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Roland Mückstein. Khuzdul – the language of the Dwarves - 1
Roland Mückstein. Khuzdul – the language of the Dwarves.
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Preface: This is by no means a complete grammar. Actually, it is little more than a compilation of my theories on Khuzdul and my attempts to make up new aspects of this language. My primary sources are of course the works of JRR Tolkien, though I rely heavily on the excellent compilation of the current knowledge on Khuzdul by Helge Kåre Fauskanger. I am no professional linguist; this is just a hobby of mine and I am but trying to make as much of my limited knowledge as possible. Some of the elements in here are directly attested, some I conjectured, and some I simply made up. If you have any comments or additional ideas on this (and I’m rather sure you do), please do not hesitate at telling me.
PS: Since English is not my native tongue, there may be some grave mistakes in here – I apologise for that in advance.
1. The Noun 1.1 Substantive. Numbers: There are four complete numbers in Khuzdul: singular, septal, indefinite plural and definite plural. All plural forms employ a complex system of broken derivation (detailed below); yet there is a set of plural suffixes, which is used only with derived nouns today (that is, agentive or abstract forms of adjectival or verbal roots). It is said those suffixes were more common in Ancient Dwarvish, and that they could be applied to all nouns, back in the days when Khuzdul was more akin to Valarin and thus used sound derivation more often than today. The definite plural is also used as a collective form. In addition, we have a fragmentary dual that is only employed when referring to body-parts like eyes, ears, feet etc. The case of hands is an especially interesting one: the root [M-K] seems to appear in dual only, as do all related roots, like the ancient emphatic form [M-H-L]; yet we have a strange singular construction for the right hand only (for most Dwarves are right-handed), with prefixed the- (in effect themêk, the right hand), which seems to be related to the definite prefix thu-.
The Dwarves have always associated ‘creation’ with ‘hands’ – quite understandably, given the kind of work so many of them excel in – and thus the Seven Fathers invoked Aulë by the name mêk, ‘hands’, in the language he had given them. But the desire arose in them to find a more glorious name for their greatest deity than a term for two appendages every dwarf was equipped with; and so it came that when they learned Aulës true name, a3ûlêz, they merged this strange but noble word with elements from their own tongue, thus forming ma3âl, which not long after became mahal (for the sound of 3 was alien to their tongue). And to this day, the Dwarvish name for Aulë is Mahal.
1.2 Genitive. We have an attested genitive structure, a plain broken declination with some pretty straightforward rules. This is called the status constructus or Construct State (CS) in hamito-semitic linguistics, as opposed to the status absolutus. The CS word order is X(CS) Y, roughly meaning X of Y, with X being put into the CS. (The word order X Y in the status absolutus is discussed below).
If X is a compound, the change to CS afflicts only the second element of X, if both elements are nouns; if not, only the noun is put into the CS. Exception: If Y is a compound, only the second (or noun) element of Y is put into the CS (e.g. uzbad khazad-dûmu instead of *izbid khazad-dûm).
In contrast to the substantive, the genitive of derived nouns is formed by a special broken structure.
The genitive also functions as the basic possessive structure, following the same rules: The possessive object in Construct State is placed before the subject. If, however, it is necessary to distinguish genitive from possessive forms in a sentence, the genitive is constructed as detailed, while bound pronouns (see below) are employed to denote the possessive, followed by a noun in the Construct State, in which case the CS takes on the function of a reflexive structure.
1.3 Nominative. The function of the nominative is to be the subject of the verb. Basic nominative is typically identical with the substantive; but there is one case in which the subject appears in the Construct State: if bound pronouns are employed as possessive particles, as detailed below. The nominative is defined by its position in a sentence. The first substantive in a sentence is always the subject, except if there is a free pronoun in the sentence, or bound pronouns are employed as possessive particles. In the first case, the first substantive is the object, while the free pronoun acts as the subject. In the second case, the first substantive is the object as well, but the noun in the Construct State following the possessive particle is the subject.
Example sentence: Khazâd ai-mênu. - The Dwarves are upon you.
Rukhs âl zughul. - Orc he battle.
Baraz [RM2]th’[RM1]ussu [RM3]uzbad-lê bundu [RM4]gabil[RM5]. - Red the horse-of the king-his head-of is great. [The head of the king’s red horse is great.]
Note the final position of the verb. I choose to believe that all Khuzdul verbs maintain this position, either at the end of the complete sentence, or at the end of a sequence.
1.4 Accusative. The function of the accusative is to be the object of the verb. [My ideas on the exact form of the accusative aren’t quite clear yet]
1.5 Dative. The dative is defined by a simple nunation (final -n or -in/-’n after a vowel) added to the object. Its meaning is roughly ‘to’/‘for’.
1.6 Noun chart. Key: Small letters, e.g. x, a, u, denote vowels; x denoting any vowel (in irregular forms). Digits, e.g. 1, 2, 3, denote the root consonants or radicals.
Since the Khazâd seem so obsessed with the number seven, I have found it appropriate to include a septal form. The construction with initial ê (which is of course completely hypothetical) probably occurs only in septal. Thus, if we look at the radicals [Kh-Z-D], assuming that – as Mr Fauskanger suggested – they have something to do with the number seven (which becomes even more plausible when compared with Adûnaic hazid), we could derive a hypothetical Khuzdul word for ‘seven’ in a form like *êkhezd(?). The plural noun dûm is well attested and is the source for my plural structure for two-consonantal roots 1û2. The singular structure 1â2a I derived from the element –nâla in Kibil-nâla, Khuzdul for the river Silverlode (Celebrant). Indefinite Plural is again formed by shortening the vowel. Words with three radicals seem to be the most common form in Khuzdul. They appear in a variety of singular forms, like 1u23, attested in bund; 1i2a3 in zirak and bizar (and presumably in *mibar, see below); and 1a2o3, attested in gathol only. The definite plural construction 1a2â3 we know from khazâd, tarâg etc.; according to my theory, indefinite plural 1a2a3 is attested in mazar (as in Mazarbul; see below). The indefinite plural form 1a2û3 is to be found in shathûr. For monoconsonantal roots we have only the plural ûl, from which comes the definite plural form û1, and the indefinite plural ul in Azanulbizar.
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