In the Shadow of Elvish – The Black Speech and Orcish

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

Table of Kirkhi

I finally made a digital version of my Kirkhi-table (aka runes of Mordor). Update: note that the right staff (vertical line) of ‘u’ is missing. Under the page 9. Writing Systems the correct table can be found.

kirkh-mâshur table

New inspiration for Angband Orcish: Magol

The development of Zhâburi have been dormant for a wile for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that I realized that I needed to develop the Angband Orcish and then I got stuck. I have some few ideas but no real drive to develop it. And I felt, and feel, that I needed to learn more about Tolkien lore.

So I started to read The History of Middle Earth (HoME) IX Sauron Defeated because I knew that there were som orcish dialogue in it. I was caught and couldn’t stop reading the rest of The History of the Lord of the Rings (HoME) VI The Return of the Shadow, VII The Treason of Isengard, VIII The War of the Ring). Then I started to read the HoME from the beginning but wanted to read the about The Hobbit as well.

So now I’m reading The History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff and lo and behold! What do I find? A reference to a constructed languages by Tolkien that I didn’t know about called Mago or Magol based on Hungarian. For some time Tolkien pondered the idea to use it as the/a orc language. This was not to be but at least one word was used as the orc name Bolg meaning “strong” .

The author draws a parallell to the orc captain Boldog in The Lay of Leithian and the 1930 Quenta. In note 3 to the text the real world inspiration for the word could be ‘fir bolg’ one of the mythical races Ireland. (See the chapter The End of the Journey (ii) Bolg of the North, Magol, p 710-13)

I have not been able to find so much on the Internet but this which also refers to The History of the Hobbit:

Just when you thought you have read about all of the languages Tolkien developed comes a new one (for me) – and that is Mago/Magol which is mentioned in the notes to book two of The History of the Hobbit (excellent book). Mago/Magol was developed by Tolkien based on, according to the ELF panel, Hungarian. At one time he intended to have the orcs speak it but decided not to. ELF promises that his grammar and notes for Mago/Magol will be published in the future. In a great email Patrick Wayne sent in response on the Labengolmor list (#1012) he said the language would have the sound of Elves who lived in Budapest!! Should be interesting – but first Taliska (I hope)…over and out.

Of Eagles, Bears and Songs of Power

This post is a diparture from the language creation of Zhâburi. which I have taken a pause of. I realized that I needed to develop the Angband Orcish. But I have for long time felt that I really needed to delve deeper into Arda. So I started to read the The History of Middle Earth (HME) by Christopher Tolkien. Having read all but the last two volumes (vol XI. The War of the Jewels and XII The Peoples of Middle Earth) I realized that I really wanted to know more about the development the Third Age which Tolkien started create when he wrote The Hobbit.* This phase  is actually not part of the HoME series but John D. Rateliff have written an excellent book (in either one or two volumes) called The History of The Hobbit (HH) which I’m currently reading.  

What is really interesting of  HH is that the author really digs deep into the sources of where Tolkien could have been inspired by in his creation of Arda. Something which Christopher explicitly chooses not to do. Quite understandable  because the shear volume of HME is vast and would probably be unworkable. 

But I must say I was a bit disappointed by two things (and I have only read about a third of the book). First the minor thing that he does not mention that the first name for the character later known as Beorn was the slavic word for bear spelled Medwed. And in addition it could be mentioned that the name of the helper bear of the Father Christmas letters named Karhu means bear in Finnish. But this is just minor details. 

What more irritating is in the discussion about sources for the Eagles. The author writes some interesting thing about the eagle as an old European symbol and how it figured in medieval ideas. 

What is really missing is references to the Finnish mythological epos Kalevale which is known to have influenced Tolkien very much. Especially his saga about Túrin Turambar in Narn i Chîn Húrin (The Children of Húrin) in which Tolkien loaned much from the story about Kullervo. And Finnish is of course a major influence for Quenya. The Author mentions Kalevala in other topics and even the similar Estonian epos Kalevipoeg (which is on my reading list).

In Kalevala the main hero Väinämöinen is rescued by an eagle several times very much like the eagles rescues different characters in Tolkien’s works. 

