In all sources Black Speech is written in Roman alphabet. But in Middle-Earth Nazgûl and orcs (if they could write) used other writing systems of course. What systems exactly is? It's a moot case. Ring was inscripted with Tengwar, but this calligraphy was suitable for Sauron and Nazgûl only. In Appendix E to LOTS it's said: “The Cirth in their older and simpler form spread eastward in the Second Age, and became known to many peoples, to Men and Dwarves, and even to Orcs, all of whom altered them to suit their purposes and according to their skill or lack of it.” Omniglot site mentions some uruk runes, which are almost the same as real-world's germanic runes Futhark. But in “Hobbit” and drafts to LOTR real runes was used for all languages. Some orcs of web-communities didn't feel good with using alphabets invented by elves and man, so they created alphabet of their own. But most users are satisfied with Roman.

  • Orkish alphabet   • Tengwar   • Cirth

How to write Black Speech in Tengwar?

It's known thar Ring Verse was carved using Tengwar, a writing system invented by Fëanor for Quenya and Sindarin, but usable for transcribing text in absolutely any language.

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

Those who never interested in elves and other nations for purposes other than eating can ask, what special is in Tengwar that you're going to teach it? It seems there are a lot of Tengwar fonts in the Web! Here is an answer. Almost all letters in character table of theese fonts are located utterly in wrong places, not where you expect to find them. Moreover diacritics signs (as in Arabic or Hebrew) are used instead of vowels. They are placed under or below previous (sometimes next) consonant. So it's much more harder to remember Tengwar keymappings than keymapping for the Black Speech alphabet described above. Therefore in 1999 the first word processor for Tengwar was created by Måns Björkman. Because this writing system can be used for transcribing text in any language, and all the languages have a different set of letters and sounds, various Tengwar modes are used. In other words some letters are different in distinct languages. Therefore in all programs for typing in Tengwar you should specify the mode (source language). After pressing Transcribe button you will probably get the nonsense like AE5,Exxw{%1EjY. Don't be afraid! Select this text and choose one of the installed Tengwar fonts. Ring Verse would look like Tolkien's example when using the Tengwar Annatar Italic font.

In most software you'll get the problems with cursor position and frobnitz as one above when you typing in the text with punctuation marks and long vowels. Probably this doesn't happen in English versions of Windows (and versions in other languages using Latin-1 = Windows-1252 code page as basic). These problems are never noticed in professional publishing and designer programs (e.g. from Adobe). In Tengwar-transcribing programs like TengScribe or YaTT duplicate the long vowels anyway, i. e. use uu instead of û etc. Ring Verse should be entered as following:

The text about gates of Gondor from orkish alphabet example above will be encoded as:
and with font Tengwar Annatar Italic it will look like:

and like this when using Tengwar Quenya font:

In the Links section you'll find information about writing in Tengwar, software and fonts for it. In documentation files for Tengwar fonts there are a lot of useful information about history of Tengwar and usage of fonts including manual typing.

  • Orkish alphabet   • Tengwar   • Cirth



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