Names Aren’t Neutral: David J. Peterson on Creating a Fantasy Language

David J. Peterson received a BA in English and Linguistics from UC Berkeley in 2003 and an MA in Linguistics from UC San Diego in 2005. He created the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones, the Castithan, Irathient and Indojisnen languages for Syfy’s Defiance, the Sondiv language for the CW’s Star-Crossed, the Lishepus language for Syfy’s Dominion, the Trigedasleng language for the CW’s The 100, and the Shiväisith language for Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. He’s been creating languages since 2000.

Abstract

This essay, written originally for the defunct publication Unbound Worlds, is aimed at fantasy authors who aim to invest their fantasy worlds with linguistic verisimilitude. Peterson discusses best practices and pitfalls to avoid in this essay intended as an introduction to the art of language invention.

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