Zhâburi A

Zhâburi A is the first version of Zhâburi and can be seen as a dialect or version of Svartiska from which it wasdeveloped with the aim to make it consistent with the Ring Verse by drawing inspiration from the Hurrian language. The difference between Zhâburi A och Zhâburi B is that the latter draws more on Hurrian and is less connected to Svartiska. Here is a comprehensive description of Zhâburi A.  

  1. Phonology
  2. The Noun
  3. Pronouns
  4. The Verb
  5. Descriptive
  6. Syntax and clauses
  7. Word formation
  8. Numerals

The Ring Verse in Zhâburi A

  1. Nam Nazg push Kâlishi Gothûr Golugûb
  2. Udu gûrhâdbulishi Gazatgothûr
  3. Krith fundâkal mautasht Gothûr Tarkûb
  4. Ash Burz Sûlbulishi Burz Gothûr
  5. Ghid Hîthi lizhut Dûgishi Burzumûb
  6. Ash Nazg Durbatulûk, Ash Nazg Gimbatul,
  7. Ash Nazg Thrakatulûk agh Burzumishi Krimpatul
  8. Ghid Hîthi lizhut Dûgishi Burzumûb


  1. Three ring(s) under sky-LOC-the lord(s)-for elf-of
  2. Seven hall-their-LOC stone-of dwarf-lord-for
  3. Nine doomed dead-final lord(s)-for men-of
  4. One dark throne-his-LOC-the dark lord-for
  5. Where shadow(s)-the lies land-LOC-the darkness-of
  6. One ring to completely rule them, One ring to find them,
  7. One ring to completely bring them and darkness-in-the [to] bind them

1. Phonology

The phonology is practically the same as in Zhâburi B.

2. The Noun

  1. Articles
  2. Numerus
  3. Cases

2.1 Articles

The definite article is taken from the phrase “burzum-ishi” (in the darkness) from the Ring verse where the part “-ish-” is interpreted as a locative ending and the final -i as the definite article. This is, of course, just one of many possible interpretations.

The definite article in Zhâburi is not as strictly used as in English and its function is somewhere in between a definite article and a demonstrative pronoun. Uruk gonashul for example can be translated either as “an orc saw it” or “the orc saw it”, and uruki gonashul can be translated either as “the orc saw it” or “that/this orc saw it”.

There is no indefinite article corresponding to English a/an.

2.2 Numerus

One peculiarity in Zhâburi is that it makes no difference between singular and plural. The inspiration for this comes chiefly from the fact that this difference seems to be nonexistent in the source material.

There are no individuals in Mordor, no unique parts – all are replaceable units and belong to different categories; this is reflected in the language. This does not mean that it is impossible to make a difference between one and many, only that there are no special grammatical variants for it the way there are in English.

If one wants to mark something as singular but not unique the word ash (number ”one”) is used, if referring to an unknown number higher than one the words mâgh (which can be translated as ”many”) or pak (”a few”) are used. If the exact number is known, that number is used. For example krith Nazgûl ”the nine Ringwraiths”; mâgh uruk ”many Orcs”; pak uruk ”A few Orcs”. Zhâburi also differs between a group and single units. Ushatûr means a group of fighters while ushatâr means a single or several fighters (note that language makes no difference between singular and plural). Words like ‘ushatûr’ always indicate a generic group that moves or acts together.

2.2.1 Individualizer -ashi

Instead of numeral form there is a special postfix: -ashi which is used to mark that something is unique. This suffix can be added to all nouns but should be used sparingly since it indicates that something is one of a kind. For example, adding ‘-ashi’ to dûrauk which means ”(military) general” we get dûraukashi which means ”supreme commander” or ”the kind of leader of the army of which there is only one”.

Since truly unique Orcs are rare, using this in conversation would amount to hubris or perhaps be perceived as very disturbing and annoying since it would mean that the Orc in question saw themselves as solitary, without affiliation to society. But a high-ranking person in Mordor could do this since they know that they have many subordinates. Exactly where that line is drawn is difficult to determine, but a rule is that if no one else in Mordor holds the same position as you do, it’s safe to add the suffix ‘-ashi’ and mark that you are indeed unique.

