Zhâburi – A Black Speech of Mordor

One Speech to rule them all

New pronouns

I have som new inspiration and currently I working on pronouns based on Hurrian. I’m also working on a wordlist and I have plans for a page with all the published grammar.


The Ring Verse in The Land of Shadow Dialect

The most widespread dialect or or version of a Black Speech of Mordor that of The Land of Shadow (LoS) and it is interesting to compare it to Zhâburi and Svartiska dialects. Svartiska is the version that I started with and Zhâburi started as an attempt to make Svartiska more coherent to the Black Speech of the Ring Inscription.

Because the central, and really only, example of true Black Speech sentences are those of the ring inscription I will use them as my comparision example. When I first found out about LoS I looked for a translation of the whole ring verse but I could only find the first to lines.

Gakh Nazgu Golug-durub-uru lata-nut.
Three Rings Elf-lords-for under-sky
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky

Udu Gazat-shakh-uru ulub ruz-ishiz gund-ob.
Seven Dwarf-lords-for their halls-in stone of
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone

These two lines are a bit perplexing because they do not follow the grammar as it is explained on the Black Speech School site. Both the dative postpositional endings have lost their circumflexes –uru instead of –ûru. (These are plural, the singular is, just as in Svartiska –ûr. The Svartiska plural is instead -ûri.) And in the first line the postposition –lata (under) has become a preposition preceding the noun nût (sky), (which has lost its circumflex). This is explicitly described as Debased Black Speech. And it’s strange that the word for ‘hall’ ru has a double plural marker, both a suffix attached to the word itself and a plural marker in the postposition –ishiz. These lines are LoS-black Speech and not genuine Tolkien sentences and should not be considered as authentic. But we can make a simple rule of this example of double plural: if the noun ends in a vowel the noun takes a double plural marker in both the noun and the postposition. A more complicated rule would be that a noun ending in a vowel takes the double plural marker only if the postposition starts with a vowel. Both are consistent with the  case of “in the halls” and the noun ru (hall) and innessive postposition (in) –ishi, e.g. ru-ishi “in a/the hall” ruz-ishiz “in [the] halls”.   

So I have reconstructed both lines and the rest of the Ring Verse.

1. Gakh nazgu golug-durub-ûru nût-lata
Three rings [the] elf-lords-for [the] sky-under
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,

2. Udu gazat-shakh-ûru ulub ruz-ishiz gund-ob
Seven [the] dwarf-lords-for their halls-in stone-of
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,

3. Krith tark-ûru matûrzu dûmpuga matat
Nine men-for mortal doomed to-die
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die

4. Ash goth-bûrz-ûr tab ulîma-ir
One [the] lord-dark-for his throne-on
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne

In this line I chose to use the word goth for lord instead of shakh to avoid repetition.

5a. Uzg-ishi Mordor-ob amal burgûlu kulut
[the] Land-in Mordor-of where shadows are
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

5b. Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kulut
In [the] Dark-land [Mordor] where shadows are
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

In the last word of the fifth line I had to find another word than ‘to lie’ because I could not find it. So I used the word for are kul– which is the regular form of “to be” in third person plural present tense. [Update 17.04.18. There is a word for “to lie” kât- (from Quenya caita-) which I know that I’ve seen before. So line 5b: Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kâtut.]

There is also the problem of whether to translate Mordor or not. In 5a Mordor is not translated and the translation follows the original. In version 5b Mordor is translated into Uzgbûrz “The Dark Land” following the form of Lugbúrz “The Dark Tower”. The 5b is shorter and have the same amount of syllables and I think it’s more appropriate not to use Elvish words. Mordor ought to have its own name in its own language. So I have used 5b below.  

