Many sources say that Tolkien's Dwarvish resembles the Hebrew language. The Lord of the Rings Wikia states that:

It appears to be structured, like real-world Semitic languages, around the triconsonantal roots: kh-z-d, b-n-d, z-g-l.

Also, from folk.uib.no:

The basic structure of Khuzdul resembles that of Semitic languages, like Arabic and Hebrew. The stems from which words are derived are not by themselves pronounceable words, but consist of consonants only. Nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. are derived not only by prefixes and suffixes (if such devices are used at all), but also by inserting certain vowels between these consonants, sometimes also by doubling one of the consonants. Often the words are actually inflected by internal vowel-changes instead of adding affixes: Rukhs means "Orc", but plural "Orcs" is Rakhâs. The root consonants - the so-called radicals - remain the same, like *R-Kh-S in this case. In Khuzdul as well as in Semitic languages, there are usually three radicals in the root; several such roots are mentioned in TI:174 and RS:466: B-R-Z "red", B-N-D "head", K-B-L "silver", N-R-G "black". An example of a biconsonantal root is Z-N "dark, dim" (RS:466).


Baruk Khazâd! is said to mean "Axes of the Dwarves!" Baruk is usually taken to be an example of something similar to the Hebrew "construct state": the state a word is said to be in when it is placed in front of a noun to express a genitival relationship: X Y meaning "X of Y" or "Y's X". (Compare Hebrew סוס (sûs) "horse", המלך (hammelekh) "the king", סוס המלך (sûs hammelekh) "the king's horse, the horse of the king".) Of course, we cannot be certain that baruk is the normal plural "axes" and not a specialized form meaning "axes of". It may be significant that all the other attested plurals contain a long vowel: Khazâd "Dwarves", Rakhâs "Orcs", tarâg "beards", shathûr "clouds", ûl "streams", dûm "excavations, halls", bizâr "valleys". Could the normal plural "axes" be *barûk? Shathûr "clouds" may represent a plural pattern in -a-û-. In Hebrew, the vowels of words in the construct state are often shortened.

Was it actually based on Hebrew / Semitic languages, or is that simply an impression?

  • 1
    See this for a meta discussion on this question/answer.
    – auden
    Feb 9, 2018 at 0:07

1 Answer 1



According to this interview with Tolkien, he really did design it to be Semitic. He says,

The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic.

In other words, he did design their tongue to be very like the Semitic language, possibly since their history resembled that of the Jews.

  • Could you please expand on this answer to show more similarities and how it's demonstratively similar, instead of just relying on what the author said? Thanks! :)
    – Mithical
    Feb 7, 2018 at 13:02
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    @Mithrandir, I've added it to the question since it seems more pertinent there than in the answer, since the question is Did he or didn't he?
    – anonymous2
    Feb 7, 2018 at 13:05
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    I'd argue that the question should include a couple points to show why you'd think that in the first place, and the answer should the provide some stronger arguments and a more exhaustive list of similarities. The focus of the site here is on the langues themselves; this approached the mindset of the creator but not how the language itself ended up - was he actually successful in creating a language similar to Hebrew?
    – Mithical
    Feb 7, 2018 at 13:07
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    Hmm, sounds like a discussion for meta. I don't find anything definitive supporting or denying that... Personally, I see no reason why the history of conlangs would be off-topic, but I don't know; you've been following the proposal longer than I. Anyhow, got to go study; feel free to edit if you like, but I don't have time right at the moment.
    – anonymous2
    Feb 7, 2018 at 13:11
  • The original poster already cited some examples. It should be also noted that Dwarvish is one of Tolkien's less-developed conlangs, so there may not be that many samples. One thing I have heard of myself though, which isn't really related to the language, is that his dwarves embody some stereotypes about Jews (namely, their being greedy). Also, Tolkien did openly admit to the inspiration, so wouldn't that be proof enough?
    – user6046
    Dec 12, 2023 at 23:10

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