David J. Peterson

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David J. Peterson
Peterson in June 2019
Born (1981-01-20) January 20, 1981 (age 43)[1]
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Writer, language creator
Known forLanguage creation for Game of Thrones, Defiance, Dune, and The 100
SpouseErin Peterson (divorced)[3][4] Jessie Peterson[5]

David Joshua Peterson (born January 20, 1981) is an American conlanger who has constructed languages for television series such as Game of Thrones[7] and The 100 and films such as Thor: The Dark World, Dune and Dune: Part Two.[8]


Peterson was born to a father of German descent and a mother of Mexican descent.[9] 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] He had his first contact with constructed languages while still at Berkeley, after attending an Esperanto class in 2000.[10] In 2007, he co-founded the Language Creation Society with nine other language creators[2] and served as its president (2011–2014).[11]

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.[12]

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]

In 2019, Peterson created a free High Valyrian course on the Duolingo website/app[15][16] and expanded the course in conjunction with the House of the Dragon series premiere in August 2022.[17]

In 2023, Peterson became engaged to and subsequently married fellow linguist and conlanger Jessie Peterson (née Sams).[18][19][5]



Year Title Language(s)
2011–2019 Game of Thrones
  • Dothraki (Lekh Dothraki), the language of the eponymous people.[20]
  • High Valyrian (Valyrio Udrir), a literary language once spoken in Valyria.[20]
  • Mag Nuk ("great tongue"), the language of giants. It was only used for one line.[23]
  • Skroth ("ice"), an unused language that was meant to be spoken by the White Walkers.[24]
  • Asshai, an unused language that was meant to be spoken by the Asshai'i.[25]
  • Lhazareen, an unused sister language of Dothraki that was meant to be spoken by the eponymous people.[26]
  • Gerna Mohr (or Gerna Moussha), an unused language that was meant to be spoken by the Children of the Forest.[26]
2013–2015 Defiance
  • Castithan (Kastíthanu), the language of the eponymous species. It has its own abugida called Fajizwalino.
  • Irathient (Thwelu l'Irathi), the language of the eponymous species. It has its own abugida called Izra.
  • Indojisnen, the language of Indogenes. It has its own syllabary called Hazugimari.
  • Kinuk'aaz ("our language"), the language of the Omec. It has its own alphabet called Zaduusel.
  • Yanga Kayang, an unused language that was meant to be the Liberata's.
2014 Star-Crossed Sondiv, the language of the Atrians. It has its own abjad called Kwandon.
2014–2015 Dominion Lishepus, a language invented by the angels to prevent humans from understanding them. It is based on Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afroasiatic roots. Peterson also translated a few lines into Akkadian for one episode.
2015–2020 The 100 Trigedasleng ("forest language") or Trig, the language of the Grounders. It is a descendant of a cryptolect based on American English.
2015 Penny Dreadful Verbis Diablo (or Verbis Diabolo), the language of witches and demons. Its vocabulary is based on Classical Arabic, Akkadian, Middle Egyptian, Attic Greek, Latin, Persian and Turkish.
2016–2017 The Shannara Chronicles Noalath ("great tongue"), the language of druids.
2017 Emerald City
  • Inha ("we"), the language of witches. It has four varieties (referencing the four countries of the Land of Oz), called Water Inha, Fire Inha, Wind Inha and Stone Inha.
  • Munja'kin, the language of the eponymous people.
2017 The Defenders Written Tibetan translation.
2018 Into the Badlands Azrán, a descendant of Mexican Spanish spoken in Azra.
2018 Iron Fist Written Tibetan translation.
2019, 2021 Another Life Achaian, Tala and Decuma, three asemic syllabaries. Peterson worked on this show with Claire Ng.
2019 The Witcher Hen Linge ("elder speech"), the language of elves and mages. It has its own alphabet called Hen Wökina.
2019 Euphoria Dothraki lines.
2020–2022 Motherland: Fort Salem Méníshè ("mother tongue"), the language of witches. A language derived from Méníshè and spoken by Camarilla members was also used for one line, and an ancient form of Méníshè appears in season 3. Peterson created all three languages with Jessie Peterson.
2020 Lovecraft Country Language of Adam. Peterson created a writing system for this show in collaboration with Claire Ng, but it was not used.
2021 Mr. Mayor Dothraki lines. Uncredited.
2021, 2023 Shadow and Bone
  • Old Ravkan, the ancestor of the current language of Ravka (which is rendered as English). It has its own alphabet.
  • Fjerdan, the language of Fjerda. Peterson created this language with Christian Thalmann.
  • Kerch, the abugida of Kerch. It doesn't have an associated conlang, instances of written Kerch are actually coded English texts.
  • Kerch sign language.
  • Zemeni, the language of Novyi Zem. Peterson created this language with Jessie Peterson.
  • Shu, the language of Shu Han. Peterson created this language with Jessie Peterson, and its writing system was created by Christian Thalmann.
2022 From Background dialogue lines for the creatures. Peterson worked on this show with Jessie Peterson, both are uncredited.
2022 Halo Sangheili, the language of the Covenant. Peterson created this language with Carl Buck.
2022 House of the Dragon High Valyrian (Valyrio Udrir) lines, as well as a new logoconsonantal script called Nekesse Valyrio for this language.
2022 Paper Girls Kezhwa, a creole language spoken by time travelers. It was only used for one line. Peterson created this language with Jessie Peterson, both are uncredited.
2022 Vampire Academy Aazh Naamori ("Language of the Moroi"), the language of vampires. It has its own abugida. Peterson created this language with Jessie Peterson.
2022 The Witcher: Blood Origin Hen Linge lines and texts.


