The Atlantean language is the oldest language in the Pentalithia setting, and it has magical properties. It’s far older than the Earth, even; the only reason Earthlings call it Atlantean is because it’s still spoken in Atlantis. The Atlanteans themselves call it by its proper name, £éŋωi. In this post, however, and probably in later posts, I will consistently call it Atlantean.
The primary magical property of Atlantean is that a speaker can make themselves understood to anyone capable of understanding language, even if the listener lacks a language of their own (such as animals). The words magically translate themselves to all listeners… the effect is so subtle that most listeners will literally hear it as their native or most commonly spoken language. However, strong disbelief is sufficient to make the translation fail, and it’s only one way; it doesn’t give the speaker any way to understand other people who don’t know Atlantean.
Atlantean has a total of 10 distinct vowel sounds at five heights, plus 6 phonemic diphthongs. It also has a tense-lax distinction.
- close front unrounded vowel
- near-close near-front unrounded vowel
- close back rounded vowel
- near-close near-back rounded vowel
- mid front unrounded vowel [e̞] on average; in practice it varies between [e] and [ɛ]
- mid back rounded vowel [o̞] on average; in practice it varies between [o] and [ɔ]
- near-open front unrounded vowel
- open front unrounded vowel
- open back rounded vowel [ɒ] usually; in some contexts it becomes unrounded [ɑ]
- near-open mid-back unrounded vowel [ʌ̞] usually; in some contexts becomes a near-open central unrounded vowel [ɐ]
The following six diphthongs are commonly used, and I consider them additional phonemes: /ai/, /au/, /oi/, /ou/, /ei/, /eu/.
Atlantean boasts a wide array of consonants, totalling 40 phonemes. This diverse repertoire includes 11 stops, 9 fricatives, 6 affricates, 4 nasals, 3 trills, and even 2 clicks. The remaining 5 phonemes are approximants. The clicks are usually aspirated and are coarticulated with either a velar nasal or a glottal fricative.
In addition to this, consonant gemination is phonemic on most consonants, nearly doubling the repertoire of phonemes. It isn’t phonemic on stops or clicks.
The following table summarizes all the Atlantean phonemes, though a few liberties have been taken; the labiodentals (/f/ and /v/) have been placed in the same column as the labials, and the palatal glide (/j/) has been included in the retroflex column. Where phonemes appear in pairs, the left one is voiceless and the right one is voiced. When there is only a single phoneme in a cell, it’s voiced, with the exception of /h/ which is unvoiced. I’ve listed /w/ twice as it’s a labiovelar glide. I’m using the symbol 〈ʇ〉 in place of 〈ǀ〉 in order to represent a dental click, as it’s more visually distinctive.