About Khuzdul and "Quasi-Khuzdul"


Hail, and well met!

Khuzdul is the language of the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and other books set in Middle-earth.  There are very few Khuzdul words; only about 50 are known to exist in works that have been published so far, depending on how you count them.  Tolkien's main focus was his Elvish languages, Quenya and Sindarin, and so far more is known about them.  Despite that, it seems that many people are fascinated by Khuzdul and the Dwarvish culture that lies behind it.  Perhaps it is exactly because so little is known that their curiosity is piqued!

My own interest in Khuzdul started from my interest in Tolkien's works and as a gamer.  In 1998, I was following the development of Middle-earth Online by Sierra Studios, which was eventually cancelled.  I became interested in Dwarves, discovered Khuzdul, and wondered what the words meant and how the language worked.  Eventually, I found the Ardalambion website and its article on Khuzdul.  The information there made my curiosity grow, and from that led me to the Elfling email list as well as discussions with Magnus Åberg, who wrote an article comparing Khuzdul with the Hebrew language.  For the next 10+ years, I studied and thought about the language, and learned more about linguistics in general.

The goal was always clear for me: create an expansion of the existing Khuzdul lexicon into a fully usable language.  I wanted something that was as fleshed out as Tolkien's Elvish languages, but that captured the flavor and intentions behind Khuzdul as accurately as possible.

Quasi-Khuzdul is the result.  I call it "Quasi-" because no one besides J.R.R. Tolkien can truly create, or even recreate, an actual Khuzdul language.  Instead, it could be compared to one of the many visual artists who paint vivid imagery of Middle-earth.  None of them can portray exactly what Tolkien saw in his mind's eye.  Their works are an interpretation, based on their impressions of the original prose put to pen by the professor.  Despite being derivative in nature, they still have value in helping us imagine the vistas that Tolkien created.  That's really what I hope to create here: a language that makes the reader think "Ah, so that's what the language of the Dwarves was like!"  In pursuit of that goal, I work not in the coaxing of forms and colors from vivid descriptions, but in analyzing scraps of info and detailing a framework that incorporates that information in the most consistent, plausible manner I can.  If the system I describe is not consistent with everything known about the language, then surely it will fail in providing a impression of what the language might have truly been.  I hope that readers will view the section on Analysis and Rationale, for it is there that I show why the Quasi-Khuzdul framework looks like it does.

Hopefully, the end result will be that readers will feel like they have finally found an archive of lore from antiquity that, at last, sheds light on the few tantalizing hints of what this language and culture must have been at the height of its glory in Khazad-dûm.

May your beards grow ever longer!