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Basically, the Interlac alphabet is a simple one-to-one substitution cipher. The Interlac alphabet corresponds perfectly to the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet and the numbering system corresponds to Earth Base-Ten form. Although nominally protected by differences in font spacing, the numbering system itself suffers from a minor stylistic flaw due to the potential for confusion of 6 with 41 and 7 with 42. Anyone writing it by hand could certainly introduce an error when read by another, and this could create problems with handwriting recognition, as well.
|“||As the official U.P. language, Interlac is taught in schools throughout the system and is the common form of communication between most sentient United Planet races." (After Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #1 - DC Comics 1988)||”|
The first reference to Interlac as the "intergalactic universal language of the 30th century" was in Adventure Comics #379 published March, 1969. It was also frequently referred to in the Super Friends comic book series (in which all of the Super Friends, including Wendy and Marvin, speak it) as a token explanation of how the Super Friends could understand the language of visiting and/or invading extraterrestrials. The Interlac alphabet was codified years later by writer Paul Levitz and artist Keith Giffen in Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 2) #312 (June 1984).
After the DC Comics reboot, the new Blue Beetle title points out that a planet that is under attack by The Reach is speaking in Interlac. This planet is in Space Sector 2, and these events take place an undefined time ago, though described as "Long, long ago." and images of Earth show a Mayan tribe. Contradictory to the statement that the aliens seen are speaking Interlac is the text that can be seen on the signs in the background of the panels. These symbols do not match up to the Interlac alphabet. This may be due to the text being in their native language or a different written dialect as some symbols are similar.
Towards the start of "The Martian Chronicles" (Episode 11 of Season 2 of Supergirl), Interlac makes a cameo appearance via graffiti seen on a for-aliens bar when employee M'gann exits to take the trash out. Appropriately, the tag is simply "bar". In "Wake Up" (Episode 7 of Season 3), the control panel of an alien hibernation device is written in Interlac, displaying such words as "Ready", "Normal", and "Danger".
In the "Lightning Saga" crossover in Justice League of America (vol. 2) and Justice Society of America (vol. 2) Interlac is spoken by the character Starman and others as a trigger. They say "Lightning Lad" in Interlac, freeing other Legion members from the mental blocks that have been put in place.
The individual chapter titles are also printed in Interlac:
- Chapter 1 "Lightning Lad"
- Chapter 2 "Dreams and Fire"
- Chapter 3 "Suicide"
- Chapter 4 "Three Worlds"
- Chapter 5 "The Villain Is the Hero in His Own Story"
Shown to have been used thousands of years ago in Space Sector 2, according to Blue Beetle issue 1, of the New DC Universe.
In the universe of the TV series Babylon 5, Interlac is a universal language most often used in first contact situations because it is easily translated. It is easily translated because it is a language based on pure mathematics. In this context, it is normally used only in first contact situations until such a time as a more common understanding between two new species becomes available. Unlike the DC Comics "Interlac", the common trade language in the Babylon 5 universe is English.