- In analyzing the glyphs we've seen in the books, we've noticed that some of their "components" resemble the Thaylen symbols for consonants. The Thaylen don't have letters for vowels though - does that mean that glyphs also disregard vowels 100% of the time, or do vowels affect the way a glyph is written? For example, would "viv" and "vev" look exactly the same, or would there be some differences?
- If vowels do affect the glyphs, do they affect them by somehow changing the consonant lines?
- Our best theory for deciphering new glyphs is that the glyph "letters" actually correspond to two English letters - so writing "vev" is more akin to writing <ve> followed by <v_> (or perhaps <_v> followed by <ev>). How much of this is in the right direction?
Good questions! The vowels don't affect the glyphs any more than the consonants do. I'm going to RAFO about the glyphs relationship with Thaylen. You're on the right track, however, on half of the word being written and then mirrored. That said, please remember that glyphs aren't meant to be read or even deciphered. They're learned in the same way that we can look at dozens of stylized pictures of cats and still be able to tell that it's a cat.
So, you've said that glyphs are not meant to be read several times, and I know that, but I think I've been misunderstanding you. I've been assuming they are just too complex and decorated - like an extravagant font. Are you saying they are not a hard writing system instead?
There are obviously some rules to how the glyphs are designed, but does your reply mean that there is always a little bit of "I'll do what looks cool"? Kind of like how the band Koяn decided to flip the "R" - it's still recognizable enough, but there's no rule that says when you can and can't do that?
Let's see if I can explain further. Glyphs are recognized rather than read. If you learn the letters in an alphabet and you come upon an unfamiliar word, you can be reasonably certain you'll know how to pronounce it if you're already fluent in the language. You can at least read it, and you might know from context what it means. Glyphs are different in that if you come upon an unfamiliar glyph you might be able to guess what it means by its shape, but until someone tells you "that glyph means 'soup'" then you're still guessing.
The calligrapher's guild has rules they follow in creating glyphs, and there's a lot of artistic license, like the flipped R in Koяn, for the very reason that the guild isn't expecting people to read the glyphs. Those in the guild--and some scholars who are interested in how glyphs morph over time--might be able to decipher some of the glyphs for academic purposes.
How's that? Any clearer?
It is clearer, yes :( I think we might still bug you every now and then, but I am coming to terms with the idea that we won't get anywhere near the level of understanding we have for the women's script, for example. It just felt so close, with the slight similarities between some glyph components and the Thaylen letters, you know?
There's definitely a relationship between the Thaylen letters and some of the glyph components (although it's not the biggest part of what makes up the glyphs). Imagine if back in the middle ages a culture decided to use some latin letters as the basis for symbols so that it would be easy to mark things for people who don't read. This hypothetical culture threw in a smattering of other alphabets in there too. So, if that sort of thing developed naturally over time with phonemes and symbols getting added as the culture encountered other cultures, then you might get a bit of an idea of what's going on with the glyphs.
I admit I'm still a little confused. The glyphs are recognized based on their shapes, but those shapes also appear to be highly mutable. I'm not sure how to reconcile those two ideas.
If an established glyph can be stylized into a crown, a skyeel, or the other shapes that highprinces use as their symbols, how does someone associate the new shape with the standard one with which they are familiar? Does the stylized version preserve some core recognizable shape (since the constituent graphemes alone wouldn't be enough to decipher the meaning)? Or does each instance of a glyph have to be learned separately?
I agree that those two ideas are hard to reconcile! Let me see if I can explain it a bit more without giving too much away.
There's a calligrapher's guild that creates (and I suspect controls to a certain extent) the official glyphs. If a new glyph needs to be made, they do it in a way they see is proper, based on canonized rules that have developed over time.
That doesn't keep amateur glyphmakers from creating things from time to time, and there's certainly a shift in shape as glyphs morph through the ages. The Guild is probably a lot like the Oxford English Dictionary folks, occasionally canonizing popular but unauthorized glyphs that get used so much that they become ubiquitous.
Usually it's just guild members who are morphing glyphs into poems and such. If a nobleperson wants a glyph for their house, they go to someone authorized by the guild, and they'll stylize things into a crown, a hammer, etc. A good example of this will be seen in one of the pieces of art in the new book. We've seen Dalinar's Tower and Crown. Watch for the Sword and Crown and compare the shapes inside the Sword with the shapes inside the Tower. Maybe that will help with some understanding.