Morphology of Nûrlâm

Morphology studies words, their formation and structure. Tha basic concept of morphology is morpheme. Morpheme is the smallest unit of language. Morphemes are divided into following categories:

  • Free (unbound) morphemes can function as independent words, they include roots which may form compound words.
  • Bound morphemes exist only as parts of the words usually attached to roots. Affixes (a term combining prefixes and suffixes) belong to this category. They are further divided into:
    • Derivational (word formation) morphemes which change semantic meaning or part of speech. In example suffix -al denotes profession or occupation (as -er in English), thus adding it to stem “farb” (the hunt/to hunt) makes new word “farbal” (hunter).
    • Inflectional morphemes affect grammar. E.g. suffix -at makes gerundive from bare verb stem.
    • Auxiliary affixes are kinda unique to Nûrlâm, they may be treated as part of other suffixes variants, but because of their few numbers and uniformity can be separated. These include -z- (e.g. inserted between root of nouns ending with vowel and case suffixes starting with vowel) and -t- (inserted after verb's markers of 3rd person before other suffixes).

Some suffixes (like forming infinitive and participles) can be treated either as derivational of inflectional depending on whether interpret these forms as separate lexical categories or as forms of verb. This wiki place them at inflectional suffix list.

Most prefixes of Standard and Modern Nûrlâm were suffixes in Archaic language.

When several suffixes required to join the root, they form a chain with fixed suffix order. Rules of this order for each part of speech are described at corresponding chapters of Grammar section. The longest suffix chains belong to nouns and verbs.

Clitics mostly belong to free morphemes, but may be functioning also as affixes, either inflectional (case postpositions, aspect adverbs) or derivational (short adjectives).

Lists of common affixes

Compound words

Black Speech excessively uses compound words for derivation. Basing on Tolkien's examples rules are the following:

  • When joining adjective with noun, adjective should go after a noun, like in Lugbûrz (where lug = tower and bûrz = dark).
  • When joining two nouns, modifier should precedes main word. Examples are Nazgûl (from nazg = ring and gûl = wraith), Dushgoi (from dush = sorcery and goi = city, citadel), bûb-hosh (bûb = pig, hosh = guts).

Pattern “noun + noun” is preferrable when making new words, for example, if you want for some reason to translate the word “dinosaur” into Nûrlâm from Greek (“terrible/fearsome reptile”), it's better use two nouns “Dread-dragon” (“Gozdlûg”, “Ufurlûg”) or “Might-dragon” (“Balûg”), than noun with adjective to distinguish it from just “scary/terrible/mighty dragon” (“Lûguf”, “Lûggoth”, “Lûgbhau”, “Lûgbolg”).

Morphological typology of Nûrlâm

Black Speech is considered an agglutinative synthetic language, as well as elvish Quenya. In pure agglutinative language each inflectional morpheme should carry information on one grammatical category only, and each grammatical category should be expressed with same affix for different parts of speech (lexical category). Classical Black Speech can be analyzed also as polysynthetic language where one long word may be translated into a whole sentence of typical fusional language or several words belonging to distinct lexical categories (e.g. word “durbatulûk” = “to rule them all”). Nûrlâm has also some traces of fusional language for example in participle suffixes, standalone personal pronouns' inflection and phonetical merging of adjacent sounds which makes it harder to divide suffixes in chain one from another or from word's root. Colloquial Debased Black Speech spoken by orcs in “The Lord of the Rings” belongs more to analytical language where grammar is expressed through word order. The shift from agglutination to analyticness occured through influence of other tongues (Sindarin, various mannish languages) and separation of clitics used for grammatical purposes from root words in colloquial speech.

morphology.txt · Last modified: 2022/12/10 14:29 by morgoth