Yrksk is the Orcish speech developed by David Salo for Peter Jackson’s film adaptations. Yrsk is not the same as the Black Speech. See also my analysis of Salo’s Black Speech. Before Salo’s site went down I saved some of the material and I publish it here.

The word Yrksk is not Orcish but seems to be a blend of Sindarin yrch (orcs) and a Scandinavian with an adjective ending also seen in Svartiska which I suppose Salo finds interesting. His site was after all called Midgardsmál and the orcish wordlist is named Yrksk Orðabók (orcish word book). In modern Swedish these are rendered Midgårdsmål (speech/speeches of Middle Earth and Orkisk ordbok respectively).

Proto-Orcish and Third Age Dialects

First a list of words from the different Orcish words in Proto-Orcish and different Orcish dialects during the end of the Third Age. I don’t know if these where made for The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. But I have vague memory that he wrote that this was made for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and that imagined that the Mordor dialect was more conservative and that that the Moria dialect has more fricatives because the Orcs of the Misty Mountains spoke in more hissing voices.

It’s also unclear which time we should place the Proto-Orcish. I would imagine the end of the Second Age and a Pan-Orcish dialect heavily influenced by the Black Speech. Salo has stated explicityl that Yrksk has Elven influence. For example the word for sun is clearly inspired by the Quenya word úre (heat). I have changed the order in the table to alphabetical and added a column with my comments, mainly on what I think could be the inspiration for the word. Most of them are quite clearly connected but some of them are more speculative.

√ = Etymologies, Elvish word stems
Ad. = Adunaic
BS = Black Speech
G = Goldogrin/Gnomish
N = Noldorin
PO = Proto-Orcis, see the list
Q = Quenya
S = Sindarin

Raised letters in front of these letters: E = early; M = Middle. Most of the information can be found on Eldamo. Otherwise I have added links.

Meaning Proto-Orkish Mordor Isengard Moria Comment*
arise *huru- huru- huru- uʒu- ᴱN. rhó- v. “to arise”; N. hûr n. “readiness for action, vigour, fiery spirit”; ᴱQ. hur- v. “to speed”
army *kʰotʰ √KHOT² root. “strive, quarrel”; see also PO *kutmu (war)
beat *bada- bada- bara- vaza- N. bâd n. “beaten track, pathway”; ᴱT. baga- v. “to beat”
bite *naka- naka- naga- naɣa- ᴱQ. naka- v. “to bite”
burn *laka- laka- laga- laɣa- G. lôg n. “fuel, firewood”
burn (caus) *lakja- lača- laiga- laʒa- see PO *laka + suffix -ja
close *karba- kāba- χaχāv- √KAB root. “hold, contain, retain, possess, have in hand”
come *lutu- lutu- ludu- ruzu- Q. tul- v. (basic-verb) “to come”
come *nakʰ √Ad. NAKH root. (biconsonantal-root) “come, approach”
command *durbu- durbu- dūbu- zū- BS. durb- v. “constrain, force, dominate”
crawl *smugu- smugu- muɣu- šmū- Probably the same as the name Smaug is derived from the indicative past, 3rd person singular of Proto-Germanic verb *smeuganan > Old English smūgan (“to creep” > “to squeeze through a hole”).
crawling *smuguku muɣgu šmūɣ See PO *smugu- (crawl) participle ending -ku
dawn *garmuzata- garmuzat gāmzad ɣānzaz see PO *gāra; noun suffix -ta
day *garmu gārum gām ɣām see PO *gāra
death *gurutu gurut gūt ɣūʃ S. guru [ñg-] n. “death”; there seems to be an noun ending -tu here
destroy *gutja- gūda- G. gusta- v. “to burn (tr.), destroy”; Ilk. góda- v. “to soil, stain”
die *guru- guru- gura- ɣur- S. guru [ñg-] n. “death”
feast *mamata- mamata- manda- Q. mat- v. (basic-verb) “to eat”; Q. lamate n. “fasting, a fast”
feel, touch *maka- maka- maga- maɣa- N. matha- v. “to stroke, feel, handle”; ᴹQ. mahta- v. “to handle, wield; to deal with, treat; to stroke, feel; to wield a weapon, fight”
fight *kutkuta- kukut- kūkda- χūχza- Related to war PO *kutmu
flee *drigi- drigi- diɣi- dī- S. #drega- v. “to flee”
flesh *marna marn mān mān ᴹQ. larma n. “(?pig-)fat, flesh”
foot *tulu tul tʰul sū(l) Q. tál (tal-) n. “foot”; S. tâl n. “foot; [lower] end”
get *snaba- nava- ʃnā- G. nab- v. “to take, lay hold of”; G. nabos n. “seizure”
gnash *karka- kāka- χāχa- ᴹQ. karka n. “tooth”; ᴱQ. karka n. “fang, tooth, tusk”; ᴱQ. karka- v. “to snarl”
hack *skada- skada- kʰara- χaza- Maybe a coincidence but ‘skada’ means wound (both noun and verb) in Swedish. Just as Scatha, the dragon slayed by Fram, means “injurer, enemy, robber” in Old English.
hard *kraka kʰag √SRAG root. “awkward, awry; hard, (very) difficult”
heave *giba- giba- giva- ʒīa- ?
hurry *klikja- kliča- kʰīga- χīɣa- ?
kill *daka- daka- daga- zaɣa- ᴹQ. nak-¹ v. (basic-verb) “to kill, slay; to hate”; compare Q more BS burz. In my etymology of Angband Orcish evolved from Primitive Elvish I have the same rule m > b, n > d, ñ > g; ᴱN. dag- [nd-] v. “to slay, kill”
light *gāra gār gār ɣāʒ √GAL¹ root. “light; shine, be bright”; √KAL root. “light; shine, be bright”
more *tʰag √TĀ/TAƷ root. “high”
mountain *urudu S. orod n. “mountain”
pull *tugu- tugu- tʰuɣu- sū- ᴹQ. tuk- v. (basic-verb) “to draw, *pull (behind)”
rest luzu- lazy ?
return *agnakʰ ag + nakʰ, see *nakʰ (come)
scream *skriki- kʰigi- Swedish: skrika “scream” but I would guess from Old Norse skríkja.
screaming *skrikikai χriχa participle ending -kai
see *guglu- gūgu- ɣūɣu- English: google
sky *kilmi kilᵊm kʰīm ʃīm G. climli “heaven; sky”; Ad. gimli “star (in the sky)”
slash *kliza- kliza- kʰiza- χliza- S. crist n. “cleaver”; S. criss n. “cleft”; also S. Orcrist pn. “Orc-cleaver”
sun *ūru ūr ūr ūʒ Q. úrë n. “heat”
to daw [sic] *garmuza- garmuza- gāmza- ɣānza- verb of dawn, see PO *gāra; verb suffix -za
tooth *nakṛ nakur nagū pl. nāgā noɣ √NAK root. “bite”; ᴹQ. nak-² v. “to bite”
tree *turu tur tʰur suʒ ᴹQ. turut n. “tree-stem”, taurë n. “forest, (great) wood”; S. taur n. “forest, wood”
wait, stay *dara- dara- dara- zara- ᴹ√DAR root. “stay, wait, stop, remain”
want/will *hizi- hizi- hizi- iʒi- ?
war *kutmu kutum kūm χūm √KHOT² root. “strive, quarrel”; Related to fight PO *kutkuta. Interesting element mu
whip *badgu badg bāg vāɣ Seems to be PO *bada (beat above) + suffix -gu
work *bulu- ᴱQ. móle n. “root”; m > b and o > u, see comment for PO *daka (kill)

