Translation:All men must die.
Is this a reference to something in Game of Thrones? I haven't actually watched/read it, I'm just doing this course out of curiosity.
Yes, it is a common greeting in the city of Braavos. The expected response is "Valar Dohaeris" (All men must serve).
The TV show is awesome, and the books are even better. You should read them or watch it, both are worth it.
Thank you very much. I was trying to separate and I was completely confused. English is not my native language, so I had some trouble understanding.
It's not the subjunctive, it's the aorist. The course does not yet cover that topic.
The aorist indicates a general truth as opposed to something that's happening right now. So if we switch the aorist valar morghūlis "all men die" to the present valar morghūljas it now means "all men are dying."
If I understood it correctly, it's "Men die", "all" is implicit as well. Am I right?
No, valar is a declension of vala. Valar means "all men" and is not implicit. The all is is declared in the declension itself. Correct me if I'm wrong!
I would like to add some vocabulary and examples sentences from the Wiki:
adj. II (High Valyrian Adjectives) dead
Ionos Sōnaro morghe iksos daor. — Jon Snow isn't dead.
n. 3ter. (High Valyrian Noun Declensions) death
Morghot nēdyssy sesīr zūgusy azantys vestras. — The knight says that even the brave men fear death.
morghūlilare [moɾɣuːli'lare] -ior
adj. II mortal (future participle of morghūljagon.)
Here is the infinitive form of the verb: morghūljagon
v. C-fin. (High Valyrian Verb Tables) to die ( morghe + -ūljagon.)
of fire to burn out
Zȳhi perzi stepagon Āeksio Ōño jorepi, se morghūltas lī qēlītsos sikagon. — We beg the Lord to share his fire, and light a candle that has gone out.
Valar morghūlis All men must die, a common greeting.
From Dothraki Wiki: https://wiki.dothraki.org/High_Valyrian_Vocabulary
I'm a bit confused on the pronunciation for this. In the show and audio samples I can find, the gh in morghulis is clearly pronounced as a regular hard G. However the pronunciation guide points to a different sound ([ɣ] or [ʁ]), so which is it?
The official pronunciation is fricative, similar to German 'r'. However, the actors of the TV show often can't handle the phonetics, and pronounce as one would in English. The same happens e.g. with the 'kh' in Khaleesi, which is often pronounced as a hard /k/ in the show.
I just pretend that Westerosi can't speak proper HV and mangle it :)
But none of the Westerosi are supposed to be native speakers anyway, right? So it would make sense if they have accents.
The language is something of a fossil, but Daenerys is supposed to be a native speaker. Beyond that, this particular change (from /ɣ/ to /g/) would be quite unusual as a natural development or accent; the only normal way for that mistake to happen is for someone to misread the writing system, as we're doing here, but most non-noble Westerosi are illiterate anyway, and it's unclear how the (non-specified) Valyrian writing would lead someone like Tyrion to misread it. I once asked the author on his blog whether I could think of "gh" = /g/ as a Westerosi accent, and he specifically told me "no"; so that's just my pesonal head-canon :)
To make matters worse, the show also mangles the pronunciation of other languages, including Dothraki and the various Low Valyrian languages, which have plenty of native speakers. For example, several of the Dothraki say "Khaleesi" with a hard /k/ and an /i:/ sound as in "beet".
At the end of the day we just have to accept that Peterson, the creator of the languages, wasn't hired to personally oversee the coaching of the actors, and we should take it in stride. They've still paid a proper linguist to develop several fully-featured languages, which is already infinitely better than the large majority of fantasy movies or series.
Well, spanish mixes the sonorant fricative and the hard g, so it is not unattested.
Yup, you're right. But, the natural change goes the other way: from original Latin /g/ to a relaxed /ɣ/, not the other way around (similar things would be /g/ → /ɣ/ in Old Norse→Icelandic, or Indo-European /p/, as reflected in Spanish padre, pie, pez→ Germanic /f/, as in English father, foot, fish, or Old Japanese /p/ → /f/ → /h/, and many others).
The opposite change (fortition) isn't impossible; it occurs sometimes, especially if there's something to make the pronunciation "stronger", like preceding nasals or emphasis. But I find it hard to imagine it becoming a widespread, fully complete development among illiterate non-speakers of Valyrian. If anything I'd expect /ɣ/ to be mistook by an even softer /h/ or similar.
Well, in defence of the show's internal logic (and real world abilities of the actors aside), from memory, Daenerys doesn't actually say she's a native speaker, she says it's her "mother tongue".
The concept of "mother tongue" varies in different parts of the world - I know a few people from parts of India or Africa, who when asked will tell you their "mother tongue" is Igbo or Telugu or whichever, but actually grew up speaking English mainly, and speak English better than the mother tongues. Furthermore, they may even speak their "mother tongue" with an English accent or other interference from English. Or as another possibility - if she's grown up speaking Westerosi Common with her retainers and her brother, her HV could be quite influenced that way - compare for example of e.g. children of German immigrant parents in the US speaking heavily anglicised German, even if they still speak it at home and it technically remains their native language.
I kind of got the impression that this was the case for Daenerys.
DJP does have in mind that the various regions of Westeros pronounce HV differently, just as different regions of Medieval Europe did with Latin. Braavosi seems to pronounce /ɣ/ as [g] (though that did initially come from Thomas Wlaschiha's pronunciation) and medial /h/ as [ʔ].
Oh, did he accept [g] as an in-world variation in the end? When I asked him he rejected the idea…
I'm ultimately referring to this quote:
Anyway, now that that’s dispensed with, we’ve gotten our first look at some actual High Valyrian in the show! It’s nothing that wasn’t in the books, but I think many were curious how the phrase would end up being pronounced. In IPA (transcribing broadly), what we had was /ˈva.lar mor.ˈgu.lis/ for the phrase written Valar morghulis. I know there are those who would’ve preferred that the gh be pronounced as a voiced velar fricative, but for me, that doesn’t matter much at all (after all, this is High Valyrian as pronounced by someone from Braavos. A change like *ɣ g isn’t impossible): what mattered to me was the intonation. And, as it happens, the stress pattern is exactly what I was hoping for—and no English long “a” to boot! (Which, by the way, is how it’s pronounced in the audio book—something like “veil-are”, done in English fauxnetics.) All in all, I was quite pleased.
If you want to learn the intended pronunciation, it's best to disregard the show, I'm afraid.
I'm confused, if "vala" means man and "vali" means men, then where the "Valar" came from?
Valar is the collective, one of four numbers in HV - singular, plural, paucal and collective, and is interpreted here as "all men"
I love how this is the only new sentence that isn't in orange! Like they expect you to know what it means and while most GoT fans do, it still amuses.