How to Learn to Speak High Valyrian From ‘Game of Thrones’

How to Learn to Speak High Valyrian From ‘Game of Thrones’

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, I’m sure you’ve already watched the first episode of GOT prequel House of Dragons on HBO at least once, but if you want to inject your fandom even deeper into your consciousness, you can join over 700,000 other gigantic nerds and learn how to speak “High Valyrian” through the free DuoLingo app.

High Valyrian, the tongue of the old Valyrian Freehold located on the eastern continent of Essos in the GOT/HOD universe, is a constructed language developed by linguist David J. Peterson that has more than 2,000 words in its lexicon, and the same kinds of rules “real” languages have. “For English speakers, I might say it’s probably about as difficult to get into as Russian — with less idiomatic stuff to learn for the very, very specific reason that we don’t know a lot about the culture of those who spoke High Valyrian,” Peterson told Marketplace. “It is kind of still a secret that’s yet to come in the books.”

DuoLingo has been offering a course in High Valyrian since 2019, but the course is now taught in conjunction with HBO, and the new series means new words have been added to the lexicon. DuoLingo is offering two free months of DuoLingo Plus to HBO subscribers, and you can use the premium version to learn languages that are actually spoken on Earth, as well.

Yes, you can use DuoLingo to learn Klingon

DuoLingo is no stranger to fictional languages — it’s long offered a course in Klingon for folks who are into space adventure — and it’s also no stranger to trend-hopping. The language-learning platform has nearly 5 million subscribers to its TikTok feed of meme-worthy videos, and maintains a hub in video game Roblox that is “crammed full of experiences” designed to teach languages in a game-y way.

“We try and find moments in culture, where there are these cult audiences — these cohorts of people — who are hardcore fans about something,” James Kuczynski, creative director of brand and marketing at DuoLingo, told “What we do is really try and resonate with them because we feel like when we can inspire identification with them and our brand and what we do as an education language brand, they almost become ambassadors for us. That in and of itself is a piece of content we can share and go back and engage with that community.”

High Valyrian as a gateway language

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I love more than companies resonating with me to inspire identification with their brand! Sign me up for one ambassadorship, please! But seriously, according to DuoLingo, 43% of users who take Klingon or High Valyrian lessons also start learning another language through the app, and the company is working on content devoted to teaching endangered and indigenous languages, so it’s ultimately doing some good.

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