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 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

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


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


I have started to work on a Zhâburi version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, or Gilgamish as it is rendered in Zhâburi.

  1. Lubashi-gha narz dubi, dalab gav-khu, ganashanûk
  2. Guzhubadashanûk, ishashanûk
    Gilgamish-gha narz dubi, dalab gav-khu, ganashanûk
    Guzhubadashanûk, ishashanûk
  3. Fushashanûk ruk kând Bârad-khu
  4. Khutashanûk gûludûk shû-khu
  5. Ganashan dhûri, badzashan buzhi
  6. Ruzhashan zhabazhi zhûsh-ikhu shub-ishibû bâradbâ-iza

* * *

  1. He who saw the depth, the foundation of the Earth
  2. He experienced all, understood all
    Gilgamesh who saw the depth, the foundation of the Earth
    He experienced all, understood all
  3. He explored the four corners of the world
  4. He got the full knowledge of everything (that existed)
  5. He beheld the secret, reveled the hidden.
  6. He preserved the history of time before the Flood for the posterity


Word list

BS =The Black Speech (original Tolkien word)
der. = derived word
Etym = Etymologies (in The Los Road)
HORN = HorngothLoS =The Land of Shadow
MERP = Middle Earth Role Play
PE = Primitive Elvish
Sv = Svartiska

Zhâburi English Source Source word
after PE epe
bad(a)z open; reveal LoS badz
bârad world Etym MBAR
bâradbâ posterity der. bârad + bâ
before PE opo
buzh hidden Etym MUY
dakht angle PE nekte
dalab foundation PE talmā
dhûr secret HORN dhûr
dub deep Etym TUB
fush explore Sv fushat
gan see; behold Etym KEN
gav earth Etym KEM
gûlud knowledge BS + der. suffix gûl+Vd
guzh live Etym KUY
guzhubad experience der. guzh+(u)bad
ish understand PE is
kând corner Sv kând
khut get PE khot
narz that; who Sv narz
rag about; on Sv rag
ruzh preserve MERP ruj
shub flood PE sovo
skug shallow Sv skugga
zhabazh story; account der. zhab+azh (mirror suffix)
zhûsh period of time; a point in time der. zhû+ûsh


What’s going on

I’m working on several things that are relevant for this site at the moment but none is near to be finished so it will probably take a while before anything new is published.

  1. New numbers based on Hurrian instead of Svartiska.
  2. A summary of the Land of Shadow-dialect (LoS) of Neo-black speech. It was more difficult than I thought. Both because LoS is much more developed and complex than Svartiska (and of course I already know the Svartiska grammar) but also because the description of LoS is quite difficult to overview, hence my need for a summary. I see it as an opportunity to learn LoS-grammar and be inspired for my own dialect.
  3. A comparison of Svartiska and LoS based on the Black Speech School version of LoS.
  4. An English wordlist for Zhâburi A.
  5. The development of Zhâburi follows two/several lines: first I’m trying out the grammar with a lot of test sentences; and this means that I need words for my grammar testing so I at the same time I’ve coined new words from Primitive Elvish (PE) and Etymologies. But this is a really slow process so I’m thinking of using Svartiska and LoS words for my grammar testing and move more slowly in the word creation process. Which leads to the next:
  6. I have always imagined that the Black Speech is mostly based on an orcish Language that developed from some kind of PE (See this page). So my idea is to develop a base vocabulary for Zhâburi B directly from PE. I’m now returning  to my old idea of first develop, or really just sketch, this primitive Orcish – or Angband orcish – because I imagine that the orcs under Morgoth were united but scattered after the War of Wrath.
  7. Of course I also need to update several pages because of the changes of the pronouns.

New analysis of uruk, olog & oghor

This is an analysis I have thought about for quite a while now. This text also appear in V. Analysis of the Black Speech.

The words uruk, olog and oghor are all attested with the ending –hai. The word uruk means “orc”, oghor-hai are the drúedain or the Wood people – could be Black Speech but more probably Orcish. Olog is pure Black Speech and seems to mean “troll“.

The interoperation of these words seem to be quite straight forward but I have an idea for a deeper and more constructive analysis. These words are a bit odd. Most attested Black Speech words are monosyllabic except from compounds and words with suffixes. And there are only a few words with initial vowel – except these three only ash (one), agh (and) the monosyllabic preposition u from the orc curse and a few names: Azog, Orcobal, Othrod, Ufthak and Uglúk.

In Hurrian (and other ancient languages such as proto-indoeuropean) words can be derived by duplication of syllables or vowels. So my proposition is that these are derived words with a prefix that duplicates the stem vowel. This analysis gives us three new stems and a new rule for deriving new words. The rule is that words for races can be derived from stems by dublicate the stam vowel and attach it in front of the stem. The only problem here is that I had a vision that Zhâburi B should only use suffixes (a rule inspired from Hurrian). The stems are: RUK, LOG– and GHOR-.

The first of these is actually attested in Primitive Elvish. H. K. Fauskanger writes: “ruk- one of the “ancient forms” of the stem RUKU, that yielded the word Orch (Orc) in Sindarin. Other forms include rauk-, uruk-, urk(u), runk-, rukut/s; also the “strengthened stem”gruk- and the “elaborated” guruk-, ñguruk (the latter by combination with a distinct stem NGUR “horror”, WJ:415). None of these derivatives are clearly glossed, though urku (or uruku) is said to have yielded Quenya urko, vague in meaning in the lore of the Blessed Realm (“bogey”), but later recognized as a cognate of Sindarin Orch. The adjective urkâ is said to mean “horrible”(WJ:389-90).” In Elvish this stem has something to do with fear which it does not have to have in Zhâburi. I have not decided what the RUK-stem meaning should be.

The stem GHOR could something to do with with trees, wood and forest so oghor would be the “forest person” and oghor-hai “those of the wood men” ore something like that. Or more probably it comes from the druedains own word for themselves, drughu.

The Trolls were the Shadows answer to Ents and made of stone so LOG could very well have to do with stone or rock.