In the Shadow of Elvish – The Black Speech and Orcish

Ash Zhâbur Durbatulûk – One Speech to rule them all

Month: May, 2020

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 Orkiska
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.