Another example that I find quite striking from Kalevala is how the songs are very potent instruments of power. The characters are actually battling each other with song. Very much like Finrod Felagund battles Sauron in The Silmarillion.  

* When Tolkien wrote The Hobbit it was really in the same setting as Quenta Silmarillion but after the War of Wrath and the three ages was not created yet. The forest Mirkwood was Taur-nu-Fuin. During this time Tolkien also started to develop Númenór but hadn’t connected it to the tales of the Silmarillion yet. 


Gûldur revisited & Morgoth’s Ring

A couple of months ago I discovered the a Black Speech word that I had missed – gûldur. I then didn’t know what to with the word and I have not analysed it. But as I read The History of Middle Earth Vol. 10 Morgoth’s Ring I found this clue. In the part

Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth; Authors notes on the Commentary; Glossary: Ñoldor (p 350 in my paperback edition (2015). In this glossary Tolkien has written that:

The Quenya word ñólë meant ‘lore, knowledge’, but its Sindarin equivalent gûl, owing to its frequent use in such combinations as morgul (cf.Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings) was only used for evil or perverted knowledge, necromancy, sorcery. This word gûl was also used in the language of Mordor.

In my analysis of gûl of the Black Speech I write

From the compound ‘nazgûl’ analysed as nazg “ring” + ‘gûl’ “wraith” or “any one of the major invisible servants of Sauron dominated entirely by his will (A Tolkien Compass)”. The word ‘gûl’ is very similar to the Elvish word root NGOL “wise” or “wisdom” and Primitive Elvish ñgôlê “Science/Philosophy” and identical to Sindarin gûl “deep knowledge; perverted or evil knowledge, sorcery, necromancy, black arts, magic”.

The interpretation for Zhâburi is that ‘gûl’ means someone who has gained deep knowledge through the black arts of Sauron which also means that one is dominated by his will and  one’s perspective of the world is completely that of the Dark lord.

The word gûl in the Black Speech is probably a loan word from Sindarin but the root word NGOL and Primitive Elvish ñgôlê would give us gûl in my Anband Orcish and so in Zhâburi as well.

So then about the word gûldur. The most simple analysis would be that it is a compound word of gûl and dur the latter being related to durb– (to rule) Quenya turtur- v. “to master, conquer, dominate, win”. So gûldur would then mean something like “(black) lore dominating” or “to master by the means of (evil) lore”.

So what about the ‘b’ in ‘durb’? I have been thinking of this b (and the one in ‘gimb-‘ (to find) for a long time. My solution has been to view it as a derivative suffix. If we treat gûldur as a compound of ‘gûl’ and ‘dur’ then this is a elegant solution so now I can settle that question (and maybe publish my list of derivative suffixes soon).

So what about Morgoth’s Ring? I actually started to read books from The History of Middle Earth to find out more of the theological and philosophical aspects of Tolkien’s Arda so that I could create/enlarge Sauron’s theology. And in Morgoth’s Ring I have found i not plenty so at least very relevant material in the text Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth.

Changing some cases, again?

Just as I thought that my case system was stable I have started to think about changing the Possessive and the Equative cases. The current endings are –ba for Possessive and –da for Equative. The Possessive have been stable since I devised it but I changed the Equative case not long ago from –bi to –da, the former was taken from/Quenya ve (prep. “as, like, similar, after the manner [of]”) and the latter taken from the Hurrian Equative.

I changed the Equative for two reasons. First and most important, I didn’t like the sound of ‘bi’, and second I have changed the phonetical rules of how Primitive Elvish ‘e’ developes to Angband Orcish to ‘a’ instead of ‘i’. So the new ending would then be –ba which is the suffix of the Possessive (taken from Quenya -va/-wa ( suffix “possessive or adjectival ending”). 

But then I started thinking. There is an ending –ob which marks genitive and with possessive meaning in the all major Black Speech dialects (Shadowlandian, Svartiska Rukh Nulûrz and Horngoth) and in Zhâburi A the ending is –ûb (because one rule of Zhâburi is that there are no o in the grammar affixes). So now I’m thinking that maybe the Possessive case in Zhâburi B could be –bu. And then there is an opening for Equative –ba.



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