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"A fair jaw-cracker dwarf-language must be!"
Samwise Gamgee[1]

Khuzdul, or Dwarvish, was the secret language of the Dwarves.


[edit] History

Aulë, the creator of the first Dwarves, taught them "the language he had devised for them". Not much is known of the language, as the Dwarves kept it to themselves. One of the only major phrases known to outsiders is their battle-cry: Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu! meaning Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!

Khuzdul is unique among languages in that it belongs to a separate language phylum, unrelated to the languages of Elves. On the other hand, there are many similarities between Khuzdul and the native tongues of men, such as Taliska, the language of the first and third houses of the Edain. This is because in the early days of Middle-earth, before Men crossed into Beleriand, they had contact with the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains and in areas further East. Taliska was the ancestor of Adûnaic, the tongue of Númenor and the direct ancestor of the Common Speech. Both languages displayed Khuzdul influences.

Few of other race have ever succeeded in learning it.[2][3]

[edit] Etymology

The word Khuzdul (also spelled Khuzdûl in late manuscripts[4][5]) is composed of the stem KH-Z-D, and the adjectival or genitival ending -ul.[6]

[edit] Other names

Other names used by Tolkien for the language of the Dwarves include:

[edit] Influences

Khuzdul appears to be structured, like the Semitic languages, around triconsonantal roots, such as kh-z-d, b-n-d, and z-g-l.

The Dwarvish language sounds much like Hebrew, and indeed Tolkien noted some similarities between the Dwarves and the Jews: both were "at once natives and aliens in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue…".[11]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

[edit] Neo-Khuzdul

See also: Neo-Elvish

For The Lord of the Rings film series and The Hobbit film series, the linguist David Salo used what little is known of Khuzdul to create enough of a language for use in the movies. This is usually referred to as neo-Khuzdul by Tolkienists. Gimli says the Neo-Khuzdul insult, Ishkhaqwi ai durugnul, (commonly translated "I spit on your grave!") to Haldir in the extended edition of Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring. Salo did not provide this phrase, and it didn't fit easily into his neo-Khuzdul. When the scriptwriter for The Hobbit film series asked him about it with the idea of having Thorin use the same curse, Salo reverse-engineered Gimli's line into a neo-Khuzdul phrase îsh kakhfê ai-‘d-dûr-rugnul meaning "May my excrement be poured upon the naked-jawed (ones)".[12]

[edit] External links


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Other Races"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men", p. 321 (footnote 19)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part Two" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 48, December 2005, pp. 6, 24
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 47
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part Three: The Drowning of Anadûnê, with the Third Version of The Fall of Númenor, and Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language", p. 414
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, pp. 179, 197
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, pp. 197, 277
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Tengwesta Qenderinwa and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets Part 2", in Parma Eldalamberon XVIII (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 28-9, 81
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 176, (dated 8 December 1955)
  12. David Salo, "Gimla ok Þorins bǫlvan" dated 20 June 2014, Midgardsmal (accessed 23 January 2017)