Goblin Song

Clap! Snap! the black crack!
Grip, grab! Pinch, nab!
And down down to Goblin-town
  You go, my lad!

Clash, crash! Crush, smash!
Hammer and tongs! Knocker and gongs!
Pound, pound, far underground!
   Ho, ho! my lad!

Swish, smack! Whip crack!
Batter and beat! Yammer and bleat!
Work, work! Nor dare to shirk,
While Goblins quaff, and Goblins laugh,
Round and round far underground
   Below, my lad!

This song from The Hobbit was sung by goblins of the Goblin-town after the capturing of Thorin and company (“Over Hill and Under Hill” chapter).

Despite simple structure and grammar, this text is very challenging to translate because of rich lexicon with sound-imitations which would be nice to keep in translation. I had to add several new words to Nûrlâm's dictionary. However according to Appendix F of LOTR, orcs of Moria and Misty Mountains spoke Westron and not Black Speech. So this is just translation exercise and not an attempt to reconstruct this song in the native language of goblins.

The List of required words

The following words (listed alphabetically) are required for translation:

English Nûrlâm Etymology and comments
and agh TK (RI)
batter pûlp- LOS (to beat), probably from Quenya “palpa” (to beat, batter)
beat bump- HG < LOS “bum-” < MB
below lata EL (under, below, beneath)
black bûrz TK (RI) “dark”, better than “mor” suits the sound of song
bleat blîn NL, merging common Indo-European word of sound-imitating origin with Qenya “nýe” < Primitive Elvish “NYENE”, which was early etymology of Vala's name “Nienna”
clap thlakh NL < Noldorin “tlach(a)” (clap, clash, clatter)
clash thlazg see “clap” (thlakh)
crack grik NL < Qenya “kirkis” + Sindarin “criss”
crash zurg NL < RN “zgurum” < LOS “zgur” (thunder) < MB
crush tûp- all major dialects < SV “shatûp”
dare hûr- LOS
down dhu HG (downwards)
far baubarz HG “baub”
go ukh- LOS
goblin uruk TK “orc”
gong damb NL, both words from Qenya “tump” (to build, beat), “tompa” (small drum), “tombo” (gong)
grab khlaf- NL < Gnomish “clamfa”
rop-1) NL < all major dialects “rok-” (seize, grasp, grip) melted with Primitive Elvish “RAPH” (seize, grab, snatch)
grip mank- NL < Qenya “makte” (hold, grip), Gnomish “manc” (grip, grasp, hold) (n), “manca” (to grab, seize) < Primitive Elvish “MAHA” (grasp)
hammer drang NL < LOS < HG “drâgh” + Sindarin “dring” (Glamdring aka “Foe-hammer” aka “Beater”) < Etym. (to beat, strike); compare with NL “drag” (dull, blunt) and SV “darga” (club)
knocker tuhal NL, SV “hutog-” > “hut” > “tuh” (to knock)
lad nonk NL < Gnomish “nogin”
laugh lal- NL < Quenya “lala”
my dab HG
nab mraf- NL < merging Quenya “arpo” (seizer, thief), Middle Quenya “raf-” (snatch, seize) < Primitive Elvish “RAPH” (to seize, grab, snatch) with Middle Quenya “mapa” (to grasp, seize), Qenya “(a)mapta” (to ravish, seize and carry off forcibly) < Primitive Elvish “MAP”, “MAPA”, “NAPA” (to lay hold of with hand, seize)
nor agh nar lit. “and don't”
pinch rikh- NL < Etym. “RIK(H)” (jerk, sudden move, flirt); compare with Quenya “rinca”, “rihta” (to jerk, give quick twist or move, twitch), Noldorin “rhinc” (twitch, jerk, trick, sudden move), “rhintha” (to jerk, twitch, snatch)
pound sud- HG
quaff shog- DS (only “to drink”)
round kurn LOS “around”;
“round” here denotes motion in circles, so adposition “around” was chosen for translation instead of noun of adjective for shape “round”
shirk frût- NL < LOS “frûz” (lazy) and “fraut-” (sit down, rest)
smack thaik- NL < merging Primitive Elvish “TYAVA” (to savour, taste) with Gnomish “côf” written reversed
obviously here it is sound of whip similar to sound of lips and tongue
smash barsh- NL < LOS “barash-” < SV
margz- SV
snap gark- NL < Qenya “nark” (snap of a dog)
swish thîth- NL < Gnomish “tif”, “siptha” (to whistle)
to -ishi TK
motion to the bottom – Illative case
tongs dan ON
town fulz NL, merging Quenya “opele” (walled house, village, town), Gnomish “pel” (village, hamlet, -ham), Edain “obel” (town) < Etym. “PEL(ES)” (fenced field) with LOS “fulg-” (to dwell)
underground lata ghâmp LOS, literal translation
while kusn LOS < SV
whip hauk HG (v) < SV “fashaukalog”
work bul- NL < DS (PO) “bulu” < Quenya “mólë” (n) < Etym. “MBOL”?
snag- NL (toil) < LOS (labor, serve, work) < TK “Snaga”
this one may be more suitable for the work as a slave
yammer shîk- LOS (to scream)
here “yammer” means some annoying sound accompanied by “bleat” rather than “yell, complain”
you fi NL < Gnomish singular “fi” + Hurrian standalone singular “fe”

The Translation

Word order was slightly changed for better rhyme:

Thlakh! Gark! Grikum bûrz!
Mank! Khlaf! Rikh! Mraf!
Agh dhu dhu ishi Urukfulz
  Fi ukh, nonkdab!
Thlazg, zurg! Tûp, margz!
Drang agh dan! Tuhal agh damb!
Sud, sud, lata ghâmp baubarz!
  Ho, ho! nonkdab!
Thîth, thaik! Hauk grik!
Pûlp agh bump! Blîn agh shîk!
Snag, snag! Frûtut nar hûr!
Kusn uruk shogû agh uruk lalû,
Kurn agh kurn lata ghâmp baubarz! 
  Lata, nonkdab!

I suggest that longer sentences (3rd line in verses 1 and 2, lines number 4 and 5 in verse 3) should be pronounced with reduced pauses between words (e.g. “lataghâmp”).

may be used to translate both “grab” and “grip”
translations/goblin_song.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/07 19:38 by