What the Famous “Link, Zelda Is Your…” Line Means in A Link to the Past

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KingMike had a question about Zelda III A Link to the Past that seems to be an often-asked question by Zelda fans:

I’m sure I’m not the only who played ALttP since they were a kid and always wondered what Link’s uncle was trying to say about Zelda in the opening.

For reference, here are some screenshots (and thanks for taking them for me!):

Yes, I still call this game Zelda III, I think that shows my ageYes, I still call this game Zelda III, I think that shows my age

And here’s the text in full:

Japanese textBasic translationOfficial translation
うう…。リンク、お前だけは まきこみたくなかった…Uu… Link, you’re the one person I didn’t want to involve in this…Unnh… Link, I didn’t want you involved in this…
家を出るなと言ったのに…I told you not to leave the house, and yet…I told you not to leave the house…
…こ、この剣と盾を持って行け
よくきけ…
…T-take this sword and shield and go.
Listen well…
Take my sword and shield and listen.
Bボタンを押し続け 剣に力をためるのだ。Hold the B Button to fill the sword with power.You can focus power in the blade (hold the B Button).
そうすれば、ある一族だけに 伝わる秘剣が使えるはずだ…。Do so, and you should be able to use the secret sword (technique) only passed down in a certain clan……Then release it using the secret technique handed down by our people…
リンクよ、お前ならできる…Link. If anyone can do it, you can…Link, you can do it!
ゼルダ姫を お救いするのだ。Rescue Princess Zelda.Save the Princess…
お、お前は、姫の … …。Y-you are the princess’… …Zelda is your… … …

So it looks like the Japanese text ends on a bit of a cliffhanger too, except the sentence subjects have been switched – In Japanese, he says, “You are the princess’…” while in English he says the reverse with, “Zelda is your…” So the translation is sort of a backwards version of the original.

What he intended to say isn’t 100% clear in either version, but if I were playing this for the first time ever, my initial instinct says that he was planning to say, “You are the princess’ only hope.” in the Japanese version.

I have no idea what the English localization was trying to go for, and I suspect that the localization writers didn’t really know, either. It’s been a few years since I last played through the game in English – did the localization ever answer this mystery it started? I’m guessing probably not, if it’s something English-speaking fans are curious about. It’s interesting how just a simple subject swap can create such a big puzzle as this 😛

Actually, this makes me wonder how this line was handled in translations to other languages. Were they based on this English translation, or did they work from the Japanese text? If anyone knows, please share your insight in the comments!

I also couldn’t help but notice that the Japanese version says the special sword attack is passed down among a certain clan, while the English version says it’s “handed down by our people”. Off the top of my head I don’t know if that results in any significant differences in the backstory or series continuity or whatever, but I thought it was interesting enough to note.

If you enjoyed this, check out Legends of Localization Book 1: The Legend of Zelda, my book dedicated to the very first Zelda translation and how it has affected every Zelda game since! (free preview PDF )
42 Comments
  1. “If he says sister, I’ll kill him!” – Four Swords Misadventures

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  2. I always assumed he would have said, “Zelda is your… Destiny”, which kind of fits in with how you felt about the Japanese version, even though it still opposite of what was originally said.

    As for the sword technique, I think that was probably just to clear it up that, yes, indeed, Link’s uncle knew the technique because they ARE descendants of the Hylia–which aren’t referred to as a “clan” at all in the English translation.

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  3. Huh, I’d always heard the “Zelda is your” line was made up and had no basis in the original Japanese script, like Ganondorf Dragmire. The GBA port’s new translation removes the line entirely, and gives it instead to a boss in the new bonus dungeon that initially shape-shifts into Link’s uncle. It’d be cool if you could also compare the text from the GBA versions of both meeting Link’s uncle and the new boss.

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  4. Considering the similarity between the “so” and “ri” katakana glyphs, is it possible that the name was always intended to be “Somasoa”, and that someone’s real-world handwriting got misconstrued at some point, someone else reading the second “so” as a “ri”?

