As much as I love Gallifreyan I have very little time that I can invest into it due to work and my studies. I would really appreciate it if you could leave some feedback if you have some time to spare.
My dream for this website is that it could be used as the main repository of information on Gallifreyan. I would love if it was the main website artists would use as references when they're starting out. For the moment there is only one guide from the many dialects of Gallifreyan that exist, which I would like to change but sadly I have very little time I can spare. If you're interested in helping me by collaborating with me on new guides to some more dialects (see footer) let me know!
How to write Sherman's Circular Gallifreyan
Gallifreyan is a made up writing system used by the Time Lords of Gallifrey, from the BBC series
Doctor Who. This writing system was created by Loren Sherman and is free for anyone to use.
Thanks a lot Loren!
This guide deals with Circular Gallifreyan. To clarify, this is not a language - it's just a way to write words and sentences in languages like English that use the latin alphabet.
Each word has its own word circle, that the consonants attach to. This circle is called
the word circle. Fig. 2 shows the consonant stems and the additional
One can refer to the stems by naming each stem by the first letter in the row. Thus, the uppermost stem is the b-stem, the second stem from the top the j-stem, and so on.
The left-most column shows all the consonant stems. The upper-most row shows the decoration. These two combined form a consonant.
In Circular Gallifreyan you attach your vowels to the consonant which came before the vowel whenever possible. If the first letter of a word is a vowel, you can write the vowel without a consonant preceding it. Separating a vowel from its preceding consonant can also be done to improve visual appearance.
The curved black path represents a fragment of a word circle. Don't worry, we will take
a look at these very soon. The grey circles are the
th-stems, as seen
in Fig. 2. The most important part are the violet elements. These are the
vowels which are attached to their preceding consonant, here always
This again, is not an English word; it spells out
In Fig. 3 you saw all of the consonant stems applied to a word circle. In this figure I have added the vowels so that you have an idea where to put the vowels on the preceding consonant. The violet objects are the vowels.
These words would spell out (left to right, top to bottom)
To read a word in Gallifreyan, start with the letter that is the furthest at the bottom of the word circle, then read counterclockwise. Let’s write some example words.
Flip through the images elements to see how to build a word.
To construct the first letter of our word (
Doctor), we draw the
b-stem, which is a big divot. Then we attach three dots. We choose that stem and decoration because that is where the
dlies in the consonant table. The dots can be placed anywhere, and can be as large or small as you wish, as long as as it's clear that they belong to the
Let's first write each letter by themselves and then attach them to the previous letters. We just add the letter
oas it's used in Fig. 4.
Fig. 5 shows us how to combine the
b-stem, which was used to create
d(Fig. 6), with the vowel
o(Fig. 7), to form
do. As long as it conforms with the rules of the vowel, we could put it anywhere. Use the placement to create a unique version of your design!
cis tricky. As can see if you check the consonant table above, the
cis greyed out, that's intentional. You are only supposed to use the
qthat is also greyed out, in proper names. Instead use their phonetic equivalents
k. We are trying to achieve the sound of a
kso we will use the
j-stemwith two dots.
Since words are read counterclockwise, we add the
cin counterclockwise direction from
Now we need a
t, so we just use the
t-stemwithout any decoration.
And now attach the
tin counterclockwise direction from the existing letters. I think you get the gist. Let me finish the word for you.
You can write
wheither as one letter, as seen in this image, or as two separate letters. The result is the exact same but you might want to choose one over the other for aesthetic reasons. The other way of doing this is illustrated in Fig. 18, Fig. 19 and Fig. 20.
whas two separate letters, you would first use the letter
Then you'll need the letter
Now that we have both
hwe can combine them, as we learned before when writing
whowe're just missing the
o, which is exactly the same as we used in
In the end
whocan be composed in two ways. One way is to combine the
owith the "single" consonant
wh(Fig. 17) like this.
We can also combine the
owith the letters
hwritten separately (Fig. 20).
