|Created by||Marc Okrand|
|Setting and usage||2001 film Atlantis: The Lost Empire and related media|
A posteriori languages
The Atlantean language is a constructed language created by Marc Okrand for the Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The language was intended by the script-writers to be a possible "mother language", and Okrand crafted it to include a vast Indo-European word stock with its very own grammar, which is at times described as highly agglutinative, inspired by Sumerian and North American languages.
The Atlantean language (Dig Adlantisag) is a historically constructed, artistic language put together by Marc Okrand for Disney's 2001 film Atlantis: The Lost Empire and associated media. The Atlantean language is therefore based both on historic reconstructions as well as on the elaborate fantasy/science fiction of the Atlantis: The Lost Empire mythos. The fictional principles upon which the Atlantean language was created are: 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.
To accomplish this, Dr. Okrand looked for common characteristics from various world languages and was also heavily inspired by the Proto-Indo-European language. His main source of words (roots and stems) for the language is Proto-Indo-European, but Okrand combines this with Biblical Hebrew, later Indo-European languages such as Latin and Greek, and a variety of other known or reconstructed ancient languages.
Atlantean has its own script created expressly for the movie by John Emerson with the help of Marc Okrand, and inspired by ancient alphabetical scripts, most notably Semitic. There are, however, different kinds of transliteration into the Roman script.
There is no punctuation or capitalization in the native Atlantean Writing System. Okrand based this on ancient writing systems. The Atlantean Script is normally in boustrophedon, that is to say 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."
The Atlantean script includes more characters than are actually employed in the language itself. These letters being c, f, j, q, v, x, z, ch, or th, they were created so that Atlantean might be used as a simple cipher code in the media and for promotional purposes. They are all also based on diverse ancient characters, just like the rest of the alphabet.
Apart from the native Atlantean script created for the show, the language can be transcribed using the Roman script. There are two versions for doing so:
- Standard Transcription, how the language is transliterated by Marc Okrand himself.
- Reader's Script, a Berlitz-style notation devised by Okrand, which he hoped would make the Atlantean easier to read for the actors.
- Nishentop Adlantisag, kelobtem Gabrin karoklimik bet gim demottem net getunosentem bernotlimik bet kagib lewidyoh.
- 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.
This sentence, for example, further breaks down into:
- Nishentop Adlantisag, kelobtem Gabrin karoklimik bet gim demottem net getunosentem bernotlimik bet kagib lewidyoh.
- spirit-PL-VOC Atlantis-GEN, chamber-OBL 2ND.PL.FAM-GEN defile-PPERF-1ST.SG for and land-OBL into intruder-PL-OBL bring-PPERF-1ST.SG for 1ST.SG-DAT forgive-IMP-PL
- "Spirits of Atlantis, forgive me for defiling your chamber and bringing intruders into the land."
And the following is a table that shows the correspondences between the different modes of transcription and also provides the probable IPA values.
|Reader's Script||ah, uh||b||g||d||eh, e||w||kh||ee, ih||y||k||l||m||oo, u||n||oa, oh||p||r||s||sh||t|
|IPA||[ɑ, ə]||[b]||[g]||[d]||[e, ɛ]||[w]||[x]||[i, ɪ]||[j]||[k]||[l]||[m]||[u, ʊ]||[n]||[o, ɔ]||[p]||[r, ɾ]||[s]||[ʃ]||[t]|
John Emerson, Marc 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 (example above) like Roman numerals. If used according to the now-offline Official Website's directions, they are used, alternatively, like Arabic numerals.
Ordinals are formed adding the suffix -(d)lag: sey 'three', seydlag 'third'. The d is omitted if the root ends with an obstruent or nasal consonant: dut 'two', dutlag 'second'. Fractions are formed with the suffix -(d)lop: kut 'four', kutlop 'quarter', sha 'five', shadlop 'fifth (part)'. And finally, distributives are formed with the suffix noh: din 'one', dinnoh 'one at a time, one each'.
|Plosive||p b||t d||k ɡ|
Atlantean's phonetic inventory includes a vowel system with the above five phonemes. 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, namely ay, ey, oy.
