Zhâburi – A Black Speech of Mordor

One Speech to rule them all

The Ring verse in Zhâburi

Here is the whole Ring Verse in Zhâburi

* * *

Gakh nazg ghal-shidizala golugut-za
Udu gazatshakh-za gûdrûd-bulshidiza
Krith bartadash-diza gûrum tarkgut-za
Ash shakhbûrz-za sûl-bulshidiza
Al burghi gâtugulûk Dûrbûrz-ishi

Ash nazg durbatulûk
Ash nazg gimbatul
Ash nazg thrakatulûk
agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
Al burghi gâtugulûk Dûrbûrz-ishi

* * *

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie


I just looked at the statistics of viewers and I must say that I’m quite happy with the development. Zhâburi stats 190328

The Change of the Ring Verse

During the years that I have developed Zhâburi the Ring Veres has always functioned as a central text that shows the changes of the language. In the beginning the change was mostly grammatical but later on the words have changed. I have for a long time been thinking of publishing a word list and an analysis of the Zhâburi Ring Verse. I started on a word list and immediately started to question the choice of words and I changed four of the words. All of them from Svartiska to Primitive Elvish roots. The new words are marked in bold.

Gakh nazg ghal-shidizala golugut-za
Udu gazatshakh-za gûdrûd-bulshidiza
Krith bartadash-diza gûrum tarkgut-za
Ash shakhbûrz-za sûl-bulshidiza
Al burghi gâtugulûk Dûrbûrz-ishi

ghal “sky” instead of ‘nût’; ghal from elvish root ƷEL “sky”. 
gut “lord” instead of ‘goth”; gut from Etym. KOT(H) “strive, quarrel”.
rûd “hall” instead of ‘had’; rûd from PE rǭda “cave”.
bart– “doom”, “fate”, “judge”,instead of ‘fund-’; bart- from PE m(b)arat “doom, fate”.

Tha last version was

Gakh nazg nût-shidizala golugoth-za
Udu gazatshakh-za gûd’hâd-bulshidiza
Krith fundadash-diza gûrum tarkgoth-za
Ash shakhbûrz-za sûl-bulshidiza
Al burghi gâtugulûk Dûrbûrz-ishi


Bear in Zhâburi

My name is Björn which means ‘bear’ so I coined a word for ‘bear’ in Zhâburi B bruk. It is a etymological transformation from Primitive Elvish *morókō (Q. morco; S/N. brôg).

Kirkhi – The Runes of Mordor

A couple of days ago I proposed runes of Mordor based on Angerthas Moria which I called Angerthas Mordor but a comment by OneBehindTheHair pointed out that even though Orc might be using Cirth they were, at least at the time of the War of the Ring, not used by Mordor

I’m not sure if Mordor actually used any variation of the Angerthas. The Uruk-hai of Isengard wore an Angerthas ‘S’ rune on their helmets, which is the only known case of Orcs/Orcish societies using Elf runes.
“‘S is for Sauron,’ said Gimli. ‘That is easy to read’
‘Nay!’ said Legolas. ‘Sauron does not use the Elf-runes.’”
-The Departure of Boromir, The Two Towers

Still I think it is fitting that there are some kind of Mordor runes. Tolkien mentions runes in association with orcs who most probably comes from Mordor in The Two Tower, The Black Gate is Closed

They had not come very far from the road, and yet even in so short a space they had seen scars of the old wars, and the newer wounds made by the Orcs and other foul servants of the Dark Lord: a pit of uncovered filth and refuse; trees hewn down wantonly and left to die, with evil runes or the fell sign of the Eye cut in rude strokes on their bark. 

These “runes” could of course be the Mâshur signs so there is no need for proper runes. And so I have designed runes of Mordor derived from Mâshur, still named Kirkhi. The diffence between Mâshur and Kirhki is the tools they are used to write with. Mâshur is written with a pencil or carved in stone. Runes are designed for being carved in wood – that is the purpose of the 45˚ lines, horisontal lines merge with year rings. I imagine a development scenario were Sauron at first uses Tengwar to write the Black Speech which soon is transformed into Mâshur. The servants of Sauron already know about runes and a rune variant of Mâshur is developed. The universal word for rune in Middle Earth is Sindarin certh, (plural cirth) wich by the twisting of Orcs becomes kirkh (the uvular r shifts the dental th in front of the mouth to velar kh in the back).

Note: On some of the signs used in the chart:

I.3 þ= th
I.4 ð = dh
III.3  ʃ = sh
III.4 ж = zh
I wonder why I in IV.2 didn’t use ɣ for gh. And IV.4 r is of course IPA ʀ

Kirkh mâshur

Angerthas Mordor – Runes of Mordor

For Zhâburi I invented the corrupted variant of Tengwar called Mâshur. The idea behind Mâshur is that Sauron used Tengwar to write the Black Speech in the Ring Inscription but a new style was invented were the lúvar (bows) was altered to horisontal lines. The style is inspired by Cuneiform. However Tolkien states that Orcs used Cirth – the sindarin runes used in Middle Earth and writes in Appendix E.

