Land of Shadow

The Land of Shadow dialect of the Black Speech, the Black Speech School version

Also known as Shadowlandian (Black Speech) or Ghashnum-ob uzg Bûrgul-ob “the speech of the land of Shadow”. Also known as “Shadowlandian” or by the acronym LoS or LOS.

The Land of Shadow dialect of the Black Speech (LoS) is the most widespread variant of the Black Speech. It’s only presented as lessons which can be quite difficult to get an overview of. This is a summary of LoS  based on The Black Speech School (BSS) variant. This is just a compilation of the published grammar. There are more details on the Black Speech School site. Many of the examples are mine though and I might describe things not elaborated elsewhere.

BSS has made several changes and additions to LoS. I’ve tried to comment in the text where the BSS is different from the original but I have surely missed some of them.

My first intention was to present LoS unaltered and uncommented but I realised that there are some inconsequences, especially in regard to spelling and phonetics, and of course I always have a problem of holding my creativity in check, so with this text I become an interpretator and commentor of LoS.

  1. Structure
    1. Word Order
    2. The Ring Verse
  2. Phonetics & Spelling
    1. Sounds
    2. Spelling
    3. Stress
  3. The Noun
    1. Pluralisation
    2. Postpositions
  4. Pronouns
  5. The Verb
    1. Infinitive
    2. Tenses
    3. Imperative
    4. Subjunctive
    5. Passive
    6. Participles
    7. Gerund
  6. The Adjective
  7. The Adverb
  8. Negative sentences
  9. Questions
  10. Numerals
  11. Derivative affixes
  12. Word and affix order

1. Structure

The LoS is an agglutinating languages with a lot of affixes mostly suffixes. Most words are monosyllabic of the form Consonant-Verb-Consonant (CVC), e.g ghâsh (fire) and lug (tower), but there are many other variants like thrak– (to bring) and uruk (orc). New words can derived by suffixes and there are many grammatical affixes that are linked to the stem word in quite long chains, e.g. dûshatârnizkûfza-gus “about that ugly sorceress”: dûsh-atâr-niz ‘sorceress’ (dush ‘magic’, -atâr ‘agental suffix’, -niz ‘feminiser’); -kûf ‘ugly’ (monosyllabic (short) adjective); -za ‘that’ (deictic particle); -gus ‘about’.  

The stems can function as words in themselves – both as nouns and as verbs and sometimes as other word classes such as adjectives or adversbs. The naked stem can function as subject and direct object noun or a verb in present tense first and second person, as an imperative and in the original LoS, but not the BSS version, as a subjunctive.

1.1 Word Order

Lessons: VI, IX, X, XI, XIII

The main word order in LoS is that of subject – verb – object (SVO), as in English “the orc (S) saw (V) the man (O)” – uruk (S) honuzat (V) shara (O). But unlike English the adjectives follow the nouns they modify and adverbs following the adjectives or are placed last in the sentence.

Examples: the mighty orc quickly saw the brave man

  1. The adverb following the verb: Uruk gothûrz honat hîsarz shara hurûrz “([the] orc (S) mighty (adj) sees (v) quickly (adv) [the] man (O) brave (adj)”
  2. The adverb placed last: Uruk gothûrz honat shara hurûrz hîsarz “[the] orc (S) mighty (adj) sees (v) [the] man (O) brave (adj) quickly (adv)”

LoS has postpositions for both direct and indirect object so their position in the word order should not be fixed but the normal or prefered word order is that the direct object precedes the indirect object, e.g. “the orc give the ring to the lord” direct object followed by indirect object uruk darat nazg-ish goth-ûr; or vice versa uruk darat goth-ûr nazg-ish.*

*Note that the direct object postposition –ish is not required and that the suffix can be used –u instead of –ûr. See 3.2 postpositions.

The same surely applies to other indirect object such as instrumental (-irz), e.g. Uruk-ish goth ghâsh-irz azuzat “The lord killed the orc with fire”. The LoS sentence does not follow the English order at all here (orc lord fire-with killed): uruk-ish ‘orc’ (as direct object); gothØ ‘lord’ (as subject); ghâsh-irz ‘fire’ (as an instrument); azutat ‘killed’ (past tense, third person, sg.)

Personal and possessive pronouns can be and short adjectives (adjectives that are monosyllabic in positive) always are added to the verbs and nouns.

Example: Azuztaïzg ghâshlab-irz “I killed him with your fire”

Azutaïzg: az-uz-ta-izg; az- ‘to kill’; -uz (past tense, first and second person); ghâsh-lab-irz: ghâsh ‘fire’; -lab ‘your’; -irz ‘by, with’ (instrumental post position).

To this we can add adjectives and adverbs.

Azuztaïzg flûsharz ghâshmuzlab-irz ârshlût “Yesterday I killed him slowly with your hot fire”

Azuztaïzg: ‘I killed him’; flûsharz ‘slowly’; ghâshmuzlab-irz: fire-hot-your; ârshlût ‘yesterday’ (adjunct part is placed last).

1.2 The Ring Verse

Here is my version of the Land of Shadow Ring Verse. (See also my post on this including the comments.)

The lines 6-9 are from the Ring Inscription and constitutes the core of what we know about the Black Speech. Line 10 is used a repetition of line 5.

