In Peter Jackson's movies there seem to be different kinds of Orcs and I get that. It's the Uruk-hai I'm a little unclear on. In Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, the Uruk-hai who are taking Merry and Pippen to Saruman speak well (as do the Orcs who meet up with the Uruk-hai in Rohan). However, at the Battle at Helm's Deep, I cannot recall a single Uruk-hai uttering a word -- they grunt and growl and roar. And then we move on to the Battle at the Pellenor Fields, and the Uruk-hai are back to talking with full speech again. Regarding The Two Towers, are the Uruk-hai who fight at Helm's Deep just killing machines? Or are they speaking their own language, that we just can't understand and isn't subtitled? Or is it something else? I thought the Uruk-hai were supposed to be "perfected" beings. It seems speech would be part of the package.

  • I would bet on the grunts and growls being the Uruk'hai's own language.
    – Xantec
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 15:09
  • Some hadn't graduated from Uruk-Hai training school by the time the war began?
    – RichS
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 19:01

3 Answers 3


Note that it is explicitly stated that the Orcs (and Urukhai) are from different regions and have their own languages/dialects, and the dialog in the books is when they are conversing in common speech. When Pippin and Merry are captives, there are orcs from Mordor, the Misty Mountains in the North, and Isengard at the least.

To Pippin's surprise he found that much of the talk was intelligible; many of the Orcs were using ordinary language. Apparently the members of two or three quite different tribes were present, and they could not understand one another's orc-speech.

They do taunt the Rohirrim at helms deep:

The Orcs yelled and jeered. 'Come down! Come down!' they cried. 'If you wish to speak to us, come down! Bring out your king! We are the fighting Urukhai. We will fetch him from his hole, if he does not come. Bring out your skulking king!

Most of the roaring and snarling is a fabrication of the movies. They were far more likely to swear.

Note also that Uruk = Orc and Urukhai means high orc or big orc, and they were certainly NOT manufactured by Saruman as depicted in the movies. Indeed, one of the bands of in Mordor who deal with Frodo's body are Urukhai.

  • 1
    Uruk-hai means Orc-folk not high Orc or big Orc
    – user46509
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 16:57

If you remember, the army that assailed Helm's Deep was a legion of newborn, but battle ready uruks.

They knew no culture but to march, fight, pillage, and roar. They very well may have not knew how to speak. But, as creatures reborn of pure evil, it would make sense that Sauroman and other satanomancers would be able to communicate to them regardless of the language they spoke, because their souls are bound to serve.


So in the book, at the Battle of Helm's Deep, the Orcs don't speak any Common, but they do grunt and make other noises.

In the movies, Jackson expanded on the Uruk'hai by having them talk more and take a bigger part in the story. Generally, I believe the army attacking Helm's Deep was mostly regular Orcs and Hillsmen, not an army of only Uruk'hai.

So, to keep the battle similar to how it appears in the book, Jackson did not insert any dialogue between the two groups.

Additionally, this can probably be explained in-world as there was no reason for dialogue. It wasn't a battle where negotiation was an option.

  • 1
    Well, I know it was the Uruk'hai who were at Helm's Deep in the movie, for Gimli explains to Theoden, "These are not regular orcs. These are Uruk'hai." (paraphrase). I don't recall any of the Hillsmen appearing in any battle scene in the movies, but correct me if I'm wrong. :) Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 15:33
  • You are correct, in the movie the Hillsmen don't appear. In the book even the Hillsmen are mentioned, and appear attacking the villagers fleeing the Helms Deep, but are not actually mentioned as taking part in the final battle. I was merely trying to explain the differences in the armies from the book to the movie, and how that impacted the dialogue of the movie. So why the downvote?
    – Justin C
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 16:16
  • I didn't give you a downvote. I very rarely give a downvote, but every time I have I have left a comment to that user explaining why. :) Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 17:27
  • Did not downvote, but probably your reference to 'English' instead of 'Common'.
    – Xalorous
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 19:35
  • @Xalorous - point taken and edit made, thanks
    – Justin C
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 21:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.