Svartiska – urukijab

Svartiska (lit. “blackish” in Swedish) or urukijab (orcspeech, the name of langage) or LARP-orcish is the orcish dialect of the Swedish LARPs which were developed in the mid 1990’s. Zhâburi is developed from Svartiska with the intention to bring it closer to Hurrian and the Ring inscription.

The dialect was and is mostly a spoken language and it has never been a very coherent language. As a simple language created for Swedish LARPers its grammatical structure is basically Indo-European and in practice germanic. Its vocabulary encompasses about 2300 words. It was never intended to be a version of Tolkien’s Black Speech. An English wordlist can be found on the Black Speech Shool (of the Land of Shadow dialect) site.

The Languages was developed in several stages. The earliest that I know of was for the LARP Trenne Byar in 1994. At first its grammar was very basic but later on an extensive case system was developed but, to my experience, it was not used in practice except for the inessive. The more extensive grammar was put together by Mikael “Adragoor” Bynke but I have added some additional grammar, especially of the verb.

It should be noted that the language was developed for the purpose of LARP and the typical orc cultures of Swedish LARPs and not Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The typical Swedish LARP-orc are nomadic and schamanistic living in small bands divided into clans. The Tolkien orc, especially those of Mordor, Isangard Angmar and Angband are soldiers of mass armies with no clear religion. But the Tolkien orcs has always been ideal. With that said the language has been used in LARPS set in Tolkien’s Middle Earth most notable I Skuggan av Ringen (lit. In the Shadow of the Ring), also known by its acronym ISAR, in 2002 and Utumno in 2012. 

  1. Phonology
    1. Consonants
    2. Vowels
    3. Stress
  2. The Noun
    1. The article
    2. Cases
    3. Numerals
  3. Verb
    1. Infinitive
    2. Tempus
    3. Imperative
    4. Parciple
  4. Adjective
    1. Positive
    2. Comparative
    3. Superlative
  5. Pronouns
    1. Personal pronouns
    2. Reflexive pronouns
    3. Demonstrative pronouns
  6. Derivative affixes
  7. Numerals
  8. Word order
  9. Comparison of different dialects of  Svartiska – The Ring Verse
    1. Analytical and synthetic Svartiska
    2. Svartiska and the Original Black Speech


Consonants According to Adragoor Actual practice in my experience
b as in English
d as in English
f as in English
g hard as in English goat
h something between English h in high and Spanish j Normal H as in high
j Like Y in you
k as in English
l as in English
m as in English
n as in English
p as in English
r as in German or French or as in Russian or Scottish
s as in English sing
t as in English
v as in English
z as in English or like S (unvoiced) or like a German Z (i.e. ts)
ch like German ach or Scotish loch or Swedish sje-sound, ipa /ɧ/, between vowels affricative as in English chair
th Like th in three
dh Like th in they
gh Aspirated G like G
kh as K in English
ll an L pronounced in the back of the mouth like L
sh like German ich or as SH in shop
zh like French j in journal or like Z or S

1.2 Vowels
The vowels are a, e, i, o, u. Long vowels are marked by circumflex; â, ê, î, ô, û or accent á é, í, ó, ú. They are pronounced roughly like this; a as a short form of the middle a in banana, e as in exit,i as in sit, u as a short form of the ‘u’ in rude, o as in offer. The long vowels are pronounced the same way as the short ones but lengthened.

1.3. Stress.
No explicit rules for stress but in my experience the stress falls on the first syllable or any long vowel. Endings attached to words with a hyphen such as -hai or -ishi are treated as words and are stressed accordingly. The word ‘za’ is only stressed when it is used as a pronoun, when used as an article it is unstressed. 

Examples, stressed syllables are underlined: a) uruk “ork”, b) uruk-hai “elite orc” or “orc-folk” (depending on dialect), burzum-ishi “in (the) darkness”, c) za snaga “that slave” d) za snaga “the slave”, e) zasnaga “the slave”, f) urukûk “all orcs”

2. The Noun

2.1 The article

2.1.1 The indefinite article is ash, the same as the word for one. Example: ash uruk “an orc” (or “one orc”). This corresponds to Scandinavian languages.

