• Lesson I – Background information
• Lesson II – Black Speech Sounds and Pronunciation
• Lesson III – Nouns
• Lesson IV – Verbs: Infinitive and Present Tense
• Lesson V – Verbs: Future Tense
• Lesson VI – Adjectives and Word Order
• Lesson VII – Pre- and Postpositions, Noun Cases, Phrase Verbs
• Lesson VIII – Verbs: Past Tense
• Lesson IX – Numbers
• Lesson X – Pronouns and Commands (Imperatives)
• * Lesson XII – Comparisons
• * Lesson XIII – Suffix Order and Indirect Objects
• * Lesson XIV – Questions
• * Lesson XV – Participles and Passive Voice
• * Lesson XVI – Conditional and Subjunctive Moods
• Appendix A: Prefixes and Suffixes
• Appendix B: Grammar quick overview
• Appendix C: Measures, Directions, Army Ranks
• Appendix D: List Of Abbreviations
• Appendix E: Canonical Tolkien's Black Speech
Lesson VII – Pre- and Postpositions, Noun Cases, Phrase Verbs
In Black Speech, prepositions (from, in, of, to, by, etc.) are suffixed to the noun they modify. However, this rule is often ignored in hasty speech, especially when orcs curse one another . The following examples are grammatically correct, although orcs sometimes incorrectly place the prepositions before the word when they are speaking to one another (another example of Debased Black Speech).
|Postposition||Meaning||Examples||Remarks on usage|
|I sing.||II sing.||I pl.||II pl.||Black Speech||Translation|
|-as||-zas||-asu||-zasu||across||dot-as||across the sea||*|
|-bo||-boz||off||thop-bo||off the rock||In English it's mostly used with phrasal verbs, it's better to invent
special translations for them. When it's not it could be replaced with
|-bug||-bugu||against, opposite to||durub-bug||against the ruler||*|
|-dhog||-dhogu||near, next to, (near)by||Orodruin-dhog|
|-gus||-gusu||about||Morgoth-gus||about Morgoth||Tell regarding, mention somebody or something
For approximate time of ending an action or interval use “-kurn”
|-ik||-zik||-iku||-ziku||before, by (some time), in front of||agon-ik||before dusk||Can be used to indicate place (“kneel before your lord”). When used to indicate time, it is supposed that action will be definitely finished (Perfect tenses). When used with dependent clauses (i.e. “before it explodes”, “before the first beam of sun will show up”) it's written separately and preceeding them. Because such examples are more often, this word has tendency of being used as real preposition with nouns too, which are placed in Instrumental case (-irzi = by): “ik agon-irzi” (lit.: before dusk-by).|
|-ir||-r||-iru||-ru||on||anar||on the edge||Also marks regular time intervals (on Mondays, on holidays etc.), but if you want say “on (next) Monday” use “-shi” (= at).|
|-irzi||-rzi||-irziz||-rziz||by,||grish-irzi||by blood||Use it in passive constructions, to indicate usage of instrument, means, etc. Also means moving or transporting via some environment or media: “Skâtubut dot-irzi” (= They will come by sea), “hîst Internet-irzi” (= send via Internet, if it existed in Middle-Earth). If you mean “(near)by” (i.e.: by the lake) then use “-dhog” (= near, next to) or “-or” (= at) instead. If you mean ending an action by some time, then use “-ik” (= before) or “-zi” (= until) instead.|
|-ish||-sh||-ishu||-shu||(Accusative or Objective case suffix)||Uruk honat golug-ish||Orc sees an elf||Actually not a preposition, but a marker of direct object, which corresponds to Accusative case in many languages. With nouns it is used only to avoid ambiguity because in most sentences where is subject and where is object is clear from context and word order (and Nominative case is used then). It's more often used with pronouns. It can be employed in poetry with fluent word order.|
|-ishi||-shi||-ishiz||-shiz||in,||Mordor-ishi||in(to) Mordor||While canonical translation by Tolkien himself is “in”, it's better to use next meanings in the list clarifying the meaning better. If you want to answer the question like “where is it?” better use “-or” (= at). You can notice that form -shi for Declension II is the same as preposition meaning “at” which has similar meaning but without a tone of belonging or moving to interior part of smth.|
|-kurn||-kurnu||around||masl-kurn||around the neck||*|
|-la||-laz||after||zabûrz-la||after tonight||often written separately (see comments to -ik suffix)|
|-lata||-lataz||under, beneath, below||nût-lata||under the sky||*|
|-lût||-lûtu||out of, outside||Orthanc-lût||out of Orthanc||Indicates motion outside, leaving a place, transformation of material.|
|-nâdar||-nâdaru||among||glob-nâdar||amongst the filth||*|
|-ob||-b||-obu||-bu||of||Nazgûl-ob||of the Nazgûl||You may think that if noun is ending with au adding
|-or||-r||-oru||-ru||at (place)||Orthanc-or||at Orthanc||Preferable over “-ishi” at answering questions like “where is it?”|
|-ri||-riz||between||lug-riz||between towers||There were no examples by Scatha, so I've decided that if it's used with two different nouns, it should be added to both of them: “drâgh-ri agh ânghâsh-ri” (= between hammer and anvil).|
|-sha||-shaz||with||with Saruman||* Means collectivity, action shared with some person. If you want to express usage of tool, say “-irzi” (= by) instead. Example: “Kill with axe” is translated as “az pilik-irzi”, “Kill elf with that orc” = “az golug uruk-zasha” (this is also and example of bad order, it's not clear whether he should kill an elf with the help of that orc, or kill both elf and orc). However, if you want to say “Careful with that axe, Uglûk!” you can do it as “gakhumû pilik-zasha, Uglûk!”.|
|-shar||-sharu||among||glob-shar||amongst the filth||* Do not use it, because it could be confused with “shara” (man) and
“sharat” (to be quiet), and it seems to appear in LOS dictionary by mistake.
