David J. Peterson

David Joshua Peterson (born January 20, 1981) is an American conlanger who has constructed languages for television series such as Game of Thrones[6] and The 100 and movies such as Thor: The Dark World and Dune.[7]

David J. Peterson
David j peterson 2019 06 03.jpeg
Peterson in June 2019
Born (1981-01-20) January 20, 1981 (age 42)[1]
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Writer, language creator
Known forLanguage creation for Game of Thrones, Defiance, Dune and The 100
SpouseErin Peterson (divorced)[3][4]


Peterson was born to a father of German descent and a mother of Mexican descent. [8] Studying at University of California, Berkeley (1999–2003), Peterson received BA degrees in English and in linguistics.[2] He received an MA in linguistics from University of California, San Diego (2003–2006).[2] He had his first contact with constructed languages while still at Berkeley, after attending an Esperanto class in 2000.[9] In 2007, he co-founded the Language Creation Society with nine other language creators[2] and served as its president (2011–2014).[10]

In 2009, the television network HBO needed a fictional language for the Game of Thrones television series and turned to the Language Creation Society for help. This resulted in a contest, which Peterson won.[11]

He produced a number of videos on YouTube, in a series called The Art of Language Invention,[12] and published a book of the same title in 2015. Peterson also worked as an executive producer on the 2017 documentary film, Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues.[13]

In 2019, Peterson created a free High Valyrian course on the Duolingo website/app[14][15] and expanded the course in conjunction with the House of the Dragon series premiere in August 2022.[16]



Year Title Language(s)
2011–2019 Game of Thrones
2013–2015 Defiance
2014 Star-Crossed Sondiv, the mostly object–verb–subject language of the Atrians. It has a nonconcatenative morphology, broken plurals, nominal TAM (pronouns and object-marking affixes change depending on the verb's aspect), nasal vowels, a construct state, a negative verb and its own abjad called Kwandon.
2014–2015 Dominion Lishepus, a polypersonal verb–subject–object language invented by the angels to prevent humans from understanding them. It is based on Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afroasiatic roots and has pharyngeal consonants, inflected prepositions and a construct state.
2015–2020 The 100 Trigedasleng ("forest language") or Trig, a descendant of an American English cryptolect spoken by Grounders. It has become an isolating language and developed clusivity.
2015 Penny Dreadful Verbis Diablo, the language of witches and demons. Due to its supernatural nature, its grammar is unstable and its words change meaning randomly. Though intentionally heavily distorted (sometimes through anagrams or phonetic reversal), its vocabulary is based on Classical Arabic, Akkadian, Middle Egyptian, Attic Greek, Latin, Persian and Turkish. It has pharyngeal consonants and inflected prepositions.
2016–2017 The Shannara Chronicles Noalath, the verb-subject-object language of Druids. It has consonant mutation, reduplication, 5 noun classes, a singulative number for some nouns, circumfixes and vowel reduction.
2017 Emerald City
2018 Into the Badlands Azrán, a tonal, polypersonal descendant of Mexican Spanish spoken in Azra.
2019, 2021 Another Life Achaian, Tala and Decuma, three asemic syllabaries.
2019 The Witcher Hen Linge ("elder speech"), the language of elves and mages. It has 5 noun classes, a negative verb and its own very deep runiform alphabet called Hen Wökina.
2019 Euphoria Dothraki lines.
2020–2022 Motherland: Fort Salem Méníshè ("mother tongue"), the tonal, polypersonal language of witches. It has ejective consonants, 6 noun classes, evidentiality, reduplication and inflected postpositions. A language derived from Méníshè and spoken by Camarilla members was also used for one line, and an ancient form of Méníshè appears in season 3. Peterson created all three languages with Jessie Sams.
2020 Lovecraft Country Language of Adam.
2021, 2023 Shadow and Bone

Shu, the language of Shu Han, was created by Jessie Sams, and its writing system was created by Christian Thalmann.

2022 Halo Sangheili, the ergative language of the Covenant. It has ejective and velarized consonants, reduplication, clusivity and instrumental prefixes akin to the ones found in the Siouan or Uto-Aztecan languages. Peterson created this language with Carl Buck.
2022 House of the Dragon High Valyrian (Valyrio Udrir) lines, as well as a new logoconsonantal script for this language.
2022 Paper Girls Kezhwa, a creole language spoken by time travelers. It has a nonpresent tense and was only used for 6 seconds. Peterson created this language with Jessie Sams.
2022 Vampire Academy Aazh Naamori ("Language of the Moroi"), the language of vampires. It has nasal vowels and its own abugida. Peterson created this language with Jessie Sams.
2022 The Witcher: Blood Origin Hen Linge lines and texts.


