FAN PARTICIPATION: Lizard Man Language


Hey, all! We wanted to invite you to take part in a fun opportunity to potentially contribute to making Underworld Ascendant.

You likely loved the sequence in the original Ultima Underworld where the player learned the Lizard Man (or “Thepa”) language as much as we did. Since the Lizard Men will play a BIG role in Underworld Ascendant, we intend to expand their vocabulary even further.

Want to help? Below, you’ll find a handy guide to the rules of the language by our lead designer Tim Stellmach, all currently known words, and ideas on where this list may grow.

Your suggestions for new words may make it into Underworld Ascendant, either in text form or even performed by our stellar voice cast.

NOTE: Adding suggestions to this thread grants consent of use to OtherSide Entertainment.


ALPHABET: acćčʗehχikloprɾsśštuþyz
Not used:: bdfgjmnvwth

Exception: unvoiced consonants (p,t,k,ch,þ) may become voiced (b,d,g,j, th ) when they appear at the beginning of a word (for example, in the greeting “pica,” which is pronounced like “bee-tsah,” not like “pizza.”).

ʗ Postalveolar click, as in the Zulu “q”. Transcribed in UW1 as “click.”
c Voiceless alveolar affricate (“ʦ”), as in the Polish “cebula” and Japanese “tsunami.”
χ Voiceless velar fricative as in Scottish “loch” and Polish “chór”. Transcribed in UW1 as “kk”
ss, śś, šš, cs “long” consonant, held for an extra mora (or “beat,”) in duration, as with Japanese long vowels.
Ś “Soft” sh, as in the Polish ś
Š “Hard” sh, as in the Polish sz
Ć “Soft” ch, as in the Polish ć
Č “Hard” ch, as in the Polish cz
s As in English
r Alveolar trill, as in the Polish “r” or Spanish “rr.” Transcribed as “rr” in UW1.
ɾ Alveolar tap, as in the Polish or Spanish “r.”
Þ Voiceless dental fricative, as in the English “th” (“thin,” not “this”).

a = ah
e = eh
i = ee
o = oh
u = oo


au - And
ʗ - no, not, don’t
ʗ iriass - Cabirus
-ʗ (as a noun suffix) - non-, opposite
cor - Go
eppa - Visit
eppala - visitor, wanderer
isili - Me
-ik - did (past tense verb suffix after consonant stop)
-it - shall (future tense verb suffix after a consonant stop)
-k - did (past tense verb suffix not after consonant stop)
krik - grab
kri’kla - Lurker
ku - of, from, possessed by
ku’isili - mine
kutosa - y ours
-la - verb suffix equivalent to English “-er”
-oco - -ing
ossli - Enough
pa - to do, to make
paśi - to talk
paśioco - speech, language
pica - hello, goodbye, pleasure
picaʗ - Pain, sorrow
sela - Give
si - to be
soɾʗ - Stranger
sor - enemy
sora - steal
sorala - thief
soraoco - theft
sseþ - yes, thus, that way
sstreś - help (v.)
sstreśoco - help (n.)
ša - multiple (plural determiner)
šali - we/us
šatosa - you all (plural)
þepa - Lizard Men
þesʗ - hate (v.)
þesʗoco - hate (n.)
þeś - like
þit - need
þitla - beggar
-t - shall (future tense verb suffix not after consonant stop)
tosa - you (singular)
ye- -polite noun prefix
yeśorʗ - friend
yeþe - kill
yeþela - warrior
zeχa - food[/li]

Human/Lizard Man

Armor - ?
Arrow - ?
Bow - ?
Capable - ?
Choice - ?
Dire Bunny - ?
Dwarves - ?
Earthclot - ?
Elves - ?
Fighter - ?
Hunter - ?
Mage - ?
Mana/Aether - ?
Marcaul (a Lizard Man settlement) - ?
Mind Crippler - ?
Provision (verb) - ?
Ripper - ?
Rotworm - ?
Rune - ?
Shadow Beast - ?
Shamblers - ?
Skill Shrine - ?
Silver Sapling - ?
The Stygian Abyss - ?
Sword - ?
Trap - ?
Undead - ?

We’ll try to keep the above list updated with your suggestions and who made them.

Many thanks for your help!


If you should happen to be asking “what’s with all the Polish?” the answer is very simple. What could be more lizardy than two different “sh” sounds? It’s also got two different “ch” and “zh” sounds (though we’re not using the zh’s at the moment).

Besides, English, Spanish, and Polish are the only languages I know any real amount of (though I must confess, not all that much of the latter).


Also, it’s worth adding a note on spelling:

Here we’re using a character set that has one character per sound, and tries to explain some of the Underworld 1 text that would otherwise be kind of specifically English-like (for example, why would you even have an English-style letter “c?” what’s with double consonants?).

So, it’s useful when it comes to designing the language, but I don’t think we have a decision yet about what player-facing text will look like. And if it drives you nuts, please don’t be shy of using just the characters on your keyboard and letting us sort it out.


