Written by Kao
Saturday, 21 October 2006 18:15
Most of us who play the Zelda games have noticed the in-game Hylian scripts used since Ocarina of Time. But what many Zelda players are unaware of is that these scripts can actually be read and translated to English!
Nintendo first started using a workable Hylian language in 1998 with Ocarina of Time. Players could find Hylian characters carved into walls, painted on signs, and even written on items, such as Zelda's letter. The Hylian featured in this game was based heavily on Japanese, as is illustrated here. An English-speaking player could translate the Hylian characters into Japanese, and from there translate the Japanese into English. This same Hylian script made more appearances in Majora's Mask, but translation is not possible, as all of what was written is incomprehensible gibberish.
After Majora's Mask, the next game to feature the Hylian script was Wind Waker. However, the written characters had taken on a very visible change, a change which was illustrated further by Wind Waker Link's inability to understand the ancient guardians Valoo, Great Deku Tree, and Jabun when they spoke to him.
One can only assume, then, that the Hylian spoken and written in Wind Waker is "Modern Hylian," while that which is used in Ocarina of Time is "Anciant Hylian" (perhaps the same which Link to the Past makes reference to). Modern Hylian made a brief second appearance in the GBA game Minish Cap. It can be seen each time Ezlo speaks the magical chant which shrinks Link.
Then there is the question of Twilight Princess. It seems reasonable to believe the flooding of Hyrule mentioned in Wind Waker would cause the kind of culutural upheavel that could lead to the entire Hylian language changing from Anciant Hylian to Modern Hylian. Going off this idea, one could make the assumption that Twilight Princess, which takes place only a number of decades after Ocarina of Time, would retain the Anciant Hylian language. However, upon closer inspection of the second trailer for Twilight Princess, I discovered this to be untrue.
In one scene, Link battles a pack of skeleton wolves in an eerie graveyard. As Link attacks one of the wolves, sparks from his sword strike light up the face of the gravestones in the back. On these gravestones are epitaphs written in Modern Hylian!
After very close inspection, I was able to make out the characters written on the gravestone:
Though it's certainly possible a character or two are jumbled, I believe the Hylian characters shown above are correct. This epitaph translates to Japanese as "heiuso no umi ni kuwaete." I took this translation to our Japanese translator, Glitter Berri, and asked her if she had any idea what it meant. According to her translation of my text, the epitaph reads, "Drowned in Heiuso's Sea."
Now this is interesting! The gravestones clearly seem to make reference to a previously unheard of location in the game: Heiuso's Sea (or perhaps "Sea of Heiuso?"). Could this mean Hyrule will have a beach-like area by an open sea? Additionally, graveyards usually have a populus of some kind nearby. Perhaps we'll be seeing a seaside village. The possibilities are certainly exciting! With less than a month until Twilight Princess is released, I'm sure we'll all find out the truth soon enough...