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Darth Rivers

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What's always intrigued me is why the Northmen and Ironborn speak the same language as the Southrons, and what is that language. Is their language the one the Andals spoke? Oh, and since Westeros is a continent, why aren't there more languages?

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What's always intrigued me is why the Northmen and Ironborn speak the same language as the Southrons, and what is that language. Is their language the one the Andals spoke? Oh, and since Westeros is a continent, why aren't there more languages?

Yes. That has always bothered me as well. Specifically the Northmen. For 6000 years they resisted the Andal armies, the Andal religion, and Andal customs.

But it seems they adopted the Andal language without much resistance.

Coming from a culture where my home language is under threat in the face of English being increasingly used as the language of commerce, I know how passionate a culture can get in defense of their mother tongue.

Therefore I find it unrealistic that the Andal language drove the Old Tongue to extinction in the North. Even in conquered lands, the local tongues still exist, like in Wales and Ireland, where Gaelic still remains.

In lands that resisted conquest fiercely - like Germany against the Romans - the Old Tongue should have been retained as a matter of cultural pride.

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It would definitely make more sense that way, I agree. I think GRRM is probably quite aware of it as well, and simply decided to ignore it for the sake keeping things relatively simple. Having a language barrier between the North and South would create a lot of issues story-wise. Though at the same time, it could have been quite interesting as well. We could assume that all, or most, of the nobility would probably have been bilingual, at least to an extent, and of course the Maester's would almost certainly have been fluent in both languages. It could have made for some interesting situations if people needed a Maester interpret, especially since they'd have to rely on that Maester's integrity to truthfully translate what was actually being said.

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I don´t know; maybe the First Men spoke a lot of different languages and dialects; if nobody could understand the guy from the next valley, Andal could become a common second language for merchants, sailors and nobles, and eventually replace the First Men languages (think of the celtic languages in europe).

It´s also possible that most of those First Men languages and dialects didn´t have an official grammar/written form, and people wrote the words as they wished, which would be a mess; if the Maesters of the Citadel gave a proper grammar to the Andal language, it could have quickly become the language of culture, and people who learned to read and write did all their writing only in andal (kind of like latin during the Middle Ages). A lot of the success of the spanish language comes from the fact that the scholar Antonio de Nebrija convinced queen Isabel of Castile to support his official grammar, which helped the spanish language to slowly replace latin as the language of culture.

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I don´t know; maybe the First Men spoke a lot of different languages and dialects; if nobody could understand the guy from the next valley, Andal could become a common second language for merchants, sailors and nobles, and eventually replace the First Men languages (think of the celtic languages in europe).

It´s also possible that most of those First Men languages and dialects didn´t have an official grammar/written form, and people wrote the words as they wished, which would be a mess; if the Maesters of the Citadel gave a proper grammar to the Andal language, it could have quickly become the language of culture, and people who learned to read and write did all their writing only in andal (kind of like latin during the Middle Ages). A lot of the success of the spanish language comes from the fact that the scholar Antonio de Nebrija convinced queen Isabel of Castile to support his official grammar, which helped the spanish language to slowly replace latin as the language of culture.

The First Men spoke the Old Tongue, which is currently still spoken by the Thenn's and the Giants.

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The First Men spoke the Old Tongue, which is currently still spoken by the Thenn's and the Giants.

But what if were there a thousand old tongues? Mance Rayder and Thormund aren´t scholars, antropologists or archeologists; they know the Thenn speak their own language, but the Thenn are a little group that have been isolated in a valley for centuries; their language can be just the last First Men dialect/language still in use, not the only one.

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But what if were there a thousand old tongues? Mance Rayder and Thormung aren´t scholars, antropologists or archeologists; they know the Thenn speak their own language, but the Thenn are a little group that have bee isolated in a valley for centuries; their language can be just the last First Men dialect/language still in use, not the only one.

The First Men were a relatively small group of people with a uniform culture that migrated to Westeros during the early Bronze Age. I am pretty confident that they spoke only one language when they arrived in Westeros. How this language changed into regional dialects over the 6000 years prior to the Andals arrival is anyone's guess.

However, it seem the Old Tongue names for things are pretty constant. Skagos means stone in the Old Tongue. Not just in the Thenn's dialect, but in the Old Tongue as referred to by the Maesters, who probaby don't even know about the existence of the Thenns.

Magnar means lord.

And so on.

