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Elhokar Kholin Sigil

Stylized Glyphpair representing
Dalinar Kholin's Sigil

Glyphs are a writing system used on Roshar for basic communication, artistic expression, and religious practices. Individual glyphs represent specific ideas.[1] They are typically symmetrical and can be rendered with varying degrees of stylization. Two glyphs may be combined into a glyphpair, forming a word distinct from the constituent glyphs. Glyphs and glyphpairs are often designed as pictographs so that literacy is not required for comprehension. The writing system is not structured to facilitate the composition of sentences or more complex communication.

HistoryEdit

According to mythology, glyphs are said to have come from the Dawnsingers, who were sent by the Almighty to help mankind. Many glyph-inscribed relics (such as weapons, buildings, and mystical items) from the Heraldic Epochs have been and are still being discovered throughout Roshar. Such discoveries build a solid case that supports the theory that the glyph system is the oldest form of communication known on Roshar.

The aforementioned relics include the inside of the Palanaeum (said to be built by the Dawnsingers themselves), Honorblades wielded by the Heralds (similar to their lesser iterations known as Shardblades, the sides of which sometimes bear glyphs),[2] and Shardplate worn by the Knights Radiant (which glowed in hues that modern Plate can only imitate with paint). Stormlight flares from Surgebinders sometimes form glyphs.  

In the modern era, glyphs are commonly used among the Vorin kingdoms. Information concerning the nature and use of glyphs throughout the rest of the world is sparse; the Parshendi wield weapons decorated with unfamiliar glyphs yet to be deciphered. 

It has been theorized that the original symbolic associations of the glyphs may have been lost or altered over time, similar to what happened to the Dawnchant.

OverviewEdit

In Vorin kingdoms, where reading and writing are considered feminine arts, only the glyph system is considered proper for non-ardent men to learn. While most lighteyed children can read glyphs, many darkeyes (who form the majority of the population) are illiterate.[3] As such, glyphs are often styled into commonly understood concepts so that the illiterate will be able to recognize them (i.e., book-shaped glyphs decorating the fronts of bookstores).

Glyph writing consists of major, minor, and topical sets that are sometimes written with complex designations, making them difficult to understand in the event that the reader does not know what to look for. They can be inscribed calligraphically, prompting many to view such work as art.[4] Like the Alethi script, glyphs are symmetrical and thus can be folded in half perfectly, a detail that has been used as an argument for the existence of the Almighty.[5]

Glyphs are also used for religious inscriptions such as prayers, wards, and charms. The fundamental tenets associated with the Heralds are depicted with glyphs. It is thought that these are, in fact, the ten fundamental glyphs[2], found on Honorblades and many Shardblades.

Glyphs are commonly written in pairs (i.e., glyphpairs). Distinctive glyphpairs are often used to distinguish persons of rank. The glyphpairs of an Alethi Highprince's family are shown on the signet ring and are stiched onto banners and military uniforms.[6][7]

Attempts to translate the glyph writing system into English are ongoing, but one speculative key is shown below.

Gallery 1847 6 51636

Speculative Glyph Translation Key

Appearance and DesignEdit

Alethi Glyphs p1

Alethi Glyphs Part 1
Drawing by Isaac Stewart

Glyphs can be written in three different ways: a standard, block form that highly resembles Thaylen script; a calligraphic form, in which the glyph may be altered significantly for heightened aesthetics; or a radial form, where the glyph is drawn repeatedly with radial symmetry about some point. They typically have bilateral symmetry,[8] matching the symmetrical pronunciation of the sounds they represent. In some cases, glyphs appear to be composed of distinct phonemes representing consonants. There are two styles of phonemes: standard and calligraphic. The standard set of phonemes are illustrated in a letter from Nazh concerning his investigation of the Calligraphers Guild.[9] While these phonemes are used in the design of new glyphs, many liberties may be taken in how they are utilized. As glyphs evolve in usage over time, these phonemes are often distorted, combined, or lost such that they are no longer identifiable. The phonemes often bear resemblance to the characters of Thaylen Script. When phonemes are apparent, they appear to be pronounced outward and down from the center and top of the glyph.

The component phonemes are not always readily discernible. Glyphs are often drawn in complicated ways that make it difficult to identify what they are unless a person knows what they are looking for.[10] Lines are often added, removed, or contorted. In order to draw glyphs, one must have a deep understanding of how each glyph may be expressed without overly obscuring the meaning.[11] Additionally, glyphs are often drawn as pictographs - visually depicting the word it represents. This is done so those who cannot read glyphs may still understand what they mean.[12]

Ten Fundamental GlyphsEdit

These are the glyphs of the ten Heralds/Radiant classes (i.e., Windrunners, Skybreakers, Dustbringers, Edgedancers, Lightweavers, Elsecallers, Truthwatchers, Bondsmiths, Willshapers, and Stonewards. They can be found on one of the drawings done by Shallan as she describes Shardblades/Shardplate.[13]

ExamplesEdit

Glyph representation of the Ten Ideals/Essences associated with Heralds
Ideal-Essence-1Ideal-Essence-2Ideal-Essence-3Ideal-Essence-4|Ideal-Essence-5Ideal-Essence-6Ideal-Essence-7Ideal-Essence-8Ideal-Essence-9Ideal-Essence-10
Glyph representation of the Ten Surges associated with Radiants
Surge1Surge2Surge3Surge4|Surge5Surge6Surge7Surge8Surge9Surge10


Known Glyphs:

  • Khakh - Determination
  • Merem - Honor
  • Shash - Dangerous
  • Thath – Justice

Other Glyphs:

  • Sas - Likely translates as 'slave'. Other possible translations include 'without' or 'least/lowest', being that the glyphpair sas nahn is the mark of a slave.[14]
  • Nahn - Closely tied to nahn, the darkeyes' ranking system.
  • Morom - Likely indicates a location. The slave glyphpair sas morom may indicate the Brightlord's district where the slave had originally been branded.[15]

Family Sigils/Banners:

  • Khokh and Linil is House Kholin's glyphpair, stylized and painted as a sword standing before a crown.[16]
  • Shesh and Lerel is Brightlord Sheler's stark black glyphpair on his banner.[17]
  • Merem and Khakh is Amaram's banner, shaped like a whitespine with tusks, comprised of dark green blazoned over a burgundy field.[18]
  • House Sadeas's family banner is a glyphpair in the shape of a tower and a hammer. The names of these glyphs remain unknown.[7]

NotesEdit

Alethi Glyphs chart credit goes to User:Harakeke.

Glyphs don't really relate to pronunciation. One learns them from seeing a glyph and knowing what the word is for that glyph. But the people, the people who create the glyphs have a different process from those who read them. It can be somewhat difficult to draw the glyphs; those who do generally go through several iterations of different looks of things before they come up with something that they like.[19]

ReferencesEdit

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