2.1.2 The definitive article is za. It can be used in two different ways. Either as a word in its own right like the definitive article ‘the’ in English or as a prefix of the noun. In Scandinavian languages the definitive articles are suffixes. If the definitive article is prefixed and the noun beginns with a vowel a hyphen is inserted between the prefix and the noun.

The most common usage in my experience is that it is used as ‘the’ in English.

Ex. a) Za uruk “the orc”; b) za-uruk; c) za shum uruk “the big orc”; d) shum za-uruk “the big orc”.

Note that za also covers the personal pronoun in third person singular neutral, i.e. ‘it’  and demonstrative pronouns ‘this’ and ‘that’.    

2.2 Cases
The Svartiska has seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, locative, inessive, instrumental, equative (called ‘similative’ by Adragoor).  All the case endings except the genitive and instrumental can be, and is usually so used, as prepositions. Other prepositions are used for the genitive and instrumental.

The articles are often droped for nouns in oblique cases, i.e. all cases except the nominative.

2.2.1 Nominative
The nominative marks the subject or the direct object of the sentence and is marked by the null ending -Ø. The difference between subject and direct object is indicated by the word order or context. Usually the subject precedes the direct object.

Ex. a) uruk ‘orc’; b) snaga ‘slave’; c) ghâsh ‘fire’; d) Za uruk durbat za snaga ‘The orc (subject) rules the slave (direct object)’.

2.2.2 Genitive
Suffix: -ob; -b
Marks possessive, association or membership. Much like the ending –s or preposition of in English. The suffix -ob is used with nouns ending with a consonant exept for l or r;  the final vowel disappears in the latter case. The suffix -b is used with nouns ending in a vowel or either of the consonants l or r.

Ex. a) Za-urukob nazg “the orc’s ring”; b) Za-snagab ghâsh “the slave’s fire”; c) Za-uruk lugob “The orc of the tower”.

Instead of genitive the preposition raz, the equalent of English ‘of’ can be used.

2.2.3 Dative
Suffix: -ûr
The dative marks the indirect object and answears the question “to whom?”.

Ex. “The slave gives the gold to the ork”
a) Zasnaga nârthrakat artûk urukûr
b) Zanaga nârthrakat artûk ûr za-uruk.

2.2.4 Locative
Suffixe: -ûsh
Marks the location of an object
Ex. a) Urukûsh “at the orc”; b) snagûsh “by the slave”; c) ûsh za uruk “at the ork”.

2.2.5 Inessive
Suffix: -ishi
Marks that the object is inside the noun.
Ex.“in the darkness” a) zaburzum-ishi; b) ishi za burzum

2.2.6. Instrumental
Suffix: -ûgl, -ugla
The instrument of an action, answers question using which thing?
Ex. a) Mat zatark vargrrafûgl “Kill the human with the flail”; b) Mat zatark vargrrafugla “Kill the human with the flail”.

Instead of the instrumental case one can use the preposition gulb; ex. Mat zatark gulb zavargrraf “Kill the human with the flail”.

2.2.7 Similative/Equative
Suffix -ârz
Marks a comparison or an equality: ‘like’.
Ex. “ugly as an elf” a) Shêmatut golugârz; b) Shêmatut arz ash golug”.  

2.3 Numerals

Singular, null ending -Ø (no ending)

Plural, the suffix is attached after the case ending.
After consonants suffix -i or in some dialects -û (rarely used).
After vowels suffix -z
Ex. a) uruki “orcs”; b) urukû “orcs”; c) snagaz “slaves”

Collective plural suffix -ûk
The collective plural is taken from the ring inscription were suffix is attached to a verb. It is more common to use it as a seperate word preceeding the noun.

Ex. a) urukûk “all orcs”; b) snagaûk “all slaves”; c) ûk uruk “all orcs”.

