II. Black Speech Sounds and Pronunciation-
know that the following consonants appear in J. R. R. Tolkien’s
original examples of Black Speech: sh, d, r, b, th, k, m,
p, t, l, k, gh, z, g, n, h, s. Orc names include f
Speech does not seem to contain c, j, v, w, or x.
following consonants are pronounced more or less as they
appear in English.
d, f, g, h, k, m, n, p, qu, s, t, z.
American students: the letters P, T, and D should
be pronounced a little harder, more like the Italian, not
the softened American versions. For example, pronounce
these letters the way you would at the beginning of a word
or name: P as in Peter, not as in “open,” T as in
Tom, not as in “litter,” D as in “door,” not as in “adore.”
This should be less of a problem for British students.
the letters R and L in Black Speech:
two sounds R and L give Black Speech its distinctive sound,
so please be careful to pronounce them correctly.
Both should be pronounced at the back of the throat, as
though you were “gargling.” Tolkien made a special
point of this; apparently the elves hated both pronunciations
and found them ugly.
is pronounced like the French R, not the Italian R.
The L should be a “dark” L, the way it is pronounced in
American English, except that it remains “dark” even at
the beginning of words and syllables (unlike American English).
only exception to this rule is MORDOR. J.R.R. Tolkien
himself pronounced this word with the rolling (Italian or
should be pronounced in the back of the throat, similar
to the Italian GH. SH is pronounced like the American
“sh.” KH is pronounced like the German “ch” in “ach”
clusters thr, kr, gl, sk usually occur at the beginnings
of words, and zg, mb, mp, rz, nk at the ends of words, at
least according to the examples by JRRT. They are
pronounced as written; just be careful to use the “dark”
L and the “French” R.
Ardalambion author has also assumed that the following sounds
occur in BS, although they do not appear in Tolkien’s examples.
These include: dh (like the English the) and zh (as
in pleasure), kh, (as in the German ach). Some other
sounds he has suggested are dhl, zg ls, rs, lz, ng, and
sk. (ng would be like that of the English word “ring.”)
I assume BS also contains the sound “mp” (as in “dûmp,
= doom.) Just remember that unlike in English, the
L and R are always pronounced at the back of the throat.
Vowels and Diphthongs
Black Speech vowels are a, i, o, u, although according to
Tolkien the vowel o is rare in CBS. The Black Speech
does not seem to use e. I am assuming that vowels
are pronounced as in Italian or Spanish, although the short
“u” should probably be pronounced like the u in “put.”
The long û (also spelled uu) should be pronounced
“oo.” There is also a difference between the short
a and the long aa and the short a, although it’s only one
of length, not pronunciation. Please note that very
few computers/printers seem to support the a+^ symbol, so
I have decided not to use it in the dictionary or the lessons.
is at least one diphthong, ai, (pronounced “eye”) and au
occurs in the name Mauhûr (pronounced “ow” as in “flower”).
LOS has added oi, (pronounced as in “toy.”)
this is an invented language, rules for stress are simple
and regular; in fact, most Black Speech words consist of
only one syllable. In words of more than one syllable,
the syllables should be stressed rather evenly. You
do stress the first syllable, but the stress should not
be exaggerated. When you add a suffix (like
–hai or –ishi), then stress the suffix. The
stressed syllable in the examples below is in BOLD CAPS.
Again, remember: the accent marks over the long u
and long a are only indicative of the length of the vowel,
not of stress. (So Nazgûl would be pronounced
with the stress on the first syllable, but with a long “u”
NAZ’gûl (Ring Wraith)
Nazgûl-OB (of the Ring Wraith)
the following words. Check your pronunciation against
the rules above.
krimpatul (to bind them)
(mortal, adj.) Uglûk
Sauron-ob (of Sauron)
(to lure them all)
srinkhat (to gather) Lugbûrz-ishi
(of Mordor) throquub
work your way through the dictionary and try pronouncing
words at random, checking your pronunciation against the
rules given above. Try to sound as scary as possible.