In the Shadow of Elvish – The Black Speech and Orcish

Ash Zhâbur Durbatulûk – 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

Announcement: Zhâburum — in the making

I just wanted to announce that I have started to work on an overview sketch on Zhâburum, i.e. a new version of the language. I think it will have the following features. See these posts: The End of Zhâburi B: New information on the Black Speech; and Zhâburum.

  1. Practically the same phonology as Zhâburi A and B
  2. The Noun: I will change the structure from the ergative-based to the more familiar nominative-based. The structure will otherwise be the same but with some alternations of the suffixes, especially the article which will be changed from –i to –um. I will keep the system of no grammatical difference between singular and plural.
  3. The verb has to be reconstructed. I do not really know how at the moment. At the moment I think the best way is to make a fundamentally new constructive analysis of the verb.
  4. The Descriptive: I will probably change it to a more familiar system of adjectives and adverbs. This will make it less innovative but probably more in line with the vision of Tolkien.
  5. The numbers and syntax will probably be left unchanged.

The question of “In the name of X” and Ungoliant

I got these questions in a comment on the post Zhâburum:

Has Zhaburum got a word for “In the name of”, e.g “In the name of Maghanashi” or “In the name of Arun” ? I think LOS has “zan” zanarun sounds nice, I’m wondering if there is such a word, or if you could coin one please?

There is no special word like ‘zan’ in LoS. The construction is X-GEN NAME-INS. I haven’t coined a word for “name” in Zhâburi B or Zhâburum but it is ‘isha’ in Zhâburi A so I will use it.

The sentence then is Maghanashi-khu ishi-zi “In the name of Melkor” in ZhB. Or in Zhâburum, if the suffix –um is used instead of –i, it will be Bruk-khu ishum-zi “In the name of Björn (Bear)”. I use another name for Zhâburum because mabye Maghanashi isn’t really a Zhâburum word. It could be, I haven’t decided on the principle of that construction yet.

A phonetical adaption Ungoliant “Gloomweaver, Shadow Spider” would be ungolzhant. A direct translation of “shadow spider” could be ûgbûrz, the same construction as ‘lugûrz’ “The Dark Tower”. We could even have ûgbûrzi or ûgbûrzum “the dark spider”. But maybe ‘bûrz’ is not the same as shadow here and I haven’t coined a word for shadow. We can speculate that ‘bûrz’ really has to do with the darkness of Melkor and Ungoliant is of another kind of darkness and shadow is a more appropriate term.


WordPress, seemingly accidently, removed the site for some days. I have started to think about the new path of my Black Speech endeavor, which I wrote about in my last post from in May. 

I think I will end Zhâburi B and the new speech would be called Zhâburum, where -um replace the i-ending. I think most of the grammar will be the same. The rules based on my, invalid, interpretation of -(u)m infinitive, nominalizer of verbs will probably have to change. And I am thinking of changing the ergative system to a more familiar system of nominative and accusative. But I haven’t decided on that yet. 

It would be interesting to hear your thought on that.

The End of Zhâburi B: New information on the Black Speech

The administrator of The Black Speech School has published some very interesting information on the Black Speech by Tolkien himself (published in Parma Eldalamberon #17, 2007). This obviously has quite a lot of impact on the Zhâburi project. The very name of Zhâburi should probably be changed to Zhâburum because we learn that the –um ending really is a definite article or particularizing suffix. What is interesting here is that Zhâburi has both a definite article –i and particularizing suffix –ashi. This seems to be the end of Zhâburi B but I think of Zhâburi B can be used in Zhâburum. I will probably start with a analysis on what must be changed.

Here is the whole text which was published on the forum of The Black Speech School.

The journal “Parma Eldalamberon” #17 published an analysis of “Ring Inscription” by J.R.R. Tolkien, made after the publication of “The Lord of the Rings”. And it contains important remarks which change a current widespread view on Black Speech! It was published in 2007 but for mysterious reasons they were not used in later analyses of Black Speech, while ‘orc-curse’ from the same journal was. (Shadowlandian was finished in 2004)

I will quote them here with important phrases emphasized with red color by me:

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:

durb-at=ulûk: durb-, constrain, force, dominate; at, verb ending (like a participle) (durbat = constraining, of a sort to constrain)1); ulûk, verbal ending expressing objects (particles indicating ‘subject’ were usually prefixed2)) 3rd person pl. “them” (ul) in completive or total form “them-all”.

1) ending ‘-at’ is some form of participle which can be translated as infinitive (“to rule”) and gerund (“constraining”); so the combination of such characteristics resembles Latin’s gerundive (see Wikipedia), which can be translated the same ways, and was sometimes used instead of future participles. Gerundive will be very suitable for translation of Ring Inscription into Latin.

