Black Speech dialects

Due to short dictionary and lack of grammatic rules in original Tolkien's Black Speech some of his fans created their own dialects of language in attempt to make it usable in real-life or LARP. Many of them were unaware of others' work. These dialects vary in following Tolkien's style (intentionally or not), in sources of words borrowing and of course in vocabulary, grammar, phonetics etc.

This article will briefly review most popular and well-devoloped dialects of Neo black speech and Neo-Orkish in alphabetical order. While these dialects couldn't be considered scientifically relevant, and none of them claims to be “true” successor of original Tolkien's Black Speech, their existence perfectly fits in Tolkien's description of orcs, whose different tribes could not understand one another.


Horngoth

The name of this dialect is translated as “Beast master” (literally) or as “Cowboy orkish”. It's often abbreviated as HORN or HG. It was created by Rob Eaglestone (RE). Dictionary contains a lot of borrowings from Shadowlandian and Svartiska dialects. The unique feature of this dialect is vowel reduction in forming verbs from nouns (i.e. ghashan – ghashn). In general it sounds more “harsh” than other existing dialects. Grammar is not explained while it's dictionary mentions a lot of derivative and grammatical particles.


MERP

MERP (Middle-Earth Roleplay) – The dictionary was published in 1995 in “Angmar” campaign setting for 2nd Edition, but about 150 words were given in 1st Edition (1989) and few others were scattered across other books since 1984 which makes it the oldest known dialect. The dictionary is also published on Orcish Nations site but with many mistakes and diacritic marks missing. No grammar was given, but sometimes Sindarin rules were applied for pluralizing nouns (in 1st Edition). MERP also had a Quasi-Khuzdul, Haradric and other language inventions.


Nûrlâm

“Scholar language”. Started as derivative of Shadowlandian (LOS, see below), created by author of Black Speech School site. This wiki is dedicated to this dialect. It has separate article.


Shadowlandian

This dialect was created for The Land of Shadow site by Scatha. It is often referred as LOS (abbreviation for “The Land of Shadow”). Self-title is “Uzg Bûrgulu-ob” (“Land of Shadows”). It was based on A. Appleyard analysis of Black Speech. Quenya language was chosen as the main source for borrowing words missing in the dictionary. Initially the grammar was developed moderately but later was extended by enthusiasts including author of Black Speech School site and Nûrlâm dialect.


Svartiska

Svartiska (“Blackish” in Swedish, abbreviated as SV) is a collection of dialects based mostly on MERP created by Swedish LARP groups and systematized by Mikael “Adragoor” Bynke and David “Meldon” Burström in early 1990s. It has large dictionary and average developed grammar (however it's like two different set of rules). It seems this dialect has more users in real life than others. This dialect was not intended to look and sound like Tolkien's Black Speech but it has strong connection to his works in lexicon.


Zhâburi

The name is translated just as “Black Speech”. There are actually two versions of this dialect called A and B. Zhâburi A is basically Svartiska Black Speech with different grammar inspired by dead Hurrian language and some additions to dictionary. It was created by Björn Axén for Utumno LARP. Zhâburi B is a dialect under construction which differs more from Svartiska both in dictionary and grammar. It borrows also from Primitive Elvish, Valarin, Adûnaic and other languages of Arda in addition to Hurrian. Please visit official site of Zhâburi dialect for more information.


Others

There are also some minor dialects:

  • Mugbûrz (lit.: Dark twilight) dialect completely disappeared from the web before the year 2002, so there is no any information on it except some references from creators of other dialects. Words borrowed from this dialect by others sound quite harsh and menacing. Scatha believes that Mugbûrz appeared before Svartiska and was the source for some words of it.
  • Red Hand Orkish has purely compilative dictionary (with words taken from LOS, MERP, Horngoth and Svartiska) created by Lugrekh. It has some additions to wordlist considered as Shadowlandian.
  • Some unnamed dictionaries and translations of Shadowlandian and Svartiska into other languages existed which are not listed here.

Timeline of dialects apparition in real world

Year of creation in the chart below is based on dialect's first publication in the Web.

Tolkien → MERP (1989, 1995) → Mugbûrz (?)1) → Svartiska (< 1994) → Shadowlandian (2002) → Horngoth (2003) → Red Hand Orcish (2005) → Zhâburi A (2011) → Zhâburi B (2016) → Nûrlâm (late 2018)


Timeline of dialects in Arda's history

This is based purely on subjective vision of Nûrlâm's author.

Tolkien's Neo-Black Speech and Orcish dialects
1st Age 2nd Age 3rd age and later
AO CBS Zhâburi B Zhâburi A Svartiska dialects DBS as in Tolkien's Orcish curse MERP
Nûrlâm Mugbûrz Shadowlandian, Horngoth Red Hand Orcish

For comparison chart of some Black Speech dialects' features see Evolution of Black Speech article.

1)
Scatha states that Mugbûrz appeared earlier than Svartiska, but I'm not sure if she was aware that Svartiska was in use before it was posted on Web
black_speech_dialects.txt · Last modified: 2022/11/07 00:59 (external edit)