Game of Thrones language class coming to UC Berkeley

Game of ThronesThis summer, you can take a course on Game of Thrones at UC Berkeley. According to Entertainment Weekly, the university will have a six-week course inspired by the fictional languages of the epic drama.

The course is called “The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention.” The class will be taught by linguist David J. Peterson, who created the show’s Dothraki and High Valyrian languages.

Peterson has also invented languages for Syfy’s Defiance, MTV’s Shannara Chronicles, the CW’s The 100, and NBC’s Emerald City.

According to the university’s Berkeley News, the course

“will serve as a kind of framing device for the course so students can focus on the linguistic details of their creations, not the fictional side…

Rather than asking how a language works, Peterson’s students will be asked to put themselves in the mind of the speakers of a new language, “not trying to figure out how something works, but what problem the speakers were trying to solve, and how they did it, and why. It’s an entirely different lens through which to view language.”

Peterson also describes the course in more detail:

“In this case, students are going to be learning how to create a naturalistic language. These are languages that attempt as nearly as possible to replicate the quirks and idiosyncrasies of natural languages, those that have evolved naturally on Earth…It’s not going to focus on the creation of alien languages, or auxiliary languages, or parody languages, etcetera.”

This latest development is an example of the great impact Game of Thrones has made on popular culture. Thanks to the show, the fantasy genre has been becoming more exposed and more appreciated by the general public, and this class is a good sign that fantasy is no longer a niche field of interest but one that can be recognized and applied in academic fields of study. Fandom can be serious business sometimes.

Game of Thrones season seven will premiere on July 16 on HBO.