Tolkien Gateway

Black Speech

(Difference between revisions)
(External links)
Line 39: Line 39:
[[fi:Musta kieli]]
[[fi:Musta kieli]]
[[fr:encyclo/langues/parler noir]]
[[fr:encyclo/langues/parler noir]]

Revision as of 22:29, 17 December 2013

The Black Speech was created by Sauron during the Dark Years to be the sole language of all the servants of Mordor, replacing the many different varieties of Orkish and other languages used by his servants. When Sauron was overthrown at the end of the Second Age the ancient "pure" form was forgotten by all but the Nazgûl. When Sauron returned it was once again made the official language of Barad-dûr. However, a more "debased" form was used by the soldiery of Barad-dûr at the end of the Third Age.[1] The only example given of "pure" Black Speech is the inscription upon the One Ring[2]:

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

When translated into English, these words form the lines:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

These are the first two lines from the end of a verse about the Rings of Power.

Many Orkish dialects had adopted words from it.[1] The Black Speech was at least in part based on Valarin.


In real life, J.R.R. Tolkien created this language with the intention of making it harsh and ugly,[source?] although people who speak the European languages that he emulated may disagree with his methods. The Black Speech is unfortunately one of the more incomplete languages in Tolkien's novels, because the forces of good refuse to utter it, as it attracts the attention of the Eye of Sauron. Unlike Elvish, there are no poems or songs written in it (apart from the Ring's inscription), and because Tolkien designed it to be unpleasant, he did not enjoy writing it. The result is a random collection of words that are hard to actually use in day-to-day conversation. We learn from the text in the ring and its translation that the Black Speech is a strongly agglutinating language.

Tolkien linguist Helge Fauskanger has noted a theory proposed by Russian historian Alexander Nemirovski, that the Black Speech, according to the shape of words, agglutination and grammar, shares many similarities with the ancient Mesopotamian language Hurrian.[3]

Portrayal in adaptations

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Linguist David Salo used what little is known of the Black Speech to create enough of a language for use in the films.[4] This is usually referred to by Tolkienists as neo-Black Speech.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  3. Helge Fauskanger, "Orkish and the Black Speech - base language for base purposes", Ardalambion (accessed 12 January 2013)
  4. Language in The Lord of the Rings Movie (August 12, 2003) at (accessed 26 December 2010)