All case endings

Singular Plural Collective plural
Nominativ -i, -z, (-û) -ûk
Genitiv -ob -obi -obûk
Dativ -ûr -ûri -ûrûk
Locative -ûgl/-ugla -ûgli/-uglaz -ûglûk/-uglaûk
Inessive -ishi -ishiz -ishûk
Instrumental -ûsh -ûshi -ûshûk
Similative/Equative -ârz -ârzi -ârzûk

The Verb

The verb system of the Svartiska is quite messy with several different ways of expressing the same meaning. It is quite easy to create new verbs by simple adding the verbal endings to the noun (much like in Scandinavian languages).

The most common practice is to always use the -at ending, which is a practical way to communicate that one is talking about an action in a communicative context where few or none of the speakers fully understands the language they use.

Adragoor’s grammar does not describe past tense form perfect or the present tense formed with the prefix ug-.

3.1 Infinitive
Suffix -at
The infinitive marks what could be called the abstract of an action. The ending -at is the same as the present tense and sometimes the imperative as well.

Ex. a) jab “tounge”, “language” > jabat “to speak”

3.2 Tempus
Tempus marks when an action takes place. The Svartiska expresses past present and future tenses.

3.2.1 Past
The past tense has two different forms. The preteritum and the prefect. Preterite

a) Suffix: -ul
b) Suffix: -atul

Examples: “spoke” a) jabul; b) jabatul Perfect

a) Prefix: uga-
b) Circumfix: uga- | -at
c) uga preceeding the infinitive

Examples: “has spoken” a) ugajab; b) ugajabat; c) Uga jabat

3.2.2 Present
a) Suffix: -at
b) Prefix: ug-
c) Circumfix: ug- | -at

Examples: “speaks” a) jabat; b) ugjab; c) ugjabat

3.2.3 Future
a) Suffix -ub
b) Suffix -atub
c) ub preceeding the infinitive

Examples: “will speak” a) jabub; b) jabatub; c) ub jabat

3.3 Imperative
a) Suffix -Ø
b) -at

Examples: command  “speak” a) jab; b) jabat

3.4 Participles

3.4.1 Active/present parciple
a) Suffix -ug
b) Suffix -atug

Examples: “speaking” a) jabug; b) jabatug

3.4.2 Passive/preterite parciple
a) Suffix -uga
b) Suffix -atuga

Examples: “beaten” a) flakuga; b) flakatuga

4. Adjectives
Adragoor describes two systems for adjectives. The first system (examples indicated by ‘a’) is the most common. It is unclear how the second systems adjective endings are connected to words ending in vowels.

4.1 Positive
Suffix: -Ø
Example: shum “big”, sta “little”, “small”

4.2 Comparative
a) Suffix: -am
b) Suffix: -ó

1) “bigger” 1 a) shumam; 1 b) shumó
2) “smaller” 2 a) stam; 2 b) staó

4.3 Superlative
a) Suffix: -aj
b) Suffix: -um

1) “biggest” 1 a) shumaj; 1 b) shumum
2) “smallest” 2 a) staj; 2 b) staó

5. Pronouns
Pronouns are words used instead of nouns lika I, you, what, someone and are inflicted in all cases.

5.1 Personal pronouns
Personal pronouns are words like I, you, me, them. The genitive case is used for possessive pronouns like mine, your, its. There are two personal pronouns in the third person plural “they/them”; ‘tak’ and ‘tul’, the first being the more common as described by Adragoor. The second, ‘tul’, was coined by myself before I had access to any grammar and used by only a few; it is not described by Adragoor. I have included it because it is more in line whith the original Black Speech (see paragraph 9.2 below).

