Locative cases

Nûrlâm has a group of grammatical cases intended for marking locations and directions of movement (and also of sight and sound). They are collectively called Locative cases. They are similar to English prepositions such as “in”, “on”, “at”, “to”, “from”. Nûrlâm's system of locative cases is similar to that one of Uralic (Finno-Ugric) languages, but has one additional Intrative case (suffix -ri, similar to English preposition “between”) which is rare in real-world languages. Locative cases usually transform the role of noun from object into adverbial.

Status of motion Position in space
motion to
motion from

English and many other languages has confusing rules on using prepositions indicating position. In Nûrlâm they are used only literally according to the summary table above (except some abstract nouns). So the usage of locative words may differ from English. For example, if you want say “He lives in Mordor”, you should use suffix -or and not -ishi (both can be translated as “in”): “Takûl Uzgbûrzor”. There may be still ambiguities, specially with objects describing almost flat locations on Earth's surface (like forest, farm, city), but usually they are treated the same as objects with 3-dimensional border (like room, body). Locative cases may refer groups of people (words like army, gang, Rohirrim, etc.).

Unlike other languages, locative words never express time in Nûrlâm, but some prepositions are used instead (together with Accusative case).

Ablative case

Ablative case is formed by clitic postposition “-bo” for all declension classes. It can be translated with English prepositions “off” and “from”. It is used to express motion from the object:

  • from the top of object, like falling: “He fell off the cliff” = “Talûmpuz fipbo”;
  • from outside of object: “He came out of this place” = “Taskâtuz zinbo”;
  • old owner of direct object, including taking off objects (clothes, tools, weapons) from body or hands to other surfaces or persons: “I took ring off his body” = “Dasnabuz ash nazg loiktabbo”; also used with expression “free from”: “freedom from Dark Lord” ⇒ “sligurm Gothbûrzbo” ;
  • long distance from object (including static position) together with postposition “baub”: “He is far from home” = “Ta mokhbo baub”.

It should not be mixed with Elative case which has similar meaning (see below). Ablative is specially not used with geographical names.

Adessive case

Adessive case is formed by clitic postposition “-ir” for declension class I and “-zir” for declension class II. It can be translated into English with prepositions “on”, “on top of”, “at”, “in”. It usually marks static position of subject on the object, including:

  • static position on the surface: “The flea is sitting on my hair” = “Abhum duzâ zudir dab”;
  • static position on top of the object: “I left the ring on the table” = “Daranguz ash nazg dâltir”;
  • motion of subject without leaving the surface (or top) of the object: “A louse is crawling on my skin” = “Ash abh smûghâ daftir dab”;
  • location on the road, street (including address), shore, bank of the river, etc.: “He lives on the streets” = “Takûl mûlir”;
  • position on the level/floor of the building or dungeon: “Let's meet on 2nd level of the tower” = “Gâkh hogat krulûrz tâlir lugob”;
  • position in close proximity of the object, together with postposition “mush” (near, next to, by): “He stands near our house” = “Tabin ozdir mush dakob”.

Allative case

Allative case is formed by clitic postposition -u for declension class I and -zu for declension class II. It can be translated with English prepositions “onto”, “upon”, “towards”, “to”. It's used to indicate general direction of movement with verbs like “go”, “come”, “return”, “bring”, etc:

  • motion towards surface or border of object: “Army is marching to the gates of Gondor!” = “Khothum thûkhâ hûmu Gunduzgob!”;
  • motion from bottom to the top (including metaphors): “Fly to the sky!” = “Skoir nûtu!”;
  • motion outside, together with postposition lût, may be replaced with Elative case: “Get out of the room!” = “Ukh ambu lût!” = “Ukhodah!”;
  • motion towards person: “Come to daddy!” = “Skât kranku!”;

Overlaps with other cases

Please notice, that phrase “One does not simply walk into Mordor” should be translated with Illative case (see below), because getting inside is meant there, not just to the borders of the region. “Fall into darkness” will be also translated with Illative case, while “Ascend to the light” with Allative.

