Alphabet

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

Orkish alphabet

There were long discussions at Dark Messages (mirror) forum about what alphabet had the orcs used, by what and on what had they written, and simply could they write? The infamous verse on the Sauron's ring was written in Tengwar after all. After some disputes members decided that nevertheless some orcs could write in their own alphabet. The face of the alphabet became a subject of even longer discussions. The only suggested variant of complete alphabet wasn't liked by some people because of curvy letters. Sarumans Granddaughter – it's author – explained that she thought the orcs had been writing with pens, nibs, ink or paint on the paper, pieces of leather or parchment, not on stones and wooden boards. So these curvy letters should been written faster than angular. This alphabet is based on Cirth, adapted for writing with a pen and paper. After all, Lugrekh created True Type font for this alphabet. The were another project of alphabet by Second Nazgul, and even the font by Json Aptenos existed for it. But it had been lost and forgotten before the starting of discussions mentioned above.

Because of absence of other complete alphabets with a font created, existing at that moment, I put here the variant described above, although I didn't like it very much.

Face Translit. Sound Key
p [p], [pʰ] p
b [b] b
f [f] f
m [m] m
t [t] t
d [d] d
th [θ] T
dh [ð] E
n [n] n
sh [ʃ] S
zh [ʒ] Z
k [k] k
kh* [x] K
g* [g] g
gh [ɦ]? G
r [ʁ] r
l [ɫ] l
Face Translit. Sound Key
s [s] s
z [z] z
i [ı] i
î [iː] I
u [ʊ], [u] u
û [uː] U
o [ɔ], [o] o
a [a] a
â [aː] A
h [h] h
deprecated symbols
y [j] y
v [v] v
ch [ʧ]? C
j [j] j
w [w] w
e [ɛ] e
* In earlier versions of this alphabet kh and g were swapped. And it was right! Look careful at other letters. Consonant clusters with h are mirror-flipped and voiced consonants differ from unvoiced in additional small stroke. With kh and g this rule is broken.

Warning

In order to see phonetical characters in Internet Explorer your system must have the font Lucida Sans Unicode installed. You can also install Arial Unicode MS font included in MS Office 2007 by default and available in custom setup of MS Office 2003.

Example


agh trosharz grush-shi tîl doraz gondor-ob râkhutat
One (a)  suddenly  punch at  last  gates  of Gondor splits them

As you can see, there is no difference between uppercase and lowercase letters in languages of Arda, so any text should be typed in lowercase. Capital letters are used for typing in the characters absent in ASCII (with codes greater than 127). Also this example demonstrates some minor mistakes in Black Speech :)


If you liked this alphabet you can download a font for it. But keep in mind that it isn't widely used. Very few of Black Speech experts can read the text written in this font. Also this alphabet lacks for letters corresponding to ô and qu, which are used in LOS, but contains symbols absent even in MERP and Svartiska (w for example).

Don't forget to embed uncommon fonts such as Tengwar's and this one into your documents (see your manuals for Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, Adobe Acrobat etc.), or to send font file along with document. The font file described here is named BlackSpeechPlain, but Windows sets it up as New Unicode Font, because font's author forgot to do something...;)

Download Black Speech font


  • Orkish alphabet   • Tengwar   • Cirth


 

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