Ian James
© June 2008

script name

This imaginary script was inspired by various ancient South Asian systems, and is an offshoot of SIGIL and Language for the World. The name Xylphika is a pseudo-Greek back-derivation from Paracelsus’ coinage, meaning “out of the Sylphic”, suggesting translation from the words of an imaginary, intelligent, elfin-like people.

Internal history

Xylphika is the rarely-seen written form of a language sometimes heard by humans, who usually don’t realize it is a language at all, or who do, but can’t believe their ears. It is used by an ancient race of human-like beings who, through the use of various tricks, remain almost completely invisible to modern humans. They are often confused with elves or undines.

Features of the language

Features of the script

The phoneme groups

base forms

chart of glyphs

One-sided forms of the E and W bases are also available for use in certain consonant-vowel combinations.

Other phonemes

voiced continuants & other glyphs

Egressive forms of all the above phonemes are called Governing. Many of them can be ingressive (made with an inward breath); they are then called Astral.

Rare phonemes

Dead Trees – voiced fricatives
Human Weapons – voiced plosives

Other symbols

comma & period


The following passage is an imitation of human speech (English), mostly whispered:

sample text

Approximate transliteration (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights):

All human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and
conscience  and should act towards
one another in a spirit of

In Xylphika, this passage reads as a joke about two human brothers married to the same wife.

A version of this page can also be found on Omniglot.
A short version of this page in Chinese is here.


In March of 2010, conlang developer Carl Miller published online a language called Xylphika, as spoken in the imaginary Safirian Empire of a distant planet. Carl based his conlang around my Xylphika script, and attempted to bring to life some of its sounds and ideas. Particularly difficult (and a real challenge to any conlang developer) was the semantic palindrome. For his sake, I suggest that this was an ancient linguistic technique, now lost.

Gosper globe (c) 2007 Ian James


All material on this page © Ian James.
Last modified Mar.4,2012