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‘Khaleesi’ Of ‘Game Of Thrones’ Has Been Mispronounced For Eight Whole Years
By Mikelle Leow, 25 Mar 2019
Image via HBO
With the eighth and final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones a-coming, one of the creative forces of the series has dropped a bombshell that could leave even the most knowledgeable of fans aghast: you’ve likely been pronouncing ‘Khaleesi’ wrong.
The piece of news comes from David Peterson, the very creator of all the languages in the television series. The linguist recently divulged in a podcast called The Allusionist—where he touched on his task of developing a language from George R.R. Martin’s books—that ‘Khaleesi’ isn’t actually pronounced “ka-LEE-see.”
“I wanted to make sure if something was spelled differently, it was pronounced differently,” Peterson said. The method seemed to work for everything except the ‘Dothraki’ term ‘Khaleesi’, which roughly translates to “queen.”
“There’s no way it should be pronounced ‘ka-LEE-see’ based on the spelling,” Peterson said. “So I had to decide, am I going to respell this thing because I know how people are going to pronounce this, or am I going to honor that spelling and pronounce it differently?”
Ultimately, the linguist stuck with the same spelling, despite deducing it would have a different pronunciation, “and I think it was the wrong decision.”
The real way to enunciate the word, should Martin’s spellings be heeded, “gives us the pronunciation, ‘CHA-LAY-eh-see,’” Peterson said.
He added that the decision to retain the spelling of ‘Khaleesi’ has been “a real thorn” in his side, having to hear people mispronounce the word for the past seven seasons.
It could have been prevented if he had changed it to ‘Khalisi’, the linguist added. “‘EE’ and ‘I’ can’t be pronounced the same because they’re spelled differently,” making it more obvious that the term is to be read as, “CHA-LAY-eh-see.”
The eighth season of Game of Thrones premieres on 14 April 2019. You can listen to the full 30-minute podcast between Peterson and host Helen Zaltzman below.
[via Digital Spy, cover image via HBO]
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