The Cirth in their older and simpler form spread eastward in the Second Age, and became known to many peoples, to Men and Dwarves, and even to Orcs, all of whom altered them to suit their purposes and according to their skill or lack of it.

I have been thinking of this for a long time but I haven’t been able create them. The problem is that the writing must follow the language and because we have so many Orcish dialects in Middle Earth there are many possibilities. I now settled on one version of Runes: Angerthas Mordor (the Runes of Mordor in Sindarin). They are build on the Dwarven variant Angerthas Moria. In Zhâburi they are Kirkhi “the runes” a phonological adaption from Sindarin Cirth.

I will write a longer explanation on this and publish under “writing system” when I have created a better looking table of the runes. As for now here is a handwritten table. Runes within brackets are not used in the Mordor version. Runes with a little X have a different sound value than in the Moria runes and the original sound is  written within brackets. I created two new rune for o and ô but I think the original runes are better number 50 and 51. Kirkh - Angerthas Mordor

A new word: gûldur

On the site Eldamo a “collection of documents is a lexicon of Tolkien’s invented languages” I just found a Tolkien Black Speech word I wasn’t aware of ‘gûldur‘ “sorcery” which is really similar to Sindarin ‘guldur’ “black arts, sorcery” as in  Dol Guldur “Hill of Sorcery”. It’s obviously related to ‘gûl’ as in ‘nazgûl’. Luckely this word fits quite well into Zhâburi because one of the really old and fixed noun suffixes is -ur with a lengthened stemvowel, as in ‘zhâbur’ (language) from ‘zhab’. I already have the word ‘gûl’ (wraith (of Sauron), “any one of the major invisible servants of Sauron dominated entirely by his will”; Someone with deep knowledge of Eä from the dark perspective). So I just have to figure out why the d is there in the middle.

Letters of Tolkien: 153 & 144

I’ve read some of Tolkin’s letters to find out more on what Tolkien thought about the religion of the Shadow. Anyway I found two things of interest for this project. One positive and one a little more problematic. I the text on Orcs I describe orcs as

rational, egoistical beings whose societies vastly differ from anything made by Man. We may recognise traits similar to our own but they are always from the side that we are ashamed of. The Orc is the utility maximising individual who always and only work for themselves.

This was a conclusion I came to by inference of a lot of different material because it was coherent with a lot of other interpretations. The important point is that I don’t remember reading this before and I have both bin a proud of the conclusion and worried that is was wrong. But in Letter 153 (p. 190) Tolkien writes that Orcs

are fundamentally a race of ‘rational incarnate’ creatures, though horrible corrupted, if no more so than many Men to be met today.

In Letter 144 I found something troublesome instead. I my analysis of The Black Speech I’ve made a clear distinction between The Black Speech on the one hand and Orcish on the other were the Orc Curse Uglúk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob búbhosh skai is categorised as Orcish but not as The Black Speech. In Letter 144 (p. 178) Tolkien writes (my emphasis underlined)

The Black Speech was only used in Mordor; it only occurs in the Ring Inscription, and a sentence uttered by the Orcs of Barad-dûr (Vol. II p. 48)

This is not a fatal problem but I must rewrite some things in my analysis.

Note: in the first version of this text I referred to Letter 151 instead of Letter 153.

The Theology of Sauron


Zigûr Mâghni Mâron –B. Axén

Sauron created a religion of Melkor in Middle Earth during the second age and The Black Speech really ought to have a liturgical function and it should reflect the theology of Sauron. So one of my goals in creating Zhâburi is to find out how Sauron viewed the Creation of Arda and Melkor’s place in it and so on. When I worked on the adaption of words from Valarin I had to make some choices and when writing an explanation for the wordlist some of it things fell into place.

Some of the names of Valar have Valarin forms and these are used for the Zhâburi form. The other names are just adapted from the Elvish names with the exeption of Melkor and Eru. Note that Zhâburi does not distinguish between higher Ainur such as Valar and Maiar nor Aratar – the higher Valar but instead all are included in ‘azhan’. If one wants to use these categories the Quenya words are used in the plural form (Zhâburi does not distinguish between singular and plural): Valar, Aratar;  Maiar (not *Mazhar). This is to mark out that these categories are part of another cosmological and philosophical paradigm.

The word Quenya word ‘vala’ comes from the primitive elvish root BAL (Vala = Balan/Belain in Sindarin). In Quenya there is the word Máhan, a synonym for Aratar, adopted from Valarin ‘mâchanâz’ which becomes mâghan in Zhâburi but designate any high authority (most often of the Shadow) and not the Valar per se. Melkor is called Mâghanashi (the one authority) in Zhâburi B. In Zhâburi (A) Eru is called Ashi (The One) but this is really just a translation from Quenya Eru with all its cosmological baggage. In Zhâburi (B) Eru is reduced by the name Manashi from a subject to an object with no agency; to a proto-substance with the potential of form. Thus the language indicates that Arda was formed by the Ainur (Azhani) led by Melkor (Mâghanashi) the supreme Ainu. 