Aside from the stressed-syllable-based vowel system, the only other example of prominent phonological phenomenon seems to be a special kind of sandhi occurring in verbs, when the pronoun is combined with the aspect marker.
When the suffix for the first person singular -ik combines with tenses that employ -i, -o (Past and Future tenses), it becomes -mik.
- bernot-o-ik → bernot-o-mik
But when combined with suffixes that feature -e (Present tenses), the same suffix becomes -kik.
- bernot-e-ik → bernot-e-kik
Atlantean has a very strict subject–object–verb word order, with no deviations from this pattern attested. Adjectives and nouns in the genitive case follow the nouns they modify, adpositions appear only in the form of postpositions, and modal verbs follow the verbs that they modify and subsequently take all personal and aspectual suffixes. However, adverbs precede verbs. The language includes the use of an interrogative particle to form questions with no variation in word order.
Some sentences appear to employ some kind of particles sometimes termed "sentence connectors". These particles are of obscure meaning but are theorized to relate two clauses in a logical yet idiomatic manner. The exact meaning and usage of these particles is not known, but without them sentences are difficult to reconcile with their translations.
- Wiltem neb gamosetot deg duweren tirid.
- city-ACC DEM see-PRES-3RD.SG PART outsider-PL all.
- No outsiders may see the city and live. But literally: "He sees the city PARTICLE all outsiders."
In the example above there is no actual mention of the consequences for outsiders, yet the subtitle in the movie translates it as a warning even without any mention of living or dying. A possibility exists that, in order to match the lip movement of the characters in the movie and the time of the dialogue, the language had to be shortened, often leaving out key parts of the sentence. It is known that the Atlantean lines in the movie were ad-libbed afterwards.
- Tab.top, lud.en neb.et kwam gesu bog.e.kem deg yasek.en gesu.go.ntoh.
- father-VOC, person-PL DEM-PL NEG help be.able-PRES-1ST.SG PART noble-PL
- Father, these people may be able to help us. But literally: "Oh Father, we cannot help these people PARTICLE they will help the nobles."
In this example the sentences seem to be better connected, and the particle is rendered as almost "but, yet". It is difficult to reconcile the two, however.
|Nominative||no suffix||yob||the crystal (subject).|
|Accusative||-tem||yobtem||the crystal (object).|
|Genitive||-ag||yobag||of the crystal|
|Essive||-kup||yobkup||(as, composed of, being) crystal|
|Dative||-nuh||yobnuh||(for, to, on behalf of) crystal|
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
|Person||Number||Familiarity||Independent Pronoun||Suffix||English Gloss|
|3rd||Singular||–||tug tuh tok||-ot||he she it|
There are five cases for pronouns.
|Accusative||-it||kagit||me, whom was (sent), etc.|
|Genitive||-in||kagin||my ( my heart, karod kagin)|
|Instrumental||-is||kagis||by my means, with (using) me, via me, etc.|
|Name||Suffix||Example||English Gloss||Other Examples||English Gloss|
|Simple Present||-e||bernot.e.kik||I bring||sapoh.e.kik||I view|
|Present Perfect||-le||bernot.le.kik||I have brought|
|Present Obligatory||-se||bernot.se.kik||I am obliged to bring||kaber.se.kem||we are obliged to warn|
|Simple Past||-i||bernot.i.mik||I brought||es.i.mot, sapoh.i.mik||it was, I viewed|
|Immediate Past||-ib||bernot.ib.mik||I just brought|
|Past Perfect||-li||bernot.li.mik||I had brought|
|Simple Future||-o||bernot.o.mik||I will bring||komtib.o.nen||you will find|
|Future Possible||-go||bernot.go.mik||I may bring||gesu.go.ntoh||they may help|
|Future Perfect||-lo||bernot.lo.mik||I will have brought||komtib.lo.nen||you will have found|
|Future Obligatory||-so||bernot.so.mik||I will be obliged to bring||komtib.so.nen||you will be obliged to find|
Mood and Voice suffixes
|Imperative Mood Singular||no suffix||bernot!, nageb!||bring!, enter!|
|Imperative Mood Plural||-yoh||bernot.yoh!, nageb.yoh!||(you all) bring!, (you all) enter!|
|Passive Voice||-esh||pag.esh.e.nen, bernot.esh.ib.mik||you are thanked (thank you), I was just brought|
|Infinitive||-e||bernot.e, wegen.e, gamos.e||to bring, to travel, to see|
- Languages in Star Wars - another Disney property with constructed languages
- "Production Notes." Atlantis-The Lost Empire. Ed. Tim Montgomery, 1996–2007. The Unofficial Disney Animation Archive. 13 January 2007. Animationarchive.net
- Kalin-Casey, Mary. “Charting Atlantis the crew behind Disney’s latest animated adventure takes you behind the scenes.” Features Interviews. 17 January 2007 Reel.com Archived January 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Murphy, Tab, Platon, David Reyolds, Gary Trousdale, Joss Whedon, Kirk Wise, Bryce Zabel, and Jackie Zabel. Atlantis the Lost Empire: The Illustrated Script [Abridged Version with Notes from the Filmmakers], 55.
