The Atlantean Language is constructed language created specifically for the film Atlantis: The Lost Empire by linguist Marc Okrand. The language was intended as a possible "mother language." Therefore it was crafted to include a vast Indo-European word stock with its very own grammar, which is at times described as highly agglutinative, inspired in Sumerian and North American languages. The decision of this language being a possible "mother language" was actually one made by the filmmakers, and not Okrand himself, who followed this presumption upon its creation.
The Atlantean language (Dig Adlantisag) is a historically constructed, artistic language. It is therefore based both on historic reconstructions or realities as well as on the elaborate fantasy/science fiction of the film's mythology. Here are the fictional bases upon which the language was created:
Atlantean is the “Tower of Babel language”, the “root dialect” from which all languages descended. It has existed without change since sometime before 100,000 B.C., within the First or Second Age of Atlantis until the present. This is when the Mother Crystal (Matag Yob) descended to Earth and brought enlightenment to the Atlantean people. It is preserved by the presence of the Mother Crystal in the same way that the Shepherd's Journal, the City of Atlantis (Wil Adlantisag), the Atlantean people (luden), and especially its royalty (yaseken) are preserved, healed, and given extended blissful life.
To create this, Okrand took common characteristics of all world languages and applied them to the Proto-Indo-European language. His main source of words (roots and stems) for the language is Proto-Indo-European, but he also uses ancient Chinese, Biblical Hebrew, Latin and Greek languages, along with a variety of other ancient languages or ancient language reconstructions.
There are three identified writing systems for Atlantean:
- Writers Script
- The Atlantean Alphabet
- Reader's Script - AHD-luhn-tihs
They are listed in order of creation. Okrand originally put together the language in Writer's Script. For those many parts in the film for which it was written, the filmmakers wrote it using the Atlantean Alphabet, which was created by artist John Emerson with help from Okrand. For those fewer parts of the film for which it is spoken, Okrand devised a Berlitz-syle notation which he hoped would make the language easier to read for the actors.
- Spirits of Atlantis, forgive me for defiling your chamber and bringing intruders into the land.
- Nish.en.top Adlantis.ag, Kelob.tem Gabr.in karok.li.mik bet gim demot.tem net getunos.en.tem bernot.li.mik bet kag.ib lewid.yoh.
(Okrand's original wouldn't have had periods; these are used for the translation below.)¹
- NEE-shen-toap AHD-luhn-tih-suhg, KEH-loab-tem GAHB-rihn KAH-roak-lih-mihk bet gihm DEH-moat-tem net GEH-tuh-noh-sen-tem behr-NOAT-lih-mihk bet KAH-gihb LEH-wihd-yoakh.
¹ (Spirit.Plural.Vocative Atlantis.Genitive, Chamber.Oblique you-plural-familiar.Genitive defile.Past-Perfect.1st-Person-Singular for and land.Oblique into intruder.Plural.Oblique bring.Past-Perfect.1st-Person-Singular for I-Dative forgive.Imperative-Plural.)
Written boustrophedon, as if in Atlantean alphabet:
NISHENTOP ADLANTISAG KELOBTEM
MIG TEB KIMILKORAK NIRBAG
DEMOTTEM NET GETANOSENTEM
BIGAK TEB KIMILTONREB
Atlantean Alphabet: Use and Sources
Writing Systems Correspondence
Here is how all of the writing systems correspond to one another. For sake of standardization, they are arranged according a fan-composed alphabet. It is based on the oldest example of Northern Semitic Abecedary as found in the Ugaritic language.
|Readers Script||uh ah||b||g||d||eh e||w||kh||ee ih||y||k||l||m||oo u||n||oa,oh||p||r||s||sh||t|
20 letters of the Atlantean alphabet are used to write Atlantean in the film's media. The letters c, f, j, q, v, x, z, ch, or th have likewise been acknowledged by the filmmakers as not being used. They were created so that the language might be used as a simple cipher code. They are all also based on diverse ancient characters, just like the rest of the alphabet.
Atlantean Alphabet: Use
There is no punctuation or capitalization in the Atlantean Writing System. These characteristics are based by Okrand on ancient writing systems. The Atlantean Alphabet is written in normal boustrophedon writing order. It is written left to right for the first line, right to left the second, and left to right again the third, to continue the pattern. This order was also suggested by Okrand, based on ancient writing systems, and it was accepted because, as he explained, "It's a back-and-forth movement, like water, so that worked."
Atlantean Numerals and Numbers
Atlantean Numeral System
Emerson, Okrand, and the filmmakers also created numerals for 0-9. They are stacked horizontally, however, and hold place values of 1, 20, and 400. Their components are based on Mayan numerals and internally composed for the font like Roman numerals. If used according to the now-offline Official Website's directions, they are used, alternatively, like Arabic numerals.
Atlantean Numbers and Suffixes
Ordinal numbers are formed with the suffix (d)lag: sey 'three', sey.dlag 'third'. The d is omitted if the root ends with an obstruent or nasal stop|nasal consonant: dut 'two', dut.lag 'second'.
