Tolkien was a philologist and ancient language scholar. He worked on the Oxford English Dictionary studying the source of English words and also as a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. He worked on translations and commentaries on Arthurian type legends and Beowulf. While doing all this during his day job, he also began to create languages of his own.
These languages, Quenya, Sindarin, Númenórean, and others became the foundation for the mythologies he constructed, which then became the framework for The Lord of the Rings. Without the vast compendium of legends and myths which are draped majestically behind the plot of LotR, imbuing it with a palpable feeling of reality, would LotR ever have reached the soaring popularity it now enjoys? I think not. And equally vital to that legendarium are the languages he constructed. They are the soul of those myths and legends.
For whatever reason, the toughness of the dwarves as presented in the Silmarillion, and even in the Hobbit, enthralled me. I decided to be a Dwarf before I even knew what class I wanted to be. Unfortunately, one of Tolkien’s least developed languages was Khuzdul, or Dwarvish in the common tongue.
When I began to use the crafting system during Shadows of Angmar, I loved that we could invest them with names of our own upon a critical success. However, I did not want to use “Common” or Elvish names for my creations, I wanted to give them Dwarvish names.
I did a bit of research online and quickly discovered that there are only a handful of words and one sentence ever written in Tolkien’s Dwarvish. I found this website was the best piece of research I was able to find on Dwarvish. The author formulates an analysis of the mechanics of the language and then provides a word list with every use of Dwarvish in the texts. There were a few words here and there I could make use of, but unfortunately, this was not enough to name the axes, armor, and tools I was crafting.
So, with trepidation, I began to add to the lexicon. I was nervous about adding onto the Lore, and worried that when I posted it some people would call for my lynching. This never happened, since I posted it in the Dwarf forums, which almost nobody reads.
The basic building block of Dwarvish is the radical. These are consonant only word bases, similar to Hebrew. Consider the common Dwarf battle-cry “Baruk Khazad, Khazad Ai Menu!” This is also the only Dwarvish sentence in any of the texts; and, translated, means “The Axes of the Dwarves, the Dwarves are upon you!” The word baruk is “axes of”, the radical of which is B-R-K. The vowels between the consonants then change to give you the different tenses. For example, burk is the singular form of the word axe.
Using the rules the author of the article had created I began to alter the words in the manner he described to create the other tenses. For instance, we know Dwarf is the word Khuzd, and the plural is Khazad, or Dwarves. So, looking at axe, we have the singular, burk, and the plural possessive baruk “axes of”. To create the plural of axe we can follow the pattern of the word dwarf, and assume axes must be barak.
I turned to my favorite tool, Excel and started a table which would hold all the words and tenses. Here is an example with the two words discussed above. The actual words Tolkien created are in black, while anything I added is in red.
The next step was to add entirely new words. My strategy was to start with a word that was close to what I needed and alter the radicals slightly. For example, I wanted to create a word for chest, since I knew I would be creating breastplates. I searched the wordlist and decided that it would be very Dwarvish for the word to be similar to the word for beard, since a proper beard covers the chest. The word for beards is tarag with the radicals T-R-G. I also noted that head has the radicals B-N-D, so I decided most body parts must end in “d”. I surmised that the radicals for chest must be T-R-D.
For legs I used the word Nala and made it Nalad or N-L-D. And I based foot on the word root, which is Buzun, as in the root of the mountain. This made the radical for foot B-Z-D, which meant feet is bazad.
In some cases I wanted a word to sound a certain way. I desired a sound like hauberk for “armor”, so I used the radical H-R-K and the word became hurk. For many words, like adjectives, I only needed the base word, so I just list that. Here is the completed table with all the new tenses and words I came up with, along with a brief note on how I derived some of them:
|use a tool, hew||felek||F-L-K|
|Chest||turd||tarad||tarud||T-R-D||derivative of beard|
|legs||nuld||nalad||N-L-D||Derivative of path|
|Language (sign)||Iglishmek||G-L||iglish is language part? mek is hand part?|
|Hand||mulk||malak||maluk||M-L-K||mek in iglishmek, felak|
|Head||bund||banad||banud||B-N-D||Body parts end in “d”?|
|Shoulder||burd||barad||barud||B-R-D||derivative of head, axe, red|
|Foot||buzd||bazad||bazud||B-Z-D||Derivative of root|
|Armor (plural)||hurk||harak||haruk||H-R-K||Wanted a sound like hauberk|
|Blood||Bagad||bagad||bagud||B-G-D||derivative of red; ending in d|
|Slayer/murder||zughd||zaghad||zaghud||derivative of blood and war|
|Hammer||furk||farak||faruk||F-R-K||Derivative of tool and Axe|
|Sword||zurk||zarak||zaruk||Z-R-K||Derivative of Spike and axe|
|Troll||Bukhs||Bakhas||Bakhus||B-KH-S||Derivative of Orc and Great|
|Vengeance||Zadush||Derivative of Evil,slayer|
|Dwarf Vengeance||Khazadush||Dwarves deserve their own word for this.|
|Flame/fire||Ziraz||Derivative of silver and red|
With this new base of Dwarvish words I carried on with making some new names for my crafted items. For the most part, I combined these into compound words. The “u” in a compound word means “of”, so helm became hurkubund, or literally, armor of head. And you should know that Dwarves call Aule, the Valar who created them, Mahal.
