Atlantean

From Langmaker

ConlangAtlantean
AuthorMarc Okrand
Year Began2001
Language Typeprofessional fictional language
Lexicon Size180
EtymologiesYes
GrammarYes
Sample TextsYes
PrimerYes

Atlantean is the constructed language used in Disney's animated film Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

180 of a quoted "700-1000" words have been identified and assigned a reasonable, disciphered translation. These can be found in the English Atlantean Word List. I could find more if my computer screen was clearer during DVD freeze frames.

6 dictionaries/word lists have been written in either direction, English-Atlantean, Atlantean-English: Okrand’s Hidden and Lost Dictionary, Paul Sherrill’s Lost Luden Shadlag, Atlantima’s Mostly Fanonical “Dictionary”, Delayra’s Quasi-Online Quasi-Private “Atlantean Vocab 2”, Cinthia Morris’ Private “Deciphering Atlantean” Project, and Lawrence Rogers’ Numerous Yet As-Now Private “Atlantean to English Dictionary”, “Simplified Atlantean to English Dictionary”, “English to Atlantean Dictionary”, and “Topological English to Atlantean Dictionary”.

Sherrill, Delalyra, Morris, and Rogers also included a Grammar in their works. Mine is the longest and comprehensive, but not the most important. I depend on my predecessors heavily. There’s also a fluid sort of Grammar in the history of the Wikipedia article “Atlantean language” that’s worth a viewing.

The first known are from The Atlantean Language Group. My “Atlantean to English Dictionary” contains the only intra-work etymologies. They’re few and far between but that’s changing as I learn more Proto-Indo-European.

Uniqueness

The Atlantean language was developed by Marc Okrand, creator of Klingon, and spoken by Leonard Nimoy (Spock!) among others. Beautiful neography.

Atlantean’s brother language is Klingon, to which it is a sister. Atlantean is actually an artistic complement to Klingon. Klingon is rough to pronounce, gutteral and alien in grammar whereas Atlantean is easy to pronounce, smooth and flowing, and decidedly human in character. It is based on real languages, whereas Klingon with its OVS is wholly alien. Klingon is also described by Okrand as a ‘get it done’ language, whereas Atlantean is the language of a laid-back and peaceful people.

Atlantean is also related by blood and temperment to its brother Vulcan and its relatives created by Mark Rose. Their similarity is especially seen in that they were both abandoned by both their creator and his benefactor and subsequently had to be both deciphered and developed. Being older, Vulcan is farther along.

Atlantean is Okrand’s great historical constructed language. He apparently gets pegged as an alien linguist and this was his attempt to use something with a less speculative approach. Ironically, Atlantean is not completely unaffected in its “development” or lack thereof, I should say, by extraterrestrial entities. Accordingly, Atlantean of 6, 586 B.C is the same Atlantean as that of 1, 914 B.C., which, although explained away, is pretty lame. Still, without being incredibly historically authentic, Atlantean is a genius work.

Secretly, I’ve found evidence in its composition and construction that its sort of a jab at the makers of the movie for choosing such a silly, silly plot and approach to linguistics. It’s really an awfully clever language and the way Okrand warps those words is like wax on a wand.

Language influences

The language is designed to be evocative of a proto-World language. As such, its words are mostly of Proto-Indo-European root word origin. It also is officially said to contain Hebrew and Chinese words.

Its grammar, despite the lengthy quote in the movie, is mostly Latin’s. It has a few peculiarities, such as post-positions, no irregular verbs, and a single “declension” of five endings.

Quick Grammar Basics

SOV word order almost without exception; to be more precise S D.O. I.O. V. Noun then Adjective. Adverb then Verb. Verb Base then Modal Verb with Endings. Post-positions follow clauses. Verbs are commonly inflected with one of 11 suffixes for an indicative tense and one of 6 suffixes for person and number. There’s still an imperative singular and plural. Despite this, there’s really only 6 identifiable tenses for Atlantean, as know from their English translation: simple future, simple present, present progressive, present perfect, simple past, and past perfect. Final position, post-verb question words (there’s 2) are used to indicate questions. Nouns take grammatical case endings from among 5 suffixes(Nominative, “Object”, Genitive, Vocative, Instrumental), pronouns from 3 (Nominative, Accusative, Genitive). Plurals for nouns are indicated with a single suffix which precedes the case suffix. Three nouns are indeterminative or indeclinable: shayod, hand, kunet, surface, and tamar, law. There is no indication of nouns having an associated gender. However, Lotan, Leviathan, is feminine, as is Helga, Milo is masculine, and inanimate dolls are neuter, as indicated by their pronoun. There’s some other little side laws but that’s basically it.

Sounds dry, sure, but it’s been one incredible ride discovering it, figuring it out, and then using it. And there’s still a lot more to do, lest anyone is underwhelmed.

