David J. Peterson

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David J. Peterson
David j peterson 2019 06 03.jpeg
Peterson in June 2019
Born (1981-01-20) January 20, 1981 (age 40)[1][non-primary source needed]
Alma mater
OccupationWriter, language creator
Known for
Spouse(s)Erin Peterson[3]
ChildrenMeridian Peterson [4]

David Joshua Peterson (born January 20, 1981) is an American conlanger, writer, and artist,[5] who has constructed languages for television and movies such as Thor: The Dark World and Doctor Strange as well as the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for the television series Game of Thrones.[6]


Studying at University of California, Berkeley (1999–2003), Peterson received BA degrees in English and in linguistics.[2] He received an MA in linguistics from University of California, San Diego (2003–2006).[2] According to an interview given to the publication Conlangs Monthly, he had his first contact with constructed languages while still at Berkeley, after attending an Esperanto class in 2000.[7] In 2007, he co-founded the Language Creation Society with nine other language creators[2] and served as its president (2011–2014).[8]

In 2009, the television network HBO needed a fictional language for the Game of Thrones television series and turned to the Language Creation Society for help. This resulted in a contest, which Peterson won.[9]

Peterson has created the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Castithan, Irathient, Indogene and Omec languages for the Syfy show Defiance; he has been creating languages since 2000.[2][10] He also created the language used by the Dark Elves in the movie Thor: The Dark World.[11] Peterson's recent projects include the creation of the Inha and Munja'kin languages for the NBC series Emerald City.[12]

Peterson has worked to popularize the activity of language creation, or "conlanging". He produced a number of videos on YouTube, in a series called The Art of Language Invention,[13] and published a book of the same title in 2015. Peterson also worked as an executive producer on the 2017 documentary film, Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues.[14]



Year Title Language(s)
2011–2019 Game of Thrones
2013–2015 Defiance
2014 Star-Crossed Sondiv, the mostly object–verb–subject language of the Atrians. It has a nonconcatenative morphology, broken plurals, nominal TAM (pronouns and object-marking affixes change depending on the verb's aspect), nasal vowels, a construct state and its own abjad called Kwandon.
2014–2015 Dominion Lishepus, a polypersonal verb–subject–object language invented by the angels to prevent humans from understanding them. It is based on Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afroasiatic roots and has pharyngeal consonants, inflected prepositions and a construct state.
2015–2020 The 100 Trigedasleng ("forest language") or Trig, a descendant of an American English cryptolect spoken by Grounders. It has become an isolating language and developed clusivity.
2015 Penny Dreadful Verbis Diablo, the language of witches and demons. Due to its supernatural nature, its grammar is unstable and its words change meaning randomly. Though intentionally heavily distorted (sometimes through anagrams or phonetic reversal), its vocabulary is based on Classical Arabic, Akkadian, Middle Egyptian, Attic Greek, Latin, Persian and Turkish. It has pharyngeal consonants and inflected prepositions. Its verbs agree with their objects but not their subjects.
2016–2017 The Shannara Chronicles Noalath, the verb-subject-object language of Druids. It has consonant mutation, reduplication, 5 noun classes, a singulative number for some nouns, circumfixes and vowel reduction.
2017 Emerald City
2018 Into the Badlands Azrán, a tonal, polypersonal descendant of Mexican Spanish spoken in Azra.
2019 Another Life Achaian and Tala, two asemic syllabaries.
2019 The Witcher Hen Linge ("elder speech"), the language of elves and mages. It has 5 noun classes, a negative verb and its own runiform alphabet.
2020 Motherland: Fort Salem Méníshè ("mother tongue"), the tonal language of witches. It has ejective consonants, 6 noun classes, evidentiality, reduplication and inflected postpositions. A language derived from Méníshè and spoken by Camarilla members was also used for one line. Peterson created both languages with Jessie Sams.
2020 Lovecraft Country Language of Adam.
2021 Shadow and Bone Fjerdan, Ravkan, Kerch (only as a writing system). Peterson created Fjerdan with Christian Thalmann.


