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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Forming Khuzdul (Dwarvish) Words

 « Khuzdul Language «        Dwarvish Index         » Khuzdul Sentences »     

Each basic idea in Khuzdul is represented by a group of consonants (most often 3 consonants).  This is called the “stem.”  Nouns, verbs, and other words are then formed by adding vowels in appropriate patterns, and sometimes adding a prefix or suffix.
Kh-Z-D (stem for “Dwarf”  Notice that “Kh” is one consonant sound.)
Khuzd (Dwarf)
Khazâd (Dwarves)
Khuzdul (Dwarvish)
As noted in the lesson on Writing Dwarvish, “Th,” “Dh,” “Sh,” “Zh,” “Kh,” and “Gh” are each a single consonant in Dwarvish.

This system of consonant stems is typical of Hebrew, Arabic, and related languages.  A dwarf would probably look at the English words
wake (present tense verb)
woke (past tense verb)
awake (adjective)
and conclude that English has a “stem” W-K, designating the state of being awake.


What are the patterns for converting a root to a usable word?  We can figure out a few patterns, but often the analysts are guessing, based on one or two known Dwarvish words.

Following Ardalambion's notation, let us represent the consonants of a 3-letter root by the numbers 1, 2, and 3.  Using Kh-Z-D as an example: 1=Kh, 2=Z, 3=D.
stem: 1-2-3

singular noun: 1u23  (frequently)

Kh-Z-D (stem for “Dwarf”) → Khuzd (a Dwarf)
B-N-D (stem for “head”) → bund (a head)
R-Kh-S (stem for “orc”) → Rukhs (an Orc)
plural noun:  1a2â3 (frequently)

Kh-Z-D (stem for “Dwarf”) → Khazâd (Dwarves)
T-R-G (stem for “beard”) → tarâg (beards)
R-Kh-S (stem for “orc”) → Rakhâs (Orcs)
Other known plurals, such as shathûr (clouds) and bizâr (valleys) do not follow this pattern exactly.
a person, place, or thing characterized by the root:  1a23ûn

Th-R-K (speculated to be the stem for “staff”)Tharkûn (Gandalf's Dwarvish name, speculated to mean “staff-man”)
N-R-G (stem for “black”)Nargûn (Mordor)
one who does:  a1a2â3 (based on one example)

Z-Gh-L (speculated to be the stem for “make war”)Azaghâl (name or nick-name speculated to mean “warrior”)
adjective:  frequently 1a2a3 or 1i2i3

B-R-Z (stem for “red”) baraz (red)
N-R-G (stem for “black”)narag (presumed adjective “black”)
S-G-N (presumed stem for “long”) → sigin (long, used of a plural noun)
Does that mean adjectives for singular nouns are 1a2a3, and adjectives for plural nouns are 1i2i3?  No one knows for sure.  Several known adjectives do not fit either pattern.
adjective, patronymic, genitive: suffix -ul

Khuzd (a Dwarf) → Khuzdul (Dwarvish)
Fundin → Fundinul ([son] of Fundin)
When the root has only two consonants, then often (though not always), use those as letters 2 and 3 of the pattern.

Z-N (stem for “shadow, dimness”) → uzn (a shadow) (singular noun: 1u23)
Z-N (stem for “shadow, dimness”) → azan (shadows) (plural noun:  1a2â3) (Why not azân?  Possibly the second vowel appears short because it is in a compound word, Azanulbizar, Dimrill Dale. No one knows for sure.)
For nearly every one of these “patterns,” there are examples of words that do not fit the pattern.  Take everything with a grain of salt!


Ardalambion has a listing of all the known Dwarvish words, from all of Professor Tolkien's writings and letters.

 « Khuzdul Language «        Dwarvish Index         » Khuzdul Sentences »     
mirrored from Tolkien Language Discussion site 

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