1 Gakh nazgu Golugdurub-ûr nut-lata Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, three rings elf-king(s)-for sky-under [No plural for peoples or persons such as “elven lords”].
2 Udu Gazatgoth-ûr rûlub-ishiz gund-ob Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Seven dwarf-lord(s)-for hall-their-in stone-of (rûlub < ru “hall” + ulub “their”).
3 Krith Tark-ûr matûrzu dûmpugaz matat Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, Nine (human) men-for moral (pl) doomed to die
4 Ash Gothbûrz-ûr ulîmabûrz-tab-ir One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne One lord-dark-for throne-dark-his-on
5 Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kâtut In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie Land-dark-in where shadows lie
6 Ash Nazg durbatulûk One Ring to rule them all One Ring rule-to-them-all
7 Ash Nazg gimbatul One Ring to find them One Ring find-to-them
8 Ash Nazg thrakatulûk One Ring to bring them all One Ring bring-to-them-all
9 agh burzum-ishi krimpatul and in the darkness bind them and darkness-in bind-them
10 Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kâtut In the land of Mordor where the Shadows lies Land-dark-in where shadows lie

2 Spelling and Phonology

Lesson: I, VII

2.1 Sounds

BS and Orcish sh, d, r, b, th, k, m, p, t, l, k, gh, z, g, n, h, s and f, kh (from orc names).The consonants: b, d, f, g, h, k, m, n, p, qu*, s, t, z are pronounced as in English.

*This sound mainly occurs in Quenya loan words.

 LoS has the following vowels: i, a, u, o. Long vowels are marked by circumflex; î, â, ô, û and the diphthongs ai, au and oi.  For a discussion on pronunciation see Lesson II.  

2.2 Spelling

LoS words marked with an asterisk(*) before (*gluug)  it means that the form is not correct. If the asterix is behind the word it signals a information note after the paragraph.

Consonants of the same value merge, e.g. nazg + gûl > nazgûl. Vowels of the same value are not merged bur are rewritten with an circumflex and marked as long, e.g. glu– (to piss) > ug (Participle I) *gluug > glûg.  

BSS treats the final vowel of diphthongs as a sound of its own so it merges with a following vowel of the same value, e.g. zaûgum “cooking” (from zau– “to cook”). I sceptical of this because it breaks the diphthong sound and a propose that the sounds are not merged and instead written with diaeresis. So instead of mauklatuizgu (we fight you) which look like there is diphthong (ui) write mauklatzgu. This is better than using a hyphen because it makes it look like the stress would land on the i in –izgu in mauklatu-izgu. Diaeresis is also used by Tolkien himself to mark that a vowel should be pronounced and not be silent especially on final e as in namárie/namárië and in ae combinations such Earendil/Eärendil.

LoS does not seem to have solved how hyphens should be used. For the sake of simplicity I will use the following rules but remember that these are not canonical. See also my discussion of hyphens for Zhâburi.  

  1. Hyphens is only used for nouns and never used for verbs, adjectives or adverbs. This is because in the ring inscription we find long suffix chains for the verb without any hyphens.
  2. Hyphens are used when postpositions are attached to the noun or when they are attached to each other.
  3. Hyphens are not used when suffixes other than postpositions are attached to a noun or a postposition with the exception of -hai which always is attached with a hyphen. Note that the hyphen is not used together with the collective suffix -ûk.
  4. Hyphens are used when a postposition is attached to a possessive pronoun on a noun but on free standing possessive pronouns, but not when it is attached to a personal pronoun attached to a verb.  


  1. Verb 1: durbatulûk (to rule them all/completely) – no hyphens between the suffixes: durb– ‘to rule’; –at (infinitive); –ul ‘them’; -ûk (completeness)).
  2. Noun 1: burzum-ishi (in the darkness) – hyphen between the noun burzum (darkness) and postposition -ishi (in)
  3. Noun 2: lugkû-ishiz (in the old towers) – hyphen between the noun and postposition but not between the monosyllabic adjective kû (old) attached to the noun lug (tower) or the plural marker -z attached to the postposition -ishi (in).
  4. Noun 3: lugtab-u-izhiz (into his towers) – no hyphen between the noun lug (tower) and the possessive pronoun -tab (his) or the last postposition -ishi (in) and the plural marker -z, but a hyphen between the noun+possessive pronoun lugtab (his tower) and between the two postpositions -u (to) and -ishi (in).
  5. Noun 4: uruktab-u-hai (to his orc people) – no hyphen between the noun uruk (orc) and the possessive pronoun -tab (his) but hyphens between the postposition u (to) and the noun (uruk) and the -hai (people) ending.
  6. Verb 2, with personal pronoun – no hyphens: honizglat “you see me”; hon- ‘to see’; -izg (me, marked as object by its position in the suffix chain); -lat ‘you’ (marked as subject by its position in the suffix chain).

2.4 Stress

The stress falls on the first syllable or the first syllable of an attached postposition of nouns, i.e. the first syllable after a hyphen.

 Examples (from BSS)

  1. Uruk (orc)
  2. Uruk-hai (orc-people)
  3. Mordor
  4. Mordor-ishi (in Mordor)
  5. Nazgûl (Ring Wraith)
  6. Nazgûl-ob (of the Ring Wraith)
  7. Gimbatul (to find them)

It’s unclear where the stress lies in nouns with several postpositions such as  ronktab-latta-ghâraz (from beneath his pits).

3. The Noun

Lessons III, VI, VII, XIII

The LoS noun has no articles corresponding to English ‘a/an’ and ‘the’. The plural function a bit different from common languages and there are a lot of suffixes that can added to the noun, uruk is translated to  “orc”, “an orc”, “the orc”, “orcs” or “the orcs” depending on context; lugu “towers”, “some towers” or “the towers”.  

