2. The Noun

In the case of the noun we don’t have much grammatical features to work with as we do with the verb. I will not (for now at least) focus on the reasons for the different choices. It suffices to say that the actual endings are inspired by Primitive Elvish and Quenya, and that the structure is inspired by Hurrian.

  1. The structure of the noun
  2. Number
  3. The article or deitic ending
  4. Cases
  5. Suffixaufnahme (congruence by suffix duplication)
  6. Postpositions
  7. Suffix chain of the Noun

1. The structure of the noun

The noun is constituted by a primary word to which postposition are attached divided by a hyphen as in uruk-hai and burzum-ishi. The postpositions are created by adding a chain of suffixes to a postpositional “relational core” creating “suffix clusters”. These postpositions are structured in a certain order, following the same order as the Hurrian noun suffix chain, and are always attached after the noun.

The form of the noun is a root (V)CV(V)C and which most often have the form CV – the exception is the enclitic possessive pronoun of the form -bVC.

2. Number — or rather the lack of it

Zhâburi does not mark the difference between singular and plural instead it uses different words which are placed before the noun. Often these words can be omitted. If the exact number is known then a numeral is used, and if the number is uncertain but it is known that there is more than one, either pak (few) or mâgh (many) may be used.


  1. gûl “wraith”, “a wraith” or “wraiths”
  2. ash gûl “one wraith”
  3. pak gûl “a few wraiths”
  4. mâgh gûl “many wraiths”

In the translations below I will mostly use singular, but most sentences could be translated using plural as well.

3. The definite article or deitic suffix

Suffix: After and between consonants -i; between vowels -zh-; after a vowel and before a consonant -zhi-.

The meaning of the article in Zhâburi lies somewhere in between the the stronger deitic particle (this or that) and a definite article (the). There is no indefinite article (a/an).

In the Analysis of the Black Speech the case ending (or enclitic postposition) was analysed as -i = article or deitic particle ending. This article ending (-i, -zh(i)-) is attached directly to the end of the word if there is no suffix cluster but is placed first in such a suffix cluster in the suffix chain. But if it’s a derivational suffix the suffix is seen as part of the word and attached at the end of it without hyphen.

Examples (here the ending is only translated as “the” but could also mean “this” or “that”)

  1. uruk “orc” > uruki “the orc”
  2. uruk-za “to an orc” > uruk-iza “to the orc”
  3. uruk-ha “of orcs”; “orcish (one)” > uruk-hai “those of orcs”; “the orcish ones”
  4. uruk-haza “to a orcish one” > uruk-hazhiza “to the orcish one”.  

4. Cases

The analysis of the ending -ishi provides a form for the case endings as -CV, which is the reverse of the verb endings form. In a constructed language with several cases there is always a question of how many there ought to be. I have tried to limit them, and there is at the moment eight cases (Zhâburi A has six) and I’m open for some more. We don’t know how many there are in Primitive Elvish, but in Quenya there are 8-10 (depending on whether the accusative and the respective are included). Hurrian has 13 -15 according to different sources.

Two of them, ergative and absolutive are obvious, because otherwise it would not be an ergative language. There is nothing in the material that directly suggests that BS is an ergative language, but because Hurrian is an ergative language and Hurrian is our template language, it follows that our version of Black Speech ought to include the ergative as well. Subject and object are covered by absolutive and ergative. Movements towards something are covered by the directive and corresponds to allative and dative. The genitive marks nouns that are associated or origin and corresponds to genitive and ablative. I have therefore designated a special case for possessions, which are marked by possessive, a case which also can be found in Quenya. Then there are the cases for locations and instruments which can be found both in Quenya and Hurrian. And then from Hurrian there is the equative case (which also can be found in Svartiska with the ending -arz).

Case Description suffix Examples
Absolutive Marks the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb. uruk gimbag (an orc finds)
Ergative Marks the subject in transitive sentences with objects. -gha uruk-gha ghâsh gimbag (an orc finds a fire)
Genitive Marks association, membership and movements from something -khu ghâsh-khu uruk (an orc of fire)
Possessive Marks possessions -bu ghâsh uruk-bu (an orc’s fire)
Directive Marks that something is directed to or moving towards something; indirect object (dative) -za uruk-za ghâsh (a fire to an orc)
Locative Marks location such in, at, on -shi uruk ghâsh-shi (an orc in a fire)
Instrumental Marks instrumental indicates the means or the tools -zi uruk ghâsh-zi (an orc with a fire)
Equative Marks a comparison or an equality: “like”,“as”, “with the quality of” -ba uruk ghâsh-ba (an orc like fire)

4.1 The Absolutive and Ergative Cases

In indo-european languages, the difference between subject and object are marked with what is called nominative for subject and accusative for direct objects (and indirect objects by the dative). In ergative languages these are instead marked by the absolute and the ergative cases.

Absolutive has no ending, or null-ending -Ø, and the bare noun marks the absolute case. It marks also both subject and direct object, and if there is no explicit object, then the subject appears in the absolute case with null ending (-Ø). If the verb is transitive, the enclitic pronouns mark the direct object of the verb. If the verb is intransitive, the enclitic pronoun mark the subject of the verb.

Examples of absolutive, -Ø

  1. Transitive: uruk thrakash “an orc brought (something)”
  2. Intransitive: uruk thrakush “an orc came”
  3. Transitive with enclitic pronoun: uruk thrakashul “an orc brought it”
  4. Intransitive with enclitic pronoun: uruk thrakushul “an orc came”

The ergative marks the subject of the sentence if there is an explicit direct object which in turn is marked by the absolutive.