2) for many years authors of Neo Black Speech dialects were copying either English or Quenya grammar (as  the Shadowlandian dialect used here). wrote:

Cf. Aragorn’s exclamation when he found the sapling of the White Tree: Utúvienyes!, “I have found it!” (utúvie-nye-s “have found-I-it”; LotR3/VI ch. 5)

In Shadowlandian it will follow the similar pattern: “Gimbuzizgta” or “Gimbuzta-izg”
It’s not clear from Tolkien’s remark, if all verbs have prefix of person or only when the subject was a pronoun, if subject pronouns were sometimes suffixed, written standalone or both, but at least we now sure that Classical Black Speech had prefixes too.

also we now have a confirmation that “-ûk” may be translated as “completely, totally” and not just “all”

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:

in the archaic ring-inscription burzumishi is evidently made up of this stem3) + a particularizing suffix or ‘article’ um4), and an enclitic ‘preposition’ ishi ‘in, inside’.

3) it’s about stem “bûrz”, in LOTR it was written “búrz” but here Tolkien use circumflex (^) instead of accent mark.

4) so ‘-um’ means not an abstract noun, but an article (“in the darkness”).

Stars are shining on our meetings

Here is the Quenya greeting Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo “A star shines on the hour of our meeting” in different dialects. Notice the similarities between Zhâbuir A and Svartiska on the one hand and Zhâburi and Angband Orcish on the other. The main difference between Zhâburi A and B is that A is based on Svartiska and B is based on Angband Orcish (which in turn has developed from Primitive Elvish). Note that the word for shine “drau-” is used in Zhâburi A, Svartiska and Land of Shadow. The Svartiska word shrakhum “meeting” is from the Rukh Nulûrz dialect. (20.05.15) I have added the sentence in the Rukh Nulûrz dialect. It is of course very similar to the Land of Shadow variant.

Zhâburi B
Zhân shilugar zhûm-ishi banar-bak’khu

Angband Orkish
Zhán shila zhúm-shi banar-ghu dimba.

Zhâburi A
Kâlt draut îlishi banarbagûb

Ash ûlûrag drauat za-ilûsh gurobi shrakhumob

Land of Shadow
Ilz drauat sib-shi traf-ob izubu

Rukh Nulûrz
Ilz draugat sib-shi shrakhum’ob izubu

Zhâburi: A star shines on the hour of our meeting

In the last post I wrote a Angband Orcish version of the Quenya greeting elen síla lúmenn’  omentielvo “a star shines on the hour of our meeting”. Here is the same sentence in Zhâburi.

Zhân shilugar zhûm-ishi banar-bak’khu

A star shines [repeatedly; usually] on the hour of our meeting

zhân “star”
shil- “shine”; -u- intransitive; -g present tense; -ar iterative aspect, marking that this is usually the case.
zhûm”hour”, “time”
-ishi “on the”
banar “meeting”
-bak “our” (1 person inclusive)
–khu “of”, genitive

Which can be compared to the one in Angband Orcish

Zhán shila zhúm-shi banar-ghu dimba.

Angband Orcish: A star shines on the hour of our meeting

One of the most famous Quenya (Q) sentences is the greeting elen síla lúmenn’  omentielvo “a star shines on the hour of our meeting [of our ways]” (From Lord of the Rings). In addition there is Telerin (T) version of él síla lúmena vomentienguo “A star shines upon the hour of the meeting of our ways”.

I have long been thinking of what this would be in Primitive Elvish and my proto-Orcish, Angband Orcish (AO). My understanding of Primitive Elvish is too poor to make me try to construct a version of it. But I have the creative control of Angband Orcish and I have developed enough Angband Orcish to make some kind attempt at it.

The sentence have the following elements:

elen “star”, noun nominative, root EL ““lo, behold; star”
síla “shines”, verb present tens of síla- “to shine”, root SIL “shine (white or silver)”.
lúmenna “on [the] hour, noun allative, lúme “hour”, root ULU; -anna case ending allative, the final a omitted because of the initial o in the following word.
omentielvo “of our meeting”; omentie “meeting” (lit.) “coming together of journey-path, meeting or junction of the directions of two people”, root MEN; -lvo “of our” genitive form of 1st person pl. inclusive: -lva “our”.

All these can be found at Eldamo.

The first word star could be seen as quite simple. We have the root EL which would simply become “al” but this is really too similar to the Elvish ‘él’. Another possibility is to render “star” from the Quenya word ‘elen’ which would give us zhán < lân < lên < elen. The problem with this is that I think that elen is a Quenya word and not really PE. But I use it for now.

For the second word shines Q síla I simply use the root SIL which becoms shil and a present tense ending –a give us shila. That’s really close to both the Q and T but I settle for that. The evolution of the PE verb system to the AO system is a bit complex and I will publish a text on it later on.

Now it starts to get more interesting as we break up the words. First lume from the root ULU “pour” > lūmē “time” > lúm > zhúm. To this we could either add the allative ending which is -na in PE and gives us -da in AO or we could use a locative ending –shi from PE –ze. This ending is a clitic postposition. 

