The Ring Verse in The Land of Shadow Dialect
by Björn Axén
The most widespread dialect or or version of a Black Speech of Mordor that of The Land of Shadow (LoS) and it is interesting to compare it to Zhâburi and Svartiska dialects. Svartiska is the version that I started with and Zhâburi started as an attempt to make Svartiska more coherent to the Black Speech of the Ring Inscription.
Because the central, and really only, example of true Black Speech sentences are those of the ring inscription I will use them as my comparision example. When I first found out about LoS I looked for a translation of the whole ring verse but I could only find the first to lines.
Gakh Nazgu Golug-durub-uru lata-nut.
Three Rings Elf-lords-for under-sky
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky
Udu Gazat-shakh-uru ulub ruz-ishiz gund-ob.
Seven Dwarf-lords-for their halls-in stone of
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone
These two lines are a bit perplexing because they do not follow the grammar as it is explained on the Black Speech School site. Both the dative postpositional endings have lost their circumflexes –uru instead of –ûru. (These are plural, the singular is, just as in Svartiska –ûr. The Svartiska plural is instead -ûri.) And in the first line the postposition –lata (under) has become a preposition preceding the noun nût (sky), (which has lost its circumflex). This is explicitly described as Debased Black Speech. And it’s strange that the word for ‘hall’ ru has a double plural marker, both a suffix attached to the word itself and a plural marker in the postposition –ishiz. These lines are LoS-black Speech and not genuine Tolkien sentences and should not be considered as authentic. But we can make a simple rule of this example of double plural: if the noun ends in a vowel the noun takes a double plural marker in both the noun and the postposition. A more complicated rule would be that a noun ending in a vowel takes the double plural marker only if the postposition starts with a vowel. Both are consistent with the case of “in the halls” and the noun ru (hall) and innessive postposition (in) –ishi, e.g. ru-ishi “in a/the hall” ruz-ishiz “in [the] halls”.
So I have reconstructed both lines and the rest of the Ring Verse.
1. Gakh nazgu golug-durub-ûru nût-lata
Three rings [the] elf-lords-for [the] sky-under
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
2. Udu gazat-shakh-ûru ulub ruz-ishiz gund-ob
Seven [the] dwarf-lords-for their halls-in stone-of
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
3. Krith tark-ûru matûrzu dûmpuga matat
Nine men-for mortal doomed to-die
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
4. Ash goth-bûrz-ûr tab ulîma-ir
One [the] lord-dark-for his throne-on
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In this line I chose to use the word goth for lord instead of shakh to avoid repetition.
5a. Uzg-ishi Mordor-ob amal burgûlu kulut
[the] Land-in Mordor-of where shadows are
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
5b. Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kulut
In [the] Dark-land [Mordor] where shadows are
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
In the last word of the fifth line I had to find another word than ‘to lie’ because I could not find it. So I used the word for are kul– which is the regular form of “to be” in third person plural present tense. [Update 17.04.18. There is a word for “to lie” kât- (from Quenya caita-) which I know that I’ve seen before. So line 5b: Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kâtut.]
There is also the problem of whether to translate Mordor or not. In 5a Mordor is not translated and the translation follows the original. In version 5b Mordor is translated into Uzgbûrz “The Dark Land” following the form of Lugbúrz “The Dark Tower”. The 5b is shorter and have the same amount of syllables and I think it’s more appropriate not to use Elvish words. Mordor ought to have its own name in its own language. So I have used 5b below.
6. Ash Nazg Durbatulûk
One Ring to-Rule-them-all
7. Ash Nazg Gimbatul
One Ring to-Find-them
8. Ash Nazg Thrakatulûk
One Ring to-Bring-them-all
agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
and [the] Darkness-in Bind-them
My version of the Ring Verse in the LoS dialect of the Black Speech of Mordor
- Gakh nazgu golug-durub-ûru nût-lata
- Udu gazat-shakh-ûru ulub ru-ishiz gund-ob
- Krith tark-ûru matûrzu dûmpuga matat
- Ash goth-burz-ûr tab ulîma-ir
- Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kulut
- Ash Nazg Durbatulûk
- Ash Nazg Gimbatul
- Ash Nazg Thrakatulûk
- agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
- Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlukulut