Many of the ATLANTIS audience will recog- nize two cast names from the realm of filmed SF. Leonard Nimoy and Claudia Christian both have legions of fans, thanks to their respective performances as key characters in the STAR TREK and BABYLON 5 universes. However, dedicated aficionados may spot in the credits a third participant who had a profound impact on the genre: Marc Okrand. The creator of the Klingon and Vulcan languages as we know them, Okrand devised a fictitious tongue for the Atlanteans.
Okrand was quick to make clear he was not involved with designing the ornate Atlantean alphabet. (Veteran Disney designer John Emerson helped with the letters.) Okrand's concern was purely with the language. "I approached Atlantean as a linguistic anthropologist," he explained, "who goes to live with a language group. There are basic questions I would ask the group—ask myself, in this case! I would glean details, like: Do their nouns have plurals? Does their language have gender? Does it have cases? I write down the answers, getting a clearer picture as I go."
A similar process of inquiry takes place in the film story. "The whole way the characters get to Atlantis is bound up with language," Okrand said. "The characters have to begin somewhere, of course—a starting point which provides clues. Milo starts with the Shepherd's Journal, a book written in Atlantean. How can he work out what it said? There's no Rosetta Stone in this case. The book includes written labels beside pictures, but that's not enough in itself."