The last part is the most difficult and interesting because now we have to decide on how pronouns and cases/postpositions should work in AO. 

The Q word for meeting omentie has a stem ‘men’ and a prefix o- indicating “together” and a suffix -ie for rendering nouns. From this I have taken the stem whith the edentical root MEN which has developed to AO bango proceed”. To this word a derivative ending –ar (taken from Hurrian) has been attached so we get banar “meeting”.

Then we have the pronoun “our”. Q have different pronouns for inclusive and exclusive we which AO does not. The first person stem in PE is ni and which gives us AO di to which the pluralmarker –m is attached: dim. To this the possessive ending –ba, from PE –, is added: dimba. The genitive ending or the postposition that corresponds to “of” is in AO –ghu from PE 3o/ho. 

So the first part of the sentence is quite clear now:

zhán shila zhúm-da or zhán shila zhúm-shi “A star shines on the hour”. But what about  the word order of the “of our meeting”? If we use the same structure we get banar-dimba-ghu. But I have another structure in mind where –ghu is attached to the noun banar but the pronoun dimba is freestanding and follows the noun.

So then we have the sentence (which is not to be seen as a greeting).

Zhán shila zhúm-da banar-ghu dimba or Zhán shila zhúm-shi banar-ghu dimba.


The Hunter – words Angband Orcish

I was thinking about the awakening of the Elves and how they spoke about the Hunter and how the elves disappeared. They must have been talking about this Hunter in Primitive Elvish and I’m happen to be working on my Angband Orcish descended from Primitive Elvish. So I thought that the concept of the Hunter, hunt and so on could would be interesting in Angband Orcish as well. It would also function as a way to illustrate my idea of the connection between Primitive Elvish and Angband Orcish.

So the Primitive Elvish word for “to hunt, pursue” “hunt” is ✶sparā (which gives Quenya fara v. (a-verb) “to hunt”) from SPAR root. “hunt”. 

To this root we can attach the masculine agental ending and we get PE *sparnô “hunter”. The development is then loss of final vowel and then the loss of initial s in the consonant cluster sp which also lengthens the vowel > pârn ”The Hunter” (the article had not developed in Primitive Elvish yet as it would in Common Eldarin). This could then be Angband Orcish name for Melkor or maybe Sauron.

The root SPAR can also develop in other directions and give us more words. I imagine a augment of the stem like RUK > uruk“orc”. So SPAR > Proto Orcish aspar “predator” and then a sound shift in the middle consonant cluster > Angband Orcish ashpar “predator”.

When the old word for “hunter” pârn became “The Hunter” a new word for a ordinary hunter was needed. From the verb proto Orcish “to hunt” pâr– the agental ending –ad (where the a really is a redoubling of the stem vowel) is added > pârad. This ending is both inspired by the Hurrian agental dervative suffix –ade and the Primitive Elvish agental ending –.

So from the Primitive Elvish word sparâ we got three new words:

Pârn “the mystical Hunter” Melkor, Sauron or just some other entity.

ashpar “predator”

pârad “hunter”

Black Speech and Orcish for Peter Jackson’s films

For me Orcish and the Black Speech has very little to do with the film adaptations. When the first Peter Jackson film came out in 2001 I had already “studied” and used Svartiska for several years, from 1997 to be precise.

When I found David Salo’s site Midgardsmál where he published some of his inventions of Black Speech and Orcish it was several years after the construction of Zhâburi A. I found it when I was started to take another look at the language with a new creative burst in 2016 (and it was not until then I found out about the dialect of Land of Shadow).

I was quite delighted when I read Salo’s works on Orcish and the Black Speech because he had taken much the same view and approach as I had. I had been thinking for several years on a Black Speech based on a Proto-Orcish derived from Primitive Elvish. And then how new Orcish dialects developed during the Third Age.

There are some theoretical differences between the my work and Salo’s. First  Salo is only interested in the Black Speech and the Orcish dialects at the end of the Third Age. His proto-Orcish seems to be an pan-Orcish dialect from then end of the Second Age heavily influenced by the Black Speech.

Second Salo never constructed a deep base structure for his dark languages such as I am attempting with my Angband Orcish. This can be seen in the mix of inspiration of words. I remember him stating that he didn’t really have the time to develop a more fundamental structure for the languages. This is a pity and a relief. If Salo had developed these languages more consistently my work of Zhâburi would not be as interesting.

Lastly Salo has also stated that he don’t think that Tolkien was inspired by Hurrian for his Black Speech.

I recently realized that Salo’s site/blog was down so I decided to publish the material that I have saved. I have published under the page Yrksk (which is what I call his Orcish dialect) in addition to the analysis of his Black Speech I had already published.

Zhâburi C?

I have now really started to develop my Angband Orcish and I’m starting to think, or at least think about, that it might give me so much new ideas of Zhâburi that I develop a new version C. At the moment I don’t think so because it will probably not change the foundation or principles of Zhâburi B. But it will probably change quite a few endings and maybe some words.