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    1. Yeah, that’s what I’m wondering too. I’d love to play the Japanese GBA version all the way through and get the cane normally to see what the text says when you acquire it. My hunch says it’ll be called “Somasoa” there too, in which case it would be less likely to be a typo/reading mistake.

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      1. I checked the text in the Japanese GBA version when you obtain it and it was changed to “Somasoa” there as well:

        ソマソアのつえを手に入れた!
        うまく使えば、とてもやくに      
        立つ、ふしぎなつえだ!

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        1. Cool, thanks! You didn’t happen to get a screenshot, did you? I always prefer to get screenshots as extra proof of stuff, in case either I mess up or someone thinks *I* got something wrong 😛

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          1. Here’s a screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/yR5Hrn4.png
            I don’t know if it will suffice as it’s low-res and a little blurry being taken straight from a youtube video.

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        2. So I did some more research and it sounds like it IS “Somasoa” on purpose. Apparently after you finish the four dungeons (in four sword adventures? I dunno) it’ll tell you how many times you used each item, and when it shows this cane it says “SOMASOA” in English letters.

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  5. The Gameboy Advance English localization removes the “Zelda is your . . . ” line, if I remember right.

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  6. Cane of Baira, a cane that makes a magical barrier around you… cane of Baria, like the “Baria Suit” in Japanese Metroid, which in turn is linked to the word barrier?

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    1. Cane of Varia!

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    2. Yeah, that’s my guess too, that it’s a really roundabout scrambling of “Baria” (well, roundabout coming from the Japanese side of things).

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      1. The same ending that spells Cane of Somasoa, calls it Cane of Byra.
        Given the relation of both items and how unambiguous transliterating “Byra” is, I’d say it’s probably that.

        (Then again, it also calls the lamp “Kandelaar” and the MC Hammer “Magic Hammer”, so I’d question just how valid the quest log really is…)

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        1. In the Japanese version the Lamp when obtained is: カンテラ which apparently is borrowed from the dutch “Kandelaar.” In the Inventory it instead is: とうろう “Lantern.” The same goes for the hammer which is “Magic Hammer” in the inventory.

          This is the case with many items in the Japanese version where they goes by slightly different names/spellings when obtained versus inventory screen. If it was by design or if it was simply down to different persons responsible for the text in the inventory versus game-script I don’t know.

          Another such example are the three Pendants, in the inventory they goes by Pendants just like we’re used to but are only referred to as Crests in the game-script.

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          1. Oops! Nevermind seems I was wrong about the description of the Lantern in the inventory, it’s カンテラ there as well.

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  7. I always assumed that it was either “Zelda is your destiny,” or “Zelda is your only chance to save everyone/bring peace to the world.”

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    1. By the way, since we’re on the subject of older characters speaking (I know Link’s uncle isn’t that old, but let me go on), what exactly constitutes an “old man/woman” way of speaking in Japanese? And how exactly do you tell? Is the vocabulary? The tone of voice? (Though I know in older games, there’s no voice acting.)

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      1. They usually end their sentences with the word/phrase “ja” or “jaa”. It’s one of many ways to end a sentence in Japanese that doesn’t actually mean anything but is just there to reflect the speaker’s disposition.

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      2. Yeah, in written Japanese there are lots of little cues and word/verb usage differences that denote things like that. It’s such a big topic that I think I’d like to do a dedicated article to it sometime! Voice acting is another thing altogether, but just from written Japanese you can figure out a ton about a character.

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        1. That would be great. You mentioned numerous times about old man and woman speaking in the FF4 comparison columns, so I was curious. Then I remembered in some anime that I’ve seen, as Pickle pointed out, that some elderly characters say -ja often.

          Then I recalled that Princess Devilotte from Cyberbots and Patty from the PS3 Tales of Vesperia say it despite they’re both little girls. And the other characters point out, “Kids/princesses shouldn’t be talking that way!” XD

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  8. Whenever I’ve played this, I thought he was trying to say “Zelda is your sister.”

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    1. Same here. The first time I read that line, I thought he was going to say that Zelda was Link’s sister, too. I had also believed that Link and Zelda were twins in Ocarina of Time, and that during the war of the races, the king kept Zelda in the castle while the queen fled with Link to the Kokiri Forest. That’s why Zelda says that her mother died while she was young and that Link’s name sounds familiar. Just my theory.

