Monthly Archives: January 2014

Yrksk Orðabók

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.

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-]
, v.: passive auxiliary
bun, num.: two
bûn, v.: past tense of na-, “was, were”

, 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

Til hamingju með afmælit

On this, the 122nd anniversary of the birth of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the Miðgarðsmál blog would like to wish him a

  • Mána ontalérë
  • Aur onnas alwed
  • Ênâd-nurt gêdul

and a

  • Zeyborzi undumi bolneg

mána “blessed”
onta– “produce, create, beget, give birth to”
ontale “production, creation, genealogical descent” — hence (presumably) birth as well
“day” (of 24 hours)
ontale+ré = ontalére, preserving the original long final vowel of *ontālē (cf. yáviére, tuilére)

aur “day” (of 24 hours)
onnas “birth” — a conjectural noun form, from the slightly less conjectural onna-, equivalent to Quenya onta– (cf. edonna– “beget”)
alwed “fortunate, prosperous”

ênâd “birth” from *aynād, from the root √YND “give birth to” (influenced in fact by both Quenya yondo and Semitic √WLD, √YLD).
nurt “24-hour day” — a word from archaic formation, from √NRT “turn”; probably referring, not to the turning of the earth on its axis, but to the apparent turning of the sun around the earth. This root has been in my notes for a while, and I can’t find which word it was originally intended to explain or remember its origin; it looks now like simply an anagram of “turn,” but I may have had something else in mind, possibly Indo-European *wert- . “Turning” itself would be anrât.
gêdul “joyful, happy,” from a noun gayad, gêd- (*gayd-). No doubt Latin gaudium had an influence here.

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.”

Kíla steinn

I’ve received an inquiry about the meaning of the runes on Kíli’s talisman stone. The words inscribed on it are innikh dê.

The first is the singular imperative of the verb nanakha “return, come back”, which has a triliteral root √n-n-kh which obviously has been formed from the biliteral root √n-kh “come,” which is in turn clearly related to Adûnaic nakh-. The pattern is iCCiC, as is generally the case with other imperatives.

combines a preposition d(u) “to, toward” (whose real-world inspiration is the Gothic preposition du) with the 1st person singular pronominal suffix .

The meaning of the phrase on the stone is therefore “return to me.” Its precise application in Kíli’s case is something I’m not privy to, and I expect that passionate film fans can guess it more easily than I can.