Khuzdul

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Khuzdûl is a fictional language in the fantasy works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

One of the languages of Arda in Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, it is spoken by the Dwarves. Khuzdûl is usually written with the Cirth script. It appears to be based, like the Semitic languages, on triconsonantal roots: kh-z-d, b-n-d, z-g-l.

In the fictional setting of Middle-earth, little is known of Khuzdûl, as the Dwarves kept it to themselves, except for their battle-cry: Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu! meaning Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!; and the runes written on Balin's tomb in Moria can be transliterated to read BALIN FUNDINUL UZBAD KHAZAD-DŪMU, meaning "Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria". This secrecy extended to Dwarven names: with the exception of the Petty-dwarves, all recorded Dwarven names are either from another language (Dalish) or nicknames/titles, and Dwarves do not even record their names on their tombstones. Only few non-Dwarves are recorded as having learnt Khuzdûl, most notably Eöl.

Placenames were not subject to this secrecy, and form the major sample of known Khuzdûl. Unlike their private names, Dwarves seemed eager to share these names with others.

According to the Lhammas, Khuzdûl is unique in belonging to a separate language family, Aulëan, not related to the languages of Elves, which are in the Oromëan language family. Aulëan was named from the Dwarvish tradition that it had been devised by Aulë the Smith, the Vala who created the Dwarves. It is not clear if this concept survived in later versions of the legendarium, although it seems the unique origin of Dwarvish was kept.

There are many similarities between Khuzdûl and the native tongues of men, such as Taliska, the language of the first and third houses of the Edain. This is because in the early days of Middle-earth, before men crossed the mountains into Beleriand, they had contact with the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains and further East. Taliska was the ancestor of Adûnaic, the tongue of Númenor and the direct ancestor of the Common Speech, and both languages still had some minor Khuzdûl influences.

It is said in The Silmarillion that Aulë, the creator of the first Dwarves, taught them "the language he had devised for them," which implies that Khuzdûl is technically, in reality and fictionally, a constructed language. It is also said that because of the Dwarves' great reverence for Aulë their language remained unchanged, and all clans could still speak with each other without difficulty despite the great distances that separated them.

The Dwarvish language sounds much like Hebrew, and indeed Tolkien noted some similarities between Dwarves and Jews: both were "at once natives and aliens in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue…".[1] Tolkien also commented of the Dwarves that "their words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic."[2]

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