The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
The native tongues of the Orcs
Other names
Sometimes spelt Orcish1


About this entry:

  • Updated 21 March 2011
  • This entry is complete


The languages of the Orcs

A general term for the jumble of languages used by the Orcs, composed from corrupted borrowings from other languages of Middle-earth. The variations in Orkish between different tribes and types of Orc were so great that it was often useless for communication, and so a standard language was necessary. Sauron devised his Black Speech for this purpose in Mordor, but in practice the Common Tongue was more normally used.



In some older editions of The Lord of the Rings, the spelling Orcish appears in Appendix E. This is an error; Tolkien recommended the form Orkish, and later editions have corrected the Appendix to use this preferred spelling.

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