In The Fellowship of the Ring, when the Fellowship get trapped by the Lothlórien Elves and Gimli is... not okay with their language they are speaking he says something in Dwarvish which Aragorn tells him was not friendly (at time code 3:28:00).

Is it known what Gimli says? And if so, what does it translate to?


2 Answers 2


This is scene #99

HALDIR: Mae govannen, Legolas Thranduilion. (Welcome Legolas, son of Thranduil.)

LEGOLAS: Govannas vîn gwennen le, Haldir o Lórien. (Our Fellowship stands in your debt, Haldir of Lórien.)

HALDIR: A, Aragorn in Dúnedain istannen le ammen. (Oh, Aragorn of the Dúnedain, you are known to us.)

ARAGORN: (bows) Haldir

GIMLI: So much for the legendary courtesy of the Elves! Speak words we can also understand!

HALDIR: We have not had dealings with the dwarves, since the dark days.

GIMLI: And do you know what this Dwarf says to that? Ishkhaqwi ai durugnul! (I spit upon your grave!)

ARAGORN: (slapping his hand on Gimli's shoulder) That! was not so courteous!

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    Is there any canon confirmation that Aragorn understands khuzdul? Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 16:57
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    @AlfredoHernández - In the movie, it's certainly possible that Aragorn only understands the spirit of the insult rather than a full translation.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 18:35
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    @AlfredoHernández - I've listened to all four commentaries. There's no evidence (that I can recall) relating to Aragorn being able to speak or understand Khuzdul. On the other hand, he's spent considerable time traveling around Middle Earth so it's certainly possible (if not positively likely) that he's picked some Dwarvish up, at least the swearwords.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 18:57
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    @SokPomaranczowy - He had more concrete reasons for being annoyed. First, Haldir made his presence known by saying "The dwarf breathes so loud we could have shot him in the dark" His greeting is a death threat, more or less. Second, Dwarves and Elves despise each other and have for centuries. Elrond is relatively diplomatic, but even he - knowing full well that there are Dwarves present - says at the Council that "Dwarves... seek...[only] riches. They care nothing for the troubles of others." Basically, "Dwarves are greedy, selfish dicks" - and he said it in front of Dwarves!
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 2:07
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    @SokPomaranczowy - In the books Gimli never says this line (although he is quite grumpy in other ways) but Haldir remains hostile towards Gimli for some time after this first encounter. Before he leads the Fellowship to Galadriel, he insists on blindfolding Gimli - but NO ONE ELSE. Gimli refuses to be the only one who wears a blindfold, and demands that Legolas be blindfolded as well. Legolas says no, and Aragorn saves the day by requesting that everyone be blindfolded. The hostility is mutual, both in the film and in the book, but more apparent in the latter.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 2:21

I know this is a bit necro, but I've seen many people give the same answer all over the internet, and it is not correct. The following answers are taken directly from David Salo; an authority on Tolkien languages, who worked directly with the scriptwriters for both the LotR movie trilogy, and The Hobbit movie trilogy, and was responsible for expanding the vocabulary of these languages beyond Tolkien's original published works. Most importantly, ten years after LotR's release, the scriptwriter for The Hobbit approached him about the meaning of this very line, for consideration to be said again by Thorin.

The line you are referring to is:

îsh kakhfê ai-‘d-dûr-rugnul

As for its English meaning, the common answer of "I spit on your grave" is a PG version, which has unknown origins (Though it has been attributed to Andreas Fröhlich, the director of the German translation of the movie ). But, according to David Salo, that's not actually what it means.

I should add that “I spit on your grave” — taken, I think, from the title of cheap 1970s exploitation film — is something I would never come up with. It’s practically meaningless as applied to the immortal Eldar, and I doubt it would be used as a casual curse by the Dwarves, who took the treatment and entombing of the dead extremely seriously.

The short and to-the-point answer is this:

The literal meaning is therefore "May my excrement be poured upon the naked-jawed (ones)"; a meaning giving the full connotation of the words would necessarily be less literal and more expressively vicious.

Original source

Mirror that's easier to read


Originally, David Salo had no idea what it meant.

I had no idea what the line John Rhys-Davies uttered meant for over a decade. I don’t even know how it came to be filmed that way; a story that I heard was that he ad-libbed it on set, being unable to produce the line I wrote for one reason or another. But that is a second-hand or third-hand story, or worse, and if he has a different story to tell about it, it supersedes anything I have to say on the subject. What I always said when I was asked was that I assumed it was so unspeakably nasty as to be untranslatable — at least in polite company!

I didn’t even know exactly what he had said, much less its meaning. So when I finally got asked about it by the scriptwriter I had to find the scene and listen to it over and over and over again before I came up with:

[ɪʃˈkɑkʰʍi ɑɪ duˈrugnul]

Well, that may be Khuzdul, but it’s not my Khuzdul, and even includes a sound that I excluded from neo-Khuzdul — any variation of /w/. But when I heard that there was consideration of having Thorin use the same curse, I thought “Aha! Here’s a chance to deal with all of those questions, and the additional ones to come.” So I sat down and reverse-engineered (so to speak) a Khuzdul version from Rhys-Davies line, using my grammar and phonology.

What I came up with was:

îsh kakhfê ai-‘d-dûr-rugnul

I suggest you read the entire article to get the full story and context, but this piece will explain the Dwarvish punch of "naked-jawed (ones)":

Obviously it had to refer to the Elves in some way. But it had to be bitterly contemptuous, in a peculiarly Dwarvish way. It should go beyond the usual reflections on intelligence, sanity, sexuality and personal hygiene that are the backbone of so many English curses.

After quite a lot of thought (more than I like to admit to) I came up with the compound dûr-rugn. On the face of it, this isn’t much of an insult. Dûr simply means bare, naked, or uncovered, from a root √DAYARA (*√DAWARA) “strip, shave, make naked”;rugn (plural ragân) is the lower jaw (or chin). Dûr-rugnul is an adjectival form (here used substantively, preceded by the definite object marker id-) meaning “bare-chinned” or more literally “with naked (hairless) lower jaw.

It is, Tolkien wrote, “characteristic of all Elves to be beardless” (Unfinished Tales, p. 247); but all adult Dwarves, male and female, have beards of which they are very proud. Only a very young Dwarf, or one who had suffered some tragic injury or illness, would lack a beard.

The beardlessness of Elves would therefore appear comic to the Dwarves, a sign that they were at best infantile, and would be an obvious subject of mockery; it might also suggest that they lacked the gonads (of either sex) to produce a proper beard. At any rate, to go about with a bare chin must appear to the Dwarves to be shameful, all the worse for the fact that the Elves appear unconscious of their shame, or even proud of it.

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    Brilliant, just brilliant. This is a clarification and a much better answer than the previous one, not a necro ;) I would suggest adding the line in full, though. That way, both what he said ("Is it known what Gimli says?") and what it means ("And if so, what does it translate to?") would be part of the answer, making it more complete. Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 12:20
  • Thank you. Good call. How's that?
    – Yurelle
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 6:41
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    Even better. As I read the whole story, maybe the fact that the scriptwriter himself approached Salo to ask for the meaning years later could be emphasised more. This would further strengthen the point that the German translation is made up by someone with less expertise/authority, especially considering the fact that they obviously used Salo's transcription in Desolation of Smaug. Taken together, it makes clear that even though Salo reverse-engineered the meaning, it is ultimately him who ultimately determines correctness. Not only according to himself, but also the film makers. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 7:23
  • Does an intro blurb work? or were you thinking something more substantial?
    – Yurelle
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 22:14

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