In most cases the literal translation is good, if not I also put the meaning, or my own translation, in the last column. Note that LOTRO limits you to 32 characters when you are naming a critical success, so I added a column to track that as well.
|Dwarvish||# Chars.||Literal Translation||Meaning|
|Gamilhurk||9||old armor||Ancient Armor|
|Kheled-Gamilhurk||16||Glass old armor||Mirrored ancient armor|
|Azankheled-Gamilhurk||20||dim glass old armor||Burnished ancient Armor|
|Hurkubund||9||armor of head||Helm|
|Kheledgamil-Hurkubund||21||Mirrored ancient helm|
|Azankheled-Gamil-Hurkubund||26||Burnished Ancient Helm|
|Hurkumalak||10||Armor of hands||Gauntlets|
|Kheledgamil-Hurkumalak||22||Mirrored ancient Gauntlets|
|Hurkubazad||10||Armor of Feet||Armored Boots|
|Kheledgamil-Hurkubazad||22||Mirrored ancient Boots|
|Hurkunalad||10||Armored of legs||Leggings|
|Kheledgamil-Hurkunalad||22||Mirror ancient leggings|
|Hurkubarad||10||Armor of shoulders||Pauldrons|
|Kheledgamil-Hurkubarad||22||Mirrored Ancient Shoulders|
|Hurkuhaakon||11||Armor of Haakon|
|Hurkumahal||10||Armor of Aule|
|Bagilhurkubund||14||Great armor of head||Great Helm|
|Turduazhagal||12||Chest of Warlord|
|Inburmahal||10||Horn of Aule|
|Hurkuzaghal||11||Armor of war|
|Hurkuazaghal||12||Armor of warlord||Armor of the Warlord|
|Hurkunaladunul||14||Armor of legs of path||Leggings of the path|
|Malukzaghal||11||Hands of war|
|Malukbarazdush||14||Hands of red evil|
|Malukbagad||10||Hands of blood||Bloody hands|
|Malukbagadush||13||Hands of blood evil||Hands of blood evil|
|Malukrakhaszughd||16||Hands of the orc slayer|
|Falekumahal||11||Tool of Aule|
|Burkubagadush||13||Axe of blood evil||Axe of bloody evil|
|ZigilBurk||9||Spike axe||Sharp axe|
|FurkuMahal||10||Hammer of Aule|
|FurkuZaghal||11||Hammer of war|
|FurkuAzaghal||12||Hammer of the warlord|
|Felekubanad||11||Hewer of heads||Head-Splitter|
|Felekugathol||12||Hewer of Fortresses|
|Burkurakhaszugd||15||Axe of the orc Slayer|
|Zadush-u-Khazad||15||Vengeance of the Dwarves|
|ZughduBakhas||12||Slayer of trolls||Troll Slayer|
|BagilBurk-u-Khazad||18||Great axe of the dwarves|
|Naragburk-u-bagad||17||Black-axe of blood|
|Bagilnaragburk||14||Great Black axe|
|BagilKhazadush||14||Great Dwarf Vengeance|
|Zirazugund||10||Fire of cave||Flame of the Underworld|
|Burkugund||9||Axe of cave||Axe of the Underworld|
|Zirazdum||8||Fire delving||Flame of the Underworld|
|Burkudum||8||Axe of Excavation||Axe of the Underworld|
|Inbar-u-Mahal||13||Horn of Aule|
|Uzbad-u-bagad||13||Lord of Blood|
|Cirth-u-Khazad||14||Rune of the dwarves|
|Cirth-u-Azaghal||15||Rune of the Warlord|
|Cirth-u-Mahal||13||Rune of Aule|
Many of the names were created during Shadows of Angmar, when the ancient mirrored armor and weapons were some of the best items in the game. But I still use this chart often to name the Legendary Items for my Dwarf characters.
Per the request in the comments: