Los Angeles Times

Opinion newsletter: Why Dothraki in 'Game of Thrones' is an actual language

Good morning. I'm Paul Thornton, The Times' letters editor. Here's a look back at the week in Opinion – and not to worry, no "Game of Thrones" spoilers are contained herein.


Speaking of the HBO show's season finale Sunday, professional "conlanger" David J. Peterson took to The Times' op-ed page to explain that the Dothraki and other fictional languages in "Game of Thrones" are much more than vaguely medieval, exotic gibberish.

Peterson should know: He crafted the languages, and he describes what it was like to be the "lucky one who got to create those languages":

All languages operate according to rules regarding syllable and word formation. By looking at just about any word in a given language, you can deduce some of these.

If, for instance, a linguist stumbled across the word "star," she'd guess -- even without knowing English -- that there were other words with the same structure: two consonants followed by a vowel followed by another consonant. And in fact there are many English words with the same structure: spar, stat, trim, clip, prom, etc.

Looking at [author George R.R. Martin's] words, I noticed patterns.

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The law of supply and demand applies to housing, even in San Francisco. Jamelle Bouie says affordable housing advocates are all wrong when they try to pass construction moratoriums as a way to arrest increasing rents and evictions. A better solution, he says, would be to let landlords build the expensive units they want, which would boost tax revenue and funding for the construction of more affordable housing. L.A. Times

That's exactly the wrong way to address the affordable housing crisis, writes renters' advocate Larry Gross in a separate op-ed article. He says cities like Los Angeles are losing affordable rent-controlled units thanks to landlords' abuse of the Ellis Act, which allows owners to evict tenants and convert rentals into higher-priced properties. The way to stop this is to "preserve existing affordable housing." L.A. Times

L.A. has recently become fascinated with the wild carnivores wandering in nearby mountains, but two National Park Service scientists have been tracking the area's cougars for years. Patt Morrison talks P-22, P-41 and the ominous treks across freeway made by mountain lions with Seth Riley and Jeff Sikich. L.A. Times

Rich people use too much water. So do poor people, with their cheap, drought-unfriendly appliances. The governor, farmers, mountains, China and even water itself are all at fault for this drought, writes Joe Matthews. If you're looking for someone to blame too, throw a rock in the air and you'll hit someone guilty -- and if you need a rock, look for one in a dry river bed. Zocalo Public Square

The Times' editorial board calls out Democrats from trade-dependent California for their conspicuous silence on the Trans Pacific Partnership. It says "fast-track" authority on trade bills makes sense, and representatives from California should give President Obama their support. L.A. Times.

Swiftly, two California Democrats respond. Rep. Janice Hahn of San Pedro says favoring fast-track authority would remove her and her fellow lawmakers in Congress from the process of crafting a trade deal, and L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz warns of the TPP's effects on California's environmental protection laws. L.A. Times

Zala vasterat? That's Dothraki for "Want to talk?" If yes, specifically to share feedback on this newsletter, e-mail Paul.Thornton@latimes.com.


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