"The soldier played the game with a slave."

Translation:Mentys tymptir dohaeriroso tymptas.

August 10, 2020

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I still have not understood when to use 'buzdaris' and when to use 'dohaeriros'.


Rytsas! While I'm not sure if it's practically useful, I can try to explain the context between the use of buzdari vs dohaeriros.

In Game of Thrones, buzdari is not a proper High Valyrian word. It's a word of Ghiscari origin that's part of Astaporian Valyrian. That's the language spoken in Astapor when Daenerys visits during season 3. Astaporian Valyrian is descended from High Valyrian but with a substantial Ghiscari influence in terms of vocabulary. Per David Peterson:

In these cities in Slaver’s Bay, everyone would have spoken Ghiscari, during the ancient wars. When Old Ghis fell, though, a Valyrian ruling class would have had to have been installed, and High Valyrian would have replaced Ghiscari by fiat, and also in practice. When this happens, it generally takes three generations for a language to be lost in a single family. In five or six generations, the Ghiscari language could have been stamped out, if that was a goal of the Valyrians (and it was, I think it’s safe to assume). The old language, though, would have survived in local vocabulary (why lose a word for something that the new language doesn’t even have a word for anyway?), and in the vocabulary of those who weren’t taught the new language explicitly. The result ends up being a Valyrian language grammatically, but with a lot of Ghiscari vocabulary.

Now, all this time, High Valyrian could have been maintained. With the presence of a home base in Valyria and a Valyrian upper class, there would always be motivation to maintain the original language. It seems likely that Valyrians would care about maintaining the language so they could communicate with every part of their vast Freehold. So even as new languages are emerging amongst the lower classes in Slaver’s Bay, High Valyrian would carry on.

While High Valyrian is Daenerys's mother tongue, it is not apparently the preferred language of the Masters. Though once a broadly spoken language, it's no longer in vernacular usage.

And High Valyrian is still spoken in Astapor. I think a better analogy is the fusHaa and ‘amiiya of Arabic rather than Latin and the Romance languages. People still “speak” Quranic Arabic, but only if they have to. Everyone learns it in school. Everyone will hear it in formal situations. But it’s not the language that anyone speaks. I’m not sure if this will make sense, but it still works very efficiently in the Middle East. You can get by with al-fusHaa. People will think you sound strange, but they’ll understand it.

In one scene from season 3 of GoT, Daenerys uses the word to say Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor "A dragon is not a slave." In doing so, she reveals that she has been feigning an ignorance of the Astaporians' speech. Though Missandei has been interpreting for her (and omitting the snide denigrations aimed at Daenerys), Daenerys has understood all of their conversation and allowed everyone to underestimate her. David Peterson explained his choice in an interview:

The Low Valyrian that the slavers speak takes a lion's share of its vocabulary from High Valyrian, but most of the terms regarding the slave trade have been taken from Ghiscari. The word for "slave" in High Valyrian – which Daenerys would know –doesn't look anything like the word for "slave" in Low Valyrian, and I did this on purpose to kind of distinguish the two. Back in Season 3, Daenerys she uses Low Valyrian word – "buzdari" – when speaking to the slaves: “Zaldrizes buzdari iksos daor,” a dragon is not a slave. It makes her point more forceful and makes sure that they absolutely understand what she's saying.

A speaker of traditional High Valyrian, from when the language was in common usage, would use dohaeriros, a word that means "someone who serves habitually". As far as I understand, it's used both as "slave" and "servant" - perhaps the Valyrians didn't see a need for that distinction. Your typical Valyry during the reign of Valyria presumably wouldn't recognize the word buzdari, and it's still not the natural choice for modern-day Daenerys.

But as a viewer of Game of Thrones, there's a thrill in being able to quote Daenerys Targaryen in one of her best scenes, so of course the word has to be in the course. It also offers us a useful glimpse into how High Valyrian incorporates words of foreign origin.

If your goal is to speak High Valyrian correctly, I suspect you should always feel free to say dohaeriros instead of buzdari - except, of course, when saying "A dragon is not a slave." Some fidelity to drama is deserved. As to what Duolingo accepts, I don't perfectly remember. I believe dohaeriros is first encountered in the Comitative lesson, so I'd expect it to be accepted any time from that point on. Personally, I tend to use buzdari for "slave" and dohaeriros for "servant," but also swap it around sometimes to see what's accepted.


Many thanks for the detailed answer. I was aware of David's comments on this matter. Therefore I was surprised that here in the course 'buzdari' seems to be the standard translation. By the way, I think that "dohaeriros" (someone who serves habitually) is an interesting euphemism.

I also never understood why Daenerys says the same sentence to Jon in season 7 episode 7 "The Dragon and the Wolf": "Zaldrizes buzdari iksos daor". Which doesn't make any sense at this point. Why does she speak Valyrian to him and above all, why does she use the Lower Valyrian word? But that only in passing.

Thank you again for your explanations.


I'm glad you enjoyed my answer. While, alas, I am only up to season 6, my completely uninformed speculation would be that the line is the same for the benefit of fans - who might recognize the familiar line from having heard it in season 3, but would be confused hearing dohaeriros.


I think "buzdari" is a loan word that means "slave" exclusively, while "dohaeriros" originally meant "servant", with a shift in meaning once the Valyrians adopted slavery and servants became synonymous with slaves.

So which one you use in part depends on which aspect you want to highlight and which situation you're in. If you want to highlight that the person in question is being owned by another, you'll go with "buzdari", if you just talk about a servant (who might or might not be a slave" and want to highlight the serving aspect, you use that word.

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