4. The Verb

Constitutive analysis based on the Ring inscription and the Orc-curse. See also Analysis of the Black Speech and Hurrian and the Black Speech.

The analysis of the Ring inscription shows that the verb structure and suffixes of the Black Speech is very similar to the Hurrian positive jussive. The suffix chain ‘-atulûk’ is analysed as follows:

0 1 2 3 4
root jussive marker personal marker of jussive Enclitic pronoun Syntactic particle
-a- -t -ul -ûk

In addition I have interpreted the ending -um in burzum as a infinitive ending which works as a nominalizer so that burz- “(to be) dark” + um -> ‘burzum’ “darkness”.

In the Orc-curse there is the -dug from ‘pushdug’ “stinking”. This gives us the following endings: -a, -t, -ul, -ûk, -um from the Ring inscription and -dug from the Orc-curse. The “constructive” analysis is as follows:

-at: is analysed as -a- marker of transitive; -t marker of 3 person subject in jussive and transitive

-ul: enclitic 3 person personal pronoun, marks subject in intransitive verbs and object in transitive verbs.

-ûk: syntactic particle, completeness of an action

-um: is analysed as -u- marker of intransitive; -m marker of the infinitive, the nominal of the action.

-dug: active participle present tense; -g present tense, with the -u- as the marker of intransitivity (see above). From this analysis the passive participle in present tense is created with suffix -a- => -dag where the final consonant marks tense.  

This provides the following endings:

-a- transitive
-u- intransitive
-m infinitive, nominalizer of verbs
-d- participle/descriptive
-g present tense
-t 3 person jussive

-ul enclitic 3 person pronoun, object in transitive verbs and, following the structure of Hurrian, the 3 person subject of intransitive verbs.

-ûk syntactic particle indicating completeness of an action.

The structure of this system is that most suffixes have the form VC either as complete phoneme as is -ul and -ûk or as a construct of transitivity marker -a- or -u- and a consonant. The exception is the descriptive marker -d which does not have a preceding vowel. This suffix is taken from the Orc-curse and maybe there ought to be an preceding vowel in the Black Speech. My proposal is that the same vowel as the following is inserted before the ‘d’ thus in the Zhâburi Black Speech “stinking” is ‘pushudug’.

Now we need to construct the rest of the verb structure. Three things are needed: grammatical features, the actual suffixes, and the order of the of suffixes. The Hurrian verb structure is used as an inspiration.

The Verb Structure

The Hurrian verb structure is quite complex, as expected of a natural language, with eight positions in the suffix chain and several different chain structures. The Zhâburi suffix chain is inspired by Hurrian but much simpler and presented in table 2. Each position is explained below the table.

0a 0b 1a 1b 2 3 4 5
root derivative Transitivity;


Realis; irrealis
(infinitive, tempus, modus
Aspect Marker of the Action’s Subject Enclitic pronoun Syntactic particle/status
Ex: dur- -b- -a- (transitive) -g (present) -ar (iterative) -at (3 person of transitive) -ul (object of transitive) -ûk (completeness)

 Example: durbagaratulûk “it/they is/are repeatedly ruling them completely”

1. Root: the word root
0a. Derivative: Derivative suffix attached to the root.

Only position 0a and 1a&b are obligatory.

Position 1a: Marks either transitivity or participles. They are incomplete in themselves and always need a following suffix of position 1b.

Transitive suffix: -a-
Intransitive suffix: -u-

Transitive and intransitive verbs
The difference between transitive and intransitive verbs is relatively simple; a transitive verb indicates that an action is transferred from the subject (the one taking the action) to an object, while intransitive verbs indicate that the entire focus lies on the subject. A good example from English is ”to pour” versus ”to flow”; ”someone pours the water” while ”the water flows”. In the first sentence the water is the object (transitive) while in the second the water itself is the active subject (intransitive). But it can also be the same word; ”I lean” versus ”I lean you”. In the first example the verb is intransitive while in the second it is transitive. Zhâburi marks the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs with suffixes. The transitive suffix is ‘-a’ and the intransitive is ‘-u’. Attached to transitive verbs these pronouns marks the object of the sentence and attached to intransitive verbs they mark the subject.

