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 Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language

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happydalek
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PostSubject: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:25 pm

In a different thread, Scarywood and I were briefly discussing the symbols used to represent the Gallifreyan language. These took the form of random squiggles in the classic series, and bunches of circles in the new series. I summarized the history of the Gallifreyan written language, such as it is, here:

Quote :
... they just used random made-up symbols for the Doctor's calling card in "Remembrance of the Daleks," the note that the Doctor writes in "The Deadly Assassin" (which was actually written by producer Philip Hinchcliffe! He made up all those random squiggles!), and the inscription in the Dark Tower in "The Five Doctors" (which contains the Doctor's "real" name as mentioned in the first Making of Doctor Who book -- look for it next time you watch that scene!)

But in the new series -- at least during the Eccleston season -- the seemingly random circles seen on the TARDIS monitor (as well as the post-it notes on the monitor) were actually a code, and supposedly if you could figure out the code, the production team worked funny little messages into the monitor & post-its.

I searched (not that thoroughly, to be honest) on the internet, and could not find anyone who has deciphered the new series Gallifreyan code. Last night I did some research through my Doctor Who magazine collection, and found these quotes:

From an interview with production designer Ed Thomas in Doctor Who Magazine issue 360, pg. 43:
"I just liked the idea of Victorian pocket watches and the way they were made up inside -- the way the elements fit together and move. So I asked Jenny (Bowers, graphic designer) to come up with an alphabet and a series of images which would give us symbols and signs, numbers and letters. She spent about a month doing just that. We plastered the TARDIS controls with these symbols and they all mean something. It's read concentrically, so you start reading from the outside in."
That last sentence is a key hint in starting to decipher the code. Also, the quote about "numbers and letters" is important, as it tells us that the circles do not represent entire words at a time, simply individual characters.

From an interview with Ed Thomas in SFX Collection: DOCTOR WHO: Your Ultimate Unofficial Guide to All Ten Doctors! Special Edition 24, pg. 75:
"We've given him Post-It notes with Gallifreyan text on! Jenny, our graphic artist, spent months creating an alphabet and a numerical system that all makes sense. I've been happy to do that kind of stuff because I think the fans deserve it."
Not as useful as the previous quote, but it is nice to know that they appreciate the attention that fans devote to the show, and they put little touches like this for us to find.

Similar to the representation of Gallifreyan, the Dalek language was represented randomly in the classic series (the "read-out" from the Dalek's point of view at the beginning of "Remembrance of the Daleks," as well as on the viewscreen inside the scout ship), and with a more formal alphabet in the new series. The most prominent example of the new series Dalek alphabet is the nametag located underneath each Dalek eyestalk, but the production team placed an example in every episode of the Eccleston series, behind the dummies in the window at Henrik's; in Mickey's room... the idea (more of an in-joke) is that the Daleks were leaving messages for each other in preparation for their big plan in the season finale. I don't know if anyone has deciphered this, either.

In [/i]The Dalek Book from the 1960s, there was a glossary of Dalek vocabulary words, including the letter that the Daleks dare not speak or use: J! The new series blew this out of the water with a Dalek named Jast, so oh well! When I met Terry Nation at a convention, the thought crossed my mind to say "Ziquivilly!" as I left (that's Dalek for "goodbye," according to The Dalek Book[i]), but thankfully my sanity prevailed!
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happydalek
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:26 pm

Sorry I clearly messed up that last paragraph... only the title of the book was meant to be italicized.
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:00 pm

I remember reading the same thing and thinking the production team would print out the Gallifreyean "letters" somewhere, like DWA in a codebreaker kind of puzzle or in Time Travelers Almanac or the Visual Encyclopedia. I have never seen it though. I do remember they also said a different symbol would be on the spine of each BBC novel.

Has anyone a picture of the top of the homebox from TOA to look at the Old High Gallifreyan characters versus the classic series?

Good post. Any linguists here or encrytion specialists who might be able to figure this stuff out? It does seem thought out, not random, by the producers.
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Ronpur
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:19 pm

In the Five Doctors, old high Gallifreyan used a lot of Greek symbols and letters. As did the 7th Doctor's calling card. I have never found any reference to what they represent and were most likely just randomly placed. The only Dalek symbols I remember are the "names" under the eyestalks.
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:08 pm

The designer Malcolm Thornton pulled the lettering from the Picollo edition of The Making of Doctor Who from the 1970's for The Five Doctors sets.
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Rocco
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:18 am

WHATS THE DOCTORS REAL NAME?!?!?!?!?!
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:10 am

Rocco wrote:
WHATS THE DOCTORS REAL NAME?!?!?!?!?!

Dahk Torr
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:29 am

jaredofmo wrote:
Rocco wrote:
WHATS THE DOCTORS REAL NAME?!?!?!?!?!

Dahk Torr



Are you being serious?
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jaredofmo
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:41 pm

Rocco wrote:
jaredofmo wrote:
Rocco wrote:
WHATS THE DOCTORS REAL NAME?!?!?!?!?!

Dahk Torr



Are you being serious?

I am seriously not not not not not not not not not being serious.
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khana
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:53 pm

jaredofmo wrote:
Rocco wrote:
jaredofmo wrote:
Rocco wrote:
WHATS THE DOCTORS REAL NAME?!?!?!?!?!

Dahk Torr



Are you being serious?

I am seriously not not not not not not not not not being serious.

Being as I count 9 "not"s in that sentence, and double negatives cancel out, that suggests you are not being serious.

The very way you answered made that rather apparent, regardless Razz
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jaredofmo
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:09 pm

There was a similar thread on IMDb and one person said "Dok Tor Hu."

No, Rocco, we have never been told the Doctor's real name, though he apparently does tell it to River Song.
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happydalek
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PostSubject: Re: Gallifreyan (and Dalek) language   Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:16 am

The Doctor's "real" name as stated in the first Making of Doctor Who book is a combination of Greek letters and mathematical notations:

- the Greek letter Alpha to the third power, followed by
- the Greek letter Sigma, followed by
- the Greek letter Chi to the second power

You can see this among the characters on the pillar that the Doctors are trying to translate in the Dark Tower in "The Five Doctors." Obviously the canonicity of a TV tie-in book is debatable, so you can still preserve the sense of mystery around the Doctor's real name if you like!

Jaredofmo is right -- of all the characters seen in the series, River Song is the only character who has been explicitly shown to know what the Doctor's real name is. Other characters we can assume might know the Doctor's real name include the Master, Lady Peinforte (depending on how much the Nemesis statue revealed to her about the Doctor's secrets), and Madame de Pompadour (if she got that deep inside his head). Depending on how Time Lord academy works (for all we know, maybe each Gallifreyan gets some sort of new "code name" upon matriculation -- this could also be what the "alpha-sigma-chi" thing is), we could possibly assume that the Rani, Drax, and Borusa also know the Doctor's real name.
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