2.2.2 The generalisers -hai & -khai

The postfixes -hai and -khai marks generality similar to the class plural in Sindarin -ath as in Dagor Dagorath (The battle of all battles) or the collective plural -ûk in Svartiska, urukûk “all orcs”. The suffix -hai is only used with animate beings such as orcs, elves and animals and -khai is used with inanimate things such as stone, tools and trees. Thus if -hai is used with molg “tree” then one indicate that the those trees are a collective of living trees and molg-hai ought to be translated as “the ents” or the “ent-people”.


2.3 Cases

Zhâburi has six cases sharing most of them with Svartiska. The biggest difference is that the language is ergative and instead of nominative uses the absolutive case and that subject is marked by the ergative case in transitive sentences. Zhâburi A does not have the inessive or the similative/equative cases of Svartiska. The locative case encompass both the inessive and locative of Svartiska. The case endings have been slightly changed.

Case Description suffix Example I Example II
Absolutive The absolutive with the null-sign (Ø) is the case that marks the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb. uruk Snaga
Ergative The ergative case is the subject-case in transitive sentences with objects. -(a)s urukas snagas
Genitive In attributive nominal phrase marks the genitive possessive or membership. -ûb/^b urukûb snagâb
Dative Marks the term “to whom?” and also “where to”? -ûr/^r urukûr snagâr
Instrumental The instrumental indicates the means or the tools. -ûg/^g urukûg snagâb
Locative Marks the location of an object -(i)sh urukish snagash

3. Pronouns

Pronouns are words like ”me”, ”you” or ”our”. The only pronoun described by Tolkien is ‘-ul’ which indicates direct object third person plural, for example krimpatul in the Ring verse.

Zhâburi does not mark numerals but makes a difference between inclusive and exclusive 1:st person, both personal and possessive pronouns. Inclusive 1:st person means ”all of us”, whether present or not, while exclusive means ”us, but not you”.

There are two forms of Black Speech pronouns – bound and independent. Bound pronouns are suffixes added to verbs or nouns. The suffix ‘-ashi’ can be added to independent pronouns to mark singular.

For example:

a) gurashi u shulgûr vrauz ”I will go alone, without you, to the forest”;
b) latashi snaga gonat ”you alone see the snaga”;
c) luzhashi mauskatbus ghâshan ”it (he/she) burned its meat”. Inclusive 1:st person cannot use the individulizer suffix -ashi.

3.1 Independent pronouns
The independent pronouns can be inflexed in all cases. The table below shows the different forms.

person abs. erg. gen.* dat. lok. inst.
1 exkl. (I/we) gûr gûras gûrub gûrur gûrish gûrug
1 inkl. (we) gas gâb gâr gash gâg
2 (you) lat latas latub latur latish latug
3 (it, he, she/they) luzh luzhas luzhub luzhur luzhish luzhug

*The genitive is also used for possessive pronouns

These words can be contracted:
gûr, gurs, gurb, grûr, gursh, gurg;
gâ, gâs, gab, gar, gash, gag;
lat, las, lâtub, lâtur, lâtish, lâtug;
luzh, lus, luzhb, luzhur, lush, luzhg

3.2 Enclitic or bound pronouns

These are suffixes is attached to verbs, for example gimbatul ”to find them”.

3.3.1 Personal enclitic pronouns, mark the object of transitive verbs

3.3.2 Possessive enclitic pronouns, used with nouns

The possessive pronouns are always bound and added to the noun of which they mark ownership. It is not necessary to use definite article, but can be done to add emphasis. The definite suffix is then added after the possessive pronoun. Independent pronouns inflexed in the genitive case can be used as a free-standing possessive pronoun.

3.3.3 The reflexive enclitic pronouns

Black Speech has a bound reflexive pronoun which is added to nouns or transitive verbs to reflect the sentence back to the subject. The suffix is ‘-us’ if added to a verb or ‘-bus’ if added to a noun; in the latter case, it has a possessive function. Examples: (a) uruk gonatus ”the Orc sees him/her/itself”; (b) uruk thrakat thaukbus ”the Orc takes his/her/its dagger”

3.4 Demonstrative pronouns

These are always independent and function in the same way as independent personal pronouns. To mark singular, the individual suffix can be added. Below is a table with the different forms.

