I’ve often been asked how is it possible to create a language out of so little material ? Referring to the neo-khuzdul lessons provided on this site.
And yes, the question is indeed valid… how do we know what Tolkien had in mind for Khuzdul ? And let’s be honest, we don’t know all and we will never know all. Though we do know the basics of the language and it’s form, which is key to expand it in a manner which perhaps comes close to Tolkien’s original vision.
Though for me, because we know little compared to other languages Tolkien had devised, that doesn’t mean we abandon the idea of expanding the language.
Firstly, because Khuzdul, is such an linguistic oddity in Middle-Earth, for me at least it is impossible to ignore. And it seems, for various reasons I imagine, that many others have had that same thought and have tried to expand on the Khuzdul in one way or another.
Turbine has made an attempt in LotRO, which -though often brakes some of the basic rules of Semitic-languages (which Khuzdul has been constructed as) – it has done a pretty ok job at it. Like others it has some Hebrew, Arabic and even Akkadian (an extinct language of the same language family) weaved in to it. Others, like myself, have also delved deeper into Adûnaic, which should contain quite a bit of words derived from Khuzdul.
The main source for Khuzdul fanatics and those that wish to “reconstruct” the language has been linguist David Salo (apart from Tolkien himself off course). For those of you that might have never heard of the man, he is an American linguist who has done tremendous work on the languages for the LotR movies, expanding the Elvish languages (particularly Sindarin). He was also the man that made a new form of Khuzdul (or neo-khuzdul). Firstly, it must be said, without David Salo I would never have been able to reconstruct the language to this extent. And let’s not forget that up until recently there were (and are still some unfortunately) a dozen different versions of neo-khuzdul out there, devised by enthusiasts… now with Salo’s expansion of the language a more uniform – and more correct – language is gradually being accepted.
As mentioned the thought to reconstructing a language such as this should always be
“Never break any of the rules devised by the author”. Which I have never seen Salo do as I believe he has always remained true to the writings of Tolkien.
That is, until I recently was browsing the featured website of Merin Essi ar Quenteli – another grand example in my view of how Middle-Earth Network connects folks with an interest in fantasy, in a way none have done before.
I must say though, that I have had little interest in learning any Sindarin, for the simple reason that most dwarves did not speak it, nor is Khuzdul related to it in any way. – Mahal (Aulë) devised the language and tought the dwarves before they were laid to sleep, so before elves existed… meaning it has nothing do with any elvish whatsoever.
So, browsing the site of Dreamingfifi (which is awesome by the way) and going through some of the Sindarin lessons there, something struck me…. the Neo-khuzdul of David Salo contains many words which are surprisingly similar to Sindarin… too similar in my view even. In a way, it isn’t all that surprising since Salo literally wrote the book on neo-Sindarin, so it is bound to happen that some influencing would occur. The problem with this off course is that our “”Never break any of the rules devised by the author” goes out the window, as Tolkien stated the language was not related to elvish at all and changed extremely little over time.
I think I’ll be brushing up on my Sindarin in the near future and keeping a close eye on the neo-khuzdul revealed for The Hobbit, fingers crossed it will be Khuzdul with no Sindarin flavor to it 😉