* This column is not written by David Salo.


Yrksk Orðabók

This is taken from the post Yrksk Orðabók published on Salo’s blog Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 at 8:31 PM. Written by David Salo.

Although there is quite a bit of Orkish in the films of The Hobbit, the vocabulary involved in the dialogue is quite small. This is for two reasons: first, the dialogue is fairly repetitive; second, the Orcs are intended to have had a fairly small vocabulary to begin with, supplementing it as needed by words from the languages of Elves, Dwarves, and Men, and also Black Speech, when that became widely used in Middle-earth again at the end of the Third Age. Even what can be considered the foundational vocabulary is itself a mélange of older borrowings, very few of which can be traced back to the aboriginal Orkish of the First Age — which was itself influenced by both Avarin and Eldarin languages, and may even have been a simplified Avarin language to begin with. One such word that might seem to have survived, in various forms, is golug “elf”; but it seems more likely that it was a revival, reimported from Black Speech. The original word, however, may well have been an alteration of the Sindarin word golodh “one of the Noldor.”

Because of the limited nature of this vocabulary, it is possible to list all of the Orkish words that have appeared in the Hobbit films thus far. Some of these words are pan-Orkish; most, however, are probably limited to the Orcs who lived at the northern end of the Misty Mountains, with a standard (if such a thing can be said to exist) originally set by the Orcs of Mount Gundabad, prior to the Dwarf and Goblin war, about 150 years before Bilbo’s journey. But the internal evidence of the language suggests that the vernaculars of several different tribes were combined to form this standard; and in the time since the war, much change and decay had already taken place, particularly the loss of final vowels, which are however retained in some situations. Here then is this short word-list, all that can (so far) be gleaned from the meager evidence.

Orkish (The dialect used in the film of The Hobbit)
zeyborz “day,” literally “light-dark”; zey from more archaic *zil, and borz from Black Speech burz.