3.1 Pluralisation

Plural: –u or –z
Collective: –ûk or –hai

3.1.1 Ordinary plural

There are two plural endings: -u following a consonant, and -z following a vowel or diphthong, e.g nazg > nazgu (rings), darga > dargaz (clubs). Most nouns end in a consonant.

Words that refer to persons, races or people are never pluralised, e.g. nazgûl (ringwraith), uruk (orc), tark (human), golug (noldor), gazat (dwarf), snaga (slave), durub (ruler), shara (human male) are both singular and plural. But adjectives that describe these are pluralised, including monosyllabic adjectives which are attached directly to the noun, e.g. uruk (orc) + (old) > urukû (k+k>k) “[the/an] old orc”; urukûz “old orcs” and golug globûrz “the stupid noldo/high elf”, golug globûrzu “the stupid noldor/high elves”

3.1.2 Collective

There are two collective plurals. The ending –ûk taken from the Ring Inscription (were it’s actually attached to a verb) which is also found in Svartiska. This collective plural is similar to the Sindarin class plural with the ending -ath, e.g. Dagor Dagorath (The battle of all battles, the last battle).  

Then there is the ending –hai which refers to people and races, the most famous example being from uruk-hai. This ending is similar to the Sindarin endingsrim (people) and –hoth (folk, host or horde) found in Rohirrim (Horse people) and Glamhoth (din-hord, orcs)  In Svartiska (and MERP) –hai instead indicates strength, an elite or greatness.


  1. (a) Uruk-hai “all orcs; the orc people”; (b) golug-hai “the noldor/high elves”.
  2. (a) Lugûk “all towers”; (b) goiûk “all cities”; –ûk can also be used with people, BSS give the example (c) sharkûk “all old men”.

I wonder why the ending –hai use the hyphen but not –ûk or other plural endings. Maybe because of stress rules.

3.2 Post-positions

Instead of prepositions LoS uses attached postpositions as in burzum-ishi (in the darkness) in the Ring inscription. Because they are attached to the noun they very similar to cases. There are numerous postpositions, 33 postpositions are listed below (from Black Speech School).

It’s the postposition that takes the plural marker which is attached at the end of it, –u after a consonant and –z after vowel or collective –ûk or –hai. Some postpositions differ whether they are attached to a noun ending in a vowel or consonant, see the I and II declensions in the table below.

Additional postpositions are joined together with hyphens, e.g. Lugbûrz-u-ishi “into The Dark Tower” (tower-dark-to-in). The only rule stated is that “Other postpositions in reverse order [to English?]” and give the following example: ronktab-lata-ghâraz “from beneath his pits”: ronk ‘pit’; -tab ‘his’; -lata ‘beneath’; -ghâra ‘from’; -z ‘plural’. (Without hyphens in the BSS-example, lesson XIII

Table 3.2.A over postposition from BSS (without the comments)

Singular   Plural   English Examples  
1 -as -zas -asu -zasu across dot-as across the sea
2 -bo -boz off thop-bo off the rock
3 -bug -bugu against, opposite to durub-bug against the ruler
4 -dhog -dhogu near, next to, (near)by Orodruin-dhog next to Orodruin
5 -ghâra -ghâraz from Lugbûrz-ghâra from Lugbûrz
6 -gus -gusu about Morgoth-gus about Morgoth
7 -ik -zik -iku -ziku before, by (some time), in front of agon-ik before dusk
8 -ir -r -iru -ru on anar on the edge
9 -irzi -rzi -irziz -rziz by, via, by mean(s) of, by use of, with use of (Instrumental or Ergative case suffix) grish-irzi by blood
10 -ish -sh -ishu -shu (Accusative or Objective case suffix) Uruk honat golug-ish Orc sees an elf
11 -ishi -shi -ishiz -shiz in, within, inside, into Mordor-ishi in(to) Mordor
12 -it -ht -itu -htu behind druht behind tree
13 -kurn -kurnu around masl-kurn around the neck
14 -la -laz after zabûrz-la after tonight
15 -lata -lataz under, beneath, below nût-lata under the sky
16 -lût -lûtu out of, outside Orthanc-lût out of Orthanc
17 -nâdar -nâdaru among glob-nâdar amongst the filth
18 -ob -b -obu -bu of (Genitive or Possessive case suffix) Nazgûl-ob of the Nazgûl
19 -or -r -oru -ru at (place) Orthanc-or at Orthanc
20 -ri -riz between lug-riz between towers
21 -sha -shaz (together)with Saruman-sha ** with Saruman
22 -shar -sharu among glob-shar amongst the filth
23 -shi -shiz at (time) bûrz-shi at night, at dark
24 -shi -shiz at (place) Mordor-shi at Mordor
25 -tala -talaz over, above uzg-tala over the land
26 -thu -thuz beyond gothum-thu beyond power
27 -tuk -tuku through tau-tuk through the forest
28 -u -zu -uz*** -zuz to (place), towards (Dative case suffix) Mordor-u** to Mordor
29 -ugil -ugilu before ânash-ugil before dawn
30 -ulmakh -ulmakhu along mûl-ulmakh along the road
31 -ûr -zûr -ûru -zûru for durub-ûr for the lord
32 -zash -zashu like, same as glob-zash like fool
33 -zi -ziz until ârsh-zi until today

Number 23 and 24 –shi (at) seems to be the same postposition. Number 28 –u and 31 –ûr are a bit confusing. Number 28 –u (to, towards) is clearly from the Orc Curse ‘u bagronk‘ where it means “to” it is here stated to function as an indirect object (dative) as a postposition. But we also have number 31 –ûr (for) which looks more like a proper dative marker to me. The –ûr ending is also used in the Ring Verse as a marker of indirect object and incidentally is the dative case in Svartiska. Instead the –u ending seems to correspond to an allative case such in Quenya meaning to (and into and upon in).   

