Lesson IV – Verbs: Infinitive and Present Tense

Because this is an invented language, we will assume that all verbs are regular. Therefore, all infinitives end in -at: for example, durbat = to rule, gimbat = to find, krimpat = to bind, and thrakat = to bring. The BS dictionary gives only the verb stem (for example, durb-, gimb-, krimp- etc) to which you will add the various endings, like -at, -ut, -ub, -uz, etc.

English word “to” means also a purpose of action. As the Ring inscription says, BS also use “-at” for indicating a purpose (“ash nazg durbatulûk” = one ring to rule them all).

Find several other verbs in the dictionary and give the infinitive form for each.

In Black Speech, we assume that all verbs are regular and are conjugated in the following way:

Gimbat, to find:
gimb I find gimb we find
gimb you find (sing.) gimb you find (pl.)
gimbat he/she/it finds gimbut they find

Thrakat, to bring:
thrak I bring thrak we bring
thrak you bring (sing.) thrak you bring (pl.)
thrakat he/she/it brings thrakut they bring

Please note: According to some of the contributors to Tolklang, third person plural takes the ending “ut”. I have added the ending “at” to the third person singular, even though I realize this may be a little confusing. I have done this for two reasons: first, because some of the posters on the LOS board were already using the infinitive form as the third person singular, and second, it made sense to be able to indicate the difference between a command (gimb! = you find, and gimbat = he finds). Using the -at ending for the third person singular and for the infinitive should not be too problematic. After all, the English language uses the same ending for almost all verb endings.


Some new words:

azat     to kill
bugdat to call
durbat to rule
dûmpat to doom
fauthat to hide / to lie hidden
srinkhat to gather
prakhat to lure


Translate the following (verbs only, don't translate pronouns):

he rules
they bind
I devour
I find
they hide
I hide
you (sing.) doom
I call
we find
it brings
you (sing.) lure
you (pl.) gather
she devours*
it kills
he calls
they devour*
he devours*
you (pl.) bind
they gather
I lure
we bring
they rule
it hides
we kill

*note that the verb stem “throqu-” ends in a “u”, so you will have to add another “u” to form the present 3rd plural or future tense: throqu, I devour, throquub, I will devour (pronounced “throw-kwoob”). In many European languages, it is customary to add a “u” after the “q” to indicate the “kw” sound. In Middle Earth, of course, Black Speech would be written in tengwar or runes, not in English letters, so the extra “u” would not be an issue. In other words, the fact that you happen to have two “u's” together here doesn't mean you should pronounce them as a long “uu”.

 English-specific by Un4givenOrc:

You might notice that all verb forms in this lesson are Present Simple. And what about Continuous, Perfect and Perfect Continuous forms? Black Speech doesn't have them! It's very hard to understand for English students, but evident for slavic students. I suppose you should use Past Tense in Black Speech instead of Present Perfect, use Present Tense in other cases. So phrases “I eat”, “I am eating” and “I have been eating (for 10 minutes)” will be all translated as “throqu”. And “I have (just) eaten” may be translated as “throquuz”.

Infinitive/purpose/present tense ambiguity

It seems the folk on web is hardly annoyed with overusing of -at suffix. But it's not so frustrating like it seems! Usually exact meaning is clean from context and word order. Also remember pronounciation rule: when adding preposition, postposition or particle (“to” is this case), the stress moves to its first syllabe. Compare gimbat = to find, gimbat = he finds. When using both 3rd person and infinitive in one sentence in writings you can mark the stress with accent mark ´ (i.e.: Uglakh goes to the forest to kill Elves = Uglakh úkhat u tau azát golug-hai. Compare with Uglakh goes to the forest and kills all Elves there = Uglakh ukhat u tau agh azat golugûk atîg).

To be or not to be?

Most of developers of Black Speech agree with that verb “to be” should be used much less frequent than in English or even not used at all. So sentences like “The sky is blue” should be translated like “Nût ulb” (lit. “sky blue”). There is no problem with omiting “is” or “are”, but what to do in other tenses, when first word in such sentences is a pronoun, or when both words are nouns? Author of Zhâburi dialect offers special grammatic constructions for such cases, but I will stick with simplicity. While there is no solution for this, many examples will contain “kulat” (to be) in required tense but will be changed in the future.

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