The Atlantean Language: Orthography

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Atlantean is a very old language and has had many writing systems over the millennia. The most ancient known one of these is the Anaglosian writing system, which is an alphabet similar in design to Tengwar. It was invented by one person in the city of Anaglosia, and is still used there (and in nearby cities, such as Hevan) to this day.

The Anaglosian system is almost completely unknown on Earth, however. Atlantean has an odd way of spreading, with sentient creatures occasionally being born just knowing it innately, for no discernible reason. It arrived on Earth in such a manner, in the kingdom of Mu, and over time a complex writing system was developed for it, a semi-pictographic abugida. This is usually called the Ancient Atlantean system, though it was developed before Atlantis even existed.

Much more recently (a few centuries ago), writing reform was called for in Atlantis, and a new alphabetic system was developed using a mixture of Greek and Latin letters with a few unique ones. This is the writing system currently used on Earth.

The rise of computers briefly created a system that does away with the Greek and unique letters, using uppercase and lowercase symbols to represent different phonemes. This system is not widely used today.

Anaglosian Alphabet

The Anaglosian alphabet is contructed similarly to Tengwar; it can be arranged on a grid of 10 columns and 5 rows, with each row sharing the same type of bow and each column sharing the same type of stem. The sounds in each column conform to a particular theme, and those in each row mostly also fit a theme. Gemination in this system is indicated by a tilde diacritic over the letter.

The table of letters follows; web fonts are required to view it, or installing the font manually.

p t q c Q C i I u U
b d j g G T e E o O
f s S k l h y Y K X
v z Z x R L a A w W
m n M N F J P r V H

In order, the columns are: labials, alveolars, retroflexes, velars, uvulars, miscellaneous, front tense vowels, front lax vowels, back tense vowels, back lax vowels.

The rows are: voiceless stops/high vowels, voiced stops/mid vowels, voiceless fricatives/diphthongs, voiced fricatives/low vowels, nasals/approximants.

Affricates in Anaglosian orthography are represented by a digraph, combining a stop and a fricative symbol. However, there’s a separate symbol for each of the two clicks.

The writing system also has its own set of punctuation. A regular sentence is terminated by 〈.〉, while a question ends in 〈?〉 and an exclamation in 〈!〉. Parentheticals can be delimited by 〈()〉 or set off by 〈〉. The symbol 〈,〉 functions similarly to a comma while 〈;〉 is used much like a semicolon (〈〉 is also used as an ellipsis, just like in English). Lists can be initiated by 〈:〉, which functions like a colon, and quoted passages are surrounded in either 〈‘’〉 or 〈“”〉.

The Anaglosian system has a total of 16 digits; the first ten (0-9) are 0123456789. The other 6 are less-used, since Anaglosia normally uses a base-10 number system. The writing system is read by rows from left-to-right and top-to-bottom, the same as English.

There’s even a set of mathematical and scientific symbols. I might cover these in a later post.

Ancient Atlantean Abugida

The Ancient Atlantean system is read in columns from top-to-bottom and right-to-left. Consonant gemination was indicated by a symbol placed to the right of the main letter, while the vowel was a symbol on the right, potentially modified with an additional symbol above for gemination. There’s a set of punctuation, and digits for a base 20 number system.

An older draft of the writing system can be seen here. The phonemes assigned to some of the characters have changed since then, but the characters themselves haven’t significantly changed. Ancient Atlantean has separate symbols for each of the affricates, as well as a null symbol used when there is a vowel not preceded by a consonant. It also has a separate symbol for each of the two clicks.

The web font for these has the characters rotated 90 degrees to the left so that when displayed vertically, they appear correctly. Unfortunately, Firefox doesn’t yet support the writing-mode CSS attribute at the time of this post, so you’ll need to use a different browser if you want to see it correctly.

The digits are as follows (again requiring a web font):


The punctuation is a little simpler than that of English; there are just six symbols for use in sentences, plus a symbol for the decimal point. Sentences are usually ended with 〈.〉, but can also be ended with 〈!〉 to indicate a shout or 〈?〉 to indicate a question. The symbol 〈;〉 is used as a comma, while 〈,〉 is used as a decimal point. The symbol 〈〉 opens a quoted passage while 〈〉 closes one.

Modern Atlantean Alphabet

The modern Atlantean orthography uses the full Roman alphabet plus a number of Greek and other letters, a few of which are unique to Atlantean. It uses the two Icelandic letters (thorn and eth), 10 Greek letters (lambda, delta, phi, xi, gamma, theta, omega, and sigma), and 10 additional Roman-like letters (F with hook, reversed C, Y with hook, D with hook, LR ligature / r with ascender, Z with bar / ezh, ts ligature, eng, scriptish L / esh, O with slash).