- Henn, Peter (June 1, 2001). "Finding Atlantis". Film Journal International. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Wloszczyna, Susan. “New movie trek for wordsmith.” USA Today Online. 24 May 2001. 12 Jan. 2007. USA Today
- Anderson, Matt. “Parlez-vous Atlantean?” Movie Habit. 12 January 2006 Moviehabit.com
- Henning, Jeffery. “Atlantean: Language of the Lost Empire” Langmaker.com. Jeffrey Henning. 1996–2005. 12 January 2006 Langmaker.com Archived 2007-01-08 at the Wayback Machine. "Interview of Don Hahn on Atlantis!" Animagic.Com. 3/26/01.
- Kurtti, Jeff. Atlantis Subterranean Tours: A Traveler’s Guide to the Lost City (Atlantis the Lost Empire). New York: Disney Editions: 2001, Inside Front Cover.
- Hahn, Don; Wise, Kirk; Trousdale, Gary et al. 2-Disc Collector’s Edition: Atlantis: The Lost Empire, especially Features "How to Speak Atlantean", "The Shepherd's Journal".
- John, David. Atlantis: The Lost Empire: The Essential Guide. New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., 2001, 33.
- Kurtti, Jeff. Atlantis Subterranean Tours: A Traveler’s Guide to the Lost City (Atlantis the Lost Empire). New York: Disney Editions: 2001, 60.
- Kurtti, Jeff. Atlantis Subterranean Tours: A Traveler’s Guide to the Lost City (Atlantis the Lost Empire). New York: Disney Editions: 2001, 31.
- Ehrbar, Greg. Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Milwaukee: Dark Horse Comics: June 2001.
- Hahn, Don; Wise, Kirk; Trousdale, Gary et al. 2-Disc Collector’s Edition: Atlantis: The Lost Empire, 01 10 0:50:31.
- Cynthia, Benjamin. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire : Welcome to my World." New York: Random House: 2001.
- Ehrbar, Greg. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." Milwaukee: Dark Horse Comics: June 2001.
- Hahn, Don; Wise, Kirk; Trousdale, Gary et al. "2-Disc Collector’s Edition: Atlantis: The Lost Empire."
- "Disney Adventures" magazine, Summer Issue 2001.
- Howard, James N. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack" : Limited Taiwanese Edition. Taiwan and Hong Kong: Walt Disney Records: Represented by Avex: 2001.
- Kurtti, Jeff. "Atlantis Subterranean Tours: A Traveler’s Guide to the Lost City (Atlantis the Lost Empire)." New York: Disney Editions: 2001.
- Kurtti, Jeff. "The Journal of Milo Thatch." New York: Disney Editions: 2001.
- Murphy, Tab et al. "Atlantis, the Lost Empire : The Illustrated Script." New York : Disney Editions: 2001.
- Atlantean Language Institute (archive) – Provides a dictionary, grammar guide, and corpus
- Henning's Old Introduction to the Language (archive)
- Atlantean alphabet on Omiglot