Allative case can be also mixed with Adessive case, but difference is that “Takamduz dîlgir” means “He was already on the roof when he started jumping” and “Takamduz dîlgu” means “He was on the ground and then jumped to the roof”, while both can be loosely translated as “He jumped on the roof”.

Allative case started used instead of Dative in colloquial speech and some dialects (as in Shadowlandian).

Elative case

Elative case is formed by clitic postposition -ah for declension class I and -zah for declension class II. It can be translated with English prepositions “out of”, “from”. Elative case usually marks:

  • motion from the place, region, geographical area: “I came from Mordor” = “Daskâtuz Uzgbûrzah”;
  • leaving closed area, room, building: “He escaped from the dungeon” = “Ta irzuz bagronkah”;
  • motion from inside of the object: “Blood is draining out of me” = “Ghor sirâ dazah”;
  • motion from the bottom, motion from object lying below the other: “I have climbed from the ground” = “Dagunguz ghâmpah”;
  • transformation of subject from material or object: “The city arose from the ashes” = “Goium tulguz hîshtah”, “He makes wine out of blood” = “Takramp mirb ghorah” (compare with example of Illative case below);
  • material (interchangeable with Genitive case): “This ring is made of gold” = “Za nazg kulâ krampuga lûrah”;

Illative case

Illative case is the only locative case found in known Tolkien's material. It is formed by clitic postposition -ishi for declension class I and -shi for declension class II. It is usually translated with English prepositions “into”, “inside”, “inwards”, “in”, “within”. Illative case always implies motion or transformation:

  • movement inside body, room, substance, etc., within its borders without leaving it: “Fish swims in the sea” = “Skab luntâ kârshishi”;
  • motion to the inside of object (such as body, room, building, geographical region, etc.), entering, crossing the border: “One does not simply walk into Mordor” = “Ash narukhâ Uzgbûrzishi ulsarz” = “Narpâsh ukhut Uzgbûrzishi ulsarz”, “An arrow hit into his chest” = “Ash pîl grushuzâ nirntabishi”, “I will enter the dungeon” = “Daukhub bagronkishi”;
  • motion to the bottom (including metaphorical): “I will fall into the darkness” = “Dalûmpub burzumishi”;
  • transformation into another form, transformation of material: “Troll turned to stone with sunlight” = “Olog raguzâ gundishi dîlthîr”, “He turns blood into wine” = “Tarag ghor mirbishi” (compare with example of Elative case above)

Inessive case

Inessive case is formed by clitic postposition -or for declension class I and -zor for declension class II. It can be translated with English prepositions “in” and “at”. Inessive case is used to denote:

  • static position in region, geographical area, room, building, etc.: “I live in Mordor” = “Dakûl Uzgbûrzor”, “Killer is hiding in the shadows” = “Thrug fauthâ bathor”;
  • the same with further clarification or accentuation with postposition “nâd”: “The killer still stays in this house” = “Thrugum irnâ za ozdor nâd rad”;
  • place of work: “I work in the stone pits” = “Dabul gundronkor”;
  • in expressions like “good at”, “superior in” with area of work, occupation: “He is good at fishing” = “Takul bhog skabautor”;
  • with impersonal constructions of possession like “There are 6 teeth in Gollum's mouth” = “(kulâ) Ink glok pugor Gollumob”, “There are many stars in the sky” = “(kulâ) Mak ilz nûtor”;
  • to express location that is part of bigger object (similar to previous example): “with hate in his heart” = “mogsha tishtabor”.

Inessive case is not used for indicating purpose or receiving a benefit (“in order to” – gerundive; “in memory of”, “in loving memory” – dative case instead).

