Phyrexian (language)

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For the creatures that use this language, see Phyrexia#Phyrexian life forms.

The Phyrexian language is a complete, written and spoken, constructed language developed for Scars of Mirrodin block.

It uses a novel alphabet, with primary glyphs attached to a centered line that runs continuously to the end of a sentence, save for line breaks. Both the beginning and end of sentences are explicitly marked. It is written vertically, and read top to bottom.[1] These features lend it an appearance similar to a real-world script such as traditional Mongolian. Horizontally written variants exist, often when mixed with English text, and notably including the Elesh Norn promo.

Translation[edit | edit source]

This key is used for transcribing Phyrexian to more common characters.

A fragmentary understanding of the Phyrexian language has been acquired by study of those cases where an English translation exists, and a transcription key developed. Transcription efforts are hindered by the low resolution of many samples, which can lead to confusion between similar diacritics. In particular, it is possible that ' and ` are equivalent.

The art for Dominaria's Phyrexian Scriptures, shared by its artist in high resolution, renewed interested in translation.[2] The text in that artwork appears to be the flavor text of the Urza's Saga printing of Dark Ritual. That translation effort also yielded a proposed syntax tree for the language.[3]

Proposed syntax tree
Proposed consonant chart

In the study of pronunciation, the most recent theory proposes that the main glyph determines the manner of articulation, while diacritics determine the place of articulation.[4] A further theory suggests that the vowel glyphs are determined by their articulation, rather than being arbitrary. Each vowel is composed of three lines on one side of the staff, one line longer than the other two, sometimes with a "hook" on the long line. The height of the long line indicates closed to openness, the side of the staff indicates front or back vowels, and the presence of a hook indicates roundedness. These can be further modified by diacritics. The same effort produced a partial association of consonant sounds with Phyrexian characters.[5]


Samples[edit | edit source]

Elesh Norn Promo[edit | edit source]

Sample Transcription Rough word-for-word translation Known English equivalent
Name line on the Elesh Norn Judge Promo[6] 'ZE_^Mx| T^HD^T^ MxNxL'ZNx A`KT^HZXx.[7] Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[7] Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[6]
Type line on the Elesh Norn Judge Promo[6] N^LV^Z" 'X:E'ZN* X:N*LV^XxD^.[7] Legendary Creature - Praetor[7] Legendary Creature — Praetor[6]
First sentence of rules text on the Elesh Norn Judge Promo[6] N"VFXvT^D^QX:T.[7] Vigilance[7] Vigilance[6]
Second sentence of rules text on the Elesh Norn Judge Promo[6] N*E| M:L_^_^| X^O| X^N*Q'X:Q_^N*| EN*O'X:EE'ZN* +2/+2 N^FXxLXvEX^.[7] (present tense) Other our controlled creatures +2/+2 receive.[7] Other creatures you control get +2/+2.[6]
Third sentence of rules text on the Elesh Norn Judge Promo[6] N*E| X^O| ON*T^JJX^Ax| X^N*Q'XvE_^| N*E'X:EE'ZN* -2/-2 N^FXxLXvEX^.[7] (present tense) Our opponents controlled creatures -2/-2 receive.[7] Creatures your opponents control get -2/-2.[6]
Flavor text on the Elesh Norn Judge Promo[6] First sentence:
N*E| X:HD^Z"ON*Xx| Z^FGXxN*| M:L_^_^X:ENxOOZ^N` N^F'ZFA`E'ZEXx.[7]
First sentence:
(present tense) Gitaxians [among themselves] other worlds whisper.[7]
The Gitaxians whisper among themselves of other worlds.[6]
Flavor text on the Elesh Norn Judge Promo[6] Second sentence:
ZL| Z^FFXxN*| X:OT^LT^ 'X:L'X:L| 'NL| ~X:GD^N*X:ENxOZ^N` 'ZEMxNxL'ZNx T^LX:GXx.[7]
Second sentence:
If they exist, [we must/will] Perfect world's magnificence bring.[7]
If they exist, we must bring Phyrexia's magnificence to them.[6]

Dark Discoveries[edit | edit source]

Sample Transcription Rough word-for-word translation Known English equivalent
Speech bubble on page 5 of Dark Discoveries Part 3[8] 'XxLXxXx T^LX*T TFV^ET^M:.
OX*'XvL| OV^T^LX^HAx| M:OX*Z^M:X:GFZ".
'X*L~XvL| Z^^XvNxLV^XxD^| 'XxOVHL^T.[9]
Speech bubble on page 6 of Dark Discoveries Part 3[8] NxOO'ZHNxTT"E| Z^^TH'ZHNx| VAxXxOAxAx.[9]

All Will Be One[edit | edit source]

Sample Transcription Rough word-for-word translation Known English equivalent
First scene of All Will Be One[10] N*E| X^O| 'ZOX:GD^N*T^L~X:GT| N*E| V^T^E~X:HT[7] (present tense) Our perfect work(now?) [flesh/is flesh/made flesh][7] We are perfection made flesh.[10]
Second scene of All Will Be One Second scene of All Will Be One[10] N*E| N*QXxMxLN

X^O| 'ZQC`FAx| N*E| X:OT^'ZGZ"| N*EN*O| 'N'X:EE'ZN*| MxOX:~NxLFEX:[7]
(present tense) (?) Our voice (to) (now) lost broken creatures [calls out][7] Our voice calls out to the lost and broken (creatures)[10]
Third scene of All Will Be One Third scene of All Will Be One[10] N*E| NxQX^N*| N*VFN*GAx

