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David J. Peterson developed "True Tongue" for the Children of the Forest


The Dragon Demands
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Back in November 2019, linguist David J. Peterson gave a podcast interview with Game of Owns, in which he talked about his work on the TV show - and explained that he actually did create a new conlang for the True Tongue of the Children of the Forest, for when they're featured with Bran Stark in Season 6, but it was ultimately cut from the final version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llwYVV92g7k

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/True_Tongue

The books give no sampling of their language in text, nor proper names. Leaf tells Bran, "Our name in the True Tongue means those who sing the song of earth. Before your Old Tongue was ever spoken, we had sung our songs ten thousand years."

With essentially a blank slate, but in consultation with George R.R. Martin - much as he did for Dothraki and Valyrian - Peterson made a basic conlang for the True Tongue.

In the language Peterson developed, the name that the Children call themselves is "Gerna Mohra" - which translates as "Those Who Sing the Song of [the] Earth". They're called the "Mohra" (Singers) for short [note: compare to how Tolkien's Elves, before the Sundering, called themselves the "Quendi" (Speakers)]. Peterson spelled out each of these words one letter at a time in the podcast, for clarification. I need to emphasize that this used sounds that don't exist in English, so while this is the official spelling Peterson used, it sounds different hearing him say it aloud, and as of yet this podcast is the ONLY "audio sample" we have of the correct pronunciation (the "hr" in "Mohra" is heavily trilled).  The name that they have for their own language is actually "Gerna Mohr" - apparently "The Song of Earth". "True Tongue" is a descriptive name they sometimes use (I mean, "the Common Tongue" is actually "Andalish" if you think about it). 

Peterson explained that he didn't need to "invent" True Tongue for the Long Night prequel (which had just been canceled), it had already been developed for Season 6 "in collaboration with George R.R. Martin", though he did expand on his previous work when he was hired back for the Long Night pilot. The point is, it's actually not a product of the awful Long Night pilot, he'd already made it for Game of Thrones Season 6.

It would be interesting if bits of it show up in The Winds of Winter - Peterson stressed "I work for GRRM first, the TV show second", i.e. the work he did for place names in the book canon Lands of Ice & Fire maps.

Much to my surprise, it turns out that Peterson's unused Season 6 scripts for dialogue in Gerna Mohr were actually made public: Peterson loaded up all of his script notes to Archive of Our Own, so he left them in. ALL the dialogue only occurs in episode 605, "The Door", in the extensive sequence when the White Walkers and their wights are attacking the cave of the three-eyed raven. So they're shouting out commands as they're being overrun. https://archiveofourown.org/works/24146890

For archival purposes, I'm copying all examples of Peterson's True Tongue / Gerna Mohr here. There's 18 lines, and it doesn't appear that any of them are back and forth dialogue between two people:

Full list of Peterson's "True Tongue":

Nguwas shonji!

  • "Hold them back!"

Nyahl!

  • "Here!"

Hi!

  • "No!"

Shagukwamanji, ni-Burán!

  • "Protect Bran!"

Gi, gi, gi!

  • "Go, go, go!"

Nyahl!

  • "Now!"

Tagungi!

  • "Fire!"

Shoguldani!

  • "Step them!"

Gernat!

  • "For the Earth!"

Buranat!

  • "For Bran!"

Nyagyesanks!

  • "This way!"

Magulnenya!

  • "Into the cave!"

Awahl utwommani!

  • "Block them off!"

Awassa gi!

  • "Go around them!"

Duraha toda oboldasa nyahenya. Gudniyahl ngugwa yahat todanasa ojigli.

  • "Too many have died already. We must be ready before more invaders cross over."

Ngubgukwamanjiyassa, fowanjildiyahl ngugwi.

  • "Either we protect ourselves or we risk losing everything."

Nassa durahahl hafwa. Nyiha guldaniyahl ngugwa nyah.

  • "The threat is too great. We must end this now."

----------------------------------------------------------------

Gerna Mohra

  • "Those Who Sing the Song of Earth"

Mohra

  • "singers"

Gerna Mohr

  • (the name they call their own language, apparently "the Song of Earth"?)

==========================================

Peterson's new website has a brief listing of languages he's made, which describes Gerna Mohr as a Polypersonal language which uses voiceless sonorants.

Edited by The Dragon Demands
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@Ran

How..."Canon" is this? For wiki purposes?

Because Peterson himself pointed out that "I work for GRRM first, the TV shows second", directly said "I made this in collaboration with GRRM". His other language work for Lands of Ice & Fire became canon.

Is it at least semi-canon? 

I mean, how "canon" will the High Valyrian language he developed ever be, given that GRRM isn't Tolkien and will never make a different High Valyrian?

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  • 1 month later...

I believe whether it's "canon" or not depends on what Peterson means by working for GRRM first. Does GRRM own the rights to the languages Peterson developed for the show or does HBO? Because even if GRRM owns the rights to his own work, he doesn't necessarily own what HBO developed unless otherwise stated in contracts.

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