Table 5.2 Personal pronouns of Svartiska  in all cases

Pronoun English Nominative Genitive Dative Inessive Instrumental Locative Equative
Singular Subject Subject/direct object of; possessive for at in with like
1 person I Gur Gurb Gurûr Gurishi Gurûgl/-ugla Gurûsh Gurârz
2 person you Lat Latob Latûr Latishi Latûgl/-ugla Latûsh Latârz
3 person neutral it Za Zab Zar Zashi Zaûgl/-ugla Zaûsh Zârz
3 person maskuline he Ta Tab Tar Tashi Taûgl/-ugla Taûsh Târz
3 person feminine she Na Nab Nar Nashi Naûgl/-ugla Naûsh Nârz
1 person we Guri Gurobi Gurûri Gurishiz Gurûgli/-uglaz Gurûshi Gurârzi
2 person you Lati Latobi Latûri Latishiz Latûgli/-uglaz Latûshi Latârzi
3 person they Tak; tul Takob; tulb Takûr; tulûr Takishi; tulishi Takûgl/-ugla; tulugla Takûsh; tulûsh Takârzi; tulâr
1 person we all Gurûk Gurbûk Gurûrûk Gurishûk Gurûglûk Gurûshûk Gurârzûk
2 person you all Latûk Latobûk Latûrûk Latishûk Latûglûk Latûshûk Latârzûk
3 person them all Takûk; tulûk Takobûk; Tulbûk Takûrûk; tulûrûk Takishûk; tulishûk Takûglûk; tuluglûk Takûshûk; tulûshûk Takârzûk; tulârzûk

5.3 Reflexive pronouns

English Nominative Genitive Dative Locative Inessive Instrumental Equative
Singular Subject Subject/direct object of; possessive for at in with like
1 person Myself Gurbgur Gurbgurob Gurbgur Gurbgurûsh Gurbgurishi Gurbgurugla Gurbgurârz
2 person Yourself Latobgur Latobgurob Latobgur Latobgurûsh Latobgurishi Latobgurugla Latobgurârz
3 person neutral Itself Zabgur Zabgurob Zabgur Zabgurûsh Zabgurishi Zabgurugla Zabgurârz
3 person maskuline Himself Tabgur Tabgurob Tabgur Tabgurûsh Tabgurishi Tabgurugla Tabgurârz
3 person feminine Herself Nabgur Nabgurob Nabgur Nabgurûsh Nabgurishi Nabgurugla Nabgurârz
1 person Ourself Gurbiguri Gurbigurobi Gurbigurûri Gurbigurûshi Gurbigurishiz Gurbiguruglaz Gurbigurârzi
2 person Your self Latobiguri Latobigurobi Latobigurûri Latobigurûshi Latobigurishiz Latobiguruglaz Latobigurârzi
3 person Themself Takobguri Takobgurobi Takobgurûri Takobgurûshi Takobgurishiz Takobguruglaz Takobgurârzi

5.3 Demonstrative pronouns

English Nominative Genitive Dative Locative Inessive Instrumental Equative
Singular This; that za zab zâr zâsh zashi zagla/zâgl zârz
Plural Those zaz zabi zâri zâshi zashiz zaglaz/zâgli zârzi
Collective All those zazûk zabûk zârûk zâshûk zashiûk zâglûk zârzûk

5.4 Interrogative pronouns
These are the interrogative pronouns listed by Adragoor

Nominative Genitive Dative Locative Inessive Instrumental Equative
What/who ur urb urûr urûsh urishi urugla urârz
Which zaur zaurob zaurûr zaurûsh zaurishi zaurugla zaurârz

5.5 Indefinite pronouns

Indefinitive pronouns Nominative Genitive Dative Locative Inessive Instrumental Equative
Someone, something kon konob konûr konûsh konishi konugla konârz
All, everyone ûk ûkob ûkûr ûkûsh ûkishi ûkugla ûkârz

6. Derivative affixes

Affix Meaning
Listed by Adragoor
-at Creates verbs from nouns, e.g. ghâsh “fire” > ghâshat “to burn”, “to fire”
-urz Creates adjectives from nouns, e.g. ghâsh “fire” > ghashurz “hot”
-um Creates nouns of adjectives, e.g. burz “dark” > burzum “darkness”
-atâr Creates agents or job titles, e.g. ush “combat” > ushatâr “warrior”
ga- Creates alternative verbs from verbs, e.g. throkat “to eat” > gathrokat “to cook food” which in turn can be combined with other affixes, e.g. gathrokat > gathrokatâr “cook”
creates concreate nouns
mi- creates nouns or alternative nouns
ka- Creates alternative nouns dar “house” > kadar “tent”