I'm pretty sure that Martin didn't go into all that effort of thinking up regional dialects for the First Men. Instead, he simply imagined a single Old Tongue, with only a few remaining people still speaking it today.

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I think it is possible that the Andals had their own language apart from the Common Tongue. Middle English birthed when Old French, the language of the French lords brought by William the Conqueror, mixed with Old English, the language of the Saxon inhabitants. The Common Tongue of Westeros may be a hybridization between the language of the Andals and the Old Tongue of the First Men. I still agree that some isolated groups in the North, like the mountain clans, should probably still be speaking the Old Tongue.

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I really doubt the existence of a single old tongue to begin with. Take Latvia, for example: 64 thousand square kilometers, yet we spoke 5 or 6 different languages in 1200AD, despite mostly having a single origin, in central Europe, and being few in numbers. Westeros is hundreds of times the size.

Bear in mind, before railways most people never traveled beyond a few miles, or a few dozen miles if they're lucky, from their village/cave/shack/town/whatever.

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On the subject of languages, did anyone else find it strange that when you take the two phrases "Valar morghulis" and "Valar Dohaeris", valar on it's own means "all men must" but morghulis means "die" and dohaeris means "serve"? In terms of linguistics I'm not really aware of an equivalent.

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I really doubt the existence of a single old tongue to begin with. Take Latvia, for example: 64 thousand square kilometers, yet we spoke 5 or 6 different languages in 1200AD, despite mostly having a single origin, in central Europe, and being few in numbers. Westeros is hundreds of times the size.

Bear in mind, before railways most people never traveled beyond a few miles, or a few dozen miles if they're lucky, from their village/cave/shack/town/whatever.

The thing is, it's already quite clear that GRRM isn't trying to be realistic when it comes to languages. If he was, there'd be at least five or six different languages just in Westeros, and probably far more than that. I mean look at how many languages there are in Europe alone. So trying to apply real-life standards the languages of Westeros simply isn't going to work. And since we have no textual evidence supporting the idea that there were multiple Old Tongues, it probably just isn't the case.

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On the subject of languages, did anyone else find it strange that when you take the two phrases "Valar morghulis" and "Valar Dohaeris", valar on it's own means "all men must" but morghulis means "die" and dohaeris means "serve"? In terms of linguistics I'm not really aware of an equivalent.

If you analyze it like "all men" (valar)+"must die/serve" (morgulis/dohaeris), it's all fine. Some languages (like indian american) could incorparate "all" into a noun (as in: "val" man, "val+ar" all men). Some languages have a special mood called necessitative mood, which could be translated as "must, have to", so verbs morgulis and dohaeris are in necessitative mood. For example in Turkish: geliyor "he comes", gelmeli "he must come", geldi "he came", gelmelidi "he had to come".

So, all these can be easily explained, with examples from real languages, but that obviously doesn't mean that Martin thought it out that way.

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On the subject of languages, did anyone else find it strange that when you take the two phrases "Valar morghulis" and "Valar Dohaeris", valar on it's own means "all men must" but morghulis means "die" and dohaeris means "serve"? In terms of linguistics I'm not really aware of an equivalent.

I always took it to mean that valar refers to "mankind" in a way that doubles for ''all men'', and morghulis has hints of the "mortality" in it, kind of representing death.

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On the subject of languages, did anyone else find it strange that when you take the two phrases "Valar morghulis" and "Valar Dohaeris", valar on it's own means "all men must" but morghulis means "die" and dohaeris means "serve"? In terms of linguistics I'm not really aware of an equivalent.

I it's not that hard to explain. It's called "cases", in this case it's dative. You can say the same in Latin, I think.

You certainly can in Latvian - "Vīriem jāmirst".

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It has nothing to do with cases though. It's a "mood" thing, you just call Necessitive mood in Latvian Debitive mood (vajadzības izteiksme). I guess your "jamirst" means "it/she/he must die".

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Yes. I was talking about the first word though, not the second, which seems to be what the others didn't understand. The first one specifies who must die, and "jāmirst" means "must die". Really hard to explain in English, though, since we get taught grammar in Latvian.

Basically, the understanding of all this stuff comes naturally to those whose languages work the same way, but it's probably a load of gibberish to those whose do not.

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As i said in another topic Dotrakhi is smilar to Turkish. Arakh to Orak (same sound when you are telling) and khal to khan.

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