Most sources seem to call the language of Sauron's servants the Black Speech and/or the language of Mordor, while other languages have their own names, such as Khuzdul, Quenya, and Sindarin. Does the Black Speech have an actual in-universe name, either in its own language or in another of the languages of Middle Earth?


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The Black Speech certainly has a name. Sauron was the language inventor, and surely somewhere in his grammar notes he would have given it a name. Tolkien never reveals a "proper" name nor offers a hint as to what it could be. "B.S." is almost surely a sense-translation from the Westron name, and one would hazard the guess that its Elvish counterpart would be similarly constructed.

  • In Letter 144[1], he just calls it "Black Speech".
  • Foster does not record a B.S. name for the language (though does hint that Sauron was, perhaps, something of a hack language inventor stating that B.S. could be based on Quenya)[2].
  • Similarly, Tyler does not record a name[3].
  • In The Peoples of Middle-earth, C.J.R.T. says "The Orcs had a language of their own, devised for them by the Dark Lord of old" and "It is said that the Black Speech was devised by Sauron in the Dark Years."[4] Elsewhere in the same volume, a sentence is translated, but the language again is called "Black Speech".
  • We shouldn't be surprised he never gave the B.S. a name other than the English / Westron moniker. Letter 343 expresses Tolkien's gut reaction towards the hideous speech upon receiving as a gift a goblet with the Ring inscription engraved upon it. In characteristic Tolkien fashion, perhaps, he used it as an ash tray[5].

1. Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 1981, p. 178;
2. Complete Guide to Middle-earth, 1978, p. 48;
3. The Tolkien Companion, 1976, p. 65;
4. The Peoples of Middle-earth, 1996, p. 65 pr. 16;
5. Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 1981, p. 422


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