6. Ash Nazg Durbatulûk
One Ring to-Rule-them-all

7. Ash Nazg Gimbatul
One Ring to-Find-them

8. Ash Nazg Thrakatulûk
One Ring to-Bring-them-all

agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
and [the] Darkness-in Bind-them

My version of the Ring Verse in the LoS dialect of the Black Speech of Mordor

  1. Gakh nazgu golug-durub-ûru nût-lata
  2. Udu gazat-shakh-ûru ulub ru-ishiz gund-ob
  3. Krith tark-ûru matûrzu dûmpuga matat
  4. Ash goth-burz-ûr tab ulîma-ir
  5. Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlu kulut
  1. Ash Nazg Durbatulûk
  2. Ash Nazg Gimbatul
  3. Ash Nazg Thrakatulûk
  4. agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
  5. Uzgbûrz-ishi amal burgûlukulut



The Ring verse updated

The Ring verse had to be updated. When writing about the Descriptive I changed it so it agrees with the word it describes. When it agrees with nouns it is subject to suffixaufnahme. In the third line (nine for mortal men doomed to die) the descriptive ‘fundadash’ (doomed/judged) agrees with the directive of ‘tarkgoth-za’ (to the lords of men)  suffixaufnahme –diza have to be added. Because of the additional syllables the sentence need to be shortened so ‘goth’ (lord) of ‘tarkgoth’ had to be deleted.

In addition I have started to develop the vocabulary, bringing it closer to Primitive Elvish (PE). This has given me new words for ‘die’ from the PE word ‘ñgurū’ (death) which becomes ‘gûr’ in Zhâburi B. The intransitive of this is ‘gûru-‘.

The third line is thus changed from Krith fundadash maum tarkgoth-za to Krith fundadash-diza gûrum tark-za.

The word for ‘stone’ has been changed from ‘gund’ (Svartiska) to gûd (Primitive Elvish gondo) following the same peinciples as ‘ñgurū’ to ‘gûr’. Interestingly the Svartiska word for stone is quite similar to the PE ‘gondo’ and is probably inspired by Sindarin ‘gond’. The word ‘gund’ for stone can also be found in the orcish dialects Land of Shadows, Horngoth and MERP. In Svartiska and MERP another word for ‘stone’ is – gur.

Some thoughts

I’m thinking that I maybe the verb’s potential optative ending -gh ought to be changes to -k so it closer corresponds to the conditional particle ak of zhâburi A.

I’m working on a description of the noun but of course my creativity is too great and I have started to questioning my old ideas of the case system. Both the number of cases and the actual endings. The old idea is that there ought to be quite few (oh well six) cases and that the endings are inspired by elvish. Now I’m starting to entertain the idea of more cases (maybe 13) which is closer to the number of cases in Hurrian. I’m also thinking that it is more appropriate to take inspiration from Hurrian for the endings.

When writing this I realize that I’m still leaning to the old system but I think that if the endings ought to resemble Elvish case endings I need a “constructive” analysis of the sound changes from Primitive Elvish to Quenya so that I can use the Quenya material to backtrack the hypothetical endings/postpositions of PE.

Star Trek – to boldly go…

In the Facebook-group ConLang there was a request of a translation in one’s conlang of the Star Trek theme:

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s continuing mission – to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life, and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before!

Here is the sentence i Zhâburi:

Zhâtur. Bit dâki. Tak bînuri îlbalag-iba Intirprâz. Sûb vraudugar durak – fushatar mâgh narg, rau abak; gimbatar rau gazh agh rau gazhâb; gan batutar potza azgon batushikh! 

It was an interesting challenge because I had to invent most of the words. I have tired to use words from genuine Tolkien-languages instead of words from Svartiska or LoS.

Space-ABS. Final border-the-ABS. These travels-the starship-the-of Enterprise. It’s going-ITERATIVE [continuing] order – intention-to-explore-ITERATIVE many strange, new worlds-ABS; intention-to-find-ITERATIVE new life-ABS and new societies-ABS; boldly intention-to-travel-ITERATIVE where-to-DIR no-one-ABS traveled-NEGATIVE!

