Pronoun is a class of words which substitute not only the noun (personal pronouns), but also adjective (in example genitive/possessive form of personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns), adverb (some indefinite pronouns) or numeral. Taking the role of word other than noun and controversy when some demonstrative, indefinite and relative pronouns may be treated as other parts of speech (depending on language, or within one language depending on situation) is the reason why in modern linguistic pronouns are grouped with such controversial words together as pro-forms.

All pronouns that take the role of subject or object of the sentence are inflected in cases and have grammatical category of person. Classical Nûrlâm do not have category of number and gender but in colloquial speech many pronouns have got grammatical number and 3rd person personal pronouns also have got grammatical gender. Indefinite, relative and interrogative pronouns were only universal and unanimated in Archaic Nûrlâm. Animated pronouns are introduced (but rarely used) in Standard language and become commonly used in colloquial language. Some pronouns may be clitic and standalone.

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns are closely related to grammatical category of person. In Nûrlâm this connection is even closer than usual. There is a popular belief that Sauron forbids using standalone personal pronouns specially in singular form (Classical Black Speech do not have singular number at all), but they became clitics similar to affixes of person attached to verbs. Most sentences do not have stand-alone pronouns except analytic forms of language used only in modern Debased Black Speech and answering the questions (like “I” in response to “Who did it?”).

Not only pronouns taking the role of subject are joined to verbs but also direct object in accusative case may be attached too. However in colloquial speech only 3rd person plural -ul (them) is still added as suffix while others usually used as standalone words. If object pronoun is in some case except Nominative and Accusative or has dependent modifier (usually adjective) then they both are written separately. Subject pronouns rarely have modifiers.

Actually such behavior of pronouns is the calque from Quenya, and not the unique thing of Black Speech and not the result of some imaginary Sauron's philosophy. “Cf. Aragorn's exclamation when he found the sapling of the White Tree: Utúvienyes!, “I have found it!” (utúvie-nye-s “have found-I-it”; LotR3/VI ch. 5)” 1)

Similarly to Hurrian, Nûrlâm has complex pronominal system (however more consistent) with different pronouns for subject and object.

Pronouns were heavily modified during the history of Black Speech. Below is the summary table for all features existed in Nûrlâm. See also articles on grammatical category of person and evolution of Black Speech for more historical information.

Standard Nûrlâm

Personal pronouns are divided into 3 categories: clitic subjective pronouns, clitic objective pronouns and standalone pronouns.

Person Position English Nûrlâm Etymology
1st sg. standalone I da HORN “da”;
compare with Urartian ending “-də” of intransitive verb in 1st person singular
clitic, -4 [1] da-
clitic, 4 [3] me -iz LOS “-izg”, ZB “-ish” (1st person exclusive clitic pronoun in absolutive case) < Hurrian standalone 1st person singular pronoun “ishte”
1st pl. standalone we dak HORN “dak”, in analogy with 3rd person “ta” – “tak”
clitic, -4 [1] dak-
clitic, 4 [3] us -ak ZB “-ak” (1st person inclusive clitic pronoun in absolutive case)
2nd sg. standalone you, thou fi Gnomish singular “fi” + Hurrian standalone singular “fe”
clitic, -4 [1] fi-
clitic, 4 [3] you, thee -am Hurrian absolutive 2nd singular clitic “-m(ma)”
2nd pl. standalone you, ye gi DS “ki” < Adûnaic “ki” & Qenya “ke” (sing.), DS “gi” (your), Gnomish “gwe” (pl.)
clitic, -4 [1] gi-
clitic, 4 [3] you -af Hurrian absolutive 2nd plural clitic “-f(fa)”
3rd sg. standalone he, she, it ta EL “tak” (they), all major dialects from Etym. “TA” (that), Qenya “ta” (that, it), replaced in later Quenya
clitic, -4 [1] ta-
clitic, 3 [2] -â(t) Hurrian 3rd person suffix of transitive verb “-a” + LOS 3rd person singular verb suffix “-at”;
compare with HORN suffix “-a” with meaning “one who does”
clitic, 4 [3] him, her, it -an Hurrian absolutive 3rd singular clitic “-n(na)”
3rd pl. standalone they tak EL “tak” (they)
clitic, -4 [1] tak-
clitic, 3 [2] -û(t) rare Svartiska's plural suffix + AN 3rd person plural verb ending -ut
clitic, 4 [3] them -ul TK, CBS, RI

Third person nominal markers and are used at the end of the word and before consonants of following suffixes and clitics. When following suffixes or clitics starts with vowel (almost every of them), auxiliary suffix -t- is inserted between them (see verb's suffix chain). During transition to Modern language 3rd person markers and occur only with transitive verbs.

