Fonts Languages Video Games Writing Systems

Zonai Font (from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom)

Update: A previous version of this font used an arbitrary mapping instead of the proposed Kunrei-shiki romaji mapping. If you want that version of the font for whatever reason, you can find it here.

A new Zelda game is upon us, and it contains a new writing system, and so it is time for me to make a font.

Here’s the download and here’s how it works:

Note: This mapping may not be correct. It is based on a Kunrei-shiki romaji interpretation of the source texts (game assets, art book, promotional media) that there seems to be significant disagreement on. I know very little Japanese, so I’m not really in a position to comment one way or the other. Nevertheless, I needed an order to put the font in, and this seems to be as good a choice as any for the time being.

From my perspective, romaji is a logical guess given that 14 characters is exactly the right number assuming dakuon are ignored, as is the case in the Ocarina of Time kana cipher.

I did a cursory frequency analysis using a survey of the few sample texts that appear in game, sorting the characters by frequency and comparing that to expected Japanese phoneme frequencies. The resulting order was very similar to that achieved in the referenced research, with most letters being off by one or two positions, and only two significant outliers: W and H, which are exactly what I’d expect the outliers to be in a quick-and-dirty analysis substituting phoneme frequency for romaji frequency.

While I definitely cannot vouch for the translations given, and there seems to be a lot of doubt as to their accuracy from people who know way more about Japanese than I do, the basic concept seems sound.

Anyway, I will try to keep this page updated when more information comes to light.