Insulting Elves

Update: June 20th: David Salo has since published a detailed explanation of the phrase seen in the films.   Thank you for that David.   All updates in the below article are placed in italic.

 

As many have requested my view on the neo-khuzdul insults Thorin delivers to Thranduil in the second installment of the Hobbit movies, I thought it might be interesting to make a post on the topic.

The first insult Thorin makes to Thranduil in neo-khuzdul is Imrid amrâd ursul! which is “Die a death of flames!” (lit: “Die a fiery death”). “Ursul” means “fiery” and in typical khuzdul (semitic) fashion it is placed after the noun. This phrase can also be found on page 97 in the Weta AUJ: Chronicles II. Though they seem to have forgotten the “^” on the second “a” in amrâd (which takes the aCCâC form – usual for abstract concepts – seen in khuzdul words such “aglâb” (language).

image

The second phrase has actually changed in meaning over the course of history.  As David Salo’s neo-khuzdul version has changed significantly, it’s original meaning (what Gimli says in the Extended Edition of Fellowship of the Ring) could no longer fit into his current neo-khuzdul version. (Apparently he never even wrote the line himself).  Originally it was: “Ishkhaqwi ai durugnul” and translated into “I spit upon your grave” (according to a German fan site).  This earlier neo-khuzdul version is not Salo’s own creation and obviously not the one used in the Hobbit movies.

Meaning that David Salo had to come up with something that sounded very similar but had an actual meaning in his current neo-khuzdul version.  The current phrase became: “îsh kakhfê ai’d dur-rugnul!” Witch sounds very similar but has a different meaning altogether.

It means (according to me – which is backed up by Richard Armitage’s own words and Salo’s site – see link above): May my excrement be poured upon the naked-jawed (ones) – Ish = likely a gerund form meaning “pouring” – and fits nicely into Salo’s overall scheme for imperatives, CiCiC; it could come from a root ʔAYAŠA , kakhfê (kakhf = excrement ê = my), ai = upon (as seen in khazâd ai-mênu), ‘d = id = objective article (“the”), Dûr simply means bare, naked, or uncovered, from a root √DAYARA (*√DAWARA) “strip, shave, make naked” (some have suggested this means “head”, but I do not agree as the mountain “Bundushathûr” means “cloudy head”, head would be “bund”); rugn (plural ragân) is the lower jaw (or chin).

So, that’s my* lesson in insulting elves, I hoped you all enjoyed it friends.

*Updated by the teachings of mister Salo of course.

Note: I do not support insulting elves, half-elves or elf-friends in any way, form or fashion and shall not take any responsibility for any physical injuries (or injuries of any kind) upon using the above insults.  😉

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About The Dwarrow Scholar

The Dwarrow Scholar first experienced the brilliance of Tolkien when he received a copy of The Hobbit from his uncle as a kid, reading it feverishly again and again. Some years on, when he got his very own walk-man (aye forget about tiny iPods, this thing was a brick and played cassette tapes) he made his own little audiotape of The Hobbit, so he could listen to it on his bike on his way to school. Between reenacting the Battle of Five armies with 4 of his school friends (still feel sorry for the kid that had to be the Orc) and before the days of internet, you would find Roy frequently in libraries trying to find all he could about Tolkien and his beloved dwarves. When Roy isn’t delving into Neo-Khuzdul or searching for lost dwarven treasures on the net he’s enjoying time with his wife and son, re-reading his tormented Tolkien paperbacks, watching a good movie, learning new languages or playing a game of LoTRO on Laurelin as Kandral Strongbeard.
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27 Responses to Insulting Elves

  1. David says:

    Very exciting information! Great to rewatch the film and understand those parts. Two small questions:
    1. Could you give a little bit more info on what “imrid” means? It’s obviously a form of “marad” but not one I’m familiar with.
    2. Why is it “amrâd” rather than just “amrad” (plural versus singular)?
    As always, thank you SO much for all you’re doing. 🙂

    Like

    • Imrid is an imperative form, iCCiC – it “orders/instructs” one to do something, in this case “die”. The radicals M-R-D are related to death. The radical form aCCâC is that used with abstract forms (ablâg – language, is another such example).