Fractions are formed with the suffix (d)lop: kut 'four', kut.lop 'quarter', sha 'five', sha.dlop 'fifth (part)'.
Distributives are formed with the suffix noh: din 'one', din.noh 'one at a time, one each'.
Vowels and Diphthongs
|IPA Symbol||Readers Script||Writers Script||Example in IPA||Meaning||Example in IPA||Meaning|
|/i, ɪ/||ee, ih, i||i||ti'kʊdɛ||to be located||ˈalɪʃ||child|
|/e, ɛ/||eh, e||e||we'sɛr||marketplace|
|/a, ə/||ah, uh||a||ma'kɪtəɡ||of the king|
|/o, ɔ/||oh, o, oa||o||o'bɛs||lava|
|/u, ʊ/||oo, u||u||ku'nɛt||surface||kʊt||four|
Atlantean's phonetic inventory includes a vowel system with the above five phonemes, a system common to many languages, such as Spanish. Most vowels have two prominent allophonic realizations, depending on whether it occurs in a stressed or unstressed syllable. Vowels in stressed syllables tend to be tense, and likewise unstressed ones tend to be more lax. Thus, for example, /i/ is realized as [i] or [ɪ] in stressed and unstressed syllables, respectively. Likewise, /e/ is realized as [e] or [ɛ], and so on. There are three diphthongs.
|Plosive||p b||t d||k ɡ|
|Fricative||s||ʃ ¹||x ²|
Where symbols occur in pairs, the left represents the voiceless consonant and the right represents the voiced consonant.
¹ Transliterated as sh in Writers Script and Readers Script.
² Transliterated as h in Writers Script (bibɪx, inner cover of Subterranean Tours) and "kh" in Readers Script.
³ Transliterated as y in Writers Script and Readers Script.
Aside from the stressed-syllable-based vowel system, the only other example of phonology found in the entire language may be expressed as:
0 -> [m,n] in the context of [i,o/e]_-Person/Aspect Suffix
n -> [k,t] in the context of _ [i,o]
Atlantean has a very strict Subject-Object-Verb word order. There is never any deviation from the pattern. Adjectives and Genitive Nouns go after the nouns which they modify, post-positions go after the nouns or clauses which they modify, and modals go after the verbs which they modify and subsequently take all agglutinative suffixes. However, adverbs go before their verbs. Last of all are the interrogative particles. The given order of all parts of speech and particles is as follows in both an interrogative and declarative statement (a little redundant in order to use the whole sentence):
|Adverbs of Time, Manner, Location||Log||What|
|Time, Manner, Location Adverbial Nouns||darim||time|
|Instrumental Cased Nouns||shayod.esh||using.hands|
|Nominative Cased Nouns||weydagosen||Visitors|
|Post-positional Objects/ Oblique Cased Nouns||keylob.tem||(in) the chamber|
|Dative/Oblique Cased Nouns||makit.tem||The King|
|Genitive Cased Nouns of Relation||Adlantis.ag||of Atlantis|
|Accusative Cased Nouns||neshing.mok.en.tem||great contrivances|
|Verb with Modal Verb||bernot||to bring|
|Modal Verb [stem.mood.tense/aspect.person/number]||bog.o.mkem||we will be able|
|Interrogative Particle||du||eh? (North Central American English / Canadian English)|
|At what time will we visitors be able to use our very hands to joyfully give our great contrivances to the King of Atlantis in his Royal Chamber?|
There are two given variations on the simple sentence order involving sentence connectors, also called connective particles. These are grammatical particles whose particular roles seen here occurs in Native American languages, among other languages. These Atlantean sentence connectors relate two clauses in a logical yet idiomatic manner which produces a complete thought in the same way that the equally complicated English sentence does. English doesn't use sentence connectors in the following ways, however:
|Clause or Particle||Example||English Gloss|
|Initial Clause||"Wil.tem neb gamos.e.tot..."||"He sees this city..."|
|Sentence connector 1||deg||(roughly) "for"|
|Modifying Clause||duwer.en tirid.||all foreigners.|
|No outsiders may see the city and live. More literally, " 'He Who Doth the City See...' is meant for ALL foreigners.'|
|Clause or Particle||Example||English Gloss|
|Initial Clause||Tab.top, lud.en neb.et kwam gesu bog.e.kem||Father, we cannot help these people|
|Sentence connector 1||deg||(roughly) "and yet"|
|Modifying Clause||yasek.en gesu.go.ntoh.||they will help the Royalty.|
|Father, these people may be able to help us. More literally, "Father, we can't help these people and yet they will help us, the King and Princess."|
|Clause or Particle||Example||English Gloss|
|Descriptive Clause||Ketak.en.tem obes.ag sapoh.e.kik||I view the lava whales|
|Sentence connector 2||yos||(roughly) "then"|
|Action Clause||lat nar badeg.bey tikud.e.tot dap?||where is the best place?|
|Where is the best place from which to view the lava whales?|
There are seven cases for nouns.
|2||Oblique||-tem||yobtem||the crystal give, in the crystal, to the crystal, etc.|
|3||Genitive||-ag||yobag||of the crystal|
|4||Vocative||-top ¹||Yobtop||O Crystal!|
|6||Unknown 1||-kup ²||yobkup||(something) crystal|
|7||Unknown 2||-nuh ³||yobnuh||(something) crystal|
¹ With the exception of "mat", "mother", which takes the special Maternal Filial Suffix -tim. Note that the only other kinship term, "father", "tab", takes the usual -top.
