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From the posts here, I am able to understand that Daenerys orders Drogon in the High Valyrian language, when she says Dracarys.

The names of the three Dragons are Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal. Dracarys is High Valyrian for Dragonfire. Daenerys says 'Dracarys' to Drogon to encourage him to breathe fire. So when she said 'Dracarys' in that episode, she was commanding Drogon to burn the slaver.

So, I was curious about how many languages do Daenerys's dragons understand?

Some more languages which they might, are Dothraki and English as Daenerys seem to use them the most throughout the show.

So, are there any examples from the show which show the dragons being talked to, or reacting to some other language apart from High Valyrian?

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    She trains her dragons early on (IIRC as soon as they begin to breathe fire), and comes up with Dracarys as a command, in High Valyrian so that can't be accidentally uttered. Can't recall if it's clear in the show though. – Mathieu Guindon Aug 14 '17 at 11:49
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    Just a side note regarding the languages she seems to use the most in the show: Just because someone is speaking English doesn't mean that is actually what they are speaking. From what I can tell everyone is shown speaking English if they are speaking to other native speakers of their language. It is when speakers of other languages are present that you hear foreign languages spoken. – LoganGoesPlaces Aug 14 '17 at 19:03
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    @LoganGoesPlaces correct - Westerosi actually speak the Westerosi Common Tongue, whatever that is. It sounding like (/being) English is for out-of-universe reader/watcher's convenience. – Mathieu Guindon Aug 14 '17 at 19:38
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    @LoganGoesPlaces That's not always the case (the conversation between the Unsullied in Casterly Rock is a recent example). Nevertheless you're of course correct regarding the fact that Westerosi is not English. – Chanandler Bong Aug 14 '17 at 21:38
  • @LoganGoesPlaces Can you name some examples? I've never noticed that. – xehpuk Aug 15 '17 at 18:58
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Hope I do not chop this up too badly.

Daenerys's Dragons understand one language, High Valyrian. She chose the language to prevent the more common tongues accidentally commanding her dragons as it is explained by the writer and producers. Using a common language that is well used could be dangerous as explained so they have the Dragons only understand High Valyrian.

Now a bit of info on one scene, when the cult was trying to assassinate Daenarys and Drogon had just landed to protect her in the arena. The show's producers during filming, and some few fans picked this up. Daenerys during filming said "fly" during an otherwise good take, not the planned High Valyrian "Sōvēs", which in High Valyrian means fly, no one caught that she had said "Fly". So they tried to fix it post. The explanation from the producers is that the word "Soves" did not work with the mouth movement she used when she simply mouthed "fly" in English, so they had to improvise and use a Dothraki word "Valahd" which worked nicely in post production.

So technically Drogon knows commands given through High Valyrian and one word of Dothraki due to technical difficulties and the actress messing up her line.

The other two dragons know only High Valyrian.

  • Perhaps I should have clarified. The Dragons only understand High Valyrian "Commands" and again the use of that language had its reason. This is from the producers and writer. – Pauline Demetry Aug 14 '17 at 21:44
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It's unlikely that they understand the language and can be talked to.

Earlier in the show she trained dragons to respond to the word Dracarys. There was surely a scene in Qarth where she trains Drogon with the word to use fire on meat.

Apart from that word, it is not clear which specific commands dragons actually understand. It seems they respond to their mother's emotions and feelings and understand what she wants them to do. In recent seasons when they are fully grown, she probably knows better ways to instruct the to do what she wants. I say instruct since giving command to dragon doesn't sound like a good idea. But she surely cannot talk to them like men cannot talk with dogs, but can train them with commands and can get to some kind of understanding of behavior, so dogs know when to be on alert and when their owner trusts someone new to them. Something like that.

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Dragons don't "understand" High Valyrian any more than a dog "understands" English. They respond to a command they were trained to respond to, and the command just so happens to be in High Valyrian.

The language choice wasn't so much for the dragons to understand, as it was for Daenerys to avoid uttering the command unintentionally. "Dracarys" translating to "dragon fire" felt appropriate to use for this particular command.

So, no dragon speaks or understands High Valyrian. They understand Dracarys as "raise some Hell", is all.

  • Actually, the evidence is that dogs do have an at least basic understanding of English -- on the part of a two year old's, as I recall. Very basic, but there. – RonLugge Aug 14 '17 at 19:34
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    @RonLugge dogs don't inherently understand English; if I train my dog with French commands, it'll respond to French commands. If I train my dragon with German commands, it'll respond to German commands. That's all I meant - don't read too much into it... Point being they don't "understand a language", they "understand commands".... and then yes, a varying degree of whatever they're used to hear around that. Intonation and gestures play a much greater role in that "understanding" than the actual words. – Mathieu Guindon Aug 14 '17 at 19:39
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Like many users rightly pointed out, the dragons understand High Valerian, just like how pets understand our language. They just consider them more like instructions rather than as a language as a whole.

This video depicts that really well. Danaerys here, trains Drogon to breathe fire by using the instruction Dracarys:

There was no proof from the show, to confidently say that the dragons understand even anything in High Valerian except for the instruction mentioned above.

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