Z^_^FX:| N"VFON*'XxENxQX^N*| 'ZQZ"'ZONxV[7]
(present tense) Death [they fear] even as immortality [we offer][7] They fear death even as we offer immortality[10]
Fourth scene of All Will Be One Fifth scene of All Will Be One[10] 'X:L'X:L| Z^OX:ENxOZ^N`| ZGXxX:Xx N*GMx| N"JM^LZ^

N*E'ZQT| MxHX:D^LX:~X:GD^N"X:ENxGZ^N`| T^LXx_^GAx| X:D^EX:GZ^[7]
(We must/will) this world's false skin flay (to now/in future) new Perfect world face reveal[7] We will flay the false skin of this world to reveal the face of a new Phyrexia[10]
Sixth scene of All Will Be One[10] 'ZQ| MxNxL'ZNxT^L'X:T| 'ZFFN*XxNvQ'ZE&[7] (perfect tense) Great Work [has begun][7] The Great Work has begun[10]

New Phyrexia[edit | edit source]

Sample Transcription Rough word-for-word translation Known English equivalent
First scene of New Phyrexia[11] 'ZQ|MxHX:D^ X:Xx ~X:GD^N" X:ENxOZ^N` MxNxL'ZNxT^'X:FT| 'Xv_^ T^L~X:ET[7] (perfect tense) Great New Perfect world Work [was made?][7] The Great Work of New Phyrexia is complete[11]
Second scene of All Will Be One[11] N*E| V^J'ZZ"'ZO'ZVZ"VOVV| TL'ZT^| MxHX:D^LX:Xx'ZT^T^EN*FN* N^F_^Q'ZENv[7] (present tense) Machine Orthodoxy mana? new sources power[7] New sources of mana power the Machine Orthodoxy[11]
Third scene of All Will Be One[11] N*ETD^HZ^T^| 'ZOZO'ZGV| ~XvGD^N* Xv_^XxN*E N*GMx| OMxX^TT^GD^GN*[7] (present tense?) Mirrodin heart Perfect race? skin [(beneath?) burns][7] Beneath Phyrexian skin, the heart of Mirrodin burns[11]
Fourth scene of All Will Be One[11] N*E| X:N*OT^T^T^| N"EX^FXx 'ZFA`EE'ZXx| XxOYFD^Xx N^FAxX:LT^'ZEZ"[7] (present tense) Body whole is (but /present tense/) whispers mind splinter[7] The body is whole, but whispers splinter the mind[11]
Fifth scene of All Will Be One Fifth scene of All Will Be One[11] V^JJ'ZZ"| TH'ZGNx| THAxEX^| 'X:L'X:L[7] Machines Father come [will][7] The Father (of Machines) is coming[11]
Fifth scene of All Will Be One[11] T^L'X:TON*'Xv_^Z^FX^HMx[7] Work unmaker (or 'Making undoer')[7] Destroyer.[11]

Phyrexian Scriptures[edit | edit source]

Sample Transcription Rough word-for-word translation Known English equivalent
Phyrexian Scriptures Sketch.png
[12]
Top row: Z'QMxZxL
Main text:
~XvGD^N*X*ENxOZ"N*| N"V"OFN*FVV |MvOZ*NxZ^FMvMv.
MxNxLZ'Nx | V^J'Z"Z_HZ'Nx | V^JJZ'Z"THZ'GNx | V^T^_L_~Z*_ET | N^FD^QN*ET.
N*V"HZxMv | MxNxLZ'NxZ^FMvMv | Z'FFN*ZxNvQZ'EZx[13]
Top row: ??
Main text:
Phyrexia from void evolved.
Great Yawgmoth ?? Great Machine Father perfection saw.
Thus Grand Evolution began.[3]
Top row: ??
Main text:
From void evolved Phyrexia. Great Yawgmoth, Father of Machines, saw its perfection. Thus The Grand Evolution began.[3]

Phyrexian Altar[edit | edit source]

Sample Transcription Rough word-for-word translation Known English equivalent
Artwork for Phyrexian Altar (Ultimate Masters)[14] ON*XxN*Mx
Artwork for Phyrexian Altar (Ultimate Masters)[14] ~ZQM^XxL

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Doug Beyer (November 24, 2010). "Continuum". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Joseph Meehan. "For my first ever tweet I'll kick it off right...". Retrieved on 2018-03-14.
  3. a b c citrus_inferno. "Evidence the new Phyrexian Scripture art translates to Dark Ritual Flavor Text". Retrieved on 2018-03-14.
  4. jankestmage (March 13, 2018). "New Phyrexian Language, comment 371". MTG Salvation.
  5. citrus_inferno, A partial parsing of the Phyrexian alphabet, /r/magicTCG
  6. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite Judge promo
  7. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj MOON_E (March 13, 2018). "New Phyrexian Language, comment 368". MTG Salvation.
  8. a b Jenna Helland (May 19, 2011). "Dark Discoveries". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  9. a b Savil (March 13, 2018). "New Phyrexian Language, comment 350". MTG Salvation.
  10. a b c d e f g h i j All Will Be One. Retrieved on 2018-03-14.
  11. a b c d e f g h i j k l New Phyrexia. Retrieved on 2018-03-14.
  12. Meehan, Joseph. “Phyrexian Scriptures.” ArtStation, 2017. https://www.artstation.com/artwork/bkeDG.
  13. Corv (March 13, 2018). "Translating Phyrexian Scriptures". MTG Salvation.
  14. a b Yigit Koroglu. "ArtStation - Phyrexian Altar, Yigit Koroglu". Retrieved on 2018-12-16.