Written Gallifreyan; an aesthetically pleasing design rather than a coherent language or a bewildering combination of a Noel Harrison song (‘round like a circle in a spiral’) and the family board game Downfall made into a fantastic communication device for those of a geeky persuasion?
Whatever your view; the Time Turners of the TARDIS writer The Honey Badger has taken an existing guide by Loren Sherman – which in turn uses Catherine Bettenbender’s Gallifreyan alphabet – and offered this simplified version of the standardised Circular Gallifreyan.
The guide breaks down each symbol into its composite analogue – consonants are divided into four larger circle forms which are modified by one of five different designs which are distinguished by dots and lines (although it’s the amount of dots and lines rather than placement that distinguish the change.)
Words in Gallifreyan are based on Standard English spelling with the exception of the letter C and a few phonetics letters like CH, SH, TH, and NG – an example of this is the word ‘Cat’ which in Gallifreyan would be written as ‘KAT’ because of C’s harsher ‘K’ phonetic sound.
If you take the start point as the entry position of a key, you can almost see the circles turning as you pass around unlocking each word until you have a complete sentence.
Vowels are a different matter; they either intersect the outer line of the consonant or float just outside of it. There are no fixed rules for these smaller circles but a vowel should stand on its own if you want to elongate a word. If a word starts with a vowel then it will need to stand on its own because it has no consonant to attach to.
Words are based on circles; they begin at the base of the circle and proceed anti-clockwise around the word. Consonants with connecting lines (those distinguishing features of consonants) like ‘P’ and ‘H’ can connect, while single line letters like ‘N’ can then extend as far as the writer wishes as long as they don’t intersect any other letters.
Unsurprisingly, sentences are made of words and like words, they start at the base of a circle and proceed anti-clockwise around the edge – there are two circles an outer one which simply contains the word and the inner which breaks the words up with punctuation (which again are made up of dots and lines)
The divots that you find in the inner circle are strictly there to make the most of the empty space available.
Circular Gallifreyan is beautifully constructed; almost like a lock. If you take the start point as the entry position of a key, you can almost see the circles turning as you pass around unlocking each word until you have a complete sentence.
I’m sure that for a race that holds the keys to the known universe that all this mix metaphor fun was an intentional design choice.
Why not wrestle with this ancient unknowable language and have a go at your own Gallifreyan sentences?