So, as I mentioned on my Twitter tonight, I’m playing through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time again. Best game ever. Well, okay, maybe notย ever, but it is my favorite game from my childhood. In fact, it was really my first introduction to a real, story-driven-type-video-game as a kid. Because I’m such a language geek (as witnessed here and here), I am drawn to the languages, syllabaries, and ciphers used in most media, video games included. In Ocarina of Timeย and Majora’s Mask, they use Old Hylian which is a syllabary based on Japanese units of sound. An example of a written phrase in Old Hylian can be seen here:

It roughly says: Eru. Emu. Sharuwen Unashinku Wotsu (L.M. Sherwin Unearthing Words). Because Old Hylian is based off of Japanese syllables, it doesn’t directly translate to English, so you have to get creative with cross-over pronunciations if you want to write English words in Old Hylian. ๐Ÿ™‚

Similarly, Modern Hylian (used in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) is based off of Japanese syllables. Example below:

This one roughly says: Eru. Emu. Shiruwane Unashingu Wotsu (L.M. Sherwin Unearthing Words.) Again, because you are taking an Engish phrase and putting it into a Japanese syllabary AND then a Japanese cipher, things are bound to sound weird.

It is MUCH easier to use a straight letter//syllable to letter//syllable cipher. If you speak and write in English, the Hylian alphabet used inย The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princessย is a great choice.ย This cipher was based on the English alphabet, so it makes it easy for us English speakers//writers to jot down fun things. An example is:

This one simply says: L.M. Sherwin Unearthing Words. *Whew* A little easier to translate than trying to find the appropriate Japanese sounds for English words. ๐Ÿ™‚ I may have gotten some of the letters reversed, because looking at the page with the cipher was a bit confusing for my poor brain, LOL. I apologize for any inconsistencies in that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Making your own ciphers is easy as pie and SUPER fun. When I was a kid, I created my first cipher. I was in third grade and I STILL use it. I called it “Eltic” and I used it for secret notes, my writing, and just for fun. I memorized it and have continued to use it for jotting down secret thoughts and notes for myself. I do not have it pictured here, because it is the nearest and dearest to my heart. There are two versions of Eltic: “Old” and “Modern”. Old Eltic is more prone to quick handwriting and Modern Eltic is more geometric and block-looking.

To create a cipher, simply line one side of your loose leaf paper (or plain paper) top to bottom with the alphabet or syllabary your language uses. Next to these letters//characters, draw your own symbols. Then, write with it! Easy as that. ๐Ÿ™‚

To prove how fun and easy it is, I created this cipher tonight in about five minutes. I think it’s rather pretty, don’t you?

Happy Sunday! Enjoy my geekery! ZELDA FANS OF THE WORLD UNITE!!!

Random Geekery: Hylian Syllabaries and Ciphers
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  • Ricardo Xavier

    Hi! nice article you wrote, I came here because I was researching about Hylian languages specially the one used in Majora’s Mask and by reading this I think I finally understand how the syllabary works, thanks!

    I’m currently making an aged replica of the Majora’s Mask using wood and other materials but I’m not making it exactly as it is, this is an ancient mask from a lost civilization so I’m giving it an old rusty beaten look but also I wanted to carve the name “Majora” in the back using the Hylian syllabary to give it a more personal touch. So I was desperate looking for some Zelda fan to help me out with this and I think I found the right person!

    I found that Majora is “Mujura” in Japanese so this should be the correct way of writing it? [picture]

    It’s good to see a fan interested in this type of things, not everyone pays attention to these details, thank you and have a great day!

    • That is FABULOUS! I can’t wait to see the finished product! Yes, I am a total language geek–especially created languages for stories and movies. Always a pleasure to meet another Zelda fan!! I’m a bit of a dork about it…, lol. Your Hylian looks good for Mujura as far as I know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Ricardo Xavier

    Here’s my Facebook page if youre interested in seeing what I’m doing! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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