Dothraki & The Nostratic Superfamily

Charlotte Peak graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Drama from San Francisco State University and is currently finishing her MA in Linguistics from San Diego State University. She is a former theater kid with dreams of being a teacher or maybe a Viking. In addition to English, she is fluent in Spanish, can say a sentence or three in a handful of other natural languages, occasionally studies Old Norse for fun, and is working on becoming proficient in Dothraki. She credits her love of and fascination with language to her parents, who read to her early and often from the time she was born (she can still recite parts of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” from memory).

Abstract

The MA exams in San Diego State University’s Linguistics department are the non-thesis option; students must choose either to write a thesis or take exams in order to complete their degrees. The students choose their exam topics from a predetermined list, and then the professors writing the exam questions tailor them to the individual students. This piece is a response to an MA exam question broadly covering the topic of historical linguistics, specifically focused on Dothraki and how it would fit into the theoretical Nostratic Superfamily of languages were it a natural language. The task was to prove, in 2000-2500 words, that the Dothraki language would fit into the Nostratic Superfamily, using evidence garnered from phonology, the lexicon, and geography.

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