Poster 04/04: A Rahel Rao

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Constructed languages or conlangs are staples of the fantasy genre in literature. They contribute heavily to world building, unwittingly admitting language’s role in constructing reality by operating in this manner. Understanding the power structures language creates and upholds can then directly inform our understanding of conlangs and the sociolinguistic reasons behind conceptualising them the way conlangers have. This paper is concerned with connecting ideas of orientalism with conlangs and their construction, using the Game of Thrones television series, with its two central conlangs – Dothraki and High Valyrian, both created for the television adaptation. The paper will, therefore, begin with laying out the theoretical framework to understand the power of language and tie it into the study of conlangs before connecting this framework to Game of Thrones and understand how conlangs can reflect power structures. The goal through this close reading is to truly examine the role language plays not only in shaping our reality but also our biases. Investigating conlangs allows us to approach these questions from a different angle, since we can then look closely at how language not only shapes our biases, but how these biases reflect back into languages constructed by human beings.

Keywords: conlang, language, constructed language, Game of Thrones, Orientalism