Table 3.2.B Suffix chains for nouns

Derevative prefix Stem Derivative Feminiser Short adjective Deitic article possessive pronoun Primary postposition Secondary postposition numerus
-1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

4. Pronouns

Lessons: X, XIII

Pronouns appear both as independent and as endings attached directly to the verb for personal pronouns or to the noun as possessive pronouns. The personal and the possessive pronoun are slightly different, the latter often contains a b,  which helps to distinguish between verbs with null ending (present tense and imperative) on the one hand and nouns on the other.

In the lessons a hyphen is inserted between the pronoun and the verb or noun. In regards to the verb this is a bit strange because in the Ring inscription the pronouns are written as part of the verb without hyphens. Postpositions are attached to the possessive pronoun without a hyphen. As stated above 1.3 the hyphen is not used with verbs in this description of LoS.

First person pronouns are never used as independent word (because, according to the lessons, “Sauron would not have wanted to encourage the use of the first person singular or plural among his servants or slaves, so “I” or “we” are only used as modifiers”). The lessons also states that personal pronouns can be omitted as much as possible, especially by orcs.


  1. Verb: ghâshlat “you (use) fire”
  2. Noun: ghâshlab “your fire”
  3. Verb (a) ghâshizg latish “I (use) fire on you” or (b) ghâshlatizg (see the verb below).

So we can say that the first person should be implicit and because of this the direct object ending –ish becomes relevant to mark the object of sentences where the subject is first person but not explicit. And in addition if we use this rule then the absence of the direct objective suffix indicates that the object is of first person, especially if the second person is explicit.

Because the third person has special verbal endings it’s already explicit that the subject is the third person if the object is first or second person. But the –ish suffix is relevant when we want to distinguish a third person as an object. The –ish suffix is not relevant when referring to two different second persons because it is made clear by the suffix order.  


  1. Gimblatish “[I] find you” (implicit first person and marked second person marked as direct object with the suffix -ish).
  2. Gimblat “You find me” (implicit first person object marked by the absence of -ish and it can not refer to third person “it/him/her” because they would be explicit)   
  3. Durbatizg “[someone] rules me” or “I’m ruled”
  4. Goth durbat “The lord rules [including me]”
  5. Durbata* “[someone] rules it” or “[he] rules”, i.e. what’s subject and object is not clear but with the object durbatash* it is “[someone/-thing] rules it”
  6. Gimbuzlatlat “You found you”, here the subject and object is clear because the suffixorder but it could of course be difficult to understand which ‘you’ the speaker refers to without further context.  

* Note that LoS does not distinguish between he/him and it (but has a special pronoun for she/her).

Personal pronoun tables. I have added the collective plural because it seems logical but it is not stated that it exist. I have also added a table for dative (indirect object) with the –ûr ending see 2.2 above, comments on the postposition table. (The –u ending is problematic because it is the same as the plural for words ending in a consonant.)

Personal pronouns

Person singular plural collective
first (I, we, we all) -izg -izgu -izgûk
second (you, you all) lat latu latûk
third (it, he, she; they; all of them) ta ulu (taûk/tazûk/tûk)
Direct object (accusative)
Person singular plural collective
first (me, us, us all) -izish -ishizu -ishizûk
second (you, you all) latish latush latushûk
third (it, him; them; them all) tash ul ulûk
third (her) to ul ulûk
Indirect object (dative)
Person singular plural collective
first ( to/for: me, us, us all) -izgûr -izgûru -izgûrûk
second (to/for: you, you all) latûr latûru latûrûk
third (to/for: it, him; them; them all) tazûr ulûru ulûrûk
third (to/for her) tôr ulûru ulûrûk
Possessive pronouns
Person singular plural collective*
first (I, we, we all) -izub -izubu -zubûk
second (you, you all) lab tatub latbûk
third (it, he, she; they; all of them) tab ulub ulbûk

5. The Verb

Lessons: IV, V, VIII, X, XI, XIII, XV, XVI

The verb marks infinitive, active-passive, tense, mood and participle. In the word lists only the verb stems are given, e.g gimb– “to find”. Notice that some verb forms have null ending, i.e. no actual ending so the naked verb stem is the funcional verb form. The null ending is marked with –Ø.

5.1 Infinitive

Suffix: –at

The infinitive is always marked with the ending -at, e.g. durbat “to rule”, thrakat “to bring”. The infinitive is also used to indicating purpose just as in English, e.g. Ash Nazg Durbatulûk “One Ring to rule them all”.

5.2 Tenses

There are three tenses which marks person and numerus. There is one ending for each tense for first and second person which does not mark singular or plural. The third person suffix is different from the first-second person suffix and marks singular and plural.

5.2.1 Past tense

uz (first, second person both singular and plural)
uzat (third person singular)
uzut (third person plural)

Example: azuzulûkizg “I killed them all”: az-uz-ul-ûk-izg; az- ‘kill’; -uz (past tense); -ul ‘third person pl, object, marked as such both by its form and place in the suffix chain; -ûk (completeness); -izg ‘I’ (first person sg, marked as subject by its place in the suffix chain).   