Singular and 2nd person plural subjective pronouns (da, fi, gi, ta) are written separately if verb's root starts with vowel and it has no other prefixes. 1st and 3rd person plural personal subjective pronouns (tak and dak) may be written separately if verb's root starts with consonant cluster or with “k” or “g” sounds which makes fast pronunciation of combined word difficult.

Archaic Nûrlâm

In Archaic Nûrlâm 1st and 2nd person pronouns probably had one form for singular and plural number, which became singular in Standard language.

Colloquial Nûrlâm

All pronouns are written separately from verb with plural forms unified. However some subdialects adopted subject pronouns, while others took object clitics as stand-alone subjects pronouns. 3rd person plural suffix becomes common plural suffix for all parts of speech. Adding division in gender for 3rd person pronouns.

Person, number and gender English Nûrlâm Etymology
1st sing. I da
izg LOS
1st pl. we dak
izgû LOS “izg” + regular plural suffix “-û”
2nd sing. you fi
lat AN, used in majority of other Neo Black Speech dialects;
compare with Quenya “-lyë”, “-llë”, “ellë”, “le”
2nd pl. gi
latû AN “lat” + regular plural suffix “-û”
3rd sing. m. he ta
3rd sing. f. she na SV, see also “-an” of Standard Nûrlâm
3rd sing. n. it za SV < EL “za” (this), compare with Etym. “SI” (this, here, now)
3rd pl. they tak
ulû TK “ul” + regular plural suffix “-û”, calque from LOS “ulu”


Positions in verb's suffix chain table:

  1. -4: prefix of person (pronominal subject);
  2. 3: suffix of person when subject is not a personal pronoun, e.g. noun or relative or indefinite pronoun;
  3. 4: suffix of object's person (only when object is a personal pronoun in Accusative/Objective case);

Summary table

Person Number Gender English Clitic Standalone
Prefix of pronominal person/ subject/ agent Suffix of person Suffix of pronominal object/ patient
1st general I/we da- -∅ -iz da
singular I da- -iz da
plural we dak- -∅ -ak dak
2nd general you fi- -∅ -am fi
singular you/thou fi- -am fi
plural you/ye gi- -∅ -af gi
3rd general common he/she/it ta- -â(t) -an ta
3rd singular common he/she/it ta- -â(t) -an ta
singular masculine he ta
feminine she na
neuter it za
3rd plural they tak- -û(t) -ul tak

Case forms of pronouns

Standalone personal pronouns are inflected in cases with many irregular forms. Specially modern variants of 1st and 3rd person, which differ from standard and archaic language, but use their objective case form to make other cases. However most of these cases are rarely seen in modern language.

Case All subdialects Modern variant 2
Person Person
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
you, thou
you, ye
sg. m.,
sg. f.,
sg. n.,
you, thou
you, ye
SUB, NOM da dak fi gi ta na za tak izg izgû lat latû ulû
OBJ, ACC iz ak am af an ul
GEN dab dakob fib gib tab nab zab takob izub izubû lab labû ulubû
DAT dazûr dakûr fizûr gizûr tazûr nazûr zazûr takûr izûr izûrû latûr latûrû ulûr
ACC2) tash nash za ul izish izishû latish latishû ul
INS darzi dakirzi firzi girzi tarzi narzi zarzi takirzi izirzi izirziz latirzi latirziz ulirzi
COM dasha daksha fisha gisha tasha nasha zasha taksha isha ishaz latsha latshaz ulsha
ESS dasi daksi fisi gisi tasi nasi zasi taksi issi issiz latsi latsiz ulsi
ABL dabo dakbo fibo gibo tabo nabo zabo takbo izbo izboz latbo latboz ulbo
ADE dazir dakir fizir gizir tazir nazir zazir takir izir izirû latir latirû ulir
ALL dazu daku fizu gizu tazu nazu zazu taku izgu izguz latu latuz uluz
ELA dazah dakah fizah gizah tazah nazah zazah takah izah izahû latah latahû ulah
ILL dashi dakishi fishi gishi tashi nashi zashi takishi izishi izishiz latishi latishiz ulishi
INE dazor dakor fizor gizor tazor nazor zazor takor izor izorû lator latorû ulor
ITRT dari dakri firi giri tari nari zari takri izri izriz latri latriz ulri