Quick Notes on the Writing System of Atlantean and its Transliterations

Atlantean has its own writing system, as seen in the movie. It’s actually a 20 letter true alphabet, unlike the 29 letters given in to the public. These letters are represented in the publicly disseminated “transliteration scheme” (code) as

In Epigraphist Script: A-B-G-D-E-W-H-I-Y-K-L-U-M-N-O-P-R-S-SH-T (I made up the word order based on the North Semitic Ugartitic First Abecedary) In Readers Script ("phonetic writing") a,ah,uh-b-g-d-e,eh-w-kh-i,ih,ee-y-k-l-u,oo-m-n-oa,oh-p-r-s-sh-t In Writers Script (Same thing as Epi, just lower case and H -> kh. KW -> kw.

By the way, the numerals in Epi are: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-X

As just noted, there are multiple ways of writing Atlantean. Epigraphist Script uses capital letters to represent Atlantean Script as it is seen and used in the movie. Readers Script is another canonical script that uses Roman letters to write Atlantean so that it can be read, as in the movie’s published script. It indicates stressed syllables using capital letters and uses some English spelling conventions. Writers Script is a fan-based “distillation” of the syllable-by-syllable Readers Script. It uses the Roman letters and looks more like modern English. It was developed by Paul Sherrill, Rebmakash, Delalyra, and others at The Atlantean Language Group. I think I’ve been able to confirm its accuracy by comparing it with examples of Atlantean Writing from the movie. Apparently, they just made up an alphabet and then wrote whatever Okrand wrote one-for-one. In other words, Sherrill and the gang just re-invented the wheel without knowing it.

Anyway, Atlantean writes normal boustrophedon starting in the upper left. There is no punctuation and only one case. There are, unusually, spaces between words and even between paragraphs and document sections. There are alternate forms for writing in mosaics, writing in scrolls, writing on colossal monuments, and such. Almost every example of writing in the movie is read Atlantean, believe it or not. Then only known composition of any considerable length in the Atlantean language is The Shepherd’s Journal, written by a foriegner and transphered from scroll to codice by Icelandic Atlantean-illiterate monks. It contains many illustrations of monsters and cartographs. The next runner-up is the mysterious and almost disturbing public history preserved in the great mosiac. Its text is written in long lines which flow back and forth within 2-D rings within a monumental circular design. The third notable example of any length is the inscription around the hand pad of one of the Atlantean’s flying vehicles. It is not written boustrophedon but clockwise starting at the “12 noon” and read as from the center of “the clock face”.


Commentary on Grammar, Language in General

Compared to Latin or German, Atlantean is simple to the point of a possible auxlang or conlang for people without much time. There’s no irregular verbs, no multiple declensions. There’s not even a separate case ending for Accusative and Dative! It’s all just “Object Case”, what I used to call Accusative Case. It’s beautiful because it is smooth-flowing and easy for English speakers to pronounce. But it’s also got that German ‘ch’ sound, so you know it at least tries to be a foreign language. It’s like a dessert among languages. Sort of a bon-bon.

It’s also a great practical language to learn in preparation for Latin or Indo-European studies.

A conlang development of Atlantean is New Atlantean.

External Links

In recommended order of visiting:


Template:

Web Address

Link Broken? Authors? Language?

Description


Sites:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/atlantean_language/

No. Many. English/Atlantean.

"#1" Source for Atlantean Info.

The Atlantean Language Group, A Yahoo Tech Group, contains a list of all 180 discovered words with translation, free 100 page dictionary and grammar, and much commentary on Atlantean dicipherment. Not commonly frequented. The moderator, Lawrence Rogers, checks it often and knows more about the language than anybody. Free Yahoo account required. Founded June 23, 2001 by Paul Sherrill.

http://www.atlanteanlanguageinstitute.info/

No. Lawrence J. Rogers. English/Atlantean.

"#2" Source: Home of The Atlantean Language Institute.

Contains the most extensive corpus of texts on the Internet. Features a complete set of lessons and an introductory letter on the history of the langauge. Very messy coding, but gets the message across.

http://mtu.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2250934201

No. Lawrence J. Rogers. English/Atlantean.

Facebook outpost to the Atlantean Language Institute.

http://www.freewebs.com/mother-tongue/

No. "Aaron". English/Atlantean.

The only other website exclusively devoted to Atlantean.

http://noble-scarlet.net/kfu/index.

No. Many. English/Atlantean.

The only known remaining Atlantis Fan Message Board in frequent use. Could use more members. Very close-knit, kind community. You’ll need to e-mail the Webmiss to access the group. Lessons in Atlantean contained therein.

http://www.langmaker.com/atlantean.htm

No. Jefferey Henning. English/Atlantean.

The original Atlantean Canon Source on the Internet. Contains some of the earliest, consise, and most beautiful of presentations about the languages history, sources, and known grammar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantean_language

No. Many. English/Atlantean.

The Wikipedia Article. Very messy for the time being, but very informative.

http://www.single-serving.com/constructed/Atlantean/

No. NA. English.

A Summary of Atlantean language non-fictional history. Short article, worth the read.

http://www.spinnoff.com/zbb/viewtopic.php?t=19515&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start

Yes. Many. English.

This link works no longer, but it’s a memorial and reminder to the work done by Cindy Morris toward dicipherment. It was a thread she started on the language. Zompist account required.