Lesson VI – Adjectives and Word Order

Note: these lessons are a little more challenging than the previous ones. I have tried to include hints for some of the trickier translations. Try not to be too intimidated. Orcs pay no attention to grammar, as you know.

Adjectives are fairly simple: they do not take the gender (nor case) of the noun they modify; they are the same for male, female, or neutral nouns. They do agree with the noun in number, however. Plural nouns take plural adjectives.

If the noun is plural, add the correct ending to the adjective (u for adjectives ending in a consonant, z for adjectives ending in a vowel). Caution: Here's a rule that might confuse you, so be careful – even though you know that words for people or races don't take a plural, the adjectives modifying them do take a plural. For example, uruk mokurz = the hateful uruk. Uruk mokurzu, the hateful uruk (plural). This is done for clarity – it is easier to understand that someone is talking about more than one orc or more than one elf if he/she uses a plural adjective to describe that individual.

In Black Speech, many adjectives take the ending -ûrz, especially if they are formed from nouns or verbs:

Adjective (singular)     Plural
bûrz, dark, from burzum, darkness bûrzu
dushûrz, magical dushûrzu
globûrz, foolish or filthy globûrzu
gorûrz, tough gorûrzu
gothûrz, powerful gothûrzu
hurûrz, brave, from hûr, courage hurûrzu
matûrz, mortal, from mat = to die matûrzu
mokûrz, hateful, from mokum, hatred mokûrzu
skrithûrz, mean, cruel skrithûrzu
ulkûrz, evil (adj.), from ulkum, evil (n.) ulkûrzu

And many adjectives do not follow this rule:

Adjective (singular)     Plural
kû = old kûz
kûf = ugly kûfu
lorz = stupid lorzu
snork = worthless snorku
uf = scary ufu

An adjective always follows the word it modifies: shara matûrz, mortal man; Olog globûrz, foolish (or filthy) troll; Urûk skrithûrz, cruel orc. (This is a good general rule to remember in Black Speech: words that modify or describe other words always follow).

If the adjective is only one syllable long, it is suffixed to the word it modifies: sharkû, old man (shara + kû). Notice that the “a” is dropped, probably for ease in pronounciation. Globufu, the scary fools. (Again, both men and fools are people, so you don't pluralize them, but you do pluralize the adjectives.)

Please notice that in cases such as sharkûk (sharkû + ûk, “all the old men”) or nazgûk (nazgû + ûk) “all the rings”, you would drop one of the û's. Similarly, if you wanted to say, “the scary old urûk”, you would say “urûkûf” (urûk + kû + uf). This sounds very similar to urûkuf, “the scary urûk” (urûk + uf, an scary uruk who isn't old), except that you don't have the long û. This may seem a little confusing at first, but it is just a matter of practice (and absence of misspellings). The difference between urûkûf (scary old orc) and urûkuf is just a slight difference in pronunciation. (The best way to say “the scary old urûk” without ambiguity is “urûkufkû”, because you can confuse original variant also with just “ugly urûk”.)

A good rule of thumb to remember is that in Black Speech, whenever two similar consonants or vowels meet in this way, they are usually slurred together. This is especially true of Debased Black Speech. Later on you'll encounter a lesson in dropping sounds, so if this frightens you now, don't worry about it.

*Remember that this is not true of words that end in the “qu” sound.

Subject and Object Word Order

In Black Speech, most sentences follow a subject – verb – object order, with adjectives following the nouns they modify:

Golug thrakut sharku mokurzu
The elves bring the hateful old men.

Uruk bugdat nazgul skrithurz
The Uruk calls the cruel Nazgul (singular).

Caution: Please note that this rule seems to be difficult for English-speakers, who generally want to place the adjective before the noun. I have noticed that this is one of the most common errors beginners make. Offenders will be severely punished :)

Translation Exercise

Translate the following sentences into Black Speech:

The cruel trolls will devour the tough beasts.
The Nazgul will kill the ugly orcs.*
All the elves will find dark rings.
I will bring the brave man.
She will lure all the old orcs.*
They will gather the evil mortal men.**
You (sing.) call the all the brave Nazgul away.
I bring the worthless slaves.*
They will find the magical rings.
Sauron dooms the tough orc.
The Nazgul will gather the foolish trolls.
He will call the stupid elves.
I will hide the dark ring.
You (pl.) bind the old stupid Nazgul (sing.)

*Remember that words for people or races are not pluralized, but the adjectives modifying them are!

**When you have two adjectives, use the more important one first. In this case, it's more important to identify the men as mortal than to describe them as evil.

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