3.5 Interrogative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used when one is asking about an unknown noun. English has several of these, for example ‘who’, ‘what’ or ‘whose’. The Black Speech har a single interrogative pronoun that is inflected.

3.6 Indefinite pronouns

3.7 Relative pronouns

The relative pronoun is ‘zaur’ and indicates words like ‘which’, ‘like’ or ‘that’. Examples: thrôkur zaur gurs throkun ”the food which I ate”; uruk snagâr dhâtul thauk, zaur urukas zhaban ”the orc gives the slave the dagger, like the orc said [that he/she/it would do].”

4. The Verb

  1. Transivity
  2. Infinitive
  3. Tense: present, past, future
  4. Imperativ
  5. Status

4.1 Transivity

Zhâburi the difference between the transitive and intransitive verbs are clearly marked by the use of different suffixes.  

4.1.1 Transitive Verbs
Suffix: -a
Ex: Ushatârasi thrakan snaga ”The warrior braught the slave”

4.1.2 Intransitive Verbs

Suffix: -u
Ushatâri vraut “The warrior goes”

Most roots can take both transivity suffixes.
a) transitive: vra + at > vrât (vraat) “to make [someone] go”
b) intransitive: thrak + ut > thrakut “to bring one self (to come forward)”

4.2 Infinitive
Suffix: -t
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. The suffix is -t for both transitive and intransitive verbs. It corresponds to the infinitive in Svartiska which is -at and English ‘to’.  

Ex. (a) ushat ”to fight” (transitive) < from the root ‘ush-’; (b) vraut ”to go” from the root ’vra-’.

4.3 Tense

Tempus marks when an action takes place. Zhâburi A expresses past, present and future tenses. The different tenses are marked by different suffixes which are attached after the transivity suffix.

4.3.1 Present
Suffix: -t
Presens är den tidsform som markerar att en handling sker i nutiden. I svenska markeras detta vanligen med ändelsen ’-r’ som i ”jag slår”, oftast ingår även vokalen e i ändelsen som i ”jag springer”. I svartiskan markeras presens med suffixet ’-t’ som läggs till efter verbets transivitetssuffix. Exempelvis (a) gurs molg gonat ”jag ser ett/flera träd” (med transitivt suffix ’-a’); (b) gur gonut ”jag ser” (med intransitivt suffix ’-u’).

4.3.2 Past
Suffix: -n

Ex: (a) Gûr krimpanulûk ”I controlled it completely”; (b) Pak luzh vraun u shulgûri ”They went to the forest”

4.3.3 Future
Suffix: -z

Ex: (a) Mordoras durbazûk dûg-khai push kâlish ”Mordor will [in the future] comletely  all land(s) under the sky”.

4.4. Imperative
Suffix: -Ø (transitive); -u (intransitive)

Ex: (a) Voshatâr, gimb vosh! ”Scouts, find the way!”; (b) Durbul ”rule them”; (c) ghâshûk gûzham! ”Burn the whole town”; (d) vrau! ”go!”.

4.5 Status

The ending -ûk from the ring inscription is treated as a verbal ending marking the what I lack a better term call “status”. Zhâburi A has four different “status” variants which all like the ûk-ending can be added to any verb form.

4.5.1 Perfective status
Suffix: -ûk
The Perfective status is taken from the ring inscription and marks that an action fully completed.


  1. a) infintive: durbatulûk ”to completely rule them”.
  2. b) Past: Durubasi durbanûk uzhak ”The leader had complete control over the squad”.

(c) Present: Durubasi durbatûk uzhak ”The leader has complete control over the squad”
(d) Future: Durubasi durbazûk uzhak ”The leader will [in in the future] have complete control over the squad”
(e) Imperative: Durub, durbûk uzhak! ”Leader, control the squad completly!”

4.5.2 Negative status
Suffix: -ikh
Negative status is the opposite of the perfective and marks that an action has not been made.