² No translation given. As discussed in "The Shepherd's Journal" on the "Collector's DVD": ketub-kup (page 4) and setub-mok-en-tem (page 10), setub-mok-en-ag (page 5), and setub-kup (pages 1–4).
³ No translation given. As discussed in "The Shepherd's Journal" on the "Collector's DVD": derup-tem and derup-nuh (page 5).
|Grammatical Function||Suffix||Example||English Gloss|
|Augmentative||-mok||Yobmok||The Great Crystal|
Nouns are marked as plural with the suffix -en. Case suffixes never precede the -en plural suffix. "-Mok" occurs after it.
There are five cases for pronouns.
|2||Accusative||-it||kagit||me, whom was (sent), etc.|
|4||Genitive||-in||kagin||my ( my heart, karod kagin)|
|5||Unknown||-is||kagis||not translated ¹|
¹ No translation given. Appears in "First Mural Text" on the "Collector's DVD": tug-is.
Verbs are inflected with two suffixes, one for tense/aspect and the next for person/number.
|1||Simple Present Tense||-e||bernot.e.kik||I bring|
|2||Present Perfect Tense||-le||bernot.le.kik||you have brought|
|3||Present Obligatory Tense||-se||bernot.se.kik||I am obliged to bring|
|4||Simple Past Tense||-i||bernot.i.mik||I brought|
|5||Immediate Past Tense||-ib||bernot.ib.mik||I just brought|
|6||Past Perfect Tense||-li||bernot.li.mik||I had brought|
|7||Simple Future Tense||-o||bernot.o.mik||I will bring|
|8||Future Possible Tense||-go||bernot.go.mik||I may bring|
|9||Future Perfect Tense||-lo||bernot.lo.mik||I will have brought|
|10||Future Obligatory Tense||-so||bernot.so.mik||I will be obliged to bring|
|-e||sapoh.i.mik (SJ:10)||I viewed||sapoh.e.kik (ST)||I view|
|-le||yube.in/yugeb.le.tot (IS)||strangly/he is being strange||panneb.le.nen (IS)||you are knowing||peren.le.mot (DVD:MURAL)||Untranslated.||pasil.le.tot (IS)||it is being sufficient|
|-se||kaber (SJ:789)||warn!||kaber.se.kem||we are obliged to warn|
|-i||es.e.tot (ST)||it is||es.i.mot (SJ:10)||it will be|
|-ib||bernot.li.mik (IS)||I had brought||bernot.ib.mik (IS)||I just brought|
|-li||bernot.ib.mik (IS)||I just brought||bernot.li.mik (IS)||I had brought|
|-o||komtib.lo.nen (SJ:5)||you will have found||komtib.o.nen (SJ:5)||you will find|
|-go||satib.yoh (IS)||move along!||satib.go.ntoh (SJ:89)||they may move along||gesu.go.ntoh (IS)||they may help|
|-lo||komtib.o.nen (SJ:5)||you will find||komtib.lo.nen (SJ:5)||you will have found|
|-so||komtib.lo.nen (IS)||you will have found||komtib.so.nen (SJ:5)||you will be obliged to find|
|1||Imperative Mood Singular||no suffix||(Tok.it) Bernot!||Bring (it, you)!|
|2||Imperative Mood Plural||-yoh||(Tok.it) Bernot.yoh!||Bring (it, y'all)!|
|3||Passive Mood||-esh||(Im.tem shib.an) bernot.esh.ib.mik.||I just was brought (something).|
|Number||Name||Suffix||Example||English Gloss||Example||English Gloss||Example||English Gloss||Example||English Gloss|
|no suffix||nageb.o.ntoh (SJ:789)||they will enter||Nageb.yoh (ST)||Enter, y'all!||Nageb!||Enter!|
|-yoh||gamos.i.mik (DVD:TRAVEL)||I saw||Gamos.yoh! (DVD:MURAL)||May ye behold!||gamos.e (DVD:MURAL)||to see||Beket! (ST)||You're begged!||Beket.yoh! (ST)||Y'all are begged!|
|-esh||pag.en (ST)||you (are) thanked (short form)||pag.esh.e.nen (ST)||you are thanked||dodl.esh.mik (DVD:MURAL)||Untranslated.||kobden.en/hobd.esh.e.tot (IS)||command / he has doomed|
|-e||wegen.os/wegen.e (IS)||traveler/to travel||wegen.os/wegen.e (IS)||traveler/to travel||gamos.yoh (DVD:MURAL)||May ye behold!||gamos.e (DVD:MURAL)||to see||gobeg.en/gobeg.e||arms/to be an arm|
|Person||Number||Familiarity||Independent Pronoun||Suffix||English Gloss|
|3rd||Singular||-||tug tuh tok||-ot||he she it|