Analysis English Language

Dothraki & The Nostratic Superfamily

McLean Ragnar “Mac” Ketchum holds a BA in Drama from San Francisco State University and an MA in Linguistics from San Diego State University. He is a former theater kid currently realizing his dreams of being a teacher. In addition to English, he is fluent(ish) in Spanish, slowly but surely learning Scottish Gaelic and Yiddish, can say a sentence or three in a handful of other natural languages, occasionally studies Old Norse for fun, and is still working on becoming proficient in Dothraki. He credits his love of and fascination with language to his parents, who read to him early and often from the time he was born (he can still recite parts of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” from memory).


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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