Project Background

How did this whole thing get started? It all started during the final few episodes of the second season of Smallville. The creative talents behind the show implemented a ton of the Kryptonian transliteration font that DC uses, and I found it fascinating. One of the coolest moments in the series is when the characters are finally able to open Kal-El's ship and see the message from Jor-El.

Easter Egg

The inner-most ring of Kryptonian writing inside the space ship in the aforementioned Smallville episode reads, "Made in Taiwan."

As I learned to read what was essentially just English with a funny typeface, I noticed that the creators of the show started more and more to combine these symbols in strange ways. It was these inconsistencies with the use of the transliteration guide that first got me thinking about how an actual Kryptonian writing system might work, and might fit in with what they were presenting on the show.

One fateful day in the spring of 2003, while stuck in traffic on the way home from work, my mind began to wander to all of these things... I soon found myself creating, over time, a real alphabet based on the existing Kryptonian font, that could function for another language - not just different symbols for the letters in our alphabet. This basic work (which is now mostly obsolete) grew to include the Kryptonian numbers and a few examples of basic math. It was posted online, and survived for quite a while - much longer than I would have expected.

What this project wasn't, initially, was a full Kryptonian language. It was just a fun little project about the orthography, and I only ever used it to transliterate English. As such (and owing to a very busy schedule) the only other development that this new writing saw was the introduction of punctuation (again, mirroring English punctuation) which was never published online; this too has now been rendered obsolete.

During an awesome class on invented languages (thanks Doug!) while pursuing a linguistics degree at UT in the fall of 2006, I decided, with much enthusiasm, to dust off the project and pick up the gauntlet of fleshing out a fully-functioning Kryptonian language. It's been an interesting and bumpy ride chock full of Not Nearly Enough Hours in the Day™.

For those that think I am the biggest nerd in the world for doing this - you are probably right. I will defend myself (slightly) by saying that 1, I'm fine with that, and 2, this has been more about a love of linguistics far more than anything else for me. Don't get me wrong, I really like Superman, but that alone wouldn't have been enough for me to have gone to this effort. I'm happy to report that in December of 2008 I (finally) completed my bachelors degree in linguistics (as well as one in music, but that's a whole different story).

I would also like to show my endless appreciation to my girlfriend wife for being so accommodating of my various nerd-out moments. There have been plenty of conversations along the lines of:

"If the object of a sentence is the subject of a relative clause which precedes the particle /zw/ (Q) followed by the object of the relative clause, then how do you think it would make sense to form a relative clause that includes its own subject (such as a pronoun with a referent from a previous clause)?"

"Yes, dear."

I'm exaggerating, of course, but not much.

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