The complete dictionary for Nûrlâm is the long-term project that will even be started in the far future, so some constantly updated wordlists will be published. Grouping words in categories is good and natural idea while creating new language. The dictionary in its current state is available at Black Speech School site, however online only, without downloads.

For Nûrlâm the extended Swadesh 200+ list (frequent words universal to the most languages) was split into categories: Pronouns, Conjunctions & particles & prepositions, Numbers, Adjectives (quantity, size, colors and other), Persons & relatives, animals, plants, parts of body & organs, verbs, cosmic objects (like Moon and Sun), terrain types & objects, weather & fall-outs, fire, time & seasons. Then it will be expanded a little bit in each category. The next step is to translate elvish, mannish, dwarven etc. names for Arda-specific geographical terms (specially places of Mordor), names of races, creatures, animals and plants.

Basing on the cite “The orcs and goblins had languages of their own <…> fluent only in the expression of abuse, of hatred and fear” 1), next are the words for orcish (or just dark) way of life (kill, destroy and curse). However there are already plenty of them in Svartiska. Which brings names of weapons and armor, and then names of crafting materials (specially lacking words for metals), technological processes (casting, melting, forging, hardening etc.) and tools, cooking (specially meat in field conditions), names for professions etc. Words for killing & destroying also brings us more terms in anatomy and parts of body.

Then goes roleplay terms from LARP to D&D. The last step will be dialectical words for Orcs from different regions (Mordor, Moria). Each step leads to word-making process in other categories.

This approach will make dictionary small but vivid and is better than trying to translate some random assorted texts. Perfection will be achieved when we will be able to translate dialogues from LOTR without much simplification (like Shagrat and Gorbag conversations on Horngoth's page).

Wordlists in categories

Some words may appear in several categories

Borrowing words

Even the core (Tolkien's) lexicon of Ring Verse consists of many words borrowed from other languages of Arda (Valarin, Sindarin, Quenya). The examples are nazg (= ring, from Valarin naškâd), durb = (rule, from Quenya tur), ghâsh (= fire, possibly from Valarin igas = heat). Modern dialects loan new words actively. Shadowlandian took them mainly from Quenya. Zhâburi focuses on Primitive Elvish and Valarin.

Both Shadowlandian and Svartiska, and to a greater degree MERP have also borrowings from languages of real word (MERP mostly Albanian, but also Slavic and Turkic, some Germanic and Celtic). Nûrlâm tries to avoid them at all and treat them as dialectical words. However the words that were taken from languages of Arda but with origin in real world are considered appropriate. The example of later are krond (tunnel, mine) from Sindarin groth which was probably taken from Italian “grotto” (small cave) < Latin “crypta” (vault) < Greek “κρυπτός” (hidden) and tind- (to sparkle, glint) < Quenya “tinde” (a glint) < English “tinder”.

Orcish names incorporate stems of older versions of Elvish languages such as Gnomish and Noldorin (which later became Sindarin) and Qenya (predecessor of Quenya) or even raw roots from Etymologies (the chapter of “The Lost Road and Other Writings”). Words of other dialects taken from Quenya and Sindarin also became more similar to their older versions (intentionally or not).

About 100 words of 207 were directly borrowed into Nûrlâm from other Neo Black Speech dialects, while other 110 were either invented or modified to suit Nûrlâm's objectives. Both Nûrlâm and other dialects actively loan words from Elvish languages.

Swadesh 207 words list contains 63 loan words from Quenya/Qenya, 8 directly from raw Etymologies roots, 36 from Sindarin/Noldorin/Gnomish, 7 from Valarin, thus total 114 (55%) borrowed words which is a very high number. In 100 words-list there are 40 of Elvish origin (all languages) and 6 of Valarin. The reduction of the Swadesh list from 207 to 100 words keeps almost all Valarin borrowings, doubling their percentage, keeping the same Elvish loan-words frequency (~ 55%). It was tempting to assume that there are more Valarin words in core dictionary, but further limiting it to 35 words (Swadesh-Yakhontov list) keeps only 1 borrowing from Valarin, but rising Elvish roots up to 60%. Restricting to Tolkien's lexicon only give us 38 Elvish/Valarin words of 72 (52.8%). Therefore it's assumed that Black Speech belongs to Elvish language family but stays in separate group.

However these calculations are approximate, as it's hard to calculate exact distribution of Elvish loan-words as many words exist both in Sindarin and Quenya and Nûrlâm tends to melt words from other dialects with elvish languages into one word.

Word derivation

Derivation is the process of forming a new word from existing one, usually to transform it into another part of speech. It's usually done by derivational suffixes. However it's often done without any additional affixes, specially with morphing nouns into verbs or vice-versa. Derivation without affixes is called zero-derivation.

Principles of adding words into Nûrlâm's dictionary

The algorithm of choosing, how the word in Nûrlâm should look and sound like, is the following:

  1. Find translations of English word into all other Neo Black Speech dialects using online dictionary at BlackSpeech.ru site. If anything was found go to step 2, else go to step 8;
  2. Avoid results used in Tolkien's sources with different or unknown meaning;
  3. Drop out results not satisfying phonetical objectives of Nûrlâm or try to change words according to them. If word is supposed to be joined in other combined words, it should be phonetically easy.
  4. Exclude results that have completely different translation in any other dialect 2);
  5. Avoid words that have too many meanings, even if they are related;
  6. Make preference to words in following order:
    1. Elvish etymology;
    2. Shadowlandian;
    3. Svartiska;
    4. Horngoth;
    5. others
  7. If any words left, then adopt them and finish, else go to next step;
  8. Invent new word with following steps:
  9. Try to find the word with similar meaning in Quenya, Sindarin and Etymologies;
  10. If any found, modify them to Orcish-like sounds and finish, else go to next step;
  11. Find correspondency in Hurrian or Urartian (however probability to find something is lower than with Elvish languages); modify it if anything was found and stop, else go to next step;
  12. Modify sounds or add suffix to existing word with related meaning.

Translating real texts

From books by J.R.R. Tolkien:

Other texts:

These examples will be especially useful while guide to translation from English into Nûrlâm is not ready (and not planned soon, modify this paragraph when it will be ready).

Proverbs, idioms, catchy phrases

Add examples or separate page(s)

Proper translations of Tolkien's orcish names are not excluded
lexicon.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/07 19:38 by