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Many times in the books and in the TV show we hear various persons say:

It is known.

What does this mean? How do they establish that "something" is known? Dothraki don't strike me as having a lot of schooling or any written history.

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    Oral history doesn't require either written history or schooling. Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 13:41
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    Many people are saying it is known.
    – gowenfawr
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 14:23
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    It means "the preceding statement is nonsense". Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 15:48
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    @KyloRen Upvotes should not be used to counter downvotes. Personally, I downvoted this (with apologies to Cherubel!) because I think the answer is obvious.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 16:53
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    @Randal'Thor If the answers are received that well the question cannot have been useless or even harmful for this site. Coincidentally I quoted a Dothraki tale last year and only put "It is known" below. In the comments there I was also asked what "It is known" means, So this question does come up surprisingly often and therefore looks legit to me. On a side note: Especially on other SX sites I observe that the more obvious an answer, the better it is received (upvotes!). I once asked a question I would call stupid today, but it is one of my highest rated questions ever. #meta Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 13:36

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It means the same thing that English speakers mean by the phrase "They say that..." or "everybody knows that..." or similar. They are the Essos equivalent of old wives' tales.

It's information that is "common knowledge" just by being passed around via word of mouth. One person tells someone else something they think is true, and that person then tells someone else, and eventually those ideas start being repeated to people who have heard them before, thus reinforcing them. At that point, they become "known."

In particular, it's important to note that "it is known" doesn't mean it's right. There are plenty of things we're told are "known" that are just old wives tales, or rumors, or myths, but are just plain false.

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    UV for a good concise answer.
    – KyloRen
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 14:09
  • It's also efficient character exposition - the way they say this tells us these particular dothraki are not the type to question tradition. Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 15:02
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It simply means that something is common knowledge (to the Dothraki at least) and likely a superstition or folklore. It does not mean you should take it for a fact, just that it is a common story or description of a people, place, or thing.

We see the phrase come up when Daenrys is talking to her handmaidens or bloodriders and they disagree about a viewpoint or custom she has.

Things that are "known":

  • Brave men kill them, for dragon terrible evil beasts. It is known. - A Game of Thrones, Chapter 23

  • Moon is no egg. Moon is god, woman wife of sun. It is known - A Game of Thrones, Chapter 23

  • The Lamb men lay with sheep, it is known. - A Game of Thrones, Chapter 61

  • When the gods are gone, the evil ghosts feast by night. Such places are best shunned. It is known. - A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12

  • Khalessi, better a man should swallow scorpions than trust in the spawn of shadows, who dare not show their face beneath the sun. It is known - A Clash of Kings, Chapter 40

  • When cowards hide and burn the food and fodder, great khas must seek for braver foes. This is known - A Storm of Swords, Chapter 57

  • You must not touch the dead men. It is bad luck to touch the dead. Unless you killed them yourself. It is known. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 2

  • Thirteen is a bad number, Khaleesi, murmured Jhiqui, in the Dothraki tongue. It is known. - A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 16

  • Man must not eat the flesh of man, said Aggo. It is known, agreed Rahkaro. They will be cursed. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36

  • "You are almost a boy. Rakharo does not bed with boys. This is known." Irri bristled back. "It is known that you are almost a cow. Rkharo does not bed with cows." - A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36

  • "With their hands," said Missandei. "The brick are old and crumbling. They are trying to claw their way into the city." "This would take many years," said Irri. The walls are very thick. This is known." - A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36

  • "Belaquo will win," Irri declared. "It is known" "It is not known," Jhiqui said. "Belaquo will die." - A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 52

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  • Actually I do understand it in the way that Dothraki axiomatically accept things that "are known" as hard fact and unconditional truth. These things are also never questioned by sane people. Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 13:38
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Actually, this could be an allusion to the Arabic term Maktub, meaning ‘decreed’ or ‘established’ and used in the Quran to argue that written references to Mohammed in the earlier Torah and Gospels prove his existence was fate or predetermined - loosely ‘it is written’. However, the Mongols, on whom the Dothraki are modelled, were illiterate and held oral traditions. ‘It is known’ makes more sense in this context.

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    Welcome to SFF:SE. We recommend having a look at the tour, which contains helpful hints for using the site. Do you have any indication that this was a direct inspiration to the writers?
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 10:39

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