The table below lists all letters in the D'ni alphabet, in the D'ni alphabetical order. You can copy letters from the "Letter" column to get the Latin character used in the official font.
|D'ni letters and their Roman script equivalents|
The D'ni alphabet consists of 35 characters, compared to the 26 in the standard English alphabet. Most of these additional characters are specific vowel sounds, providing more precise definition to spoken words, instead of the mish-mash of sounds each vowel can produce in English. Additionally, there are several consonants which have two forms: "hard" and "soft". Soft consonant sounds are more breathy than their harder alternate forms, and in the Old Standard of transcription, this was indicated by the addition of an H after the consonant. Because of the different manner in which the D'ni represented sounds, the letters Q and X are not present in the D'ni alphabet, though the sounds associated with them in English are still possible using other D'ni letter combinations. For instance, the D'ni letter "x" effectively functions as "x", though it is more accurately pronounced like the English "ts" sound.
Official D'ni font
Several years ago, Cyan put their official D'ni font up for download on their website commonly referred to as Dnifont. This font is much easier to use on the internet, as it lacks an apostrophe in the font name, and for quite some time, was freely available from Cyan's website, ensuring anyone could download and install it.
Unfortunately, an upgrade to Cyan's website removed the page storing the download, and until recently, none of the D'ni fonts have been widely accessible to newcomers. The Guild of Linguists now hosts a download of Cyan's D'ni font as a TrueType font, which can be installed on Windows, Linux, and Mac computers. Advancements in web technologies have also enabled the creation of a web font version, which eliminates the need for the font to be installed on individuals' computers and allows it to be viewed on mobile devices. The Archive uses this web font on this and other pages. You can use the font on your own site by following these instructions by community member OHB. If D'ni text on this site does not appear in the D'ni font, check to make sure that you are running the latest version of your chosen browser. If you are using ad blocking software, be sure that it is configured to allow custom fonts on this domain.
In the years before Cyan released their official version of the font, several fans took it upon themselves to create unofficial versions for themselves and others to use. These fonts, as well as instructions for their use, can also be found at the Guild of Linguists' website. The "D'ni Script" font created by Tekis and Jehon may be particularly useful when browsing older community linguistic websites.
Over the years, there have been several efforts to standardize the way in which D'ni is written in Roman characters. There are now essentially three standards in which D'ni is written, though telling them apart is often easy. Figuring out the original D'ni letters used, however, sometimes isn't.
Old Transliteration Standard
The OTS is something of a misnomer, as there is little standard to the way in which it handles some D'ni characters—especially vowels. Although this is the standard in which all D'ni words have been written by Cyan in the past, it is often not clear what characters make up the word in the actual D'ni alphabet. Depending on the word, the OTS uses multiple Roman letters for each D'ni letter. For example, "shorah" is actually sh|o|r|ah in D'ni, not s|h|o|r|a|h. The extra h's in the Romanization of the word are there as pronunciation guides, to ensure that the word is spoken properly when read aloud.
Other letters, such as the long "i", are sometimes written in capital letters, again to ensure that they are pronounced correctly. Cyan has actually done this in Uru, referring to the "Judges of Yahvo" as the "regolantantEok Yahvo". However, this often negatively impacts readability and generates confusion among some fans as to why letters in the middle of a word are capitalized.
To make matters more confusing, Cyan has a habit of dropping h's and other secondary letters from transliterated words if it improves their readability on the page. For instance, "Releeshahn" should actually be spelled "Rehleeshahn" if one were to strictly adhere to the "standard". For that matter, "D'ni" should actually be spelled "D'nee" as the last letter is a long E in D'ni, not an i.
It has generally been agreed upon that use of the OTS is acceptable for everyday conversation online, but should not be used when attempting to transliterate text that may need to be re-transliterated back into D'ni, as transliteration errors are likely to occur. Some individuals attempt to distinguish between separate D'ni letters using pipes ("|"), as used above, or by using brackets (""), but this decreases legibility, is cumbersome to use at length, and still relies on the accurate and consistent use of secondary letters like H to properly identify particular characters.
New Transliteration Standard
The NTS was developed by the Guild of Linguists when it became apparent that the OTS was insufficient for use as a standard capable of handling the extended symbols in the D'ni alphabet. The NTS uses linguistic characters to standardize D'ni to Roman transliteration on a one-to-one basis. For instance, "shorah" is written as "šora" using NTS.
Unfortunately, NTS has not caught on outside of linguistic circles due to the difficulty involved in typing linguistic characters on most keyboards, the difficulty in ensuring that the characters are properly displayed on all computer screens—if a forum's encoding is incorrect, the letters will appear as anything from squares to question marks—and the increased difficulty for non-linguists in deciphering the pronunciation from the text alone.
With only a couple of minor exceptions, all of the D'ni fonts have nearly identical character mappings, making it possible to post D'ni text in Roman characters for others to paste into a word processor and convert directly to D'ni characters. This is not a commonly-used technique, as Roman font-mapped text can still be difficult to read and pronounce, but it does make it easier to convert back to D'ni.
A PDF document created by community member BladeLakem shows each D'ni letter alongside all of its various font and linguistic transliteration equivalents. This document is available on the Myst Embassy website.