The suffix –i marks a noun or noun phrase that is modified by an adjective or another noun. Its origin is probably the same as the Elvish relative pronoun i or ya.

undum “birth” or “spawning” from a verb und– “procreate.” This again seems to show Elvish influence.

The Orcs do not really appreciate the concept of joy, as understood by most other creatures (a literal description of it in Orkish would amount to “madness”), much less blessedness. I was forced to use an approximation of the concept that would make sense to an Orc:

bolneg “free from pain,” from the Orkish root √bol– (cf. bolum “pain”) and the privative suffix –neg, marking an absence of something. The latter is reminiscent of Latin negare; this is a coincidence (as they say in Middle-earth). The actual source is Quendian *-enekā, from the root √nek– “deprive of.”

The Yrksk word list

Here is a quite long word list of nearly 250 entries. Note the differences from the Black Speech such as borzum instead of burzum.

a-, pref.: away, out
â, cj.: and
ab, pref.: after, behind, following
abgur, v.: follow, chase after, pursue
-ai, -ayi-: plural suffix attached to peoples
adad, n.: being
agor, agr(a), n.: blood
-an(i): past tense suffix
ân, n.: human being
arg, a.: other
argad, n.: another thing
ash, a.: one, some
ashad(o), n.: one thing, a single thing
az, pron.: I
azgar, n.: war [Adûnaic zagar-]
bag, v.: pay [Eldarin *mbakh-?]
bakh, n.: shadow
ban, v.: stay, remain
band, n.: town
bar, a.: advantageous
bir(i), prep./postp.: for, to
bolneg, a.: painless
bolum, n.: pain
borzum, n.: darkness [cf. BS burzum]
buzb, n.: maggot, fly [cf. Eldarin *buzb-]
bû, v.: passive auxiliary
bun, num.: two
bûn, v.: past tense of na-, “was, were”
dâ, n.: land [*daɣ]
dai, cj.: then, therefore, in that case
dai, pron.: they
-d(o): 3rd person suffix “their”; “him, her, them”
dorg(u), n.: master [*durbgu]
du, cj.: than [probably the same as below]
du, prep.: to [cf. Khuzdul du]
dum, av.: to the end, to completion, to success
dur, av.: soon
durdur, av.: very soon
-esh, postp.: in [BS ishi]
êsh, a.: alone [*ashi-]
-g(i), -g(u): 2nd person suffix “your”
ganzil, v.: remember
gar, av.: already
garm, n.: wolf
gast, n.: fear
gast, v.: fear
gel, av.: around
gelnakh, v.: to surround
gim, v.: find [cf. BS gimb-]
gin, a.: new [cf. Eldarin *win-?]
gin, n.: report, news
gir, v.: try
gloz, v.: sleep
go, postp.: with
golgi, n.: female elf
golug, golg-, n.: elf
gonakh, v.: come together, gather (intr.)
gor, n.: death
gor, v.: kill [*gur-; cf. Eldarin *ŋgur-]
gorb, v.: catch, grab; understand
gorgar, n.: bane, killer, slayer [*gurkar-]
gorgor, v.: slaughter, kill in large numbers
gorun, a.: killed, dead
gorz, v.: end, finish (something)
gud, av.: for a long time
gukht(i), n.: horde [cf. Eldarin *wekt-]
gul, n.: trick, deception, illusion
gun, a.: near
gur, v.: run, go (quickly)
gûr, n.: heart [cf. Sindarin gûr]
ghâsh, n.: fire [pan-Orkish word]
hag, v.: do, act
hakht, v.: speak [Eldarin *pakt-]
har, v.: travel, move
hir, postp.: by, through
hirimbag, n.: controller, wielder [cf. BS krimp-?]
horug, v.: hunt
horuga, n.: hunter
hugum, av.: here
hukh, v.: curse word
hum, av.: now
hur, av.: so
hurnash, intj.: “so it is”; unquestionably, definitely, exactly
huru, n.: eastern region, the east
-i: precedes modifying nouns and adjectives, linked to preceding noun
i, rel. pron.: which, that
-(i)d: 3rd person object suffix: him, her, it, them
ishor, num.: three
kab, v.: have
kair(a), n.: life [cf. Eldarin *koir-]
ker, v.: hide
ki, pron.: you [cf. Eldarin *ki-]
ki, cj.: if
kibul, n.: silver [Khuzdul kibil]
kil, v.: hide, conceal
kin, v.: see [cf. Eldarin *ken-]
kirg, n.: crossing, (mountain) pass
kirm(a), n.: blade
kirz, n.: tooth
kirzad, a.: toothed, dangerous, vicious
