The opening scene of the “Game of Thrones” pilot introduces viewers to the mysterious and dangerous White Walkers, supernatural beings that have become increasingly integral to the series’ plot. Originally their entrance would have been a bit less scary, though.
David Peterson, the language consultant who developed Dothraki and Valyrian for the show, also created a spoken language for White Walkers that the showrunners intended to include in the pilot. It’s called Skroth, and probably won’t end up being used even if White Walkers do one day speak.
“It was actually going to be for the very first scene of the show where the White Walker comes and cuts that guy’s head off. There are parts where you hear them kind of grumble and vocalize; it was going to be for that,” Peterson explains to Zap2it at San Diego Comic-Con. “I think ultimately they decided they didn’t want them actually saying stuff and even subtitle it. That might have been a little corny, honestly, for the opening scene of the show.”
Skroth sounded “pretty scratchy,” Peterson explains, because he used audio modification to “give it a particular sound.” As “Game of Thrones” reveals more and more about the White Walkers and their culture, there’s always the chance characters like the Night’s King could speak. Peterson expects he’ll start over if that happens.
“It’s an open question if there’s going to come a point where they actually have a dialogue,” he says. “Because they didn’t get used, I don’t know if I would still use it. I think it would be an open conversation. There is stuff there that could be built on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they wanted to do something entirely new, and that would be fine.”
Even though the White Walkers won’t be speaking in Season 6, Peterson is already hard at work translating Dothraki dialogue for the upcoming season. The end of Season 5 saw Daenerys Targaryen surrounded by a Dothraki khalasar, marking the return of a culture that was last seen in Season 2. That’s a secret Peterson kept for almost a year, as he’ll be keeping Season 6 script secrets for about that length of time now.
“I probably got the first scripts around this time last year, just like now I’m getting the first scripts for Season 6,” he says. “I actually knew before that that the Dothraki were coming back, because I had corresponded with George R.R. Martin about his book. He had mentioned that they were coming back, so I thought, ‘Well, if they’re coming back in the book then they’re probably coming back in the show sometime.'”
Even though he has the scripts early, Peterson claims to have no intel on whether Jon Snow stays dead or not. “I have seen some stuff for Season 6; nothing that involves that area. I definitely don’t know, so I can still guess,” he says. “It wouldn’t surprise me either way.”
Peterson is the author of “Living Language Dothraki. His new book, “The Art of Language Invention,” hits store shelves on Sept. 29.