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      1. Oh my, that’s my theory too!

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  9. In French it reads:

    “Tu…Peux…y arr…iver! Sauve Princ…Zeld… Tu es son… sauv…”

    Which means:

    “You…can..do…it! Save Princ…Zeld… You are her…savior…”

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  10. There’s a polish fan translation of ALttP. It says “Zelda jest twoją … …”, and it literally means “Zelda is your…”, so nothing interesting, really. I guess it’s like that because obviously more people know english than japanese in Poland, so they used the US release as a base (which, in fact, they did).
    Keep up the good work with all of your articles btw!

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  11. I guess there is no basis for this, but I always assumed that “SoMARIa” was a Mario reference – kind of like tARIn in ALTTP (obviously Mario based character) or like KaliMARI/KOOPAhari desert in Mario Kart, etc.

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  12. Oops, I mean Link’s Awakening, not ALTTP…

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  13. I was always confused by the “Zelda is your…” line in the this game as well but looking back at it, though my first guess was also “Zelda is your destiny,” I think what they were going for was something along the lines of, “Zelda is your responsibility.” Perhaps there was a different word there but that would be my guess as that preserves the supposed intent of the Japanese text. I would wonder too if part of the reason the line was cut in the re-release on GBA is due to no one really knowing for sure what the line was intended to imply (like the original notes on that part of the script are lost). So rather than perpetuate a bad translation or further mutilate the original intent they just removed the line altogether.

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  14. Surely it’s “princess’s”, not “princess'”?

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    1. This is one of those grammar rules that everyone learns differently. Both are valid, just a matter of preference.

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  15. if you were so curious about how to romanize バイラ, couldn’t you have just gotten it off of the GBA ending too?

    And just as an aside, I wouldn’t say “Japanese names are hard” so much as that Japanese transliterations of a western language are hard. Seriously, there’s practically no consistency at all when it comes to usage of the Latin alphabet (especially in English), so you could have like 500 different spellings that are all capable of having the exact some pronunciation, and then you got stuff like ghoti=fish. Shit, just look at the official roman spellings of characters from Fire Emblem, I doubt anyone’d be able to guess half of those. Then you’ve got Odin Sphere, which has a character who goes by the spelling of “Ingway” in the English localization, but his official name, according to the original creators? Yngwie (and to further complicate things, the “w” is pronounced like a “v” in the Japanese dub, イングヴェイ, though the English voice cast apparently didn’t catch onto this and pronounces it with a standard “w”). I’m also left to wonder how Pokemon got “Shaymin” from シェイミ (have you ever heard of a silent “n” from any culture?).

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  16. I’m pretty sure that ‘Zelda is your…’ line got changed in the English GBA version actually! Now I’m wondering if this is the same for the Japanese version too but I might be wrong in the first place.

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  17. I know that this post is really old, but I looked into the Italian localization. Since the SNES version was never localised, I’m going straight with the GBA version.
    “Oh, no, Link, non volevo che tu fossi coinvolto… ti avevo detto di rimanere a casa…
    Prendi la mia spada e lo scudo.
    Ora ascoltami, voglio insegnarti una tecnica segreta tramandata dal nostro popolo: puoi concentrare tutta l’energia nella lama della spada tenendo premuto il pulsante B per sprigionarla poi in un sol colpo.
    Imparala presto, ti sarà utile.
    Link, puoi farcela!
    Salva la Principessa…
    Non ti dimenticherò…”

    The translation goes something like this: “Oh no, Link, I didn’t want you to get involved in this… I told you to stay at home…
    Take my sword and shield.
    Now listen, I want to teach you a secret technique handed down by our people: you can focus all the energy in the blade of your sword by pressing the B button and then release it all together in a single hit. Master this technique quickly, it will be helpful.
    Link, you can do it!
    Save the princess…
    I’ll never forget you…”

    I really don’t like the Italian translation because the whole ‘destiny’ theme is completely gone…

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