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      • David says:

        Thank you very much. I assumed imrid was an imperative form, but I had just read your document on the subject and that didn’t fit any of the examples given. Wasn’t sure if that was a sign of how out-of-date the document was, or if Khuzdul was like English where for every word that follows the rules, there’s a dozen more that break them. :-p In either case, I look forward to the updated material. Âkmînruk zu!

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  2. RavensJewel says:

    Given the translation provided, would “vulture” then be translated “zundushdûr-rugn?” I am using this an an epithet, given that a comparison to both the naked neck of the bird and its eating habits would be highly insulting in Dwarrow society.

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  3. Will Willowa says:

    îsh kakhfê ai’d dur-rugnul – Could have sworn it sounded like “go pound sand somewhere”. My mistake.

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  4. m says:

    I thought it sounded familiar to what Gimli said in LOTR… and at least we got subtitles this time!
    This is all great, and I remember finding that site the first time out. It made sense when Gimli used it. However, Thorin actually preceded it with the common tongue and said “I told him he could go îsh kakhfê…” so as used in The Hobbit, it still doesn’t make sense to me grammatically, because it’s like saying “I told him he could go may my s*|t be tossed on your dead head”. I know verbs/nouns all that get switched up as you move from language to language, but it doesn’t fit there. You’d think it would be more “I told him he could go wait for my crap to land on his grave”.
    I know, I know, I’m being literal (“too” literal in some people’s eyes) and this would only be a mistake in the movie script, not the actual translation… but that’s just how I see it.

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    • I’ve never seen it with any bit of Khuzdul subtitled – in either Rings or Hobbit. I thought Kili was saying ‘I love you.’ to Tauriel – not that far off. Worse on Thorin, but it makes sense with the ‘fiery death’, given they’d been talking of Dragons before. I thought what he said to Balin back in the cell was something along the lines of “I told him to get lost.” if a bit less polite. But I never realised Gimli had said something similar in Rings.

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  5. LC Applewood says:

    Wow, thanks Dwarrow — I wondered what it meant, obviously an insult of some kind. What about Smaug, when he unhinges the mold on the molten gold so it explodes all over Smaug in the DOS? Is it the same thing?

    Like

    • I don’t quite follow what you mean. One is an insult the other is an action. Care to clarify?

      Like

      • David says:

        It’s been awhile since I’ve watched DoS (waiting for the extended edition to purchase it), but I recall Thorin speaking at least one line of Khuzdul to Smaug while in Erebor, which I believe is what LC is referring to and is asking for a translation. There are a few other lines of Khuzdul in both movies that are not subtitled or translated that it would be awesome to get a transcript of as well, if you know what is being said (or can at least make a better guess at it than us fehemâlh). 🙂

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      • biondetta says:

        At the end of DoS – when he’s on the Thror’s golden statue – Thorin speaks a line in Khuzdul, what does it means? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZOsS2jnJU8 is the first line you can hear in this video.

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      • This is a difficult one. I remember that I listened to that several times and still wasn’t convinced of what exactly I was hearing.
        The first word seems to use an imperative form iCCiCi (sounded like ikhrayi, but could have been ikhriyi). So this word commands those that listen to perform an action. The second word (which sounds like “zuzô”) is a bit more of questions mark, yet it does (nearly) conform to the CuCôC patters (as seen for instance in the neo-khuzdul banôn (treasures). “do something to something” would be a extremely vague translation. Seeing that we know the words for “to kill”, “dragon”, etc… we can exclude quite a bit. Hence, based on this line I believe the radicals “KhRY” could very easily translate as “release”, while the other could be “(the) links”. But then again, that’s a rather extreme guess really. You’ll find “ikhriyi” and “zuzôz” in the dictionaries as “release” and “links (bonds)” respectively. So in my view it would be an instruction to the other dwarves to “release the links” of the mold.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Not sure you’ve said it anywhere yet… but can you make out what Bifur said in AUJ first to Bilbo, then to Gandalf? Thanks.