kod,dem. pron.: that
kogum, av.: that place, there; where
kom, av.: that time, then; when [*ko-mi]
kharb, n.: beast
khobd(u), n.: head
khozd, n.: dwarf [Khuzdul khuzd]
khun, n.: dog
khurg, n.: guts, bowels
-l: accusative suffix
lo, prep.: beyond, exceeding, excessive, too
log, n.: horse [cf. Eldarink *rok- and Northmannish *loh-]
lôg, n.: lake
loga, n.: horse-rider
lum: suffix indicating units of measure; X-lum = “X by X”
lur, a.: wet
lurdâ, n.: “wet land,” swamp
marg, v.: attack
mazd, v.: think
-m(i): 1st plural suffix, “we”
mig, a.: small, little
migul, migl-, n.: tiny, despised thing
mod, pron.: what?
mog, v.: permit, allow
mogum, pron.: where?
mol, n.: associate, ally
mong, n.: road
mor, pron.: how?
morg(u), n.: bear
moz, dem.pron.: this
murg, a.: many
murg, n.: a multitude
murg, v.: to be many, multiply, abound
murgad, n.: number
-n: definite suffix
na, v.: be [Eldarin na-]
nakh, av.: backwards, back
nakh, v.: come [Adûnaic]
nakht, v.: cause to come, lead
nar(u), postp.: to, toward; till, until
narnar, c.: until
narg, v.: want
nauzd, v.: smell, have a smell
nazd, a.: near
-neg: privative suffix, without, -less
nuzd(u), n.: scent, smell
nuzd, v.: smell (something), track
ô, o, cj.: but
ob(o), prep.: about; with; from
-ob: suffix of deprecation
obgur, v.: escape, get away
obhakht(i), n.: excuse
obhakht, v.: “speak away,” to excuse oneself
obkhurg, v.: remove the bowels, disembowel
obrish, v.: cut off
om-: comparative or superlative prefix (when du is not used)
omash, a./av.: first
omgun, a.: nearer, nearest, next
ommig, a.: less, least
ommurg, a.: more, most
ord, n.: mountain
org, n.: orc
pog, n.: ten
poig, n.: boy
-r: accusative suffix (archaic variant of -l)
ragsh, v.: tear
ran, n.: king [cf. Sindarin aran]
rang, v.: abandon, leave
ri, v.: taste
rish, v.: cut
rizg, v.: impale
ru, prep.: on, upon
ruzad(a), n.: opportunity (literally “on-fall”)
ruzad, v.: come upon, happen on
silz, v.: lie
silig, v.: let, release, loose
-sh(i): 3rd person subject suffix: he, she, it, they
shâ, av.: not
shad, n.: nothingness, void, destruction
shadgar, n.: destroyer
shâgum, n.: no place, nowhere
shâhakht, v.: say no, refuse
shast, v.: hear [cf. Eldarin √slas]
shâzil, a.: unknown
shâz’liz, a.: any, whatever (literally “I don’t know”)
shir, a.: fresh
shirz, n.: fragment, piece; “cut”
shirzlum, av.: piece by piece, piecemeal, by pieces
shog, v.: drink [cf. Eldarin √suk-, √sok-]
shorâ, a.: pale
shorakh, shrakh, n.: scum, filth
shotag, v.: break [cf. Eldarin √stak-]
shûg, a.: foul
shûg, n.: filth
shul, v.: wait, stay, tarry, stop
shulun, a.: delayed, late
tar, v.: cross [cf. Sindarin thar “across”]
torag, v.: bring, fetch, summon
torask, v.: beat, strike
torkh, n.: nest, lair
tud, v.: watch [Westron]
tung, n.: price
tunum, num.: thousand
tur, v.: have power, be able
-ug: suffix of completeness or generality; “all”
ulg(u), a.: each, every
ul(u), a.: all
um, a.: bad, worse
-un: impersonal verbal suffix, “one” (archaic)
-un: passive participle suffix
unar(u), n.: father
undag(u), adj.: born [*ontaku]
undum, n.: birth
-ya: future suffix
yaz, n.: name [cf. Q esse]
yaz, v.: to call, to name
-yesh: locative suffix, “in”
yun, n.: offspring, spawn
-z(a): 1st person possessive suffix, my
zad, v.: fall
zadgar, v.: cause to fall, cut down
zag, pron.: self (oneself, himself, herself, themselves)
zail, v.: learn
zey, n. & a.: light
zeyborz, n.: “light-dark,” a cycle of day and night
zidgar, v.: inform, make known
zidg(u), n.: wizard
zib, a.: fast
zibzib, a.: very fast
zil, v.: know
zog, v.: look for, expect, seek
zor, a.: hard
zorzor, a.: very hard
zung, a.: safe, secure
zungum, n.: safety, security
zur, v.: lose, lose track of

Published: 2020.04.18; Last Update: 2020.04.19