Gemination of a consonant in this system is indicated by doubling, while gemination of a vowel is indicated with a diaresis accent. Some vowels have an acute accent already; for these, gemination replaces the acute accent with a tilde.

Typically the alphabet is arranged in the same order as the English alphabet, with the extra letters slotted in near similar letters. This is of course entirely arbitrary.

The modern Atlantean alphabet has separate symbols for each of the affricates, but the two clicks are written using a digraph with a unique symbol combined with one of the other symbols.

The unique Atlantean characters are:

  • The LR ligature, made by turning the L backwards and joining them; the lowercase version is an r with an ascender (or an h with half the bow cut off). Since I lack a custom font, I’m currently substituting barred L. (Ł/ł)
  • The ts ligature, which is exactly what it sounds like both in uppercase and lowercase. Since I lack a custom font, I’m currently substituting a pair of T-based symbols. (Ƭ/ƫ)
  • The scriptish L, which is like a pound sterling symbol without the crossbars. The lowercase version looks identical to the lowercase letter esh. Since I lack a custom font, I’m currently substituting the pound sterling symbol. (£/ʃ)

ASCII-Friendly version

With the advent of computers and particularly the ASCII standard, there was a brief period (maybe a few decades) where some people found a need to transmit Atlantean text in the ASCII encoding.

It’s a pretty simple mapping from the regular Atlantean orthography. You can imagine it as writing everything in lowercase, then applying a transformation. Geminated vowels are doubled instead of having a diacritic added or changed. Vowels with acute accents lose the accent and become uppercase. Non-Roman symbols are replaced by uppercase Roman letters according to the following table.

The mappings for the Anaglosian and MuLantean fonts were based closely on this one, though they’re not identical due to the small differences in the three character sets.

Actual Letter Roman Letter
λ M
δ X
φ K
ξ Q
γ G
θ B
ω V
σ S
ƒ F
ɔ C
ƴ P
ɖ R
(r with ascender) ŕ L
ʒ Z
(ts ligature) ƫ J
ŋ N
ʃ H
ψ $
þ T
ð D
ø @
ǿ &


The following table shows the mapping across the various writing systems; vowels in the Ancient Atlantean system are shown attached to the null consonant symbol. A handwritten view is also available here; the characters may be easier to tell apart than they are in the web font.

Phoneme Anaglosian Ancient Modern ASCII
/æ/ a _a Aa a
/a/ A _A Áá A
/b/ b b Bb b
/k/ c c Cc c
/d/ d d Dd d
/dz/ dz D Ðð D
/gɣ/ gx X Δδ X
/e/ e _e Ee e
/ei/ E _E Éé E
/f/ f f Ff f
/ʙ/ F F Ƒƒ F
/kx/ kx K Φφ K
/g/ g g Gg g
/ɢ/ G G Γγ G
/h/ h h Hh h
/ʔ/ C C Ɔɔ C
/i/ i _i Ii i
/ɪ/ I _I Íí I
/ɖ/ j j Jj j
/ɳ/ M M Λλ M
/x/ k k Kk k
/l/ l l Ll l
/ɫ/ H H £ʃ H
/m/ m m Mm m
/n/ n n Nn n
/ŋ/ N N Ŋŋ N
/ɖʐ/ jZ B Θθ B
/o/ o _o Oo o
/oi/ o _O Óó O
/eu/ K _@ Øø @
/ou/ X _& Ǿǿ &
/p/ p p Pp p
/ʈ/ q q Qq q
/ɹ/ r r Rr r
/r/ L L Ŕŕ L
/ʀ/ R R Ɗɖ R
/s/ s s Ss s
/ʂ/ S S Σσ S
/t/ t t Tt t
/ts/ ts T þÞ T
/ʇʰ/ T # Ƭƫ + h Jh
/ʇᵑ/ J J Ƭƫ + ŋ JN
/u/ u _u Uu u
/ʊ/ U _U Úú U
/v/ v v Vv v
/ɑ/ w _w Ww w
/ʌ/ W _W Ẃẃ W
/w/ V V Ωω V
/ɣ/ x x Xx x
/q/ Q Q Ξξ Q
/ai/ y _y Yy y
/au/ Y _Y Ýý Y
/j/ P P Ƴƴ P
/ʈʂ/ qS $ Ψψ $
/z/ z z Zz z
/ʐ/ Z Z Ƶʒ Z

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