The Inscription on the ONE Ring

The inscription on the One Ring was in the ancient Black Speech. The Ring was born out of a plan Sauron devised to enslave the peoples of Middle-earth. He took on the form of a wise adviser, under the name Annatar, and offered great knowledge to the Elves. Many rejected him, but Celebrimbor and the Elves of Eregion accepted his offer, and he schooled them in the making of Rings of Power. At last, Annatar and the Elves made sixteen jewelled Rings that would in time become the Seven Rings of the Dwarves and the Nine Rings of Men.

Returning to the Land of Mordor, to the forges of Sammath Naur in the heart of Mount Doom, he began the secret making of another Ring. He filled it with his own power, malice nd desire to rule over all the other Rings of Power, and bind their wearers to his will. The Black Speech must have existed before II 1600, because the One Ring, which bears an inscription in this tongue, was forged on or about that date.

Our sole example of pure Black Speech, then, is the inscription on the Ring:

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.


"One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them."


(LotR1/II ch. 2) Nazg is "ring", also seen in Nazgûl "Ring-wraith(s)". Ash is the number "one", agh is the conjuction "and", disturbingly similar to Scandinavian og, och. Burzum is "darkness", evidently incorporating the same element búrz, burz- "dark" as in Lugbúrz "Tower-dark", the Black Speech name that Sindarin Barad-dûr translates. Hence, the -um of burzum must be an abstract suffix like the "-ness" of the corresponding English word "darkness". Burzum has a suffix ishi "in". In the transcription it is separated from burzum by a hyphen, but there is nothing corresponding in the Tengwar inscription on the Ring, so this may be considered either a postposition or a locative ending. Though burzum-ishi is translated "in the darkness", there does not seem to be anything corresponding to the article "the", unless it is somehow incorporated in ishi. But the evidence is that the Black Speech does not mark the distinction between definite and indefinite nouns; see below.

In the word durbatulûk "to rule them all" the morphemes may be tentatively segmented as durb-at-ul-ûk "rule-to-them-all" (the alternative is durb-a-tul-ûk, but suffixes of the pattern vowel-consonant create a tidier system; remember that we are dealing with a constructed language). Similarly we have gimb-at-ul "find-to-them", thrak-at-ul-ûk "bring-to-them-all" and krimp-at-ul "bind-to-them". Verbs with the ending -at are translated by English infinitives: durbat, gimbat, thrakat, krimpat = "to rule, to find, to bring, to bind". Hence we may speak of verbs in -at as infinitives, though it may also be a specialized "intentive" form indicating purpose: The Ring was made in order to rule, find, bring and bind the other Rings of Power. The Black Speech does not only employ a suffix -ul to express "them", but also, and more remarkably, a suffix rather than a separate word to express "all": -ûk.

In the Forges of Mount Doom Sauron created the One Ring with an inscription in the Black Speech and so doing fashioned an artifact, that survived many ages of Middle-earth and left it's mark on the works of history, so that the Black Speech of Mordor will last many more ages of men.

Information in these pages is of our own invention or comes directly form the words of J.R.R Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings Appendices and
also from the Encyclopedia of Arda and Ardalambion, the Tongues of Arda.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them.
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