Year Title Language(s) / Role
2013 Thor: The Dark World Shiväisith ("soft speech"), the language of the Dark Elves. It has its own alphabet called Todjydheenil, which was not used in the film, Peterson invented it after the film was released.
2016 Warcraft: The Beginning
  • Orcish, the language of orcs.
  • Draenei, the language of the eponymous species. It was only used for one line.
  • Common, an unused language that was meant to be the humans'.
2016 The Bad Batch Dialect coach.
2016 Doctor Strange Nelvayu, a demonic language the Zealots use for incantations.
2017 Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues Executive Producer.[14]
2017 Bright
  • Övüsi (Övüsi Kieru, "Elvish tongue"), the language of elves. It has its own abugida. An older version of Övüsi was also used for one line.
  • Bodzvokhan (Bodzvokhan Dǝzhn, "farmer's language"), the language of orcs. It has its own abjad called Vukht as well as a Cyrillic alphabet.
2018, 2020 Yulish, the language of Santa Claus and the Christmas elves.
2021 Raya and the Last Dragon Kumandran,[27] the language of Kumandra. It was only used for one line and a few untranslated words in English lines.
2021 The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Hen Linge lines and texts.
2021, 2024
2023 Elemental Firish (Tsʼítsʼàsh), the language of the fire elements. It has its own syllabary,[28] which was not used in the film. Peterson created this language with Jessie Peterson.[29][23]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Language(s)
2018 Arena of Valor
  • Veda, the language of the inhabitants of Veda. It has its own abjad called Welqor ("stack-mark").
  • Afata, a descendant of Veda spoken by the eponymous people. It has its own abugida called Thala ("vine").
  • Gandal ("impure language"), a descendant of Veda spoken by humans. It has its own alphabet called Shul ("pure").
  • G'vunna (Zudǝllǝ g’Vunnǝ, "language from the abyss"), a descendant of Veda spoken by Lokheim. It has its own alphabet called Oz ("blade").

The scripts were only made for promotional purposes, none of them were used in the game.


Year Title Language(s)
2019 Lampedusa (Eduardo Reck Miranda) Vōv ("love"), a language spoken on Ariel's island.


Year Title Language(s)
2021 WeCameToDance (Food Tank) Hanyana, a language spoken by aliens from the eponymous planet.[30]


Year Title Language(s)
2014, 2017
  • The Zaanics Deceit
  • The Zaanics Pursuit
Væyne Zaanics ("God's gift" or "God's curse"), a secret language invented by the Lyrs and the Severns. It has its own cipher alphabet called Yesuþoh. Peterson created this language with Nina Post.


