV shows, CNN reports. He’s also responsible for Dothraki, also spoken in the show.
The languages have so much structure behind them that they can actually be learned. 1.2 million people have signed up to learn High Valyrian, which is more people than can speak traditional languages like Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
How can one person create an entire language, let alone 50? Peterson began by working on the Dothraki language tirelessly, dedicating 18 hours per day to perfecting the grammar and vocabulary. When “GoT” producers got a hold of his work, they asked him to get cracking on Valyrian as well.
According to Peterson, the hardest part about creating a language is making rules that you’ll remember and use later. Sure, you can say a bunch of gibberish and call it a new language, but will you be able to access it later when you’re trying to form full conversations and writings?
High Valyrian isn’t the only fictional language available for study. Duolingo also offers courses on “Star Trek’s” Klingon, “Avatar’s” Na’vi, and “Lord of the Rings’” Elvish.