Intrative case

Intrative case is rarely found in languages of real world. It is formed by clitic postposition -ri for both declension classes. It has basic meaning “between”, “among”, “amidst”. If two objects are mentioned than “-ri” should be added to both nouns. Intrative case is used to express:

  • location between object in plural form: “Look between these (two) trees!” = “Hon krul ornzari!”;
  • the same but with two different objects: “Between the hammer and the anvil” = “drangri agh ghondri”;
  • static position in the middle of region: “The lonely tree stands amidst the field” = “Ashûk orn binâ rîzumri”, may be replaced with expression “in the middle of”: “The lonely tree stands in the middle of the field” = “Ashûk orn binâ nodumor rîzumob”;
  • the state of subject within group of people: “I live among the orcs” = “Dakîb uruk-hairi”, but “A fish lives in the sea” will be “Ash skab kîbâ kârshor”;
  • motion between two locations or objects without crossing their border or surface: “He travels between cities” = “Tagab goiri”;

Please note that motion within the borders of location or surface of object is denoted with Illative case (see above).

Other cases used as locative or confused with them

Some grammatical and marginal cases may be confused with certain locative cases due to their usage in English.

Genitive vs. Elative

As Elative case may be expressed with English compound preposition “out of”, it may be confused with Genitive case. Elative case is used when “out of” may be replaced semantically with “from” (so, almost always). Any of these two cases may be used when applied to some material. Example: “Rise from the ashes” ⇒ “Tulg hîshtah” = “Tulg hîshtob”.

Dative vs. Allative

Dative case may be confused with Allative as they are both expressed with English preposition “to”. For example, in Shadowlandian dialect Tolkien's ending “-u” was frequently used for Dative case (“-ûr” was used only with literal translation of preposition “for”).

In Nûrlâm these are two distinct cases. If “to” can be replaced with “for” than Dative case should be used. Usually dative refers to persons, while allative to places. However the sentence “Bring the ring to Minas Morgul” may be translated with dative case too, if “Minas Morgul” is considered as referrer to Nazgûl: “Thrak nazgum Dushgoizu” or “Thrak nazgum Dushgoizûr”.


English preposition “by” may refer to motion near or through the object, so it carries some locative functions. Static position near the object in Nûrlâm is expressed with Adessive case with additional postposition “mush” (next to, near). Motion near the borders of the object is expressed with Allative case with same postposition “mush”. Motion near or through the borders may be expressed with postposition “as” (across, along, through) with object in Accusative case. Instrumental case is used with locative function together with postposition “tuk” (through): “They will go through the forest of shadows” = “Takukhub taurzi tuk bathob”.

Comitative case

Comitative case may denote a very close proximity of object and subject but with a tone of alienable possession and without exact location. For example in “Tabrus ash kirm îmsha” = “He has a knife with him(self)”, suffix “-sha” shows primarily that knife is somewhere near the person's pocket or arm without stating exactly where, but also that person currently possess the knife but do not necessarily own it (may be borrowed or stolen).

Essive case

Essive case is used in Uralic languages similarly to locative case but regarding to time (Finnish “maanantaina” = “on Monday”). Probably it was used as general locative case in ancient language (“kotona” = “at home”). In Nûrlâm the term “essive” used only for it's wider occurrence, while it's functions are closer to “similative” or “equative”.

Evolution of locative cases

Ancient Black Speech probably had a large number of locative cases expressed by postpositions, similar to Hungarian and various North-East Caucasian languages. Colloquial Debased Black Speech had none of them. The following stages of abandoning of locative cases occurred during transformation from Standard Nûrlâm to Colloquial:

  1. Adessive (-ir) and Inessive (-or) cases had merged ending for declension class II into “-r” for both cases.
  2. Illative case (-ishi) took the function of Adessive and Inessive.
  3. Allative case (-u) started being used as Dative (as in Shadowlandian).
  4. Replacing locative case postpositions with prepositions and objects in accusative case, except for Tolkien's “-ishi” (Locative, combining Illative-Adessive-Inessive) and “-u” (Dative-Allative).
  5. All locative cases abandoned, prepositions used instead.
case_locative.txt · Last modified: 2022/11/28 19:31 by morgoth