Year Title Language(s) / Role
2013 Thor: The Dark World Shiväisith ("soft speech"), the language of the Dark Elves. It has a Finnish-inspired vowel harmony system as well as consonant harmony, 15 grammatical cases, a negative verb, a hodiernal tense and its own runiform alphabet called Todjydheenil.
2016 Warcraft: The Beginning
2016 Doctor Strange Nelvayu, a polypersonal language the Zealots use for incantations.
2017 Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues Executive Producer[14]
2017 Bright
2018, 2020 The Christmas Chronicles, The Christmas Chronicles 2 Yulish, the language of Santa Claus and the Christmas elves. It has a nonpast tense, its nouns inflect for definiteness and its main stress is associated with a dip in intonation.
2021 Raya and the Last Dragon Kumandran language [15]
2021 Dune TBA (most likely Chakobsa, the Arabic-derived language of the Fremen, spoken on the desert planet Arrakis.[16])

Video games[edit]

Year Title Language(s)
2018 Arena of Valor


Year Title Language(s)
2019 Lampedusa (Eduardo Reck Miranda) Vōv ("love"), a language spoken on Ariel's island. It has serial verb constructions and reduplication.


  • Johnston, Susan; Battis, Jes (2015). Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-9631-0.
  • Peterson, David J. (2014). Dothraki. Living Language. ISBN 978-0-8041-6086-5.
  • —— (2015). The Art of Language Invention. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-312646-1.
  • Post, Nina; Peterson, David J. (2014). The Zaanics Deceit (Cate Lyr) (Volume 1). Nina Post, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4954-6134-7.
  • Post, Nina; Peterson, David J. (2017). The Zaanics Pursuit (Cate Lyr) (Volume 2). Nina Post, LLC. ISBN 978-1-5376-4745-6.
Year Title Language(s)


The Zaanics Deceit, The Zaanics Pursuit Væyne Zaanics ("God's gift" or "God's curse"), a polypersonal language invented by the Lyrs and the Severns. It has 7 grammatical cases, 2 noun classes, circumfixes and its own alphabet called Yesuþoh, a cipher with a variety of allographs. Peterson created this language with Nina Post.


  1. ^ "David Joshua Peterson (born 1981)". California Birth Index.
  2. ^ a b c d e "About David J. Peterson". Dothraki.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  3. ^ David J. Peterson [@Dedalvs] (April 27, 2013). "David J. Peterson referring to his wife" (Tweet). Retrieved April 27, 2013 – via Twitter.
  4. ^ "About". Art of Language Invention.
  5. ^ "Dedalvs". Twitter.
  6. ^ "Creator of 'Game of Thrones' languages coming to Iowa State in February - News Service - Iowa State University". www.news.iastate.edu. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  7. ^ "Interview with David J. Peterson". Conlangs Monthly. February 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "Minutes for LCS Board Meeting (3/5/2011)". Language Creation Society. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  9. ^ "Expert Creates Language for New HBO Series Game of Thrones" (Press release). Dothraki.com. April 12, 2010. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  10. ^ Banks, Dave (August 25, 2010). "Interview: Creating Language for HBO's Game Of Thrones". Wired. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  11. ^ "Thor: The Dark World credits". The New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  12. ^ "Creating the languages of Tarsem's fantastical new 'Emerald City'". Screener. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  13. ^ David J. Peterson's channel on YouTube
  14. ^ a b "Conlanging, The Film About". Retrieved August 28, 2017. David J. Peterson EXECUTIVE PRODUCER David began work on his first language in 2000 and has been creating languages ever since. He's worked as a language creator on HBO's Game of Thrones, Syfy's Defiance and Dominion, the CW's Star-Crossed and The 100, plus Marvel's Thor: The Dark World. He’s also the author of two books: Living Language Dothraki (2014) and The Art of Language Invention (2015).
  15. ^ Lee, Reta. "What we know about Raya And The Last Dragon so far". yahoo. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  16. ^ Elderkin, Beth. "Game of Thrones Language Builder David Peterson Is Working on Denis Villeneuve's Dune". io9. Retrieved May 7, 2019.

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