Durin’s song: The rest

I’m finishing my discussion of Durin’s song with an overview of the remaining words, pointing out some of the sources. By way of comparison, I have added the first (and so far only) “dictionary” of Neokhuzdul that exists, at the link Neo-Khuzdul glossary. There may be some slight discrepancies between the glossary and the list below, but on the whole they seem to be in good agreement. There are also several words in it which are not found below nor, I think, anywhere else.


  • gagin “again” — Proto-Germanic *gagina, which forms part of *anagagina which becomes Old English ongean, Modern English again. Cf. German gegen.


  • ra “and” — I do not know where this came from.


  • ana “to, toward” — evidently also influenced by Elvish an and na.
  • bin “without, lacking” — clearly influenced by Elvish pen “without”, which in turn reflects Greek πένομαι penomai “be poor, have need of” — though I think I had not noticed the connection at the time, or indeed until quite recently.
  • ni “in” — it’s in backwards.
  • tur “through” — influenced by both Elvish ter– and Old English þurh, both “through”. (The former probably shows the influence of Indo-European √terH, which is of course the source of the latter).
  • undu “beneath, under” — Elvish √undu, and English under.


  • ku “who” — suggested by the Indo-European root √kwo-.
  • maku “no one” — literally “no who.” The use of a prefix ma- as a negative is a little obscure, but perhaps was suggested by Greek μή and Sanskrit .
  • tada “that” — suggested by Gothic þata and Indo-European *tod (Sanskrit tat) “that, it.”


  • kalil “cold” — English cold from Proto-Germanic *kalda- and chill from *kaliz.
  • shakar “sharp” — probably simply sound symbolism; I thought that the consonants suggested the sound of something being cut.
  • sullu “all” — suggested by Proto-Indo-European *solwos “whole,” which I knew in the shape of Sanskrit sarva “all.”
  • ubzar “deeper” — from a root √BZR, intended to explain bizar “valley.” The pattern uCCaC for comparatives and superlatives obviously overlaps with uCCaC for agents, but evidently this didn’t bother me. It is not uncommon in natural languages for similar constructions to have two quite different meanings, if they are unlikely to overlap in practice; for instance, in English the ending –er when attached to adjectives is a comparative ending (e.g. tall:taller) but when added to verbs indicates an agent (e.g. speak:speaker). I don’t remember if this comparison occurred to me at the time, however.
  • udlag “very far away” — presumably a superlative, but I don’t know what the base form would have been, perhaps dalig. In any case it is from *dlonghos, the Indo-European basis of both English long and Latin longus.
  • ugmal “eldest” — supposed to be a superlative form, from an adjective gamil “old”. The latter word is actually attested in the name of a Dwarf craftsman called “Gamil Zirak the old” (Unfinished Tales, p. 76) but there is no certainty that it actually means “old.” The meaning is really taken from Old Norse gamall “old”.