    Like

  7. Hi guys, I have just few questions about “The Battle of the Five Armies” : 1)what did Dain say as battle cry during the face to face with elves? 2)during the disposition of the phalanx against orcs we can hear a battle cry from a dwarf ( I’m not sure if it’s Dain)…do you know what he really says? Thank you very much, good job.

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    • I couldn’t clearly hear all the battle cries properly unfortunately (that will be something for when I get my hands on the extended edition I think). I believe he says “Yanâd Durinul!” (with a heavy Glaswegian accent). Which would translate roughly as “Line of Durin!”. “Yanâd” is derived from the YND, as used in the word “birth”, so literately it would mean “those people born”, add “durinul” and you get “those people born of Durins line”.

      Like

      • Gerardo Scavone says:

        Thank you very much!! If you know something about it please let me know, I will appreciate it!! Good job!!

        Like

  8. Jelle Smit says:

    Greetings!

    First of all: your work is great, I really love it! Now something has been bothering me for several years: I just can’t seem to find any info concerning Thorin’s battle cry in the Battle of Azanulbizar flashback in An Unexpected Journey. Right before Thorin rallies his troops for the decisive charge against the Orcs he shouts something which sounds like “mim nu tarag!”. I know the final part of the phrase is “Dû Bekar!”, but I just can’t seem to find any mention of the part before this it on the internet. Could you help me out? Do you know the words in Khuzdul and the translation in English?

    Thanks in advance!

    Kind Regards,

    Jelle Smit

    Like

    • Hello,
      thanks for the great comments.
      To be honest, I’ve listened to that phrase a million times and each time I am put into doubt as it could be a variety of things.
      I believe he says: M’imnu tarâg! – Which would translate as “In the name of the beards”. Might be referring to the longbeards here.

      Like

  9. Sarah Faze says:

    I also have a question about what Thorin says during the Battle of Moria after he slays Azog’s arm. He speaks something in Dwarvish, and I was going to ask what he says and what it means.
    It means alot, thanks!

    Like

    • Safa Faizi says:

      And also, I know this question has been asked before, but what does Thorin say in DoS to Smaug when he unhinges the golden statue?

      Like

      • I’ve mentioned this in the an earlier reply to this post, below is a copy of it.
        This is a difficult one. I remember that I listened to that several times and still wasn’t convinced of what exactly I was hearing.
        The first word seems to use an imperative form iCCiCi (sounded like ikhrayi, but could have been ikhriyi). So this word commands those that listen to perform an action. The second word (which sounds like “zuzô”) is a bit more of questions mark, yet it does (nearly) conform to the CuCôC patters (as seen for instance in the neo-khuzdul banôn (treasures). “do something to something” would be a extremely vague translation. Seeing that we know the words for “to kill”, “dragon”, etc… we can exclude quite a bit. Hence, based on this line I believe the radicals “KhRY” could very easily translate as “release”, while the other could be “(the) links”. But then again, that’s a rather extreme guess really. You’ll find “ikhriyi” and “zuzôz” in the dictionaries as “release” and “links (bonds)” respectively. So in my view it would be an instruction to the other dwarves to “release the links” of the mold.

        Like

    • Not quite sure what moment you are referring to, but when they storm the orcs he says “du bekâr”, which means “to arms”.

      Like

  10. Durinul says:

    In the Battle of the Five Armies, when Dáin’s army rushes to battle Azog’s army, there is a dwarf soldier who shouts some kind of battlecry in Khuzdul. I really can’t make out what he says, and I wonder if you’ve heard what he shouts? Out of the two words it sounds like he shouts, it kind of sounds like the second word he shouts is ‘belkar’, but it’s hard for me to make it out though. It’s been bothering me for a really long time.

    Like

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