D'ni language

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The following article is written from an In-Cavern (IC) perspective. All fictional events should be considered real.

D'ni is the language spoken by the D'ni people. It is a direct descendant of the Ronay language, having split from it when the D'ni Exodus occurred, and is likely still used by the D'ni civilization in Releeshahn.


A book used by Atrus to teach Yeesha the D'ni alphabet

Written D'ni uses an alphabetic script, written and read from left to right. The script is also phonetic: each D'ni letter (excluding the apostrophe) has a one-to-one correlation with a particular sound.


v b t s S j g y k K a I f p i E e A r m T d D h o O c w u U x l å z n

The D'ni alphabet is comprised of 24 basic letters, plus a combining diacritic which can modify some letters for another eleven derived letters, bringing the total to 35 letters, in addition to an apostrophe ('). The alphabet consists of 18 basic consonants (plus 6 modified consonants) and 6 basic vowels (plus 5 modified vowels).


The D'ni language in its written form also makes use of a period (.) and a dash (-). The D'ni period is placed at the start of all sentences, though is sometimes omitted in cases such as document titles and signatures. The D'ni dash has never appeared in any known D'ni documents, and as such its proper usage is unknown, although it can safely be assumed that if it is used, it is incredibly rare.


As mentioned above, the D'ni alphabet is phonetic, with each letter corresponding to a particular sound. The apostrophe's pronunciation varies based on context; if placed after a consonant, it is pronounced as a schwa (like the 'a' in 'comma' or the 'u' in 'focus'), while if placed after a vowel, it is pronounced as a glottal stop (like the hyphen in 'uh-oh').

The pronunciations of the D'ni letters are given in the below table, along with their overall number in the D'ni alphabet (including derivative letters as separate letters), and their individual RTS transcriptions, below each letter. See further below for more information on transcription standards.

# Letter Pronunciation # Letter Pronunciation # Letter Pronunciation # Letter Pronunciation
schwa or glottal stop
/ə/ or /ʔ/
9 k
loch, ugh
18 A
bait, face
27 c
church, catch
1 v
vibe, have
10 K
kick, crack
19 r
roar, very*
28 w
wind, swine
2 b
bit, cab
11 a
father, palm
20 m
my, camera
29 u
bun, strut
3 t
ton, cat
12 I
pie, price
21 T
thing, math
30 U
pool, chew
4 s
sea, mass
13 f
fire, phi
22 d
this, breathe
31 x
cats, tsar
5 S
sheet, emotion
14 p
pop, cap
23 D
deed, dye
32 l
let, gal
6 j
judge, jam
15 i
kit, fill
24 h
hat, ahead
33 å
bag, trap
7 g
gag, guy
16 E
see, fleece
25 o
boat, go
34 z
zoo, has
8 y
yes, hallelujah
17 e
pet, fell
26 O
boy, choice
35 n
noon, snide

Note: The examples given for r (r) are not wholly accurate, as the letter represents an alveolar tap, a sound which in English only appears in particular varieties of the language. The sound is generally considered most similar in English to the standard 'r' sound, hence its transcription as such.

There is no general rule with regards to where stress is placed in D'ni words; different words have stress placed on different syllables. Adding a suffix can change where stress is placed; for example, eleeahn has stress placed on the first syllable, but adding a suffix to make the word eleeahnith moves the stress to the third syllable.

Transcription standards[edit]

It is often useful to be able to transcribe or transliterate D'ni text into Latin characters in a manner which allows people who are unfamiliar with the D'ni script to be able to read and pronounce the text. A few transcription and transliteration standards have come into existence over the years, to suit different purposes.

Old Transliteration Standard[edit]

The Old Transliteration Standard (OTS) is the most common, widely-used, and widely-understood D'ni transcription standard, owing to its status as the transcription standard which is used by the D'ni Restoration Council and RAWA. On the other hand, OTS is the least well-defined transcription standard, with many D'ni letters having several different possible OTS renderings. Problems commonly attributed to OTS include ambiguity in transcription and a lack of reliable bijectivity.

Some variants of OTS use a diaeresis to reduce ambiguity where repeated vowels are concerned; for example, abxEex would be rendered as ahbtseeëhts instead of the more ambiguous/hard-to-read ahbtseeehts.

