Initially there were only two forms of participles. The first one is the active indefinite participle I (the -ug suffix), and the second is the participle II (-uga suffix). Example:

to speak     gashnat
speaking gashnug
spoken gashnuga

I think it isn't enough to translate complex phrases, some languages have much more types of participles than English. Black Speech uses auxilary verbs like be or have definitely very seldom, so borrowing English grammar isn't a good practice. I've decided to keep participles somehow similar to English but with distinct suffixes for each form instead of using to have and to be. Unlike English all participles have plural form like adjectives. However there is always a way to say the same thing without participles, which is still recommended for better compatibility (b). Here is final table, explaining Participles.

Type Suffix  Plural  Examples Translation
Participle I -ug -ugu uruk akrugu shum orcs drinking too much
Participle I Passive -aga -agaz a) pau akraga gilrolarz maukum-ugil  a) potion usually being drunk before battle
b) pau amut akragat* maukum-ugil gilrolarz  b) potion which is usually drunk before battle
Perfect Participle I -ugz -ugzu  a) uruk lûmpuzat akrugz pau a) orc fell having drunk a potion
b) uruk lûmpuzat dhurz akruzat pau b) orc fell because he had drunk a potion
Perfect Participle I Passive  -ufa -ufaz  a) pau thrakuzat hûr akrufa a) potion brought courage having been drunk
b) pau akraguzat* agh thrakuzat hûr urzkû b) potion was drunk and brought courage after (this)
Participle II -uga -ugaz honuz-izg uruk azuga golug-irzi I saw an orc killed by elves

* This is translated as Passive Voice which is discussed few paragraphs below.

Be careful to distinguish participles from continuous and perfect tenses:

I will kill any slave speaking too much
Azub-izg snaga hin gashnug shum*

You're speaking too loud!
Gashn-lat zânarz shum**

These words spoken at midnight will unleash the mighty spell
(Zaz) ghashanu gashnugaz mosbûrz-shi mâdrubut dushum durbûrz***

He have just spoken the truth
Gashnuzatta dhûzud narfûr

* There is no word for “too” in Black Speech dictionary, but I've found “very much”. So I use “shum” instead of “too”

** “Too” modifies the word “loud”, so it cames after this word!

*** Once again, the dictionary doesn't have the word “these”, but it has “this” and “those”. I just added plural suffix to ther first one, but it's better to skip it. “Word” and “speak” have the same stem “ghashn” in Black Speech, so the translation doesn't look good enough.

Passive Voice


Initially I supposed that passive voice is formed similar to English: the verb to be in required tense + participle II. But it seems, Black Speech doesn't have a tendency of using the verb kulat (to be). The only dialect with special suffix for Passive Verbs is Horngoth, but there is no any example. So I took the liberty of proposing a new rules:

Passive Voice is formed by adding -ag suffix before any person or tense verb suffix. It has nothing to do with passive participle II. This is evident for some languages but could be hard for English-speakers, so I kept kulat + Participle II as valid (and preferrable) variant.


English Black Speech
(my proposal)
Black Speech
(old manner)
The ring is stolen every Age
Nazg orskagat kûm rûgh
Nazg kulat orskuga kûm rûgh
The ring is being stolen now
Nazg orskagat rad
Nazg kulat orskuga rad
The ring have been just stolen
Nazg orskaguzat1) dhûzud
Nazg kuluzat1) orskuga dhûzud
The ring was stolen yesterday
Nazg orskaguzat ârshlut
Nazg kuluzat orskuga ârshlut
The ring was being stolen last night
Nazg orskaguzat bûrz tîl
Nazg kuluzat orskuga bûrz tîl
The ring had been stolen before I knew about it's power
Nazg orskaguzat ugil îstuz-izg gothumtab-gus
Nazg kuluzat orskuga ugil îstuz-izg gothumtab-gus
The ring will be stolen tomorrow
Nazg orskagubat ârshu
Nazg kulubat orskuga ârshu
The ring will have been stolen by the end of this year 
Nazg orskagubat nau-irzi ânrothzaob2)
Nazg kulubat orskuga nau-irzi ânrothzaob

1) I remind you of translating English Present Perfect Tense as Past Tense of Black Speech
2) I have to invent word “ânroth” for “year” (literally something like “sun cycle”, yes the Sun is turning around the Earth, you heretic!). But more important thing here is suffix order.

My proposal can be used to distinguish continuous forms; for perfect always use traditional way (Participle II). For Indefinte forms you can use both variants.

When both subject and object of sentence with passive voice are pronouns, then word order is:

On Ergative Alignment

Ergative alignment is roughly speaking a way of forming the majority of sentences similar to passive voice of usual languages (called Nominative-Accusative). A. Nemirovsky's proposes that Black Speech is based on ancient Hurrian language, which was agglutinative ergative language with sentence structure Subject–Object–Verb. His hypothesis is quite strong. In that case Passive voice is not needed. Here's example:

Accusative Ergative
Uruk throquat âps  
Uruk-irzi âps throquat
Orc eats meat
lit.: By orc meat is eaten

Tolkien's examples cannot prove or deny ergative structure of language. Despite some obvious similarity to Hurrian, Black Speech does not copy all the features of this language (i.e. in Hurrian adjectives are placed before nouns). So, while new Zhâburi dialect is ergative, Shadowlandian described here is not.