Ash nazg durbatulûk, Ash nazg gimbatul, Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

* * *

This is a site about the dark side of Tolkien’s Middle Earth an especially the languages of the Shadow. Just as Tolkien developed several Elvish languages related to one another there are several variants of Orcish and The Black Speech that are related in different ways.

The main languague that is presented on this site is an attempt to ”subcreate” the black speech of Mordor in a way that resembles what Tolkien could have imagined the language would look like. I make the distinction between The Black Speech, which refers to the actual languages in the Tolkien mythos, and Zhâburi* which is the hypothetical version of the Black Speech presented here.

There are several other attempts to create such a neo-black speech. The most widespread dialects, as the different variants are called, are the Swedish LARP conlang Svartiska and that of the Land of Shadow which I also describe on the site.

For me this is much like fanfiction or artistic interpretations of Tolkien’s mythos and I do not see Zhâburi as the ultimate interpretation of The Black Speech and I enjoy the dialects just like one can appreciate different artists interpretation of the same scene.

Zhâburi draws on three main sources: first the few words of black speech that Tolkien has provided us with, mainly the ring verse inscription (above); second, the hypothesis put forward by Alexandre Nerimovsky that the Black speech is inspired by Hurrian, a bronze age language of Middle East; and third the Swedish LARP-language for orcs called Svartiska (i. e.”blackish”).

I created the first version of Zhâburi for the Swedish LARP Utumno in 2012. Since then I first made a few small changes but the I have now started a full review of it so now there is the Utumno version called Zhâburi (A) and a post-Utumno version called Zhâburi (B). In the developed version (B) more Tolkien-languages are used as source material: Primitive Elvish (as the source of ur-orcish), Valarin (the mother tongue of Sauron), Quenya and Telerin (to shed light on Primitive Elvish), Sindarin and Adûnaic (as a wide spread languages of Middle Earth during the second Age).

The language seeks to bind together Tolkien’s vision of evil as manifested through Mordor as the worst in the modern totalitarian state – The Machine – and Orcs as the worst elements of humans. The language is an instrument of the Machine – a language to bind them all.

The site is under construction and I have written more extensively about the Utumno version of the language in Swedish.

I’m no linguist and my English is certainly flawed so I’m sure I’ve done many mistakes. Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Special thanks to Matilda Koren who helped to me translate the original Swedish texts into English.

Ash zhâbur durbatulûk!

Björn Axén,
May 2019

* The name ‘Zhâburi’ means “the language” and is a phonological adaption of the Svartiska word ‘jab’ (tounge; speak) plus the ending ^-ur and definite article. In Zhâburi B it comes from Primitive Elvish LAB (lick; move the tongue).