7. Numerals

0 – Narkon “nothing, none, no one”
1 – Ash
2 – Mash
3 – Nam
4 – Ruk
5 – Krak
6 – Ulm
7 – Udu
8 – Nog
9 – Krith
10 – Nuk
11 – Ulb
12 – Num

13 – Ash mâgh agh nam
14 –  Ash mâgh agh ruk
20  – Mash mâgh
21 – Mash mâgh agh ash
107 – Nuk mâgh agh udu

No rules for counting higher than 129

8. Word order
The normal word order of Svartiska is Subject (S) verb (V) object (O) just as in English. Ex. Gur gonat lat “I see you”.

In questions the word order can be either the  reversed (as in Swedish). Ex. Gonat gur lat? “Do I see you?”or with with question particle ‘ur’. With ‘ur’ the word order can either be the normal SVO or the reversed VSO. Ex. Ur gur gonat lat? (“what/do” I  see you) or Ur gonat gur lat? (“what”/do see I you).

9. Comparison of different dialects of  Svartiska – The Ring Verse

Here are some examples texts of the Ring verse in Svartiska. Please notice that Svartiska has a lot of synonyms so there are many possible variations. The purpose here is to compare the grammar. The examples are divided into to extremes of analytical and synthetic variants. Note that the actual dialects in use are more divided. The most common variant is to use the genitive and inessive cases and the definite article as a free standing word.

9.1 Analytical and synthetic Svartiska

Example text, the Ring Inscription in two versions one analytical, i.e. using prepositions and the free standing definitive article; and one synthetic i.e. using cases and the article as a prefix. I have used ‘tak’ for the third person personal pronoun plural because it is far more common even though ‘tul’ is nearer the original Black Speech. Adragoor for example didn’t describe ‘tul’. 

Analytical Synthetic English
1 Nam nazgi ûr za golugdurubi lata za gah Nam nazgi zagolugdurubûri zagahûsh Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
2 Udo ûr za gazathgothi ishi takob hajati raz gund Udu zagazathgothûri takob hajatishiz gundob Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
3 Krith ûr maturz tak ugagîk at gamat Krith maturz takûr ugagîk gamat Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
4 Ash ûr za burz shakh tala tab burz solî Ash burz zashakhûr burz solîshi tab One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
5 Ishi za burzuzg al ti za burzi Zaburzuzgishi al ti zaburzi In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
6 Ash nazg durbat tak ûk, Ash nazg durbat takûk, One Ring to rule them all,
7 Ash nazg gimbat tak Ash nazg gimbat tak One Ring to find them,
8 Ash nazg thrakat tak ûk Ash nazg thrakat takûk One Ring to bring them all,
9 agh ishi za burzum krimptat tak agh zaburzumishi krimpat tak and in the darkness bind them,
10 Ishi za burzuzg al ti za burzi Zaburzuzgishi al ti zaburzi In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

9.2 Svartiska and the Original Black Speech

A comparision of the svartiska versions with the original. Here I have used the pronoun ‘tul’ instead.

Analytical Synthetic Tolkien’s Black Speech
1 Ash nazg durbat tul ûk, Ash nazg durbat tulûk, Ash nazg durbatulûk
2 Ash nazg gimbat tul Ash nazg gimbat tul Ash nazg gimbatul
3 Ash nazg thrakat tul ûk Ash nazg thrakat tulûk Ash nazg thrakatulûk
4 agh ishi za burzum krimptat tul agh zaburzumishi krimpat tul Agh burzum-ishi krimpatul

Note that the articles often are dropped when words stand in oblique cases such as the inessiv which gives for the synthetics variant line 4 “agh burzumishi krimpat tul” which is more in line with the original.