There is an alternative
|-shi||-shiz||at (time)||bûrz-shi||at night, at dark|
|-shi||-shiz||at (place)||Mordor-shi||at Mordor|
|-tala||-talaz||over, above||uzg-tala||over the land||* Can indicate not only position but also exceeding time or quantity limit.|
|-tuk||-tuku||through||tau-tuk||through the forest||*|
|-u||-zu||-zuz||to (place), towards||Mordor-u**||to Mordor||* Denotes motion towards something, changing ownership of an object. In BS it's often used with indirect objects, when transitive verb requires two objects, specially with names and pronouns. Example: “thrak nazg urukuz” = bring the ring to orcs.|
|-ugil||-ugilu||before||ânash-ugil||before dawn||* “-ik” is more preferrable|
|-ulmakh||-ulmakhu||along||mûl-ulmakh||along the road||*|
|-ûr||-zûr||-ûru||-zûru||for||durub-ûr||for the lord||Also used to specify duration of action, the same as in English.|
|-zash||-zashu||like, same as||glob-zash||like fool|
|-zi||-ziz||until||ârsh-zi||until today||* Refers to time of ending continuous action.|
* these words are often used as real prepositions placed before nouns, not postpositions as usual.
** note that the Tolkien orc curse, “sha Saruman” and “u Mordor” are both grammatically incorrect. Technically, the orc should have said, “Saruman-sha” and “Mordor-u”.
Also note that in the Ring Verse, we have “lata nut” instead of “nut-lata”. It has been suggested that this was done to make the verse scan as poetry. By now you will have noticed that there are many examples in Black Speech where the speaker has placed the preposition before the noun. Therefore, this is probably a fairly flexible rule, especially in Debased Black Speech. However, for the purpose of learning Black Speech, try to observe the rule as much as possible when translating the lessons (at least for now).
Strictly speaking, the prepositions should also become plural when they modify a plural noun, but I have only seen one example of that. It occurs in the Ring Verse, which is in Classical Black Speech, not Debased Black Speech. (Please remember that the full Ring Verse was translated by a Tolkien fan on the Tolklang board, not by Tolkien himself). The ring verse uses the plural “ûru” (for), as well as “ishiz” (in).
Excerpts from the Ring Verse:
Translate the following into grammatically correct Classical Black Speech.
The Nazgul bring all the cruel beasts from Gondor.*
The trolls find the warrior under the sky.
Sauron rules by evil.
Ugluk will gather the old men in Udun.
He stands in Mordor.
She will fool the trolls under the sky.
Saruman calls from Orthanc.
I stand by the Nazgul (plural).
The stupid troll kills near Ashluk.
You will devour the beast with Ugluk.
She brings the orc of Mordor to Moria.
Saruman rules over all the orcs.
The warrior kills for Sauron.
He brings the ring for the elves.
He brings the troll between Mordor and Orthanc.
(*note that the preposition modifies Gondor, not beasts!)
Joining two prepositions together
Whenever you have to use two prepositions together, you should join them with hyphens, although most orcs would never do this in Debased Black Speech. For example, if you want to say, “into Mordor” (Mordor + in + to) you would connect the prepositions this way: “Mordor-u-ishi”. But because this combination would be somewhat difficult to prounounce, most Orcs would simply say, “u Mordor-ishi”.
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