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 38)[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 language creator, writer, and artist,[5] who has constructed languages for television and movies such as Thor: The Dark World and Doctor Strange and 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) / Role
2011–2019 Game of Thrones Dothraki, a language spoken by the eponymous people. It lacks labial stops but has circumfixes, a distinction between alienable and inalienable possession and 5 grammatical cases, including a marked nominative for inanimate nouns only.

High Valyrian, a literary language once spoken in Valyria. It has 4 grammatical numbers, including a paucal and a collective, 8 grammatical cases, 4 noun classes, an Iroquois kinship system and voiceless sonorants.

Astapori Valyrian, a descendant of High Valyrian spoken in Astapor.

Meereenese Valyrian, a descendant of High Valyrian spoken in Meereen.

Mag Nuk, a descendant of the Old Tongue spoken by giants. It's an isolating, monosyllabic language. It was only used for one line.

Skroth, an unused language that was meant to be spoken by White Walkers. It has lateral fricatives.

Asshai'i, an unused language that was meant to be spoken by inhabitants of Asshai.

Gerna Moussha, an unused language that was meant to be spoken by the Children of the Forest.

2013–2015 Defiance Kastíthanu (or simply Castithan), a language spoken by Castithans. It is spoken very fast, is extensively pro-drop despite its lack of subject-verb agreement, has many honorifics, vigesimal numbers and its own very deep abugida called Fajizwalino.

L'Irathi (or simply Irathient), a language spoken by Irathients. It is spoken slowly and is a head-marking language with a verb-object-subject word order, vowel harmony, 18 noun classes, Afrihili-inspired plurals, vigesimal numbers and its own abugida called Izra.

Indojisnen, a polysynthetic language spoken by Indogenes. It uses septenary numbers and has its own featural syllabary, called Hazugimari.

Kinuk'aaz, a language spoken by Omec. It lacks palatal consonants but has ejective consonants, consonant mutation, internally-headed relative clauses and 11 classifiers, as well as its own alphabet called Zaduusel.

Yanga Kayang, an unused language that was meant to be spoken by the Liberata. It has 5 noun classes, only distinguishes two vowel qualities (though it has vowel reduction) and completely lacks roundedness, labial and coronal consonants.

2014 Star-Crossed Sondiv, a language spoken by Atrians. It has a nonconcatenative morphology, nasal vowels, a mostly object–verb–subject word order and its own abjad called Kwandon.
2014–2015 Dominion Lishepus, a language spoken by angels. It is based on Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afroasiatic roots and has pharyngeal consonants, a construct state and polypersonal agreement.
2015–2019 The 100 Trigedasleng, an isolating language spoken by Grounders. It is a descendant of an American English cryptolect and has developed clusivity.
2015 Penny Dreadful Verbis Diablo, a language spoken by witches and demons. Due to its supernatural nature, its grammar is unstable and its words change meaning randomly. Though intentionally heavily distorted (sometimes through phonetic reversal), its vocabulary is based on Classical Arabic, Akkadian, Middle Egyptian, Attic Greek, Latin, Farsi and Turkish. It has pharyngeal consonants and inflected prepositions.
2016–2017 The Shannara Chronicles Noalath, a language spoken by Druids. It has a verb-subject-object order, consonant mutation, reduplication, 5 noun classes and vowel reduction.
2017 Emerald City Inha, a language spoken by witches. It has a different variety for each of the four elements, though witches use the Earth variety when speaking to each other. It also has 24 grammatical cases, including an exessive and an aversive.

Munja'kin, a language spoken by the eponymous people. It has a switch-reference system and a verb-subject-object order.

2018 Into the Badlands Azrán, a language spoken in Azra. It is a descendant of Mexican Spanish and is a tonal language with polypersonal agreement.
2019 Another Life Achaian and Tala, two syllabaries.


Year Title Language(s) / Role
2013 Thor: The Dark World Shiväisith, a language spoken by Dark Elves. It has a Finnish-inspired vowel harmony system as well as consonant harmony, 15 grammatical cases, negative verbs, a hodiernal tense and its own script, an alphabet called Todjydheenil and inspired by runes.
2016 Warcraft: The Beginning Orcish, a language spoken by orcs. It's a head-marking language.

Draenei, a language spoken by the eponymous species. It was only used for one line.

2016 Doctor Strange Nelvayu, a language spoken by the Zealots for incantations. It has polypersonal agreement.
2017 Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues Executive Producer[14]
2017 Bright Övüsi, a language spoken by elves. It contrasts roundedness both in its front and back vowels and has 13 grammatical cases, including an aversive, as well as a potential mood and its own abugida.

Bodzvokhan, a language spoken by orcs. It has polypersonal agreement, vowel harmony, pharyngeal consonants, applicative and antipassive voices, and its own abjad called Vukht as well as a Cyrillic alphabet.

2018 The Christmas Chronicles Elvish, a language spoken by Christmas elves. It has vowel reduction and its main stress is associated with a dip in intonation.
2020 Dune Chakobsa, the Arabic-derived language of the Fremen, spoken on the desert planet Arrakis.[15]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Language(s) / Role
2018 Arena of Valor Veda, a language spoken by inhabitants of Veda. It is an isolating language that lacks phonemic vowels but has serial verb constructions and its own abjad.

Afata, a descendant of Veda spoken by the eponymous people. It has polypersonal agreement, consonant mutation, 18 grammatical cases including an apudessive, a superessive, a delative, an initiative, a perlative and an aversive, and its own abugida called Thala.

Gandal, a descendant of Veda spoken by humans. It has a nonpast tense, 4 noun classes, a tripartite declension system for inanimate nouns only, circumfixes, and its own alphabet called Shul.

G'vunna, a descendant of Veda spoken by Lokheim. It has polypersonal agreement, vowel harmony, 8 noun classes and its own alphabet called Oz.


  • 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.


  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. ^ 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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