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Stylized Glyphpair representing
Dalinar Kholin's Sigil

Glyphs are a calligraphic-like system of writing on Roshar. There are thousands of of glyphs across the world.

History[]

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),[1] 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.

Overview[]

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.[2] 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).[3]

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[1], 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.

Speculative Glyph Translation Key*

Appearance and Design[]

Alethi Glyphs Part 1**
Drawing by Isaac Stewart[8]

Alethi Glyphs Part 2
Drawing by Isaac Stewart[9]

"My Friend,

The secrets uncovered infiltrating the Calligraphers Guild are more mundane than expected. I prefer bloodstains to inkstains any day, as next time send me somewhere I'm more likely to die from wounds than from handcramps. By Purity's Eye, if you ask me to draw another glyph ...

The darkest secret of the guild is that the phonemes within a glyph can sometimes be deciphered. (Sorry to shatter your theories of dark rites and ancient moon dances.) But glyphs aren't pronounced or read. They're memorized, and they change over tie till the original collection of phonograms is almost unreckognizable. Take, for instance, the glyph for storm: "zeras."

  • Glyphpairs are slightly more common that single glyphs. Less used are 3 glyphs in a row.
  • Glyphs have simplified versions for small writing.

Contrast "zeras" with a glyph in its infancy: "zatalef," a bat-like cephalopod the Alethi hadn't encountered until their recent conquests in Akak.

The glyph's phonemes are apparent as well as the glyph's resemblance to the actual creature.

Even older than "zeras" are the glyphs used in the First Oath of the Knights Radiant. These resemble more the complex, unreadable glyph representing the orders of knights than they do any middle or modern Alethi glyphs.

I sus[ect these were borrowed from an earlier source and incorporated into an already developing Alethi glyph lexicon.

This supports the claim that Alethi glyphs were adopted from older scripts likely descended from Dawnchant and might explain the two sets of phonemes used in glyph creation: Standard and Calligraphic.

Glyphmakers use both, the phonemes rotated, flipped, and distorted to fit the calligrapher's vision. Next page: The Calligraphic Phoneme set."

Nazh to Khriss (presumably)[8]

Ten Fundamental Glyphs[]

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.[10]

Examples[]

Glyph representation of the Ten Ideals/Essences associated with Heralds
Ideal-Essence-1.pngIdeal-Essence-2.pngIdeal-Essence-3.pngIdeal-Essence-4.png|Ideal-Essence-5.pngIdeal-Essence-6.pngIdeal-Essence-7.pngIdeal-Essence-8.pngIdeal-Essence-9.pngIdeal-Essence-10.png
Glyph representation of the Ten Surges associated with Radiants
Surge1.pngSurge2.pngSurge3.pngSurge4.png|Surge5.pngSurge6.pngSurge7.pngSurge8.pngSurge9.pngSurge10.png


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.[11]
  • 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.[12]

Family Sigils/Banners:

  • Khokh and Linil is House Kholin's glyphpair, stylized and painted as a sword standing before a crown.[13]
  • Shesh and Lerel is Brightlord Sheler's stark black glyphpair on his banner.[14]
  • Merem and Khakh is Amaram's banner, shaped like a whitespine with tusks, comprised of dark green blazoned over a burgundy field.[15]
  • 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]

Glyphionary[]

Alethi Glyphionary
Artwork by Isaac Stewart[1]

When a number modifies a noun, the number comes first. Bridge Four is actually "Four Bridge."

Notes[]

*Missing info. on glyphpairs, glyphwards and cultural aspects.

**Regarding "Purity" in the last sentence of the first paragraph of Part 1, this refers to the fourth planet in the Threnodite System where Nazh is from. "By Purity's Eye" is a swear phrase in that system.

Addendum[]

Alethi Glyphs chart credit goes to 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 who create the glyphs have a different process from those who read them. Further, it can be somewhat difficult to draw the glyphs; those who do generally go through several iterations of differing appearances before they come up with something that they each like.[16]

References[]

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