New Transliteration Standard[edit]

The New Transliteration Standard or New Transcription Standard (NTS) is a transliteration standard created in 1999 by Guild Master Josef Riedl of the first modern Guild of Linguists in cooperation with Kamza Madfuun (Verbmaster). It is the only true D'ni transliteration standard in use (excluding Dnifont); all other standards are transcription standards. NTS maps each D'ni letter and symbol to a single Latin letter, utilizing diacritics and obsolete (in English) letters – thorn (þ), eth (ð), and ash (æ) – in order to represent each D'ni letter using a unique Latin letter. The original proposal for NTS stated that any text given in NTS (as opposed to OTS or Dnifont mappings) should be placed in square brackets (eg. [lómat]), though this is not incredibly common in practice.

The purpose of NTS was to address the issues of non-bijectivity and ambiguity that OTS created, and to make transcription slightly less English-centric, and the standard was originally proposed as a near-complete replacement of OTS, though the New Transliteration Standard never ended up gaining much traction outside of D'ni linguist circles. NTS is commonly used by members of the second modern Guild of Linguists, as well as assorted other D'ni linguists, when discussing D'ni linguistics. The lack of popularity of NTS outside of linguist circles can likely be attributed to multiple things, such as the difficulty in typing some of the letters and diacritics used in NTS on most keyboards (compared to OTS, which for the most part solely used English letters), and the relative difficulty in understanding text written in the standard for people unfamiliar with it.

Revised Transcription Standard[edit]

The Revised Transcription Standard (RTS) is a transcription standard created by Grand Master KathTheDragon of the second modern Guild of Linguists, and is a modified version of the Old Transliteration Standard. The standard was intended to solve many of the problems associated with OTS, most notably its frequent ambiguity.

The Revised Transcription Standard has only one possible mapping for each D'ni letter (with the exception of the special cases of I, A, and O; see below), and RTS removes several unnecessary h's found in particular OTS mappings (eg. e instead of eh, i instead of ih, u instead of uh). The standard's injectivity also solves the problem of representing I (ay or ai in RTS), a letter which has a number of OTS mappings (eg. ai, ay, í, I), some identical to some mappings for A (ey or ei in RTS; ai or ay in OTS). A feature unique to RTS is the way the modified vowels I, A, and O are treated; they are nominally transcribed as ay, ey, and oy respectively, though are transcribed as ai, ei, and oi if the letter in question is placed directly before a vowel.

The Revised Transcription Standard is not used incredibly widely, though is often used officially by the second modern Guild of Linguists, and is occasionally used elsewhere; for example, it is the D'ni transcription standard which is used on this site, primarily. The standard is generally fairly easily-understandable for someone familiar with OTS, given the relative similarity between the two.


Dnifont is the name of the most commonly-used D'ni font, created by RAWA. Whilst it is not usually considered as a transcription standard per se, the mappings given to each D'ni character in the font are sometimes used by individuals, including RAWA, as a transliteration standard, instead of NTS; to provide an unambiguous D'ni spelling for a word or phrase. Dnifont almost entirely uses letters in the English alphabet, the only exception to this being å, mapped to å (a character which can be typed on Windows by pressing ALT+0229 or on macOS by pressing ALT+A followed by A).

Also worth mentioning is the D'ni Script font, created by the first modern Guild of Linguists, which uses almost identical mappings to Dnifont for the D'ni letters and punctuation marks, with the exception of the letter å, which Dnifont maps to å and D'ni Script maps to q. D'ni Script also includes mappings for the six basic D'ni color symbols.

Table of transcription standards[edit]

Below is a table comparing how the different transcription standards map each D'ni letter (and punctuation mark). For information on how D'ni numbers are transcribed, see D'ni numerals. This table, unlike the pronunciation table above, shows each D'ni letter's corresponding numerical value (see the section below on the link between D'ni letters and numerals).

