The Kryptonian Language of the "Man of Steel" MovieThe University of British Columbia's linguist and anthropologist Christine Schreyer, was hired by Warner Bros. to create the Kryptonian language used in "Man of Steel".
Schreyer worked alongside graphic designer Kirsten Franson, who developed the Kryptonian script based on Schreyer's suggestions, which were influenced from her knowledge of the Cree Syllabics writing system. Franson fine-tuned the glyphs and worked the symbols into the set and prop designs. Schreyer also created a vocabulary consisting of about 300 words.
[Production Designer Alex] McDowell says the idea of developing an entire new and specific language for the world of Krypton evolved from the beginning of production. It was determined that the symbol on Superman's crest did not simply represent the letter "S" of English, so an imaginative approach was needed.
"Christine's contribution to the design and meaning of Krypton in Man of Steel was crucial in a way that will not be fully understood by the audience, but without which we would have been missing a layer of meaning and legibility that in my view enriched the film immeasurably," McDowell said.
Fans can play with the official "Glyph Creator" app created by Warner Bros. to see the Kryptonian language in action. The chart (shown on this page), created by Kryptonian.info, is an excellent guide to the Kryptonian language.
The Kryptonian writing system used for "Man of Steel" is not an alphabet. Rather, it's an abugida. Wikipedia has a great concise definition of an abugida: it's a "writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is secondary. This contrasts with a full alphabet, in which vowels have status equal to consonants, and with an abjad, in which vowel marking is absent or optional."
So, consonant symbols form consonant-vowel syllables based on their orientation and certain markings. There are 21 consonants and 6 vowels. The chart below shows all the possible combinations (153 to be exact).