The Ultimate Guide to Circular Gallifreyan in All of Time and Space
Gallifreyan, is the language used by the Time Lords of Gallifrey. It is (allegedly) a fictional language used in the BBC TV show Doctor Who.
There are three known forms of written Gallifreyan; Old High Gallifreyan, Modern Gallifreyan and Circular Gallifreyan.
Old High Gallifreyan, the original ancient language of the Time Lords, was declared by the 11th Doctor to possess the power to “raise empires and destroy gods”. But by the Doctor’s era, it fell in disuse and was known only to very few. Modern Gallifreyan, an evolved form of Old High Gallifreyan was common at the time of the Doctor.
By the end of the last great Time War, Gallifreyan could be written using a complex system of interlocking circles, hexagons and connecting lines. This form of Gallifreyan is known as Circular Gallifreyan.
Circular Gallifreyan is a language closely linked to the TARDIS. The TARDIS contains a translation matrix, giving it the ability to adapt to every other language, at least for those of us who aren’t Time Lords. In Muggle terms, Circular Gallifreyan is more of a cipher or code than an actual language. It can be used to write any language that can be translated to the same script as English. Since 2005 this version of Gallifreyan is used very commonly on the Dr Who TV show.
Guide to Circular Gallifreyan
Step 1) Learn the Basic Alphabet
Getting familiar with the basic alphabet is incredibly helpful
I recommend memorizing the individual alphabets because it makes the reading and writing process much faster, but if you don’t want to do that, then you can use the chart below for reference to the consonants.
In circular Gallifreyan, there is no version of ‘C’. When there is a ‘C’ in a word, you replace it with either ‘K’ or ‘CH’ depending on whichever sounds closer to it.
Some people write a version of ‘C’ that looks like ’D’ but with 4 dots. But that version is rather confusing because that can have different interpretations, so I prefer to stick to the ‘K’ method.
Step 2) Vowels in Relation to Consonants
Vowels are generally attached to the consonants directly before them. In which case they will be placed “in relation to the consonants” as seen in the chart below.
Vowels can also be put separately if there is no consonant before them, or if that is more convenient. In such a case, they are placed as seen in the alphabet chart. (see step 1)
Step 3) Reading and Writing Simple Individual Words
Circular Gallifreyan is written and read anti-clockwise starting from the central bottom part of the circle.
Things to Keep in Mind :-
1) When you are writing the words, make small markings for the lines and dots you need for the alphabets and join them later. This way you can visualize the whole word. The lines can be drawn in any direction, what is important about them is their number.
2) When writing words with double letters,
like Gallifrey that has 2 L’s, make a smaller circle within the
bigger one. Similarly, 2 T’s and all the other alphabets can be doubled by
making a smaller version of themselves within the original letter.
In Gallifreyan, words in a sentence are grouped together, making the individual word circles form a larger circle. This is done by putting the individual circles in an anti-clockwise pattern.
When reading Gallifreyan sentences, start at the lowest part of the circle at the bottom of the main circle and read it anticlockwise. Then do the same for all the other circles in the main circle, going in an anticlockwise direction.
Eventually, with practice, you should be able to read and write extensive passages in circular Gallifreyan
(Examples above are - ‘Love the running’ and ‘bad wolf’)
Step 5) Punctuation
In order to read and write large sentences in their proper grammatical context, the following system of punctuation is used in Circular Gallifreyan.
The punctuation of a sentence can be done by placing the necessary punctuation next to the pertaining word circle or by placing it in the outer circle of the word.
Step 6) Number System
There are many systems for writing numbers in Gallifreyan. There is even an entire system of doing advanced mathematics! But, since the last time I saw my mathematics book I stabbed it with a knife, killing it like the horcrux it is, I’ll stick to the two most basic methods.
I personally prefer the second method, because it’s much easier to use for really large numbers, like if you’re writing the date (or star date). But, method 1 is the one that is seen used in Doctor Who. The second version is more like using roman numerals, to an extent.
Step 7) (optional) Decoration
Circular Gallifreyan has a beautiful script, so it will look good whether you write it free hand or elaborately with a compass. If you do want to make it more decorative, then there are various things you can do:-
• Draw an extra outer circle
• Indent the inner circle
• Join the lines of the different circles together
• Change the thickness of certain circles in bigger phrases
Step 8) Test Yourself
If you need any help or translations, feel free to ask me!
- Medini Sriram