  • 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.
  • —— (2020). Create Your Own Secret Language: Invent Codes, Ciphers, Hidden Messages, and More. Odd Dot. ISBN 978-1250222329.
  • 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 "About David J. Peterson". Dothraki.com. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. 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. ^ David J. Peterson (and Dr. Jessie Sams) talking about their divorces on YouTube
  5. ^ a b David J. Peterson [@athdavrazar] (October 29, 2023). "Today we hiked up to the Wisdom Tree (next to the Hollywood sign) and got married. It's now official: We are David and Jessie Peterson. :)". Retrieved October 30, 2023 – via Instagram.
  6. ^ "About". Art of Language Invention.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Elderkin, Beth (April 9, 2019). "Game of Thrones Language Builder David Peterson Is Working on Denis Villeneuve's Dune". io9. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  9. ^ @Dedalvs (August 12, 2017). "I was born in Long Beach, California. Mother's family is from Mexico, and as far as I know, my birth father's family emigrated from Germany" (Tweet) – via Twitter. [user-generated source]
  10. ^ "Interview with David J. Peterson". Conlangs Monthly. February 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  11. ^ "Minutes for LCS Board Meeting (3/5/2011)". Language Creation Society. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  12. ^ "Expert Creates Language for New HBO Series Game of Thrones" (Press release). Dothraki.com. April 12, 2010. Archived from the original on July 19, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 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. ^ Higgins-Dunn, Noah (April 14, 2019). "If you are a 'Game of Thrones' fan, this app will teach you how to speak in High Valyrian". CNBC.
  16. ^ Tapper, James (April 13, 2019). "Do you you speak High Valyrian? Duolingo launches Game of Thrones language app". The Guardian.
  17. ^ Negron, Frankie (July 21, 2022). "Duolingo Expands Its High Valyrian Course for GoT: House of the Dragon Debut". CBR.com.
  18. ^ "Imeimei". Tumblr. June 2023. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  19. ^ "Home - Jessie Sams". November 11, 2022. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  20. ^ a b Blake, Meredith (April 9, 2019). "How 'Game of Thrones' linguist David J. Peterson became Hollywood's go-to language guy". Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ "How do you create a real fake language?". lwlies.com. March 28, 2023. Retrieved April 19, 2024.
  22. ^ "House of the Dragon: How Was the Valyrian Language Created for the Show?". movieweb.com. September 28, 2022. Retrieved April 19, 2024.
  23. ^ a b Busch, Jenna (June 13, 2023). "Pixar's Elemental Recruited A Game Of Thrones Vet To Create A Brand-New Language". slashfilm.com. Retrieved April 19, 2024.
  24. ^ "Game Of Thrones' Failed Pilot Would've Actually Made White Walkers Better". screenrant.com. March 8, 2022. Retrieved April 19, 2024.
  25. ^ "David J. Peterson on creating languages for the White Walkers and the people of Asshai". winteriscoming.net. May 19, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2024.
  26. ^ a b Watel, Stephanie (June 13, 2023). "Game of Thrones' Linguistics Veteran Hired to Create Language For Pixar's Elemental". movieweb.com. Retrieved April 19, 2024.
  27. ^ Lee, Reta. "What we know about Raya And The Last Dragon so far". yahoo. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  28. ^ Peterson, David J. (June 16, 2023). "The Ts'íts'àsh (Firish) Language from Elemental".
  29. ^ Peterson, David J. (July 6, 2023). "Ts'íts'àsh Language from Elemental". Imeimei (David J. Peterson's Tumblr). Retrieved July 6, 2023 – via Tumblr. While this is my Tumblr (so I'll be answering asks, etc.), I didn't create the language by myself. Jessie Sams and I created the language together. [...] If you've sat through the credits of Elemental, you'll see that only I'm credited. That was, in a word, bullshit...who gets credited—or whether we get credited at all—is totally at the mercy of the studio. Even when it's written into our contract it sometimes doesn't happen [...] Anyway, in this case, it's really important to me that everyone knows this was a joint project of mine and Jessie's. It's our work, and we deserve equal credit.
  30. ^ "WeCameToDance". January 1, 2021. Retrieved November 6, 2023.

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