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An example of Alethi script

Alethi script is a form of writing used in modern Alethkar. This writing consists of long, elegant strokes and sharp slashes, reflected over a horizontal line.

Script in modern Alethkar is generally considered a feminine art. With the exception of ardents, Alethi men learn only glyphs, leaving letters and reading to their wives, sisters, daughters, and scribes.[1] However, in Alethela there were men of letters.


Since in modern Alethkar reading and writing are considered feminine arts, virtually everyone in positions of power there are functionally illiterate. Affairs of state such as the writing of treatise, accounting, etc. are either dictated to or scribed by female scholars.

Alethi written works often include margin notes known as undertext, intended solely for women readers and scribes. These annotations provide additional supplemental information regarding the main text.[2]

Undertext was written in a small, cramped script. Most books dictated by men had an undertext, notes added by the woman or ardent who scribed the book. By unspoken agreement, the undertext was never shared out loud. Here, a wife would sometimes clarify – or even contradict – the account of her husband. The only way to preserve such honesty for future scholars was to maintain the sanctity and secrecy of the writing.[2]

Phonology and Romanization[]

A key for translating between English and Alethi

Alethi script is horizontally symmetrical around the line on which it is written. Its alphabet is rather elegant in the way it organizes phonemes. Graphemes are systematically derived from the sound properties of their corresponding phonemes, rather than simply being arbitrary symbols. Each grapheme has two elements that describe its sound properties: shape and height. The resulting script is visually similar to the graphical representation of the sound waves in speech.[3]

  • Since Alethi has no W or X, the respective English transliterations are U and KS.
  • The English letter C is written as either S or K depending on its pronunciation.
  • H may not quite sound like an H, but it's being used to represent H in English transliteration.
  • The letter J is pronounced exactly like Y in modern Alethi. There may have been a sound change involved there. It's being used here as a J sound. [4]


There are two examples of Alethi script in The Way of Kings. Both are excerpts from Navani's notebook. These illustrations were done by Isaac Stewart and provide interesting insights into the nature of fabrial creation.

The person who translated these books into English treated certain art pages different ways in order to tailor it to the English-speaking audience. The Navani pages are meant to give a flavor for what the writing looks like, yet still be something readers can figure out and understand.

Peter Ahlstrom explains some of the script on TWG[5]


Although no translation was included in The Way of Kings, it wasn't long before a fan deciphered the script and revealed the hidden messages. The code was cracked by Harakeke at Time Waster's Guide Archive. After that, Peter Ahlstrom and Isaac Stewart revealed further details regarding the Alethi language.