(a) Infinitive: durbatikh uzhak ”not to lead the squad”.
(b) Past: Durubasi durbanikh uzhak ”The leader did not lead the squad”.
(c) Present: Durubasi durbatikh uzhak ”The leader does not lead the squad”.
(d) Future: Durubas durbazikh uzhak ”The leader will not lead the squad”.
(e) Imperative: Durbikh uzhak “Do not lead the squad”

4.5.3 Initiated status
Suffix: -il
The initiated status marks that the action has just initiated.

(a) Infinitive: durbatil uzhak ”to start to lead the squad”
(b) Past: Durubasi durbanil uzhak ”The leader started to lead the squad”
(c) Present: Durubasi durbatil uzhak ”The leader starts to lead the squad”
(d) Future: Durubas durbazil uzhak ”The leader will start to lead the squad”
(e) Imperative: Durbil uzhak “Start to lead the squad”

4.5.4 Finalized status
Sufffix: -Vsht (V=the first vowel of the root)
Finalized status marks the ending of an action.

(a) Infintive: durbatusht uzhak ”to end to lead a squad”
(b) Past: Durubasi durbanusht uzhak ”The leader stopped leading the squad”
(c) Present: Durubasi durbatusht uzhak ”The leader is stopping to lead the squad”
(d) Future: Durubasi durbazusht uzhak ”The leader will stop leading the squad.”
(e) Imperative: Durbusht uzhak “Stop leading the squad”

Table 4.1. Verbal endings (except status)

Transitive Intransitive
Infinitive -at gimbat “to find” -ut gimbut “to be found”
past -an gimban “found” -un gimbun “was found”
present -at gimabat “find/s” -ut gimbat “is found”
future -az gimbaz “will be found” -uz
gimbaz “will be found”
Imperative gimb “find!” -u gimbu “be found”

Table 4.2 Verbal endings of Status

Status Suffix Example
Perfect -ûk durbatûk to completely rule
Negative -ikh durbatikh not to rule
Initial -il durbatil start to rule
Final -Vsht durbatusht to rule to the end

Table 4.3 Suffix chain of Verbs

1 2 3 4
Transivity modus enclitic pronoun Status
Transitive -a- inf -t 1. -ur (incl.) perfect: -ûk
Intransitive -u- past -n 1. -ag (excl) negative: -ikh
pres -t 2. -alt initial: -il
fut -z 3. -ul final: -Vsht
imp -t/-Ø

5. Descriptive – instead of adjectives and adverbs

The descriptive is something in between verbs on the one hand and adjectives and adverbs on the other. They describe both both nouns (the rule of adjectives in english) and verbs and other descriptives (the role of adverbs in English) and they can take several of the verb suffixes.

Zhâburi has three different word roots: nominal, verbal, and descriptive. The nominal and the verbal need an suffix to mark them as descriptive. The descriptive stems are descriptive words in themselves.

The nominal roots has to derivative suffixes that marks them as descriptives:  -urz and -al

The verbal roots can take either of two suffixes which more or less corresponds to the English participle: -(â)sh (active); -(â)kal (passive).

All of these can take one of the comparative suffixes: comparative -am (more) and superlative -ai (most).

Ex. 1. Descriptive root

a)  shum “big”: shumam “bigger”; shumai “biggest”; shumûk “completely big”; shumikh “not big”.
b) sta “small” stâm (sta+am) “smaller”; stai “smallest”; Stauk “completely small”; staikh “not small”.

They can take a temporal ending:

  1. c) shumun “was big”; shumut “is big at the moment”; shumuz “will be big”.
  2. d) stan “was little”; stat “is small at the moment”; staz “will be small”

Temporal and comparative or absolute ending

  1. d)  shumunam “was bigger”
  2. e) stazikh “was not small

Table 5.1 Suffix chain of the Descriptive

deskriptivt ord-tempus-[deskriptivt suffix]- komparation/status

1 2 3
descriptive Tempus Comparative or status
Descriptive past -(u)n Positive
nominal stems -urz pres -(u)t Comparative -am
-al fut -(u)z Superlative -ai
Participle Perfect -ûk
Active -(â)sh Negative -ikh
Passive -(â)kal Initial -il
Final -Vsht

6. Syntax and clauses

6.1 Word order

Zhâburi A has a quite free word order and it is only the descripitive that has a fixed position and must be places preceding the word it describes.

6.1.1 Normal word order

Subject and object: The normal word order is that of subject, object, predicate, e.g. urukas snaga gonat “an ork sees a slave”. But the words words can be put in any other order without chaining the meaning.

The positions of the different object attributes is normally after the object but before the predicate.

