Though both Shadow of the Colossus and Ico utilize a fictional language, there is a special element exclusive to Ico in the form of a runic language used by Yorda. Ico cannot understand her language and must instead communicate with Yorda in very basic verbal and physical terms.
The language was conceived by Team Ico member Kei Kuwabara. The language's characters resemble hieroglyphs and are decoded using a simple cipher method (i.e., one letter stands for "A", another letter stands for "B", etc.).
The symbols in this language each resemble a word in real-world languages; the first letter of the word is the letter the symbol translates to (with one exception where the word "eye" is used to represent I). The symbols are:
|A: ant||H: hide||O: octopus||V: victim|
|B: bird||I: eye||P: pigeon||W: wing|
|C: cage||J: Jiisan||Q: queen||X: xoanon|
|D: daughter||K: kneel||R: river||Y: yoke|
|E: east||L: larva||S: shower||Z: zipper|
|F: fall||M: moon, mountain||T: tree|
|G: giant||N: north||U: union|
Translating the language manually
- Translate the runes into their corresponding letters to get a word in backwards Romaji.
- Flip the order of the letters to form the Romaji word. The tricky part here is that a few vowels will often be missing; one will need to figure out what they are and where they go in order to get a real word. (This was an intentional linguistic move by Kuwabara to make Yorda's speech seem more delicate and ethereal.) Fortunately, Yorda's speech is very basic, and with a bit of linguistic common sense, it's relatively easy to find where the vowels were taken out.
- Once the final Romaji word is discovered, translate it using whatever means desired to get the word in English.
- Of interest is that while Yorda speaks this language, the Queen speaks only once in the mysterious language (when first encountering her at the castle gate with Yorda and Ico) and speaks most of the game to Ico in what seems the common language throughout the game.
- This chart may prove especially useful for players of the U.S. version of the game, as Yorda's dialogue is not translated when starting a second game.
- Download the font (lowercase is Yorda's language, uppercase is a font face in the style of the game's logo)