Possessive pronouns

Nûrlâm doesn't have special possessive pronouns but uses genitive case of personal pronouns instead. In example English “my” should be translated as “of I” (dab). Possessive pronouns often become clitics attached to noun, similar to short adjectives.

Reflexive and reciprocal pronouns

Nûrlâm has one reflexive pronoun -îm (“self”) for all persons (as in Quenya or real-world Icelandic). As with personal pronouns it was originally plural, but later become singular in colloquial speech with plural form made with standard suffix . It is inflected in cases. Genitive case is used to express possessive form which English lacks, thus îmob can be translated as “own”. Reflexive pronoun -îm is also used as prefix (the same as English “self-”) before nouns.

When reflexive pronoun is added to the verb as clitic, the verb may be analyzed as being in reflexive voice. But this term is not used because of it's rarity.

There is no special reciprocal pronoun like English “one another” or “each other”. Generalizing pronoun “they” may be skipped. For example English sentence “They saw each other” translates into “Ash hontuzta isk” (lit. “one saw another”). If two nouns are mentioned in reciprocal phrase (e.g. “orcs and elves saw each other”), they are not skipped, e.g. “uruk agh golug hontuzut ûgh isk”. Word order may vary (“… isk ûgh” instead). Possible words for making reciprocal pronouns are “ash” (one), “isk” (another, other), “ûgh” (each, every) in virtually any combination, for example “ûgh ûghish” (every every) is possible. Possessive forms like “one another's” are made by adding genitive case suffix “-ob” to both of words. See indefinite pronouns and pro-forms articles.

Demonstrative pronouns

Classical Nûrlâm has two demonstrative pronouns: za (standing both for this and these) and zîg (that and those respectively). In modern language they have got distinct plural form by adding standard plural suffixes (becoming zaz and zîgû correspondently). Both words can be inflected in case. Demonstrative pronoun za (this) later become used also as neuter personal pronoun (it) and definite article (the).

Some words with similar relation but referring to place or time are considered adverbs. See Pro-forms article for a full list of demonstrative words.

Category Distance
Near Far
Person or thing za
Person, plural zahai
(these people)
(those people)

Relative and interrogative pronouns

While in the most of languages relative and interrogative pronouns are identical in most forms, in Black Speech dialects there is a difference. Interrogative pronouns (question words) are often started with m- and relative pronouns are formed by placing prefix a- before interrogative pronouns with an exception of zamash (relative that). Some of these words are considered adverbs in English (where, when, why, how), and zamash (relative that) is treated as conjugation in other languages. See Pro-forms article for a full list of them.

Interrogative Relative English translation
mash amash what, which
mai amai who3), which
zamash that4)

The word mai (= who) may be inflected in cases, particularly genitive case (maib) is used as analog of English “whose” and others are translated as “whom” with corresponding preposition.

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns is the largest group of pronouns, usually referring to unspecified persons, things. Many of them are functioning also as adverbs or adjectives. This group of pronouns also includes many quantifier words. Many English indefinite pronouns are combined words starting with every-, some-, any- while word -ever is the only one placed after the root. Black Speech in contrast place most of such words after the root and frequently with merging adjacent sounds. Similarily to difference between Nûrlâm's relative and interrogative pronouns there is a distinction between elective and dubitative existential pronouns which are the same in English. Dubitative indefinite pronouns are similar to interrogative and used with irrealis category of mood (including questions). Elective pronouns are formed from dubitative the same way as relative pronouns from interrogative, by adding prefix a-. See Pro-forms article for full list of Indefinite pronouns.

only in modern dialects, for Archaic and Standard language see OBJ
considered plural, may be inflected in cases
only in relative clauses
pronouns.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/07 19:38 by