What samples or knowledge do we have of the black speech created by Tolkien? Having read a decent amount of the legendarium (Silmarillion, LotR, Hobbit, Children of Hurin, and some of the Lost Tales) the only occurrence I am aware of is the inscription on the one ring.

  • We have two quotes: 1. (The ring verse) "Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul" 2. (the curse of the Mordor orc) "Uglúk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob búbhosh skai!" Note that Tolkien provided two conflicting translations for that second quote. – user650 Jun 5 at 9:04
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Am reading through LotR now, and have just finished H, Lost Tales, R, FG, etc. so the memories are still pretty fresh.

The Ring verse is the longest bit of Black Speech, followed by Grishnákh's bit of invective towards Ugluk. Other than that, there's only a couple individual words (like snaga, slave and ghash, fire) to be found.

Tolkien himself wrote as much in a letter (No. 144) to a reader of page-proofs (presumably of LotR): ...[Black Speech] only occurs in the Ring inscription, and a sentence uttered by the Orcs of Barad-Dur and in the word Nazgúl.

  • Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for! (It really sounds like I need to get ahold of a copy of Tolkien's letters.) – heather Feb 7 at 1:00
  • You're welcome! Yeah, the The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by Humphery Carpenter in 1981) is a real treat. I found a copy in the local used book shop a month or so ago. There are several on Ebay now, and you can probably get through Amazon or etc. Looks like it will be very illuminating indeed! Though I was terribly saddened to read his thoughts on the ultimate resolution of the long search of the Ents for the Entwives. :( – elemtilas Feb 7 at 1:36
  • Yes, I read that - I'd kind of figured that was something like what happened, and it'd feel wrong for it to have happened otherwise (besides, the old things are "dying out" of Middle Earth) - but the Ents are one of my favorite characters in the books and it was sad to know, and have it stated. – heather Feb 7 at 1:40

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