# Letter OTS RTS NTS Dnifont # Letter OTS RTS NTS Dnifont
0 ' ' ' ' ' 11 r r r r r
1 v v v v v 12 m m m m m
1' b b b b b 13 T th th þ T
2 t t t t t 14 d dh dh ð d
3 s s s s s 14' D d d d D
3' S sh sh š S 15 h h h h h
4 j j j j j 16 o o o o o
4' g g g g g 16' O oy, oi oy* ó O
5 y y y y y 17 c ch ch ç c
6 k kh kh x k 18 w w w w w
6' K k k k K 19 u uh u u u
7 a ah, a ah a a 19' U oo oo ú U
7' I ai, í, I ay* á I 20 x ts ts c x
8 f f f f f 21 l l l l l
8' p p p p p 22 å a, ae a æ å
9 i ih, i i i i 23 z z z z z
9' E ee ee í E 24 n n n n n
10 e eh e e e . . . . .
10' A ai, ay ey* é A - - - ~ -
  • RTS nominally uses ay, ey, and oy for I, A, and O respectively, though uses ai, ei, and oi if the letters in question are placed immediately before a vowel. Examples: vaylee, maiood

Link with D'ni numerals[edit]

See also: D'ni numerals

The 24 base D'ni letters are each individually composed of two segments; a 'top' segment (of which there are four plus the possibility of no top) and a 'bottom' segment (of which there are also four, with the same possibility of no bottom segment). Additionally, the letters are ordered such that when placed in order in a 5x5 grid, each 'top' segment corresponds to a column, and each 'bottom' segment corresponds to a row.

24 numerals (plus zero)
+ 0 1 2 3 4
0 0 1 2 3 4
5 5 6 7 8 9
10 ) ! @ # $
15 % ^ & * (
20 [ ] \ { }
24 basic letters
(plus an apostrophe)
+ 0 1 2 3 4
0 ' v t s j
5 y k a f i
10 e r m T d
15 h o c w u
20 x l å z n
11 modified letters
+ 0 1 2 3 4
0 b S g
5 K I p E
10 A D
15 O U

When compared with a similar table of D'ni numerals, the link between the two becomes clear. The top segments correspond to the forms of the D'ni numerals 1 through 4, while the bottom segments correspond to their rotated versions (5, 10, 15, 20). Thus, each of the base 24 letters (plus the apostrophe) corresponds to one of the 25 D'ni numerals.

0 ' 1 v 2 t 3 s 4 j
5 y 6 k 7 a 8 f 9 i
) e ! r @ m # T $ d
% h ^ o & c * w ( u
[ x ] l \ å { z } n

Additionally, the ordering of letters and numerals is identical, further demonstrating the fact that the two systems are linked. The implications of these similarities are that the two were once a single system, and that either one was derived directly from the other or they both evolved naturally from a common source. It is not known which of these possibilities is actually the case.


See also: D'ni: A Language Primer

"Oh, what a mess!"

This section is in serious need of improvement. Your help would be graciously appreciated.

Notes: A linguist would be appreciated here.


Main article: D'ni numerals
0 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9
) ! @ # $
% ^ & * (
[ ] \ { }
10 | =

D'ni uses a base-25 positional number system, at its core comprised of four different symbols, which are rotated anti-clockwise by 90° to form multiples of fives, and can then be combined with the original four symbols to form the intermediate numerals. There also exists a single-digit 25 (used in some contexts) and a cyclic 0/25 (representing both 0 and 25; used on, for example, clocks).

Role in the franchise[edit]

The following section is written from an Out-of-Cavern (OOC) perspective. All fictional events should be considered fictional.

The D'ni language, along with its alphabet and numerical system, was created by Richard A. Watson (RAWA) for Riven: The Sequel to Myst, and first appeared in Myst: The Book of Atrus in 1995. The Channelwood language featured in Myst was simply gibberish phrases, but for Riven, Cyan wanted to go further, and so RAWA designed the D'ni language, which lent itself to the world-building and immersion of the universe that Cyan wanted to create.

A basic understanding of the D'ni number system is crucial in solving some of the puzzles in some of the franchise's games, such as Riven: The Sequel to Myst and Uru. On the other hand, the language and alphabet themselves are never required to be understood to progress with any puzzles in the series, and D'ni text is only ever used for world-building purposes. One puzzle in Myst IV: Revelation does involve D'ni names, though the puzzle is solvable without having to transliterate any of them.

Since the release of Riven, some fans of the series have strived to gain as complete an understanding of the D'ni language as possible, and multiple groups have sprung up around this common purpose, most notably the first modern Guild of Linguists, the D'ni Linguistic Fellowship, and the second modern Guild of Linguists.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]