Genitive: Gûras thauk urukûbi gonat “I see the orc’s dagger” (I dagger of-the-ork see)
Dative: Gûras thauk urukûbi latûr dhât “I give the dagger to you” (I daggar of-the-orc to-you give)
Locative: Ushatârashi kadârishi shâtul “the warrior(s) place it in the tent(s)” (the-warrior(s) in-the-tent(s) place-it)
Instrumental: Snagasi dâr bâzgurûg gorat “The slaves are building a house with tools” (The-slaves a house with-tools build).

Table 6.x Suffix chain of nouns

Table 6.x Suffix chain of verbs

1 2 3 4
Transivity modus enclitic pronoun Status
Transitive -a- inf -t 1. -ur (incl.) perfect: -ûk
Intransitive -u- past -n 1. -ag (excl)  negative: -ikh
pres -t 2. -alt initial: -il
fut -z 3. -ul final: -Vsht
imp -t/-Ø

Table 6.x Affix chain of the descriptive 

2 3
descriptive Tempus Comparative or status
Descriptive past -(u)n Positive
nominal stems -urz pres -(u)t Comparative -am
-al fut -(u)z Superlative -ai
Participle Perfect  -ûk
Active -(â)sh Negative -ikh
Passive -(â)kal Initial -il
Final -Vsht

6.2 Interrogative clauses

In English, questions are constructed by word order, interrogative words like in ”what do I see?” and ”can you see me?” or particles like in ”do I see you?”. Zhâburi A, all of this is concieved by a single particle; ‘ur’. For example:

(a) ur gurs gonat uruk? ”do I see an Orc?” (transitive verb, subject in ergative and object in absolutive);

(b) ur gonat uruk? ”is an Orc seen?” (transitive verb, object in absolutive, the subject implicit);

(c) ur gonatul uruk? ”does the Orc see it/them?” (transitive verb, object in bound pronoun, subject in absolutive);

(d) ur gonut uruki? ”does the Orc see?” (intransitive verb, the subject in absolutive, no object).

6.3 Negative clauses

Zhâburi A has two ways of constructing a negative clause. The first is the word ‘nâr’ which is translated ‘no’ or ‘not’ and is added before the verb. The second is the suffix ‘-ikh’. Examples:

(a) gurs nâr gonat molgi ”I do not see the tree”;

(b) gurs gonatikh molgi ”I do not see the tree”;

(c) nâr, zhas gonatulikh ”no, I do not see it/them”.

6.4 Conditional clauses

Zhâburi A has a comparative conjunction with which conditional clauses can be formed. The word is ‘ak’ and translates ”if”, ”provided”, ”whether” and other words of similar meaning. Example: gûr gonazul, ak luzh skalunusikh ”we will see them, if they have not hidden themselves”

6.5 Comparative clauses

The comparative conjunction is used when things are compared. The word is ‘arz’ and translates ”like”, ”such as”, ”like”, ”sort of” and similar. Example:

(a) durub bâl arz golug ”The leader is mighty as an Elf”;

(b) arz lus zorban snaga, zorb tarki ”plunder the Man like you plundered the slave”.

7.Word formation

The words in Zhâburi A build on four different word stems to which various affixes (mainly suffixes) are added to create new words from these stems. The stems are restricted to the following forms (C=consonant; V=vowel): CVC, CCVC, CVCC, VC, VCC, CV. Note that vowels can be either long or short, which gives double the number of stems that are shown here. Diphthongs are counted as long (double) vowels. Some stems (but not all) can be used as words in and of themselves, without affixes. The stems are split up into founding stems, nominal stems, verbal stems and descriptive stems. The affixes added to these have different functions depending on what stem they are added to. A common function is to alter the stem’s class so that for example a nominal stem becomes a verb. Some affixes can only be added to certain stems while others have no such restriction. As in English, two words can be combined to form a new one, for example nazgûl from ”nazg” and ”gûl” and Lugbúrz from ”lug” and ”burz”.

7.1 Different word stems

Founding stems are stems that have no meaning in and of themselves. To these words, a functional suffix must be added for the stem to become a fully functioning word. One such stem is ”dur” (which roughly translates to the English stem ”rul” as in ‘rule’, ‘ruling’); if the verbal suffix ‘-b’ is added then the stem becomes a verb (”durb-”) to which other suffixes can be added.