Year Title Language(s) / Role
2013 Thor: The Dark World Shiväisith ("soft speech"), the language of the Dark Elves. It has a Finnish-inspired vowel harmony system as well as consonant harmony, 15 grammatical cases, a negative verb, a hodiernal tense and its own runiform alphabet called Todjydheenil.
2016 Warcraft: The Beginning
2016 Doctor Strange Nelvayu, a polypersonal language the Zealots use for incantations.
2017 Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues Executive Producer.[13]
2017 Bright
2018, 2020 Yulish, the language of Santa Claus and the Christmas elves. It has a nonpast tense, its nouns inflect for definiteness and its main stress is associated with a dip in intonation.
2021 Raya and the Last Dragon Kumandran,[18] the language of Kumandra. It was only used for one line and a few untranslated words in English lines.
2021 Dune

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Language(s)
2018 Arena of Valor


Year Title Language(s)
2019 Lampedusa (Eduardo Reck Miranda) Vōv ("love"), a language spoken on Ariel's island. It has serial verb constructions, a negative verb and reduplication.


Year Title Language(s)
2014, 2017
  • The Zaanics Deceit
  • The Zaanics Pursuit
Væyne Zaanics ("God's gift" or "God's curse"), a polypersonal language invented by the Lyrs and the Severns. It has 7 grammatical cases, 2 noun classes, circumfixes and its own alphabet called Yesuþoh, a cipher with a variety of allographs. Peterson created this language with Nina Post.


  • Johnston, Susan; Battis, Jes (2015). Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-9631-0.
  • Peterson, David J. (2014). Dothraki. Living Language. ISBN 978-0-8041-6086-5.
  • —— (2015). The Art of Language Invention. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-312646-1.
  • —— (2020). Create Your Own Secret Language: Invent Codes, Ciphers, Hidden Messages, and More. Odd Dot. ISBN 978-1250222329.
  • Post, Nina; Peterson, David J. (2014). The Zaanics Deceit (Cate Lyr) (Volume 1). Nina Post, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4954-6134-7.
  • Post, Nina; Peterson, David J. (2017). The Zaanics Pursuit (Cate Lyr) (Volume 2). Nina Post, LLC. ISBN 978-1-5376-4745-6.


  1. ^ "David Joshua Peterson (born 1981)". California Birth Index.
  2. ^ a b c d "About David J. Peterson". Dothraki.com. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  3. ^ David J. Peterson [@Dedalvs] (April 27, 2013). "David J. Peterson referring to his wife" (Tweet). Retrieved April 27, 2013 – via Twitter.
  4. ^ David J. Peterson (and Dr. Jessie Sams) talking about their divorces on YouTube
  5. ^ "About". Art of Language Invention.
  6. ^ "Creator of 'Game of Thrones' languages coming to Iowa State in February - News Service - Iowa State University". www.news.iastate.edu. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Elderkin, Beth (April 9, 2019). "Game of Thrones Language Builder David Peterson Is Working on Denis Villeneuve's Dune". io9. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  8. ^ https://twitter.com/Dedalvs/status/896345462210539520[bare URL]
  9. ^ "Interview with David J. Peterson". Conlangs Monthly. February 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  10. ^ "Minutes for LCS Board Meeting (3/5/2011)". Language Creation Society. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  11. ^ "Expert Creates Language for New HBO Series Game of Thrones" (Press release). Dothraki.com. April 12, 2010. Archived from the original on July 19, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  12. ^ David J. Peterson's channel on YouTube
  13. ^ a b "Conlanging, The Film About". Retrieved August 28, 2017. David J. Peterson EXECUTIVE PRODUCER David began work on his first language in 2000 and has been creating languages ever since. He's worked as a language creator on HBO's Game of Thrones, Syfy's Defiance and Dominion, the CW's Star-Crossed and The 100, plus Marvel's Thor: The Dark World. He's also the author of two books: Living Language Dothraki (2014) and The Art of Language Invention (2015).
  14. ^ Higgins-Dunn, Noah (April 14, 2019). "If you are a 'Game of Thrones' fan, this app will teach you how to speak in High Valyrian". CNBC.
  15. ^ Tapper, James (April 13, 2019). "Do you you speak High Valyrian? Duolingo launches Game of Thrones language app". The Guardian.
  16. ^ Negron, Frankie (July 21, 2022). "Duolingo Expands Its High Valyrian Course for GoT: House of the Dragon Debut". CBR.com.
  17. ^ "Dothraki on The Office". Dothraki.com.
  18. ^ Lee, Reta. "What we know about Raya And The Last Dragon so far". yahoo. Retrieved February 21, 2021.

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