I. Background Information-
know you'll be tempted to skip this stuff, but humor me
and just read through it once. You probably already
know that J. R. R. Tolkien’s original Black Speech consists
of only two phrases and several orc names. First,
the famous Ring inscription:
“Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash
nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi
ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to
bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
is also an orc curse by Tolkien, which appears in Book 3
of The Two Towers:
u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob bûb-hosh skai!”
which is translated as:
to the dung pit with stinking Saruman-filth - pig-guts gah!"
Tolkien later forgot that he had already translated the
orc curse and so made up a new translation:
to the cesspool, sha! the dungfilth; the great Saruman-fool,
dictionary, which was created for the Mordor, Land of Shadows
Message Board (abbreviated “LOS”), uses both translations.
I decided to do this for several reasons: first, we
have so little original JRRT Black Speech, that I thought
it would be best to follow both translations, even if the
results can be a little confusing. Second, I noticed
that folks on that Message Board were already mixing up
the two translations, so I decided just to go with the flow.
Third, using both translations gives us a little more flexibility
with the vocabulary. Finally, the orcs in Mordor were
constantly fighting over stupid, trivial causes, so I didn’t
think it would be a problem to mix things up a bit more
by creating confusion with word meanings.
than the phrases above (and about half a dozen orc names
invented by Tolkien), all phrases and words are new and
were invented by people other than JRRT. The dictionary
that comes with these lessons was partly based on A. Appleyard’s
work, which appears in this site: http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/misc/local/TolkLang/articles/Appleyard.BlackSpeech
dictionary also uses ideas from the Ardalambion site.
I don’t know the name of the author: http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/orkish.htm
--and on this one by Craig Daniel: http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/blackspeech.htm
But my impression is that Daniel’s work is controversial,
and I don’t agree with everything he says. Still,
his ideas on pronunciation and on Black Speech sounds and
letters are correct. The English-Orcish dictionary
was based on the work of Rob Eaglestone, also a contributor
to Tolklang. A word of caution: several online
RPG groups have created new words and phrases. Because
many of these people are making up the words to suit their
activity, not to conform with Tolkien’s language or grammar,
these sites are not completely reliable as guides to Tolkien's
ideas. Some are better than others, so be careful.
For other URL's, please see the dictionary.
will try to avoid technical terms (because I don’t know
many) but I do think it would be helpful to have a basic
understanding of English grammar before you begin.
other point: Sauron invented the original Black Speech.
This language, which he mostly drew from the ancient languages
of Arda, is considered “Classical Black Speech” (abbreviated
CBS). The Ring inscription is the only example we
have of CBS. The orc curse is an example of Debased
Black Speech (DBS), which is a mixture of CBS, orcish dialects,
and so on. As stated in the appendix to LOTR, the
orcs spoke a debased version of CBS. I am assuming
that the Black Speech in this dictionary and in these lessons
is basically Debased Black Speech, and will therefore allow
for small variations and errors.
is a very quick overview of Black Speech grammar, to get
Speech has no articles, either definite (the) or indefinite
(a, an). All verbs are quite regular. Sentences
appear to be constructed similarly to English: subject-verb-object
(Lat bugd Uruk = you call the Uruk). BS differs from
English in that adjectives and adverbs follow the words
they modify. (Lat bugd Uruk gothûrz =
you call the powerful Uruk.) By the way, misplacing
adjectives seems to be the most common mistake beginners
make—be careful always to put the adjective after the word
Black Speech prepositions like to, of, in, by are suffixed
to the word they modify (for example, Mordor-ishi = in Mordor;
Gondor-ob = of Gondor, Saruman-irzi = by Saruman.)
You might already have noticed that the orc was using poor
grammar in his curse, when he said “Uglûk u bagronk.”
He should have said, “Uglûk bagronk-u.” This
is a good example of orc grammatical sloppiness, but such
mistakes occur frequently in orc speech.
free to use this information any way you like, but please
be careful to give the appropriate credit to all the various
web sites / inventors who have contributed to the development
of Black Speech. I would appreciate any feedback or
criticism of these lessons or the dictionary. Please
email me at Scatha661701@yahoo.com. Thanks!
to use these lessons:
lessons are more or less in order of difficulty. The
second set, 6-10, includes some tricky exercises and grammatical
rules. I have not yet worked out the third set, but
obviously that will be even more difficult. It might
be very helpful to have on hand a basic book on English
grammar. Good luck!
note about names in other languages: I have not tried
to translate Sindarin, Quenya, or Common Speech names into
Black Speech. Therefore you will find names like Gondor,
Shelob, Saruman, etc., in the lessons.