Person Suffix LoS English
1 person sg -uz thrakuzizg (-izg) I brought
2 person sg -uz thrakuzlat (lat) you brought
3 person sg -uzat thrakuzata (ta) (thrakuzat+ta) it brought
1 person pl -uz thrakuzizgu (-izgu) we brought
2 person pl -uz thrakuzlatu (latu) you brought
3 person pl -uzut thrakuzutulu (ulu) they brought

5.2.2 Present tense

Ø (first, second person both singular and plural)
at (third person singular
ut (third person plural)

Example: mauklatuïzgu* “we fight you (plural)”: mauk-Ø-latu-izgu: mauk- ‘to fight’; -Ø- (present tense); -latu- ‘you’ plural, marked as object by its position in the suffix chain; -izgu ‘we’ marked as subject by its position in the suffix chain.

*See 2.2 for how diaeresis (¨)is used.

Person Suffix LoS English
1 person sg thrakizg (-izg) I bring
2 person sg thraklat (lat) you bring
3 person sg -at thrakata (thrakat+ta) (ta) it brings
1 person pl thrakizgu (-izgu) we bring
2 person pl thraklatu (latu) you bring
3 person pl -ut thrakutulu (ulu) they bring

5.2.3 Future tense

ub (first, second person both singular and plural)
ubat (third person singular)
ubut (third person plural)

Example: ufubulâzh: uf-ub-ul-âzh “[it] will frighten them slightly”: uf- ‘frighten’; -ub ‘will’ (future tense’; -ul ‘third person pl’ (them); -âzh ‘uncomplete’; -izg ‘first person sg.’ (I).

Person Suffix LoS English
1 person sg -ub thrakubizg (-izg) I will bring
2 person sg -ub thrakublat (lat) you will bring
3 person sg -ubat thrakubata (ta) it will bring
1 person pl -ub thrakubizgu (-izgu) we will bring
2 person pl -ub thrakublatu (latu) you will bring
3 person pl -ubut thrakubutulu (ulu) they will bring

5.3 Imperative

Sufix: –Ø

The imperative is just the naked verb stem (or it has a null ending -Ø. Note that this is the same as present tense first and second person).

Examples: (a) Thrak “bring [it]”; (b) Gimb ta ulub “find him theirs”; (c) Ghâsh “burn”; (d) Krimpul  “Bind them”.

5.4 Subjunctive

Subjunctive present: –at
Subjunctive past/perfect: –ut

The subjunctive is used for conditional sentences. In the original LoS the subjunctive has null ending (-Ø) just as the imperative and the present tense for first and second person. Because of the large overlap between imperative, present tense and subjunctive BSS changed the endings to the same ending as present or past (Perfect) forms of first and second person, -at and -ut respectively, but with the difference that the subjunctive never takes personal pronouns.

I recommend that you read the BSS-article on this.

5.5 Passive

Suffix: –ag

The passive was added by BSS and has two variants. Passive voice is either formed by adding -ag suffix before any person or tense verb suffix, i.e. right on the verb stem. Or the with the auxiliary verb kul- in infinitive + Participle II (see the next paragraph) as valid and variant.

Examples “the ring is being stolen now”

nazg “ring”
orsk– “to steal”
rad “now”

  1. Nazg orskagat rad: orsk-ag-at; -ag (passive), -at (third person sg).
  2. Nazg kulat orskuga rad: kul-at ‘to be’, -at (infinitive); orsk-uga (Participle II, passive)

Ghâshaguzatûk: ghâsh-ag-uzat-ûk; “(he) was completely burned”: ghâsh- ‘burn’; -ag ‘passive’; -uzat (past tense third person, sg); -ûk ‘completeness’.

Table of the verb endings except the participles

Tense 1st, 2nd person 3rd person sing. 3rd person pl.
Infinitive -at -at -at
Present -at -ut
Future -ub -ubat -ubut
Past -uz -uzat -uzut
subjunctive present -at (-Ø) -at (-Ø) -at (-Ø)
Subjunctive past/perfect -ut (-Ø) -ut (-Ø) -ut (-Ø)
passive -ag -agat -agut

5.6 Participles

The participle is taken from the Orc curse where the word pushdug is translated as “stinking” and the word analysed as pushd– “to stink” and –ug as an participle ending corresponding to english –ing. This gives us participle I (active), see table below.

Original LoS has a second participle (passive) II corresponding to English –ed as in “killed” or –en “beaten” with the ending –uga. These two participles are also found in Svartiska. BSS has added three participles (Lesson XV) so auxiliary verbs such as “to be” or “to have” don’t have to be used.

The table below is taken from BSS and shows both constructions with the new participles (example a) and with auxiliary verbs (example b).

I assume that participles work like adjectives and mark plural of nouns that don’t mark plural, i.e. people, persons etc.

Type Suffix Plural Examples Translation
Participle I -ug -ugu uruk akrugu shum orcs drinking too much
Participle I Passive -aga -agaz a) pau akraga gilrolarz maukum-ugil a) potion usually being drunk before battle
b) pau amut akragat* maukum-ugil gilrolarz b) potion which is usually drunk before battle
Perfect Participle I -ugz -ugzu a) uruk lûmpuzat akrugz pau a) orc fell having drunk a potion
b) uruk lûmpuzat dhurz akruzat pau b) orc fell because he had drunk a potion
Perfect Participle I Passive -ufa -ufaz a) pau thrakuzat hûr akrufa a) potion brought courage having been drunk
b) pau akraguzat* agh thrakuzat hûr urzkû b) potion was drunk and brought courage after (this)
Participle II -uga -ugaz honuz-izg uruk azuga golug-irzi I saw an orc killed by elves

* These are examples of passive voice, see the paragraph above 5.5.