Nominal stems functions as nouns. To these, affixes can be added to change the class of the word. To ”zhab” (tongue) is added the verb suffix ‘-at’ > zhab-at > ”zhabat” (to talk/speak); one can also form new nouns, for example ”zhab” + the suffix ‘^-ur’ > ”zhâbur” (language).

Verbal stems functions as verbs, like ”vra” (indicates walking) + the suffix indicating a transitive verb ‘-a’ > vra/a > ”vrâ” (to walk).

Descriptive stems has the same function as adjectives or adverbs. For example, ”bâl” (powerful/strong) + noun-forming suffix ‘-tâm’ > ”baltâm” (something powerful/strong).

7.2 Derivative affixes

Below is listed a number of various derivative affixes (mainly suffixes) which can be used to change the function and meaning of various stems.

Table 7.2. a: Noun constructing affixes

Affix Explanation Example
-atâr agent, from base and verbal stems  ush (fight/battle) > ushatâr (warrior; man-at-arms)
-âtur collective agent, from basestems and verbs ush (fight/battle) > ushâtur (warrior group, men-at-arms)
^-am augmentative, from base stems and nouns  vosh (path) > vôsham (road)
^-ug instrumental noun from base stems kul > kûlug (spear); dur > dûrug (representive of authority/power); maush > maushug (brush, pencil, writing tool)
^-ur from all stems dush > dûshur (magic, technology, science)
-a from base stems  bukr > bukra (talon), snag > snaga (slave, thrall)
-gh alternative nouns from nouns and base stems krâ (arm) > krâgh (armful, bosum, fathom)
-kaum from all stems, alternative variant of the same class with a slightly different meaning
-t From descriptive, verbal stems  gal (muddy) > galt (mudd)
-tâm augmentative, from all stems and word classes gal (muddy) > galtâm (swamp, marsh)
-um abstract nouns from all stems and word classes  burz (dark) > burzum (darker)
gî- changes the meaning of nouns zhab (speech) > gîzhab (conversation)
ka- changes the meaning of nouns dâr (house, dwelling) > kadâr (tent)
mi- changes the meaning of nouns gûl (wraith) > migûl (mist, fog; mirage)

7.3 All grammatical affixes

8. Numerals

Zhâburi A numbers are fairly simple. There are twelve cardinal numbers. The tens are formed by using the word for 10 ”nuk” to which a cardinal number is added, for example nuk+krak = ”10-five” = 15. For twenties to nineties, 10 ”nuk” is added as a suffix to the cardinal, for example mashnuk ”two-ten” 20. To get for example 22, the word for ”and is added; ‘agh’. This ”agh” can be reduced to a single ”a” in the spoken language. Notice that ”udu” 7 loses its final vowel when combined in this manner. The suffix ‘-urz’ is used when forming words like ”the first” (ashurz), ”the fifth” (krakurz) or ”the eleventh-hundred-eleventh” nukhmakhal-makh-ulburz.

  1. azg
  2. ash
  3. mash
  4. nam
  5. ruk
  6. krak
  7. ulm
  8. udu
  9. nog
  10. krith
  11. nuk
  12. Ulb/nukash
  13. Num/nukmash
  14. nuknam
  15. nukruk
  16. nukrak
  17. nukulm
  18. nukud
  19. nuknog
  20. nukrith
  21. mashnuk
  22. mashnuk-agh-ash
  23. mashnuk-agh-mash
  24. mashnuk-agh-nam
  25. mashnuk-agh-kruk
  26. mashnuk-agh-krak

26 mashnuk-agh-ulm

  1. mashnuk-agh-ud’
  2. mashnuk-agh-nog
  3. mashnuk-agh-krith
  4. namnuk
  5. ruknuk
  6. kruknuk
  7. ulmnuk
  8. udnuk
  9. nognuk
  10. krithnuk
  11. makh
  12. mashmakh
  13. namakh
  14. rukmakh
  15. krakmakh
  16. ulmakh
  17. udmakh
  18. nogmakh
  19. krithmakh
  20. nukmakhal
  21. nukhmakhal-makh
  22. nukhmakhal-makh-ulb
  23. udnukhmakhal-krakmakh-mashnuk-agh-krith