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 (thus becoming postpositions). However, this rule is often ignored in hasty speech, especially when orcs curse one another (and for preposition “to”). 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).

Below is the table of all prepositions attested in Black Speech. It was heavily modified, expanded and complicated comparing to original Scatha's lesson. I and II are declensions of nouns (ending with consonant and vowel respectively).

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 “-ghâra” (= from).
-bug -bugu against, opposite to durub-bug against the ruler *
-dhog -dhogu near, next to, (near)by Orodruin-dhog next to Orodruin   
-ghâra -ghâraz from Lugbûrz-ghâra  from Lugbûrz  
-gus -gusu about Morgoth-gus about Morgoth Tell regarding, mention somebody or something
For approximate time of ending an action or interval use “-kurn” (= around) instead. For approximate place use also “-dhog” (= near).
-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, via, by mean(s) of, by use of, with use of

(Instrumental or Ergative case suffix)
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, within, inside, into 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.
-it -ht -itu -htu behind druht behind tree *
-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 (Genitive or Possessive case suffix) Nazgûl-ob of the Nazgûl You may think that if noun is ending with au adding -b could make confusion with some verb ending with a in future tense (suffix -ub), but actually there are no such verbs in Shadowlandian. If verb stem is ending with u it will become long û in future tense, so no confusion also.
-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 (together) with Saruman-sha ** 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 “-nâdar”.
-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.
-thu -thuz beyond gothum-thu beyond power *
-tuk -tuku through tau-tuk through the forest *
-u -zu -uz*** -zuz to (place), towards (Dative case suffix) 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”.

*** it could be confused with Past Tense suffix -uz (next lesson), see my comments about it at the end of the lesson.

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). When you write preposition before the noun, preposition is always used in form of Declension I singular, and noun takes Objective/Accusative case (if not stated other; in most cases omitted in favor of Nominative) and required number suffix.

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:

Gakh Nazgu Golug-durub-uru lata-nut.
Three Rings for the Elven kings under the sky
[The word 'lords' is plural]

Udu Gazat-shakh-uru ulub ruz-ishiz gund-ob.
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone.
[The words 'lords' and 'halls' are both plural]

I think theese examples show that plural noun suffices should be placed after prepositions, not the fact of pluralizing prepositions.

It will be more correct to call these words postpositions, but I'll stick with more familiar term.


Translate the following into grammatically correct Classical Black Speech.

You (sing.) will call the evil elves to Mordor.
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”.

Uu-u – overusing “-u” suffix

If noun is ended with u (i.e. “mau” = warrior, “tau” = forest), place the preposition “to” before noun for clearance (u mau = to warrior). For plural nouns it's supposed to use -uz suffix (urbhuz = to the mountains), but again it may be confused with past tense suffix -uz (what “ghâshuz” means: “burned” or “to the fires”?) So my advice is to place preposition “to” before noun in this case too. If noun ending with u shall be put in plural form and combined with preposition “to”, you shall say “u tauz” (to the woods) for example instead of “tauzuz” for clarity.

Noun cases

Because some prepositions take the role of cases and all of them are suffixed to the nouns and pronouns, becoming postpositions, I suppose that Classical Black Speech have 30+ cases similar to Finno-Ugric languages. But because every of such suffixes took the meaning of both case and preposition, it's easier to learn them than if it were 4 – 8 cases used differently with several verbs and prepositions (like in Russian). Debased Black Speech and Orkish dialects however have a tendency to abandon cases and spell them separately before nouns like English prepositions.

Phrase verbs

Adding some prepositions after a verb modifies it's meaning in English. Such expressions are called “phrase verbs”. Black Speech doesn't have such constructions. Phrase verbs should have separate translation in one word. Unfortunately, majority of phrase verbs do not have such in dictionary, so try to find synonyms.

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