5.7. Gerund

Lessons XI, XVII

Suffix –ugum

The gerund is a verb form that marks process as noun and function as an object or a subject. It is formed by adding the suffix -ugum to the word stem. It seems to be an amalgam of the participle ending -ug taken from pushdug “stinking” from the orc curse and noun forming ending -um taken from burzum “darkness” in the Ring inscription.

The Land of Shadow site gives no description and the Black Speech School only says it’s taken from the affix table which says: “gerund: forming noun from verbs, process”. The BSS states the the gerund doesn’t have any plural and that it doesn’t have perfect and passive forms so they must be replaced by dependent clauses. And recommend the infinitive instead.


Gerund: Glûgum narkulat lâthuga tul “Pissing is not allowed here!” (glu-ugum > glûgum “pissing”)

Infinitive: Glûgat narkulat lâthuga tul “To piss is not allowed here!”

Table. Suffix chain for verbs

1 2 3 4 5 6
Active/Passive Tense Person marker Object pronoun Completeness Subject pronoun
-Ø active -Ø (present) -Ø (first; second) -izg -ûk -izg
-ag (passive) -uz (past) -at (third sg) -lat -âzh -lat
-ub (future) -ut (third pl) etc etc

A note on person and pronouns

Persons and pronouns of LoS verbs are quite complicated because we both have the person markers of the third person singular (-at-) and plural (-ut-) and as attached pronouns. The attached pronouns can both function as subject (nominative) and direct object (ackusative) and the personal pronoun can have an optional objective form.

Table. Persons and attached pronouns of verbs

LoS English Form Comment
1 honizg I see see-I only subject
2 honagizg I am seen see-passive-I passive form
3 honizglat You see me see-me-you
object and subject clear because of suffixorder
4 lat honizg You see me/I see you you see-I/me
ambigous becuase it is not clear whether lat or -izg is subject or object
5 lat honizgish You see me you see-me
not ambigous because first person (I/me) has the object ending -ish
6 latish honizg I see you you-object see-I
not ambigous because second person (you) has the direct object object ending
7 uruk honatizg the orc sees me [the] orc sees-me
not ambigous because of the third person verb ending -at
8 uruk honatizgish the orc sees me [the] orc sees-me
not ambigous because of the third person verb ending -at and object ending -ish on the first person (I/me)
9 urukish honizg I see the orc orc-object see-I
not ambigous becaus ‘uruk’ has object ending -ish

6. Adjectives

Lessons VI and XII

Positive: –Ø
Comparative: –ar
Superlative: –az
Derivative: –ûrz (creates adjectives from wordstems)

The LoS adjective is quite ordinary with positive, comparative and superlative and number marked by suffixes. The positive is either an adjective stem, e.g. kûf “ugly”, or derived by the suffix –ûrz (taken from bûrz in Lugbúrz “Barad-Dûr”), e.g gothûrz “powerful”.

The adjective marks plural in positive, comparative and superlative with the same ending as the noun but not collectives, i.e. –u after a consonant and –z after a vowel.

The adjective always follows the word it modifies, e.g. shara matûrz “mortal man” but if it is monosyllabic (short adjective) it is suffixed to the word it modifies: shar “old man” (shara* + kû).

*Note that the final ‘a’ of shara is dropped when the adjective is attached. The lessons states it’s because it makes it easier to pronounce but this seems to be the only applied case and there is no explicit rule for when this happens. Maybe the ‘a’ can be seen as an agental suffix as in Westron which has just this words such as batta “talker”. This agental suffix maybe be seen in the word snaga “slave”, then the stem of shara is shar-. 

The comparative ending is –ar and the superlative is –az so both of these has –u as plural marker, i.e. –aru and –azu.

Note that the adjective marks plural of nouns of people, races and persons which does not have a noun plural.

Table based on one from BSS, Lesson XII

hîs (quick) hîsar snû (quickier than) hîsaz (the quickiest)
bûrz (dark) bûrzar snû (darker than) bûrzaz (the darkest)
gothûrz (powerful) gothûrzar snû (more powerful than) gothûrzaz (the most powerful)

7. Adverbs

Lesson XI

The adverb follows the word it describes (verbs, adjectives or other adverbs) or at the end of the sentence and have two forms: either it is a word that function as adverb in itself such as thil “often”, “frequently” or it can be derived from word stems by the suffix –arz, e.g skrithûrz “cruel” > skritharz “cruelly. The latter is an innovation of BSS. The adverb does not mark plural.


  1. Urukû ghâshuzat hîsarz lug “The old orc quickly burned the tower”
  2. Urukûz ghâshuzut hîsarz lug “The old orcs quickly burned the tower”
  3. Uruk azubut golug globûrzu hîsarz “The orcs will quickly kill the stupid elves”

8. Negative sentences

There isn’t any lessons on negative sentences

Negative sentences are quite simple and are structured on the word or prefix general negative particle ‘nar’ meaning “no”, “not”, “un-” etc. The particle ‘nar’ can be put first in the sentence or before the verb. In addition it can be prefixed before any word to make mean the opposite. If ‘nar’ is prefixed the word will have a different meaning similar to prefixes in English as un- in “unmarked”, in-/im- in “impossible”. So if we prefix ‘nar’ to ‘ghash’ (fire) we’ll have narghâsh (cold).