Here is a sketch of the creation myth according to Sauron

In the beginning there was Azgi (Nothingness, the Void) and then came Ashi (the One, Eru). A movement started within Ashi and Azhani (Ainur) came these Wills separated from Ashi and there were Azhani and Manashi (proto-substance). Azhani was manyfold and of different might and all had different goals and they started to form Manashi according to each own will. The mightiest of them, Mâghanashi (Melkor), rised above all other Azhan to bring order so that they may form Manashi according to one will and order. Many of Azhani flocked to Mâghanashi but more went against him and chief among these was Mânav (Manwë) who was almost equal in might with Mâghanashi.

Here is the word list of Azhani

Zhâburi English Comment
Aghûl Aulë From Valarin A3ûlêz
Arûn Melkor, Morgoth An Adûnaic name for Morgoth, perhaps coined by Sauron when he introduced the worship of the dark god to the Númenóreans, translated as “Lord” (Sauron Defeated: 376)
Arôm Oromë From Valarin Arômêz
Asat Este Phonetical adaption
Azhan Ainu, Ainur From Valarin ayanûz “ainu”
Irim Irmo Phonetical adaption
Mâghanashi Melkor, Morgoth The One Authority
mâghan, mâghn- authority From Valarin ‘mâchanâz’ “authority”. Maghni “the authority in general”; The form ‘Maghani’ is  used for the high authority of the shadow like Sauron or Nazgûl or other.
Manashi Eru The unique proto-form and substance “see ‘man’ under the Words from Valarin and ‘ashi’ individulizer
Mânav Manwë From Valarin Mânawenûz
Mâron Mairon (Sauron) Phonetical adaption
Nâm Mandos/Námo Phonetical adaption
Nas Nessa Phonetical adaption
Nîn Nienna Phonetical adaption
Tuluk Tulkas From Valarin Tulukastâz
Ulub Ulmo From Valarin Ulubôz
Vân Vána Phonetical adaption
Vâr Vaire Phonetical adaption
Varad Varda Phonetical adaption
Zhavan Yavanna Phonetical adaption

Changes: pronouns, the directive and words from Valarin

In true to Tolkien I cannot settle on details of the language. I have decided to change the directive suffix and the some of the pronouns. The pronouns of Zhâburi B has never been stable but I hope that the latest version will hold. For the first time in my work with Zhâburi I am content with every pronoun. For a long time I struggled with the 3 person which I wanted to contain the element of u and l because of the -ul-parts in the Ring inscription. In Zhâburi A 3 person was based on luzh and now I have settled at last on sul. But instead the 2 person has given med problems but now I discard inspired by Hurrian and settle for lat which the 2 person singular in all other dialects except David Salo’s. I also settled for a very conform structure for the different case forms where each pronoun has a basic stem CV; the ergative has an ending consonant and for the other cases the case suffix is simply attached to the basic stem.

Person abs erg gen pos dir loc ins equ
1 person excl. shid shigha shikhu shiba shiza shishi shizi shana
1 person incl. kad kagha kakhu kaba kaza kashi kazi kana
2. person lat lagha lakhu labu laza lashi lazi lana
3 person sul sulgha sulkhu sulba sulza sulshi sulzi sulna

I have also changed the directive from –bi to –na. I was not really happy with the suffix -bi (taken from Elvish). The replacing ending is taken from Hurrian –nna.

I am also planning on publishing a wordlist of the Zhâburi words taken from Valarin.

Changing the tense suffixes

When writing the Gilgamish (see last post) I started to realize that there are really alot of fricative sounds. That’s not surprising given that the language has a lot of them. But I’m thinking of ways to reduce them. One way is to limit fricatives in grammatical affixes. The tenses has two fricatives, past tense -sh and future tense -z (present tense is -g).

I am also thinking that it could be nice to align Zhâburi to either Svartiska or LoS. So now think I will change the future tense -z to -b which corresponds to both Svartiska and LoS -ub (that would be the intransitive future in Zhâburi) and let the -z suffix mark past tense corresponding to LoS past tense -uz. I could use the Svartiska ending -(u)l but that would coincide whith the third person marker -ul.

That would give us:

past tense: -sh > -z
present tense: -g (no change)
future tense: -z > -b

Or maybe I just change the future tense to -b. I kind of like the past tense -sh.

Here are the published Gilgamish lines with -z as past tense suffix

  1. Lubashi-gha narz dubi, dalab gav-khu, ganazanûk
  2. Guzhubadazanûk, ishazanûk
    Gilgamish-gha narz dubi, dalab gav-khu, ganazanûk
    Guzhubadazanûk, ishazanûk
  3. Fushazanûk ruk kând Bârad-khu
  4. Khutazanûk gûludûk shû-khu
  5. Ganazan dhûri, badzazan buzhi
  6. Ruzhazan zhabazhi zhûsh-ikhu shub-ishibû bâradbâ-iza