Descripitive suffixes
Active: -udu-
Passive: -ada-
Pushudug “is stinking”
Thrakadash “was brought”  

The descriptive suffixes marks that the verb is describing a noun or another verb and is thus the equivalent of participles. The active form indicates that subject of the verb has the quality that the verb describes. The passive form indicates that the quality is imposed from outside and that the described is an object. After the descriptive suffix follows a suffix indicating either infinitive, tense, jussive or potential optative.

Position 1b: Marks realis or irrealis, i.e. infinitive, tense, jussive, potential optative. Position 1b distinguish between realis and irrealis. The realis suffixes marks that the verb is real and the irrealis that they are just hypothetical.

The realis suffixes marks the infinitive and tense – past, present future.

Infinitive: -m
Past: -sh
Present: -g
Future: -b

The future tense -b corresponds to both Svartiska and LoS -ub (that would be the intransitive future in Zhâburi) and the -sh suffix mark past tense corresponding to LoS past tense -uz. The Svartiska past tense ending is -ul which that would coincide whith the third person marker -ul in Zhâburi.

The irrealis suffixes are divided into jussive, which marks intention, command or purpose, and “potential” optative which marks possibilities. The jussive is actually endingless with the same personal endings as the subject endings of the transitive.

Jussive (Intention, command or purpose)
1 person -n (voluntative, intention or purpose),
2 person -i/-zhi- (imperative, command)
3 person -t (intention or purpose)

Durban “I intend to rule”
Gimbai “you, find [it]”
Krimpazhul “you, bind it”
Thrakat “[with the purpose] to bring”

Potential optative: -k
Durbak “[it is possible] to rule”

Position 2: This position is marked for the aspect (in Hurrian it is the position of the negative suffix -ikk, but it is moved to Position 6 “status”). Aspect can be described as different views, or aspects, of an action such as if the action is completed or not.

Initial: -id – marks the beginning of an action.
Finalised: -A/Uzd marks that the action is completed.
Iterative: -ar Marks that the action is repeated.

Krimpagidan “I am beginning to bind”
Krimpagazdan “I am finishing to bind”
Krimpagaran “I am binding repeatedly”

Position 3: Marks the subject of the verb in transitive constructs and is not used in intransitive. The suffixes are the same as the personal markers of jussive but their position in the suffix chain is different. This positions is only used in realis constructions, i.e. not jussive or optative.  

1 person: -an
2 person: -ai/-azh-
3 person: -at

Durbashan “I ruled”
Gimbashai “you found”
Thrakashazhul “you brought them”
Krimpashat “He bound”

Position 4: Enclitic pronouns, marks the object of transitive and subject of intransitive. The ending -ul is taken from the Ring inscription

1 person -ish (excluding)
1 person -ak (including)
2 person -al
3. person -ul

Durbashatish “they ruled me”
Gimbashatak “They found us”
Thrakashatal “They brought you”
Krimpashatul “They bound them”

Position 5: The fifth position is that of syntactic particles. Here are what I call “status particles”. These are divided into absolute and relative status particles. The suffix -ûk from the ring inscription has this position. This position is open for additional syntactic particles.

-ûk absolute positive, completeness
-ikh, absolute negative, nothingness
-il relativity, least
-igh relativity, less
-ab relativity, more (comparative)
-uzg relativity, most (superlative)

This table shows the different verb suffixes and their order, i.e. suffix chain.

1 2 3 4 5 6
Form Transitivity;
Modus Aspect Marker of the Action’s Subject Enclitic pronoun Status
Inf. tran. Tran. -a-
Intr. -u-
-m Initial -id
Finalised -azd
Iterative -ar
X X Absolute
-ûk (positive)
-ikh (negative)Relative
-il (least)
-igh (less)
-ab (more)
-uzg (most)
Trans -a- Tense
Past -sh
Present -g
Future -b
-”- -an
1. Exk. -ish
1. Ink. -ak
2. -al
3. -ul
intran -u- -”- -”- X -”- -”-
Act. part. -udu- -”- -”- X -”- -”-
Pass. part. -ada- -”- -”- X -”- -”-
Juss. tran. Tran. -a-
Intr. -u-
-”- X -”- -”-
Pot. Opt. -”- -k -”- X -”- -”-


a) Jussive, transitive 3 person: durbatulûk “it is intended to completely rule them” (to rule them all).