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.

15 Responses to “Kíla steinn”

  1. Dario Crisafulli

    Thanks a lot, this is very interesting and a lot of people were wondering about this.
    Looking forward to read more stuff!

    Reply
  2. Arlothia

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I think we all pretty much expected the Runestone to say something like this and your wonderful work has only proved that! You are truly amazing!
    I do have a question about the iCCiC pattern for the imperative portion of the runes. I’m not that familiar with linguistics stuff like that but the only thing I could find when searching for this imperative pattern was a guide to learning Arabic languages. I’m still a bit foggy on what exactly iCCiC means. Could you give me a quick explanation please? I’d really appreciate it.
    Thanks!
    ~:A:~

    Reply
    • David Salo

      iCCiC just means that the normal way an imperative looks in this version of Khuzdul is the vowel i, followed by the first two consonants of the triliteral root (represented by the letter C for consonant) followed by another i, followed by the last consonant of the root.

      Reply
      • Arlothia

        Ah, okay, thanks! And thanks for the quick response, as well! So just to make sure I’m understanding this right, iCCiC translates to iNNiKH, right?
        Also, middleearthnews.com featured your finding and they also noticed that the runes on Kili’s token also appear on the Denny’s menu (seen here: http://middleearthnews.com/2014/01/03/david-salo-helps-middle-earth-news-solve-the-mystery-of-kilis-runestone/)
        Now, they mention that the repeated runes (the second string in the pattern on the top and bottom of the page) are slightly different. The 4th rune omits the little line, not making it a command like the actual runes that are shown on Kili’s stone (and the ones that appear first on the menu design). Looking at durinsfolk’s “Khuzdul Alphabet” document on scribd, I notice that this rune (without the little line) is just a ‘k’ in the Angerthas Moria as opposed to the ‘kh’ that is used on the stone. So does the meaning change with this lack of command or is just the inflection that is missing?
        Sorry for the added question! The English major in me is just really trying to understand! And Khuzdul is such a fascinating language and I want to learn as much about it as possible!
        Thanks so much for all your hard work! You are wonderful!!
        ~:A:~

        Reply
        • David Salo

          Most likely it’s just an error. Changing kh to k wouldn’t mark an inflectional change, but would be a complete change of root; and (as far as I know) NNK doesn’t mean anything.

          Reply
          • Arlothia

            Ya, either an error or they were just trying to be artistic about it. Anyway, good to know! Thank you so much!
            ~:A:~

  3. david

    But the rune n is singular, not a double nn so the writing on stone is inikh dê.

    Reply
    • David Salo

      In this particular mode, the certh 22 stands for nn, while n is certh 53.

      Reply
  4. Kasper

    First of all, a heartfelt thank-you for all your efforts on developing Tolkien’s languages. Your work is actually the focus of an essay on literary adaptation I’m writing for an English Department course here at the University of Helsinki. :)

    One question comes to mind concerning your use of root-borrowing with regard to Neo-Khuzdul. You mention the bilateral root √n-kh “come,” which is based on its relation to Adûnaic nakh-. I may have missed something either within the Tolkien canon or relating to your own glossopoeic process, but was Khuzdul not originally created by Aulë? And since Khuzdul was almost never taught to any non-Dwarves, where/when would the Adûnaic influence have come in? One possibility that comes to mind is that Men and Dwarves may have exchanged some linguistic matter in their dealings in the First Age, but even then I’m inclined to think that a verb as basic as “come” would be unlikely to be non-Khuzdul in origin. Just thinking aloud here, I look forward to your response!

    Reply
    • David Salo

      I agree that it’s unlikely — but not impossible. The influence (theoretically) would have been Khuzdul > Adunaic, or rather Proto-Beorian-Hadorian, and the borrowing would have occurred somewhere in the east of Middle-earth. But the real reason was that I just liked the sound of the root.

      Reply
  5. Leah

    Hi! I was just directed to your site, and I’m so glad I found this post! Thank you so much, this was driving me nuts! I do have one question, though. Could you explain why these runes are in Cirth Moria instead of Cirth Erebor?

    Reply
    • David Salo

      I don’t think they are; at any rate, the runes that appear in this very short inscription should be exactly the same in both varieties of Angerthas.

      Reply
  6. Panya

    May I ask. I find that root NAKH and ‘-ê’ suffix (or ‘-hê’ ?) are Tolkien himself’s concept. But what about iCCiC pattern and ‘d-‘ preposition? Are they from Tolkien’s too or something real-world inspired made up? Thanks.

    Reply
    • David Salo

      The iCCiC pattern is my own idea. As far as I recall it is not inspired by any language in the real world (or in any created language either); but it is possible that I encountered something similar in a real language and have since forgotten about it. I do not think that anything specific was in my mind when I invented it, however; I just wanted a distinctive sound pattern that fit with Khuzdul and which would stand out from other sound patterns; this one “sounded imperative” to me for some reason.

      Reply

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