Double letters, such as the
cool or the
all can be denoted by another circle of the same thickness.
cool could be written like this:
And and Ampersand
Fig. 26 shows you how you would write the
and. Once you start
writing a bit of CG, you'll realize that it doesn't look that good. Since it's used
quite often in the english language, the Gallifreyan community on Reddit had a
discussion about the matter and decided to substitute
and with a newly
created character, the ampersand. Feel free to substitute
&. The ampersand is just the letter e with a line across it, as seen
in Fig. 27.
Words are good alright, but sentences are even better! Like words, they're read
counterclockwise starting from the bottom. The letters
S can be used to interconnect letters by interlocking them. This convention
exists purely to improve visual appearance. It gives a sentence more coherence. The
words in Fig. 28 say
Bow ties are cool.
Next we'll add two circles around all of the words. The inner circle has multiple divots to fill the space that the letter circles don't cover. This helps eliminate dead space, is purely aesthetic and doesn't change the meaning at all. The outer circle is a little bit bigger than the inner one and has no divots, unless there is more than one sentence, but we'll get to that later.
Now it’s time to extend the lines. For the meaning of any one letter, all that matters
is that the right number of lines terminate at that letter. It doesn't matter to which
other object these lines connect.
One exception is that the lines from the letters
ushould face in the approximately right direction. E.g.
a line starting out from the letter
i must roughly go inwards and a line
starting out from the letter
u must rougly go outwards. Lines can be used
to create an even better appearance of harmony by interconnecting.
In Fig. 29 there are two sentence circles. The inner sentence circle, with the
divots, and the outer sentence circle which just wraps everything up. The punctuation of a
sentence is always placed on the inner sentence circle. The
; can be situated on the inside or outside of the inner circle. All other
punctuation marks should stay on the inner circle.
' is a special case. The
two lines that designate an
', must not start on the inner circle and end on the
outer circle. Instead they must start or end in between the two letter/consonant stems, and
start/end on the inner sentence circle. The following examples show good and bad practice.
Numbers can be written as concentric circles. The area between two adjacent circles is
called a ring and represents a digit. The number of lines inside a ring specifies the
value of that digit. Small circles inscribed into a ring denote the value of five. The
numbers in Fig. 34 and Fig. 35 are
Numbers are read from the outermost to the innermost ring. If one circle is thicker than the others, it specifies the decimal point. If there is no thickest circle, the number is not a decimal number. Negative numbers are recognisable by a line that is drawn across the innermost circle.
The Final Test
Gallifreyan sentences are read from outermost to innermost word. Translate this sentence to know if you're a real Gallifreyan pro!
- I'm not sure I understand how to read/write Gallifreyan. Do you have some more designs where I can practice?
- I sure do. Just head on over to gallifreyan.info/designs/ and take a look at those. Don't look at the page and try to blindly click on an image. It will enlarge the image and hide the caption. Now you can try to read what it says and look at the caption once you think you have the right answer. If you are ready to start writing Gallifreyan, read one of the captions without looking at the design too much, make your own design and then check what I made to compare them.
- What editor an you recommend to start writing SCG?
- A popular and free choice is to write Circular Gallifreyan
is Inkscape. However Inkscape
is quite advanced and hard to get into. To get started I can recommend the free version of
Gravit Designer. Because of how
Gravit Designer is written you might have a hard
time stretching your legs and getting more creative with your designs so it might be a good
idea to start looking for something more suitable at that point.
Personally I use Affinity Designerbecause it's only a one-time payment and it gives me all I need. Some people that don't feel comfortable switching also write Gallifreyan in Photoshop.
- Can I download this guide somehow?
- You can. I have a list of downloads that can help you to remember the letters and some additional files if you're not sure on the specifics.
- Can you translate something for me?
- I will for a fee. Contact me so we can get you a cool design!
- Is it possible to combine two consonants or vowels that aren't the same?
- Yes, but it's a little more complicated. To find out more about advanced techniques, check out the downloads section.
- How do I write the letter
Uif it's just one word?
- Either make the line which originates from the
Ucircle back to the word circle, or make another circle around the word which would be the sentence circle for the line of the