Hi there! I’m Kiore of Ordon Village! One of my biggest interests is bringing Zelda fandom to every day life. How do Hylians dress, how do they eat, how do they relax? I try to bring a little more Hyrule into my life every single day.
Writing systems have always fascinated me. From Ancient Hieroglyphics to modern English, I’ve always been curious about the ways we transcribe sounds onto paper, or carve it into stone. However, because so much of our world is tied up in the little symbols we’ve created to represent things, I felt one of the biggest steps I could take into bringing Hyrule into my daily life would be to learn how to read and write in Hylian.
Naturally, I needed to choose a writing system. But, because my Japanese is rusty at best, and offensive at worst, I’m lucky that my absolute favorite Zelda title came to my rescue.
The Writing of Twilight
Twilight-Era Hylian, sometimes called Twilight Hylian, or Twilit Hylian, is the style of writing that is used in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This writing is a transliteration from English characters, directly into Hylian script.
Basically, with Twilight-Era Hylian, if you can type in English, you can use the font. The fonts are readily available online, and within seconds of adding one of these lovely fonts to your computer’s font book, you can be happily typing away in Twilight-Era Hylian. However, there are a few differences in these fonts that you should take into consideration before you use one of them.
The GCN Version vs. The Wii Version
The GCN (Game Cube Nintendo) version of the Twilight Princess font is the one that you will typically see people using to write, and the one I have included above, which is directly out of the Hyrule Historia. This one is the one that transliterates the easiest into the English language, as many of the letters are very similar to English already.
However, Twilight Princess was one of the very first games to be ported to the Wii, and, Nintendo decided as most people are right handed (90% Right handed), but our beloved Link is left handed (One of the 10%), they would solve the problem simply by flipping the entire game, and make Link right handed.
This had the unfortunate side effect of flipping this font as well. That’s right, all of the letters in this font are backwards, mirrored. Though this is an ‘official’ font, it is not the one that we who write in Twilight-Era Hylian typically use.
The great Z vs. X debate
There also seems to be several fonts out there that have the Z and the X flipped. So when you type an X, the Hylian character for Z will appear. I believe that this has something to do with the font from ZeldaUniverse.net, as their X and Z are shown as backwards here: http://www.zeldauniverse.net/media/fonts/ However, when I consult my Hyrule Historia, you can see the X and the Z in ‘proper’ order, as you can see in the image I’ve placed above. Because I’m sort of a great big nerd, I like to think of this as two different regional dialects of writing (Perhaps Castletown vs Ordon?). Though, I will say the alphabet from the Hyrule Historia’s Z actually looks like a Z.
Day to Day Use
One of the major problems I’ve seen with the Hylian font is that in the presented form, the one that we’re used to seeing and used to reading, the font is not particularly easy to emulate on pen and paper. It is a serif font, meaning all of those little doohickies on the letters, the extra bits that make it look fancy, as opposed to a sans-serif font which is what most of us write in when we actually put pen to paper.
(There’s a bunch of fantastic theories about why some fonts have a Serif. For more information you can look up Serif on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serif )
I can assure you, even after two years of classical calligraphy under my belt (Don’t laugh, I choose to have bad handwriting), I have never drawn a ‘g’ the way many serif fonts would make you think they are written (Double-story lowercase), Alright, except for maybe the one time where I needed to get it for the picture I took there to complain about it. It took three tries, and two strokes to get it to look remotely correct.
Which, naturally, got me thinking.
Would day-to-day Hylians write in this difficult, labor intensive Serif font?
Surely not! I can’t imagine Link standing about in a dungeon, painstakingly scratching away at his map trying to make all of the little symbols that we’re presented with. He’s going to need to write quickly, or be grabbed by that ReDead slowly shuffling his way! They would have a simpler, quicker way to write, while leaving the Serif Twilight-Hylian font for printing and signage, similar to how we do here in English already! So, I set about to create a handwriting friendly version of Twilight-Era Hylian, for daily use.
How to write quickly in Twilight-Era Hylian
Below, I’ve included a full tutorial how to write in day-to-day Twilight-Era Hylian. I have tried to keep all of the letters under four strokes, as I feel four strokes is getting into drawing a letter, rather than writing it. As you can see, the ‘arrows’ have been simplified into either a ^, a >, or a -. (Examples being A, K, L, M, W)
Several circles have been incorporated into the stroke as a whole (Examples being J, S and V. Z may be included in this if you wish to lift the end into a circle, I choose to draw it separately)
Letters that sit low on the line are J, P, Q, R.
Punctuation and line spacing remain the same, aside from quotation marks, which get the Japanese style quotations 「Your Hylian Here! 」These are all just aesthetic changes that I prefer. You may even wish to incorporate the Spanish ¿ ? into your Hylian writing. What’s stopping you from using an Interrobang‽
This is how I write quickly in Hylian. I write my to-do lists, my grocery lists, and yes, my journal in this beautiful language!
However, this doesn’t mean that this is the ONLY way to write this way! If you find something that works better, by all means, do it! As you can see from my T in ‘this’ in the image above where I’m complaining about the g, I often connect the T and the H together for ease of writing. Not something you’re taught in school, and I’m pretty sure my calligraphy teacher is rolling around in their grave, but…ReDeads aren’t known for being fast – however, if you’re spending too much time stressing over writing properly, you will take a sword to the face. Write in a way that feels natural!
It took me perhaps a single weekend to create this manner of writing, and then about three days to be able to write fluently enough that I no longer needed my cheat-sheet. The way I learned was writing each individual letter over and over again, until it felt natural, then I began writing the alphabet over and over again, and finally, words. This is the most effective method for me to learn a transliterative language (As this is my second), and has served me well!
Below, I have written each character as two lines tall, so that you can see them a little more clearly. Then, I included a line of several repetitions of the same letter to view variations of the letter in natural writing.
The maroon is the new stroke, Black is the old stroke, Purple shows stroke direction