Consonants

Khuzdul has a total of 28 consonants.  The following chart shows all of the consonants in English orthography as Tolkien presented them.  They are arranged according to their place and manner of articulation.


Consonant Phonemes in English Orthography:

  Labial Alveolar Post-Alveolar Palatal Velar / Uvular
 Glottal
 Stop b , p
ph
d , t
th
  g , k
kh

'
 Affricate 
j , c
ch
 
 
 Fricative v , f
 z , szh , sh hy
h
Trill




r

 Approximant l
 y

 w
 Nasal m n   


For those that have some understanding of linguistics, the table below shows the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) representations of Khuzdul's consonants (or at least the main pronunciation for each).

Consonants in IPA:

  Labial Alveolar Post-Alveolar Palatal Velar / Uvular
 Glottal
 Stop b , p
ph
d , t
th
  g , k
kh
ʔ
 Affricate 

dʒ ,

h

 
 
 Fricative v , f
 z , s

ʒ , ʃ

 ç
h
Trill




ʀ


 Approximant l
 j

 w
 Nasal m n   



Pronunciation:

For those who are unfamiliar with linquistics and phonology, and especially for native English speakers who only speak one language, a special note should be made about "aspirated consonants".  Aspirated consonants ( [ ph th ch kh ] ) are pronounced with a puff of air being produced with the sound.   If (most) native English speaker say "past", "talk", "chant", or "can" while holding a hand in front of their mouth, they will feel that puff of air.  Non-aspirated stops at the beginning of a word can be difficult for native English speakers to pronounce, because we naturally aspirate them.  Unlike English, Khuzdul treats aspirated consonants and non-aspirated consonants as being completely different sounds.

In Appendix E, Tolkien noted that "th" and "kh" can be pronounced "more or less as in backhand, outhouse".  This absolutely should not be taken that the "t" and "h" or "k" and "h" sounds are separate.  They are not.  As Tolkien states, they are aspirates, and are thus both single sounds.  Because native English speakers naturally aspirate many of our stops, referring to compound words like "backhand" or "outhouse" is just a useful exercise to help us start to be aware of aspiration.



Stops and Affricates

b - pronounced as " b " in "battle"

p - pronounced as " p " in "span"
  • never aspirated

ph - pronounced as " p " in "past"
  • always aspirated, and usually heavy aspiration
  • single sound: the "p" and "h" are not pronounced separately

d - pronounced as " d " in "dog"


t - pronounced as " t " in "stand"
  • never aspirated

th - pronounced as " t " in "torn"
  • always aspirated, and usually heavy aspiration
  • single sound: the "t" and "h" are not pronounced separately

j - pronounced as " j " in "jazz"

c - pronounced similar to " ch " in "church"
  • never aspirated

ch - pronounced as " ch " in "church"
  • always aspirated, and usually heavy aspiration

g - pronounced as " g " in "garden"

k - pronounced as " k " in "skate"
  • never aspirated

kh - pronounced as " k " in "king"

  • always aspirated, and usually heavy aspiration
  • single sound: the "k" and "h" are not pronounced separately

' - has no direct correlation to an English sound
  • known as the "glottal stop"
  • for some speakers, pronounced as " t " in "bat"
    • " t " is pronounced at the back of the throat by constriction
      • makes the " t " almost silent
    • similar to a "British Cockney " t " in "battle"
      • think something like "ba'le"
      • the " t "s are "swallowed"
  • doesn't show up much in the middle of Khuzdul words, so can mostly be ignored



Fricatives

v - pronounced as " v " in "victory"

f - pronounced as " f " in "far"

z - pronounced as " z " in "zeal"

s - pronounced as " s " in "sun"

zh - pronounced as " s " in "measure"

sh - pronounced similar to " sh " in "shovel"

hy - for some speakers, pronounced similar to " h " in "huge"
  • " ch " in German "ich"
  • think of pronouncing "sh", but at the location you would pronounce " y " in "yellow"
h - pronounced as " h " in "hand"



Trills, Approximants, and Nasals


r - pronunciation varies by Kindred
  • Eastern Dwarf Kindreds (Blacklocks, Stonefoots, Ironfists, Stiffbeards)
    • pronounced similar to " r " in "ram"
      • uvula vibrates to produce a trilled sound
      • think of a "French 'R' "
      • IPA: [ ʀ ]
    • probably the sound found originally in Khuzdul
  • Western Dwarf Kindreds (Longbeards or "Durin's Folk", Broadbeams, Firebeards)
    • pronounced similar to " r " in "ram"
      • tongue flutters to produce a trilled sound
      • think of a "Scottish 'R' "
      • IPA: [ r ]
    • probably different from Eastern Kindreds due to the influence of contact with the Elves

l - pronounced as " l " in "lamp"

y - pronounced as " y " in "yellow"


w - pronounced as " w " in "water"

m - pronounced as " m " in "moon"


n - pronounced as " n " in "number"