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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Khuzdul – The Dwarvish Language

 « Dwarf Runes «        Dwarvish Index         » Khuzdul Words »   

This material is mostly based on Ardalambion's analysis. 

Dwarvish is a difficult language to study – not least because we have very little information about it. Don't expect to be conversing fluently in Dwarvish. Tolkien simply didn't leave enough information about the language.

Tolkien explained that the Dwarves kept their own language private , and learned the languages of neighboring folk when dealing with non-Dwarves. Even the names we know for Dwarves – Gimli, Thorin, Balin, etc. – are not those Dwarves “true,” private, Dwarvish names, but rather “public” names, mostly in the Human style.  (The one exception seems to be the Petty Dwarves in the Silmarillion, or perhaps only Mîm the Petty-Dwarf – if “Mîm” is in fact his private name.  Azaghâl (Silmarillion, Chapter20) and Gamil Zirak (Unfinished Tales) could be descriptive nicknames, rather than true private names.)

We do know a number of Dwarvish place names.  Most of what is known about the Dwarvish language comes from place names.  We also have one war cry:  Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu! "Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!", and the inscription on Balin's tomb:  Balin Fundinul uzbad Khazaddûmu, "Balin son of Fundin, Lord of Moria." 


The two original Dwarf cities in the Blue Mountains were named Tumunzahar (translated into Sindarin Elvish as “Nogrod”) and Gabilgathol (translated into Sindarin Elvish as “Belegost,” Great Fortress).  We do not know the Dwarvish names for the cities at the Lonely Mountain or the Iron Hills.  “Erebor” is Sindarin Elvish (for “Lonely Mountain”); I can't imagine Thorin's Dwarves using the Elvish name “Erebor” for their home. 


Internal History 

The Vala Aulë, creator of the Dwarves, invented a language for them, and taught this language to the first Dwarves.  The Dwarvish language changed only slowly with time.  Tolkien stated that, even in the Third Age, Dwarves from any part of Middle-Earth could easily understand each other's spoken language. 

Dwarves found the first Humans; the early Human language was influenced by Khuzdul, as well as by the languages of Elves who did not relocate to Aman.  The Human language of Númenor (Adûnaic) has strong similarities to Khuzdul. 

 « Dwarf Runes «        Dwarvish Index         » Khuzdul Words »   
mirrored from Tolkien Language Discussion site 

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