PE=Primitive Elvish
BS=Black Speech

Zhâburi English Comment
zhâtur space Q láta “open” > zhât + -ur > zhâtur “space”
dâk border PE taika “n. boundary, limit, boundary line”> dâk
bit final Q metta “final end” > bit
bînur voyage, travel PE mēn “n. a way, a going, a mov[ement]” > bît + ur “bîtur”
îlbalag starship PE êl “star” > îl; Ad balak “ship” > balag
durak order BS durb- “to rule”, root dur + -ak > durak
fush- explore Sv fush- “to explore; discover; detect”
mâgh many numerus particle
narg strange Sv nargil “strange, odd, weird”
aban world Ad aban “world”
gimbatar with the intention to repeatedly find BS gimb- “find”
rau new Sv rau “new”
gazh life Sv gajum “life” > gazh
agh and BS
gazhâb society gazh “life” + PE prefix wâ- “together” > postfix -âb
gan bold(ly) Q canya (KAN) > gan
batutar with the intention to travel continously Ad bat- “to walk” > bat- “travel”
potza wher-to
azgon nowhere
batushikh not went/has not gone bat-

An interesting result of this exercise was that I realised that the jussive iterative of transitive verbs is constituted of the suffix-complex -atar which is very similar to the Svartiska and Zhâburi A agent suffix -atâr. So ushatâr “warrior”; ushatar “with the intention to repeatedly fight”

Trollmother’s lullaby

Here is a translation of the Swedish lullaby ”Trollmor” in Zhâburi B. The original Swedish text goes like this:

När trollmor har lagt sina elva små troll och bundit fast dem i svansen – så sjunger hon sakta de vackraste ord hon känner – oh aj aj aj aj buff etc (nonsense words).

Which is translated to English as:

When mother troll has put her eleven small trolls to sleep and bound them together in their tales – then she slowly sings the most beautiful words she knows – oh ai ai ai ai buff etc

In Zhâburi

Ug krankolog-gha nukash sûb ologstâ kâtashazdat agh bâsh-izi krimpashatulûk – ug thak lashagat mîruz bîthi istagat – û ai ai ai ai buff etc

When [the] parant-troll-ergative eleven of her smalltrolls has lied down and the tail-instrumental bound-has-she-them-completely – then slowly sings-she beautiful-most words-the knows-she-them

Word list
BS=Black Speech, attested Black Speech words
LoS=Land of Shadow
PE=Primitive Elvish

when/then (Sv) – should it be changed to ‘gu’?
krank ”parent”  (LoS)
gha – ergative ending indicating the subject in a transitive sentence
nukash ”eleven”
sûb – 3 person possessive independent pronoun
ologstâ ”small trolls” compound word olog ”troll” (BS) + sta (Sv) lengthening of the wovel in ’sta’ as in the compound lugbûrz.
kâtashazdat ”she has lied them” kât-a-sh-azd-at; kât ”to lie” (Q caita-), -a- transitive, -sh- past tense, -azd- final aspect, -at third person personal subject marker of transitive. I’m thinking that it should be ‘gât’ instead of ‘kât’, analogous with dur(b)- (BS) tur- (Q).
agh ”and” (BS)
bâsh-izi ”with the tails”; baush ”tail” (Sv, LoS ”baush”), -i- article, -zi – instrumental case ending
krimpashatulûk ”she has bound them completly”; krimp-a-sh-at-ul-ûk; krimp ”to bind” (BS), -a transitive, -sh- past tense, -at- third person subject of transtive, -ul- third person object of transitive, -ûk absolute positive ending indicating ”completeness”.
thak ”slowly” (Sv)
lashagat ”sing”; lash- ”sing” (LoS), -a- transitive, -g- present tense, -at third person subject of transitive
mîruz ”most beautiful”, mîr ”beautiful” (Sv) + -uz – descriptive ending, positive relative ”most”
bîthi ”the word[s]”  (Adunaic bêth) -i, article
istagat ”she knows”; ist- (PE (Q, LoS)) ista- ”know”, -a- transitive, -g- present tense, -at, third person subject of transitive

The Ring verse in Zhâburi

Here is the whole Ring Verse in Zhâburi

* * *

Gakh nazg nût-shidizala golugoth-za
Udu gazatshakh-za gûd’hâd-bulshidiza
Krith fundadash-diza gûrum tarkgoth-za
Ash shakhbûrz-za sûl-bulshidiza
Al burghi gâtugulûk Dûrbûrz-ishi

Ash nazg durbatulûk
Ash nazg gimbatul
Ash nazg thrakatulûk
agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
Al burghi gâtugulûk Dûrbûrz-ishi

* * *

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie