From The Languages of David J. Peterson
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High Valyrian


From zālare (burning) +‎ rīza (lizard).


(Classical) IPA(key): /zalˈdriːzes/


zaldrīzes (fourth declension solar, nominative plural zaldrīzesse)

  1. dragon
    Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor. (Phrasebook Entry)
    A dragon is not a slave.
    -Daenerys (Game of Thrones, Episode 304)
Singular Plural Paucal Collective
Nominative zaldrīzes zaldrīzesse zaldrīzin zaldrīzer
Accusative zaldrīzī zaldrīzī zaldrīzini zaldrīzeri
Genitive zaldrīzo zaldrīzoti zaldrīzino zaldrīzero
Dative zaldrīzot zaldrīzinte zaldrīzerte
Locative zaldrīzē zaldrīzinne zaldrīzerre
Instrumental zaldrīzose zaldrīzossi zaldrīzisse zaldrīzerze
Comitative zaldrīzome zaldrīzommi zaldrīzimme zaldrīzerme
Vocative zaldrīzys zaldrīzesses zaldrīzisse zaldrīzerze

Creation and Usage Notes

Rather famously, Daenerys uses the word drakarys (spelled "dracarys" in the books) to get her dragons to breathe fire. This word is translated as "dragonfire". I found it unfortunate that a word meaning "dragonfire" would have "drac-" in it—obviously related to the Ancient Greek root that gave us "dragon" in English and related words in the rest of the Indo-European languages. The reason I found it unfortunate is it seems like a rather wild coincidence that the word meaning "dragon" would look exactly like the word that means "dragon" in our world when our world has no connection to the world in the Song of Ice and Fire universe. It's either a one in a trillion coincidence or very lazy, and I didn't like that. As a result, I decided that drakarys would be a word for actual dragonfire, distinct from other words for "fire" like perzys. I based this idea off the existence of "wildfire" in the series. It's a type of fire that has very different physical properties from ordinary fired. I reasoned that dragonfire might represent a third distinct type of fire, so having a separate word for it didn't seem like a big deal.

That was my reasoning for having a new word for dragon unrelated in any way to the word drakarys. I do understand that some fans were upset by this. I accept the blame for it. I stand by my reasoning still, but I do understand. Perhaps if I'd ever had a discussion with George R. R. Martin on the subject I could've made my case and had him render his verdict, but this was between seasons 2 and 3, and his life was already quite different from what it had been before the series aired. While I had had discussions with him earlier, that was no longer going to be something I could count on.

As it happens, the word appears in one of the most famous—if not the most famous—conlang lines in the series, "A dragon is not a slave". As it happens, the syllabic structure of zaldrīzes really works well with the line: zal-DRĪ-zes buz-DA-ri IK-sos da-OR. I certainly don't regret it. I love the line, I love how it sounds, and even love the mistake Emilia Clarke made in pronouncing it.

Anyway, if you're still unhappy with zaldrīzes, I invite you to try to the line with another word—drakys or drakes or something. Maybe if they do a reboot some day and decide to hire someone to do a different High Valyrian language they can do something along those lines and we can see how the original holds up.

-David J. Peterson 03:44, 17 June 2020 (PDT)