In the Shadow of Elvish – The Black Speech and Orcish

Ash Zhâbur Durbatulûk – One Speech to rule them all

Category: Orcs

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”

New inspiration for Angband Orcish: Magol

The development of Zhâburi have been dormant for a wile for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that I realized that I needed to develop the Angband Orcish and then I got stuck. I have some few ideas but no real drive to develop it. And I felt, and feel, that I needed to learn more about Tolkien lore.

So I started to read The History of Middle Earth (HoME) IX Sauron Defeated because I knew that there were som orcish dialogue in it. I was caught and couldn’t stop reading the rest of The History of the Lord of the Rings (HoME) VI The Return of the Shadow, VII The Treason of Isengard, VIII The War of the Ring). Then I started to read the HoME from the beginning but wanted to read the about The Hobbit as well.

So now I’m reading The History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff and lo and behold! What do I find? A reference to a constructed languages by Tolkien that I didn’t know about called Mago or Magol based on Hungarian. For some time Tolkien pondered the idea to use it as the/a orc language. This was not to be but at least one word was used as the orc name Bolg meaning “strong” .

The author draws a parallell to the orc captain Boldog in The Lay of Leithian and the 1930 Quenta. In note 3 to the text the real world inspiration for the word could be ‘fir bolg’ one of the mythical races Ireland. (See the chapter The End of the Journey (ii) Bolg of the North, Magol, p 710-13)

I have not been able to find so much on the Internet but this which also refers to The History of the Hobbit:

Just when you thought you have read about all of the languages Tolkien developed comes a new one (for me) – and that is Mago/Magol which is mentioned in the notes to book two of The History of the Hobbit (excellent book). Mago/Magol was developed by Tolkien based on, according to the ELF panel, Hungarian. At one time he intended to have the orcs speak it but decided not to. ELF promises that his grammar and notes for Mago/Magol will be published in the future. In a great email Patrick Wayne sent in response on the Labengolmor list (#1012) he said the language would have the sound of Elves who lived in Budapest!! Should be interesting – but first Taliska (I hope)…over and out.

Letters of Tolkien: 153 & 144

I’ve read some of Tolkin’s letters to find out more on what Tolkien thought about the religion of the Shadow. Anyway I found two things of interest for this project. One positive and one a little more problematic. I the text on Orcs I describe orcs as

rational, egoistical beings whose societies vastly differ from anything made by Man. We may recognise traits similar to our own but they are always from the side that we are ashamed of. The Orc is the utility maximising individual who always and only work for themselves.

This was a conclusion I came to by inference of a lot of different material because it was coherent with a lot of other interpretations. The important point is that I don’t remember reading this before and I have both been a proud of the conclusion and worried that is was wrong. But in Letter 153 (p. 190) Tolkien writes that Orcs

are fundamentally a race of ‘rational incarnate’ creatures, though horrible corrupted, if no more so than many Men to be met today.

In Letter 144 I found something troublesome instead. I my analysis of The Black Speech I’ve made a clear distinction between The Black Speech on the one hand and Orcish on the other were the Orc Curse Uglúk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob búbhosh skai is categorised as Orcish but not as The Black Speech. In Letter 144 (p. 178) Tolkien writes (my emphasis underlined)

The Black Speech was only used in Mordor; it only occurs in the Ring Inscription, and a sentence uttered by the Orcs of Barad-dûr (Vol. II p. 48)

This is not a fatal problem but I must rewrite some things in my analysis.

Note: in the first version of this text I referred to Letter 151 instead of Letter 153.