A. Uruk prakhat “The orc lies” > “the orc does not lie” i.e. ”“the orc tells the truth

  1. Nar uruk prakhat “the orc does not lie
  2. Uruk nar prakhat
  3. Uruk narprakhat

B. Uruk gimbat ghâsh “the orc found the fire” > “The orc did not find the fire”

  1. Nar uruk gimbat ghâsh
  2. Uruk nar gimbat ghâsh
  3. Uruk nargimbat ghâsh (or would this mean something like “the orc loses the fire” which is uruk fulat ghâsh (ful– “to lose”, not games or battles which is bruf-).

9. Questions

Lesson XIV and the Appendix A Prefixes and suffixes

How questions work are not defined in the original LoS lessons so this is based on what BSS writes about it. These rules are proposed by BSS.

  1. Questions does not have any special word order and the normal SVO applies for questions and don’t use auxiliary verbs as in English.
  2. Question words are placed first the sentence or precedes the verb
  3. There is a general question particle that either appears as free standing question word (mar, mar-) placed first in the sentence or precedes the verb or is prefixed to the verb.
  4. Verbs in questions are conjugated in relevant tense instead of auxiliary verbs.
  5. In questions using ‘mash’ (what) or ‘mirz’ (who) words the question word is placed in the position of the corresponding noun of the answering statement.
  6. In alternate question, i.e. a statement with a following question (such as “should I stay or go?”), the prefix ‘mar-’ is attached to both verbs or the question particle is placed first in the sentence.
  7. In alternate question where there’s no auxiliary verb in English the general question particle ‘mar’ is not used.

In English questions are formed by adding an auxiliary verb like ‘do’, ‘have’ or ‘will’ (corresponding to different tenses): I see a man” > “do I see a man?”. LoS uses a general question particle (mar) instead which can either appear as a free standing word placed first in the sentence or before the verb or as a prefix attached to the verb (and maybe to a noun but I haven’t seen any examples of that).

Example: Statement: Uruk honuzat shara “the orc saw a man” > question: “Did the orc see a man”

  1. Mar uruk honuzat shara
  2. Uruk mar honuzat shara
  3. Uruk marhonuzar shara

Note that the verb ‘honuzat’ is the past tense instead of using auxiliary verb and infinitive. Remember that the third person singular present tense has the same form as the infinitive.

The question words mash (what) and mirz (who) are placed in the position of the noun of the corresponding answer to the question. (I think that this is a bit unclear, which is the position of this noun? Not the same as in English I suppose)


  1. In the question Lugrekh kulat mash? (What is Lugrekh) the answer is Lugrekh kulat uruk (Lugrekh is an orc).
  2. In the question Lugrekh kulat mirz? (Who is Lugrekh) the answer is Lugrekh kulat uruk lug-ob (Lugrekh is an orc of the tower).

BSS lesson XIV lists a number of question words


9.1 Disjunctive Questions

These questions consists of a sentence followed by a question. BSS states that orcs usually don’t use them. But the Black Speech is not Orcish but a cultural language of Sauron dominion so Nazgûl and humans in his service may use a more elaborate speech.

The construction consists of two parts divided by comma. The first part consists of the statement, and the second one is the question part is constructed with the question particle ‘mar’ or as a verbal prefix ‘mar-‘.  

  1. Ta kulat uruk, markulat? “he is an orc, isn’t he?
  2. Lat pâsh throqu domûk, marpâsh? “You can eat the whole bull, can’t you?”
  3. Azuzlat gothborkish, mar? “You killed a dragon, didn’t you?” (Here ‘mar’ functions like question particle without other information than that it marks the sentence as a question. A similar sentence structure in English would be “You killed a dragon, huh”).

9.2 Additions

I attempted to translate the conversation between Shagrat and Gorbag from The Lord of The Rings where Shagrat says “Hola! Gorbag! What are you doing up here? Had enough of war already?” and I had problems figuring out what “Had enough of war already?” ought to be in LoS. I asked BSS about how it and the answer was that it ought to have the SVO word order and that the question particle would be placed before the verb (or prefixed to it I suppose) and because ‘had’ isn’t a auxiliary verb it can be used.

The BSS translation of “Had enough of war already?” is then:

Mar brusuzlat thlûk mazauk-ob dok: mar (question particle); bruzuzlat ‘had-you’ (past tense of ‘have’ and second person sg, subject); thlûk ‘enough’; mazauk-ob ‘war-of’; dok* ‘already’.

Or with mar– as prefix

Marbrusuzlat thlûk mazauk-ob dok

I don’t agree with this because as I see it ‘had’ in the English sentence have the same function of a question particle as the LoS ‘mar’ so it would be easier to just skip ‘bruz-’. And ‘dok’ (already) marks that it already happened which is also strengthened by ‘thlûk’ (enough) because ‘enough’ as a concept indicates that something has happened before making one feel that it’s enough. My proposal is that  “Had enough of war already?” is in LoS:

Mar thlûk mazauk-ob dok: mar (question particle ‘had’); thlûk ‘enough’; mazauk-ob ‘war-of’; dok ‘already’.    

*dok “already” is from the Horngoth dialect.