  • abad “mountain” — Almost certainly abstracted from Gundabad.
  • aban “stone”, adjectival form abanul “of stone, stony” — Looks like a rare case of direct Semitic influence, Hebrew eben < *abnu.
  • addad “fathers” — Thus in this transcript, though my early glossary has addâd. The singular was dâd, the root √ʔD, both singular and plural being somewhat irregular. Evidently from a kind of baby talk, “da da” — and of course similar to English dad.
  • aklat “sound” — an abstract noun from a root √KLT, suggested by Indo-European *klew- “hear” and *klutos “heard.”
  • amrad “death” — an abstract noun, evidently from a root √MRD “die”, which is obviously suggested by Proto-Indo-European √mer- (as in mortal).
  • arrâs “flames” — see urus below.
  • askad “shadow” — perhaps also originally abstract. Suggested by Proto-Germanic *skadwaz, whence English shade/shadow.
  • atkât “silence” — from a root √TKT, suggested by Latin taceo “be silent.” The pattern is evidently the abstract one I took from aglâb “speech.”
  • aznân “dark, darkness” — from a root √ʔZN, taken from the first part of Azanulbizar (Dimrill Dale). The form azanân was most likely intended as a sort of “broken” plural.
  • bashuk “bones” — a plural apparently founded on the pattern of baruk “axes”. It implies a singular *bashk, which however doesn’t appear in my notes.
  • buzrâ “deep” (sc. deep places, depths). From the same root √BZR in bizar “valley” and ubzar “deeper, very deep.” The word may have been intended originally as a plural, though I am not now sure of that.
  • fill(u) “skin” — Gothic fill “skin, hide” (cf. archaic English “fell,” a flayed animal’s skin).
  • gabil “great” — attested Khuzdul word, from Gabilgathol “Great fortress” and Gabilân “Great river.”
  • galab “word” — from the root √GLB taken from aglâb.
  • ganâd “halls” — a plural, obviously of gund, taken from both Felak-gundu and Gundabad. Hence evidently I understood Gundabad at the time as “Mountain-of-underground hall.”
  • gilim “glint” — suggested by Eldarin √glim-, English gleam, and of course glint itself.
  • iklal “cold” — yet another abstract pattern, from the same root as kalil “cold.” Most languages have a fairly large number of ways of constructing abstract nouns indicating qualities.
  • kâmin “earth” — suggested by Quenya cemen.
  • kilmîn “crown” — Old English helm, from an Indo-European root √kel-. The shape suggests a meaning something more like “helmet-shaped structure.” The crown of Durin depicted on the West-gate of Moria is helmet-like in shape.
  • kurd(u) “heart” — Indo-European *kerd-, whence Greek καρδία kardia, Latin cord-, and Gothic hairtō.
  • lukhud “light” — English light and the related Gothic liuhad-.
  • sanzigil “mithril” — literally “true-silver”. San from Sanskrit san(t-), sat- and Old Norse sannr, both “true” (from an Indo-European word meaning “existing”). This is probably not the secret name of the Dwarves for mithril, but a circumlocution that could be used in public.
  • thatur “stars” — this implies a singular thatr (though I do not see that form anywhere in my notes). The inspiration was English “star” and its Indo-European cognates (most of which, however, contain the stem in the form ster– (e.g. ἀστήρ astēr, stella, stairnō), except for Sanskrit tārā, which I may have been thinking of.
  • ugrûd “fear, dread” — from a root √GRD “fear”, related to various Eldarin words and roots (√ŋgor-, √ŋgur-) suggesting horror or death.
  • ukrat “glory” — Most likely from Old English hréð “glory, fame” < *hrōþiz, whose shape could imply a PIE *krōtis.
  • urus “fire” — Intended to be a direct borrowing from Valarin uruš (also rušur) “fire.” The reason Aulë might have had for changing the š to an s remains inscrutable; my reason was probably that I didn’t want it to look exactly like Valarin. The influence of Eldarin uru– “heat” is also evident. The plural arrâs is along the same lines as addâd, a plural formation that is evidently of my own invention.

9 Responses to “Durin’s song: The rest”

  1. H.K. Fauskanger

    As for ra “and”, you note: “I do not know where this came from”.

    It instantly struck me as being simply Quenya ar reversed. The Sindarin of the King’s Letter also uses ar rather than a as the conjunction.

  2. Quendii Tyto

    Thank you for the articles on Durin’s Song, from the first few times that I watched The Lord of the Rings I had wondered what language it was in, and when I found out that it was Khuzdul I wondered what the words were and what they meant.
    I’d also like to say thank you for posting the Neo-Khuzdul glossary, that is awesome and it made my day to find one.
    Have a great day,

  3. H.K. Fauskanger

    I looked at the wordlist. Karaka “break” vs. karraka “split” seems to indicate something like a Semitic intensive conjugation, characterized by doubling the middle root consonant — is that so? Compare, for instance, Hebrew shavar (for shabar) “broke” vs. shibber “smashed”.

    • David Salo

      Thanks for pointing that out. I think I’ve fixed it; at least, it works for me. Let me know if there’s still a problem.

  4. James

    I just want to say that I am astounded with the work you have done on neo-Khuzdul. It fascinates me deeply the extent to which Tolkien’s languages are thought out, and Khuzdul in particular I find quite amazing as it’s something that is being worked on by you (and others) now to flesh it into a whole and usable language.

    So I guess keep up the good work? :P But seriously, really really cool!

    P.S. the link for the glossary still seems to be broken

  5. Thoron

    In the glossary you imply that the third column for verbs was never used anywhere, but some of those forms rang me a bell, in particular gurd as an imperative “have fear”. And recently I found where I’d seen it: it’s part of the poem “The Abyss”, sung in the soundtrack of The Two Towers in a mesh of chaotic voices as Gandalf and the Balrog fight in the opening scene (http://amagpiesnest.com/source_songs/TTT/SSabyss.htm). Taking a look at it, it seems to account for many of the words in the glossary that were never used elsewhere.


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