The first major text which I had to translate into neo-Khuzdul, and the last really significant work I did on the language prior to The Hobbit was Durin’s Song/The Balrog, the lyric which plays in the the background of the Moria scene in The Fellowship of the Ring. I received the request for this on February 27, 2001 (although, due to time zone issues, it was dated February 28), and returned a reply on March 4 — an unusually long delay of a little over 4 days, of which doubtless not all was spent working on this text.
The original English text, written by Philippa Boyens, was as follows:
Durin who is Deathless / Eldest of all Fathers. / Who awoke / To darkness / Beneath the mountain / Who walked alone / Through halls of stone
Durin who is Deathless / Lord of Khazad-dum / Who cleaved / The Dark / And broke / The silence/ This is your light! / This is your word!/ This is your glory! / The Dwarrowdelf of Khazad-dum!
A crown of stars in the cold, black water of Kheled-zaram. Durin sleeps.
Deeper into the earth/ The dark grows heavy/ Cold snaps our bones/ Deeper into the earth. / There, the glint of Mithrail / sharp and far away/ Deeper into the earth/ That sound again / Dread surrounds us. / Can no one hear us?A great shadow / Moves in the dark/ The earth shakes! / Cracks! Splits! / Will no one save us?! / Fire! / Fire in the deep! / Flames lick our skin! / Fear rips our heart! / No! No! No! / The demon comes!
My translation was:
Durin ku bin-amrad / Ugmal sullu addad / Ku bakana / Ana aznân / Undu abad / Ku ganaga / Tur ganâd abanul
Durin ku bin-amrad / Uzbad Khazaddûmu / Ku baraka / Aznân / ra karaka / atkât / ala lukhudizu! / ala galabizu! / ala ukratizu! / Khazad-dûm!
Kilmîn thatur ni zâram kalil ra narag, Kheled-zâram. Durin tazlifi.
Ubzar ni kâmin / Aznân taburrudi / Iklal tanzifi bashukimâ / Ubzar ni kâmin / gilim Sanzigil / shakar ra udlag / Ubzar ni kâmin / tada aklat gagin / Ugrûd tashurrukimâ / Maku kataklutimâ? / Askad gabil / Tashfati ni aznân / Kâmin takalladi / Tabriki! Takarraki! / Maku zatansasimâ? / Urus! / Urus ni buzra! / Arrâs talbabi fillumâ! / Ugrûd tashniki kurdumâ! / Lu! Lu! Lu! / Urkhas tanakhi!
This was a pretty literal translation, with a few necessary reductions of redundancies, e.g. “the Dwarrowdelf of Khazad-dûm.”
Analysing the features of this text will take some space, yet as it was foundational for the later versions of neo-Khuzdul, it deserves to be treated in depth.
Let’s first look at the verbs, since we have already covered their forms to some degree. They are:
taburrudi “grows heavy”
tashurrukimâ “surrounds us”
kataklutimâ “can hear us”
zatansasimâ “will save us”
All of these are 3rd persons, mostly singular. They fall into two obvious classes: “perfects” like bakana, ganaga, baraka, karaka, mostly translating preterites, but only because these refer to historical facts. The others, “imperfects” containing the prefix ta– refer to present experiences or present or future possibilities. It will be observed that three of the forms contain the 1st person plural suffix –mâ, which doubles as a possessive marker “our” with nouns and as an object suffix “us” with verbs.
The verb roots are heavily laden with “jests,” most of which should be obvious to those familiar with the history of Germanic languages, or even just with English. However, I had better go over them, since the puns may be somewhat less obvious in the present constructions. For the most part I can remember the sources easily.
BKN “wake” is from Gothic gawaknan “awaken” and of course English waken, with substitution of B for W, which doesn’t exist in neo-Khuzdul.
BRK “cleave” from Gothic brikan, English break.
GNG “walk” from Gothic gangan “go.”
KLT “hear” from Indo-European *klutos “heard.”
KRK “break” from English crack.
NSS “save” from Gothic nasjan “save.”
ShFT “move” from English shift.
ZLF “sleep” from Gothic slêpan “sleep”, whose preterite is saizlêp.
Please note that these are not intended to suggest any historical or other relationship between Khuzdul and these languages — they were simply sound-sequences that seemed appropriate at the time.
Others are from Tolkien languages:
BRD “grow heavy” from Adunaic burôda “heavy.”
LBB “lick” from Eldarin LAB “lick” (though this is also an Indo-European root of the same meaning).
NKh “come” from Adûnaic unakkha “he came.”
Others appear to be pure inventions, or at least I cannot remember the source or association with certainty. Perhaps a perceptive reader can figure them out!
NZF “snap” — possibly simply the consonants of “snap” rearranged and altered.
ShNK “rip” — this might be onomatopœic, from a sound of tearing, shnik!
ShRK “surround” — possibly from a badly maltreated Latin circum “around.”
Four of the examples show a doubled medial consonant: taburrudi “grows heavy,” tashurrukimâ “surrounds us,” takalladi “shakes,” and takarraki “splits.” This was supposed to be an auxiliary stem indicating long-continued, repeating, or otherwise extreme action: e.g. takalladi “shakes over and over,” takarraki “splits into many small pieces, ‘shivers’.”
Also of interest are the prefixes ka– and za-. These mean, respectively, “can” and “will/shall”, and their forms were suggested by can and shall – or perhaps, in the latter case, German sollen. Their usage is very un-Semitic, and for that matter rather un-Indo-European. I may have imagined them as reduced auxiliary verbs that eventually got attached to verbs as clitics; as they refer to potential or future states, which are certainly non-factual, they are attached to the “imperfect” verbs.