I also think that that the rule that what and who question have a special word order is strange and I propose that ‘mash’ (what) ‘mirz’ (who) are placed first in the sentence just as other question words. Remember that the Black Speech is a constructed language and not a natural one so the rules ought to quite regular.

10. Numerals

Lesson: IX

Numbers are treated as adjectives in LoS and adjectives follow the noun so the numbers follow noun as well. (This is a bit strange because in the Ring Inscription numbers precede the word they modify as in Ash nazg durbatuluûk “one ring ring to rule them”.)

In more complex expressions like “forty years old” or “six feet tall” the word order is (1) adjective/adverb, (2) measure word, (3) number: Kulizg kû ânrothu zagal “I’m forty years old” (am-I old years forty): kulizg ‘am-I’; kû ‘old’; ânrothu ‘years’; zagal ‘forty’.

Table of numbers

0 nar 10 gal 20 krulgal 30 gakhgal
1 ash 11 galash 21 krulgalash 40 zagal
2 krul 12 galkrul 22 krulgalkrul 50 krâkgal
3 gakh 13 galgakh 23 krulgalgakh 60 rutgal
4 zag 14 galzag 24 krulgalzag 70 utgal
5 krâk 15 galkrâk 25 krulgalkrâk 80 skragh
6 rut 16 galrut 26 krulgalrut 90 krithgal
7 udu 17 galudu 27 krulgaludu 100 bûr
8 skri 18 galskri 28 krulgalskri 1000 tor
9 krith 19 galkrith 29 krulgalkrith 10000 galtor

11. Derivative affixes

Table adapted from BSS Affix table

Affix Description Example BSS comment My comment
-al agental suffix, occupation hoit- “to hunt” > hoital “hunter occupation(like English -er) [hoitat = to hunt, hoital = hunter; zâgîrat = to joke, zâgîral = joker, jester] SV
-arz adverb forming suffix hîz quick > hîzarz “quickly”
-atâr agental suffix, occupation dush “magic” > dûshatâr “wizard” able, knowing; similar to -al suffix [dûshatâr = wizard, mage; from dush – magic] SV Unclear why the first u of dush is lengthened in dûshatâr
-dur denotes leadership or high hierarchial position dûshatâr “mage” > dûshatârdur “archimage” arch- (lit. “big/head of”) [dûshatârdur = archimage] ULK
-hai denotes a people uruk “orc” > uruk-hai “the orc people” people of TK (BS and AO) [urûk-hai = the urûk-people]
-lob feminiser golug “elf” > goluglob “female elf” feminine word ending [Shelob] – deprecated (BSS advises that ‘lob’ shouldn’t be used because it is taken from Shelob and means spider webb)
-niz feminiser golug “elf” > golugniz “female elf” Created by BSS to replace -lob
-um noun forming suffix, particulary of abstract meaning bûrz “dark” > burzum “darkness” common noun forming suffix (mostly abstract) TK, LL [burzum = darkness, nâkhum = greediness] From the Ring inscription “burzum”
-ûrz adjective forming suffix ghâsh “fire” > ghâshûrz “hot” a common BS adjective-forming suffix EL [matûrz = mortal] From Lugbúrz “The Dark Tower, Barad-Dûr”
-ûrzum noun forming suffix, particulary of abstract meaning ufûrzum “fearfulness” forming abstract noun meaning characteristic, attribute or property UNF [ufûrzum = fearfulness] This seems to be an amalgam of the adjective and noun suffixes -ûrz and -um
a- (1) changes interogative pronouns into relative pronouns mal = where?, amal = where (as in, where the shadows lie) 1. prefixed to an interrogative makes it into a relative (EL) [mal = where?, amal = where (as in, where the shadows lie)]
2. third person pronoun prefix (RE) [azagh = he of the mountain pass; agondor = he of Gondor]
a- (2) third person pronoun prefix anti-, un- (ULK) Not in the grammar summary
im- self- skûtum “defence” > imskûtum “self-defense” self- (UNF) [imskûtum = self-defense] Not in the grammar summary
mar- Creates question out of verbs prefixed to verbs in questions (LUG)
nar-/nâr- negation similar to un-, non-, in- etc negation, non-, un-

12. Word and suffix orders

1. Subject 2. Attribute 3. Predicate 4. Direct object 5. Indirect object 6. Adjunct
Noun Adjective Verb noun or pronoun n (+ prep)
pron (+ prep)
n + prep
LoS Sentence Uglakh mau bûbhosh thrakuzat nazg dushûrz gothtab-u ârshlût
Driect translation Uglakh [the] warrior great brought [the] ring magical lord-his-to yesterday
Yesterday the great warrior Uglakh brought the magical ring to his lord

English word order: Yesterday the great warrior Uglakh brought the magical ring to his lord

Table. Suffix order for nouns

Derevative prefix Stem Derivative Feminiser Short adjective Deitic article possessive pronoun Primary postposition Secondary postposition numerus
-0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
nar- uruk -um -niz -kû -za -tab -ishi -u -hai

*narurukumnizkûzatab-ishi-u-hai ( “into that of his old un-orc-woman-ness-folk” or something like that)

Table. Suffix orders for verbs

1 2 3 4 5 6
Active/Passive Tense Person marker Object pronoun Completeness Subject pronoun
-Ø active -Ø (present) -Ø (first; second) -izg -ûk -izg
-ag (passive) -uz (past) -at (third sg) -lat -âzh -lat
-ub (future) -ut (third pl) etc etc