Examples of ergative -gha

  1. uruk-gha nazg thrakash “an orc brought a ring”
  2. with enclitic pronoun it marks deitic or emphasize: uruk-gha nazg thrakashul “an orc brought that ring”

4.2 The genitive and possessive cases

In English and many other Indo-European languages the genitive has a possessive function, i.e. it marks that something is owned just as possessive personal pronouns such as ‘mine’ and ‘yours’. In Quenya there is a specific case for this and so also in Zhâburi. The genitive in Zhâburi marks association and membership. In addition it has the function of the ablative in Quenya, i.e. movements from. Both are inspired by Quenya and Primitive Elvish. The genitive from Primitive Elvish ‘ƷŌ̆‘ (‘-o’ in Quenya) and the possessive from a presumed Primitive Elvish ‘-va’ (Quenya -va/-wa) but adapted to be more similar to the general -ob genitiv of several Black Speech dialects (see this post and the description of the descriptive case below). 

Genitive: -khu
Possessive: -bu



  1. uruk-khu ghâshi “the fire of an orc”, “the fire from orcs”, “the fire derived/caused by an orc”.
  2. Pak uruk lug-ikhu thrakush “Some orcs came from the tower”


  1. uruk-bu ghâsh “an orc’s fire”, the fire belongs to an orc.

4.3 Directive

The Directive marks the direction to or towards something. The ending is -za, related to the elvish allative Quenya –nna, Telerin -na and Primitive Elvish -da and Quenya dative -n.


  1. uruki lug-iza thrakush “the orc went to the tower”
  2. uruk olog-iza zhabash “an orc talked to a troll”

4.4 Locative

The locative marks the location of things who hare stable in one area. It is related to Quenya -ssë and the ending in Primitive Elvish was probably -ze. The ending in Zhâburi is -shi. The locative corresponds to prepositions in English such as in, on, at and by.


  1. pak uruk lug-shi “a few orcs in a tower”
  2. uruk ghâsh-ishi “orcs at the fire”

4.5 Instrumental

The instrumental case marks that the noun is an instrument or tool but also what things are made of or company. The instrumental corresponds English prepositions such as with, with help of, made of.  

  1. uruk-igha nazg gimbash ghâsh-zi “the orc found a ring with [help of] fire”
  2. uruk olog-zi thrakush “an orc came with a troll”
  3. dini ghâsh-zi “the stars [are made] of fire”

4.6 Equative

The Equative marks a comparison or an equality and corresponds to the English pronoun like, as, similar, after the manner. It can also function like an adverbial “as”, “with the quality of”. The following is not correct at the moment: The ending is -ba inspired by Primitive Elvish preposition ‘‘ which in Quenya has developed to the preposition ve and the ending –ve, and in Sindarin there is a preposition be with the same meaning.

  1. golug uruk-ba “an elf such as an orc”, “an elf like an orc”

5. Suffixaufnahme (congruation by suffix duplication)

The suffixauffnahme is a type of congruence, here between nouns, by duplicating and insert the case of a  regens (ruling) noun in the rectum (dependent) noun. The suffixaufnahme is distinguished by the marker -di-SUFFIX and its place in the suffix chain. All the cases except the absolutive (because it has no ending) are subject to suffixaufnahme.


Nam nazg ghal-shidizala golugoth-za (three rings for the elven kings under the sky).

Here the nomen rectum ‘ghal-shidizala’ is subject to suffixaufnahme (-diza-) because it agrees with the directive ‘-za’ of the regens ‘golugoth-za’. The ruling primary theme of the sentence is that the rings are for the “the elven kings” who are “under the sky” as the dependent secondary theme.

6. Postpositions

Instead of prepositions, such as on, of, by, in and so on, Zhâburi uses postpositions. The basic difference is that prepositions precede the noun and postpositions follows it.  In Zhâburi the postposition is always part of the suffix cluster following and always together with a certain case (relational suffix) e.g. –ra: locative = “within”; genitive =”out of”; directive = “into”; instrumental = “along”. Most often it has the form CV but other forms are possible


  1. Locative: lug-ishira “within the tower”
  2. Genitive: lug-ikhura “out of the tower”
  3. Directive: lug-izara “into the tower”
  4. Instrumental: lug-izira “along the tower”

Nouns with postpositions are subject to suffixaufnahme, but it is only the case suffix which is duplicated and not the postposition.


  1. Lug-izara gur-zidiza “into the tower made of stone”, not *Lug-izara gur-zidira.

7. Table 2. Suffix chain of the noun

1 2 3 4 5 6
Derivative suffix Article/deitic particle Possessive pronoun Case Suffixaufnahme: -di+ case Enclitic postpositional
-i 1. -bish Erg. -Ø ex. -sha “with” (+ Inst)
-ha (part of) V-di(C) 1. -bak Abs. -gha -digha
-shu (all) V-zh-V 2. -biv Gen. -khu -dighu
-ashi (individualiser) C-i-C 3. -bul Pos. -bu -diba
Dir. -za -diza
Loc. -shi -dishi
Ins. -zi -dizi
Equ. -ba -dibi


a) Gakh nazg ghal-shidizala golugoth-za “three rings for the elven kings under the sky

ghal “sky”
-shi – locative indicating location ruling postposition -la
-diza – congruence via suffixaufnahme (or suffix duplication), aggreeing with directional case of ‘golugoth-za’
-la “under” postposition, ruled by locative

b) Ash shakhbûrz-za sûl-bulshidiza “one for the dark lord on his dark throne“.

sûl “throne”
-bul “his”
-shi “on” locative
-diza – congruence via suffixaufnahme or suffix duplication, agreeing with directional case of ‘shakhbûrz-za’.

Last update: 190423