I think it’d be cool to see some compound nouns, if it doesn’t complicate things too much. You could have some creative things, like ‘above world’ referring to the land outside the Abyss.

I’ve always wondered who was responsible for the UU1 Lizardman puzzle. Was it the work of one person or a team effort? Definitely one of my favourite early gaming moments :- )


Oh my, I haven’t been on these forums in a LONG time! Nice to be back.

I’m excited about this language stuff. I’m an English orthography enthusiast, so look forwards to seeing the written language develop. Phonology kinda makes my head hurt, though. Have you considered using IPA characters?


I understand it was the work of JD Arnold. I know he had previously worked at Infocom, but he was out of the picture by the time I started testing Underworld 1.


I’ll give a few words a shot:

cak – sword
cakla – fighter, soldier
iɾi – life, breath
iɾila – living being, person, somebody
iɾiʗ – undead
karila (“k” is voiced) – hunter
karioco – hunt (n.)
lokrik – trap (n.)

Something like this?


I’d love to see a sound shift on the existing words of the Thepa language. For players of the original UU1 this would make UA even more realistic (immersive)…


I did for the click and the “r” sounds, and almost for the “χ” (the IPA for that sound is just “x”). Well, and for “s”, whose IPA symbol is just “s.”

For those that are interested, the IPA symbols for the other consonants are:

c = t͡s
Ś = ɕ
Š = ʂ
Ć = t͡ɕ
Č = t͡ʂ
Þ = θ

In a nutshell, though, you’ve got both a trilled and a tapped “r” like Spanish, the “th” sound is soft, “ts” is considered its own consonant, and there are two “sh” and two “ch” sounds, plus the sound English spells as “ch” in words like “loch” and “chutzpah.”


Thanks Tim! Will look more closely when I’m home tonight, but this helps me ;D


In fact, we’ve discussed explaining some of the discrepancies this way (e.g., did this dialect gain the ɕ/ʂ and t͡ɕ/t͡ʂ distinctions, or did the one in the original game lose it from a shared parent language?).


A potential combat VO line worth translating:

“Treachery and doom!”


Dark Elves - eppaśśorroco

eppa - visit
śśorru - dark, gray, shadow, colorless
-oco - -ing (n)

The Dark Elves were not in the original Stygian Abbyss. Upon their arrival, the Lizardmen saw them as dark visitors, so that became their word for them…


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: OtherSide, you rock! 8)

Here’s a few words I came up with:
kuþa - to choose
kuþoco - choice
kuþala - leader, chief, person in charge

This is an awesome way for a developer to engage with their fans!


Rune - šaʗukka

Initially there was only a word for “runes” (pl) in the Thepa language. When they found out that a rune alone has a specific magical meaning, they created the irregular Thepa word šaʗukk (dropping just the last letter) for one single rune.

Rune spell - ʗukkapaśi or šaʗukkapaśi
(paśi - to talk; origin from šaʗukka paśi ku’isili = the runes talk for me = my magical spell)

Remembering that the Lizwardmen were created by the crazy wizard Mondain, they probably knew rune bags and that wizards carried them. They just didn’t understand rune magic at first.


The Stygian Abyss - śśorru þaploʗ paþesʗoco
The Stygian Abyss - þaploʗ chabiros

þaploco - a deep pit (abbyss, chasm)
þaplo - to digg, but also to pierce (to make a hole into something)
þaplolaco - the hole (where you can see the ground)
śśorru - dark, gray
þaploʗ - cave, anything subterrane, underground

The first word describes the Abyss as dark (śśorru) caves (þaploʗ) that make (pa) hate (þesʗoco). This is refering to the harsh life in the Abyss.
The second word is a very positive version which came with Cabirus. The Lizardmen even copied the word Cabirus to their best (chabiros), þaploʗ chabiros, Abyss of Cabirus.
The legacy lived on! The Lizardmen use both words, depending if they want to use a positive or negative meaning for The Stygian Abyss.

Edit: Even more so, it the Lizardmen refer to civilized settlements (light places with certain laws and relative safety), they use the positiv version þaploʗ chabiros, if they speak of the wild and dangerous areas of The Stygian Abyss (inhabited only by creatures), they use the negative version śśorru þaploʗ paþesʗoco.
It would be very bad for a faction if the Lizardmen started refering their settlement as (śśorru) þaploʗ paþesʗoco…


tec – metal, protection
yetec – armor


I don’t have any suggestions but I wanted to say I’m really glad this is having a lot of thought put into it.
With an expanded vocabulary, I somehow doubt that you guys are going to expect people to keep track of lizardman-to-english translations with pen and paper for the whole game, though I wouldn’t mind that myself. If not, are there any prevailing ideas about how translation will be handled in-game? For example, might all lizardman dialogue have English subtitles (I would hope not, since that would be too straightforward).


Hello Otherside,

much like english (french,spanish,italian) words are built from latin syllables made of that alphabet, you’ve given us the vocabulary building blocks … are there building patterns to their words, an architecture to follow?



Including a real Zulu?