Have you ever gone on for years without realising you’ve been doing something completely wrong? Well, you’re about to. As we head into Game of Thrones season 8, it might be time to start re-evaluating how we address Daenerys, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, etc etc etc. That’s because, according to the guy who literally invented the Dothraki language (how do you get a job like that? Asking for a friend), we’ve been saying ‘Khaleesi’ wrong this entire time. Mind. Blown.
David Peterson, language expert and the all-round madman-stroke-genius who came up with the fictional Game of Thrones languages, took to the Allusionist podcast (H/T Digital Spy) to put our tongues in a twist and clear the air when it comes to the secret behind pronouncing Khaleesi.
Now, we all say it Ka-lee-see, right? Makes sense. I say it, you say it, everyone on the show says it, and your gran probably even says it like that at this point. As Peterson explains, though, we’re wrong. Dead wrong.
“There's no way it should be pronounced 'ka-lee-see' based on the spelling,” he says, crushing us in the process. “So, I had to decide am I going to re-spell this thing because I know how people are going to pronounce this, or am I going to honour that spelling and pronounce it differently? I made the latter decision and I think it was the wrong decision.”
As we’ve learned many, many times, never, ever trust the public. Peterson went with his gut and pronounces Khaleesi differently to everyone else (and according to the rules of the language) but our common tongue prevailed and, inevitably, butchered how it’s meant to be said. Sorry, Dave!
So, how are we supposed to say it? According to Peterson, it’s something along the lines of ‘Ha-lay-eh-see’, with the K being silent and a real throaty sound on the ‘ha’. You can listen to it at 19:05 on the podcast here.
That sounds cuh-uh-razy to me, and I’ve probably ruined the final six episodes of Game of Thrones for you, but now you’ve learned just a little bit more about Dothraki. What a productive day!