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Spy news: Dwalin’s runes, Orcrist, Thranduil and wargs!

July 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm by Demosthenes  - 

Over at, the folks of Gwaith-i-Phethdain, (which means The Fellowship of the Word-smiths) have been doing some linguistic research based on the latest close-up pictures of Dwalin’s axes and Thorin Oakenshield’s Orcrist.

They report the runic (Angerthas Moria) inscriptions on Dwalin’s axes are Neo-Khuzdûl words that probably mean Grasper and Keeper. Apparently it’s a pun reference to the Bronte sisters’ pet dogs? The runes on Orcrist (scribed using Angerthas Daeron) translate as Tooth of Snake Orcrist.

Highlight the above to reveal some minor linguistic spoilers, then read on for some much bigger spy news!

The G-i-P folk also have a few pieces of very juicy spy news:

  • Bifur may only speak in Khuzdûl, possibly due to that silly axe protruding from his skull.
  • Dwalin’s skull tattoos actually have meaning, and are pictorial tale about Dwarvish history, laws, customs!
  • Thranduil’s sword will also feature lots of runic inscriptions
  • The Wargs will have their own constructed language for the Hobbit. The Warg chief, a great white wolf, will communicate with his pack using this simple, gluttal language!

Read their full report, including translation notes, here.


The news that the Wargs will speak is great news for readers hoping for greater textual fidelity from Peter Jackson’s adaptation.

On the other hand, Tolkien wrote that dwarves never “willingly” spoke Khuzdûl in front of outsiders (LOTR: Appendix F). While, in itself, it may be great to hear this language spoken, this is a bit of a stretch of canon — one obviously predicated on the nature of Bifur’s injury.

The dark elf, Eol, was apparently one of the few non-dwarves to have learnt Khuzdûl, although currently I can’t recall where/what book that was noted in. Curufin and the the folk of the House of Hador are also mentioned as exceptions in the Peoples of Middle-earth.

Update: Our clever forum members have also pointed out that the white wolf that Richard Taylor was seen atop in the last production video is almost certainly the chief warg!

Additionally, in the third production video, the cast talks length about having to speak dwarvish. This starts at approximately the six-minute mark. This could be construed as additional substantiation.

G-i-P is a linguistic website devoted to post-Tolkienian constructions in the “reconstructed” languages of Middle-earth. Neo-Khuzdûl is the work of Tolkien linguist David Salo. Salo created the inscriptions for Moria in the Lord of the Rings films and has also been asked to help with The Hobbit films.

Posted in Characters, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, James Nesbitt, Lee Pace, Richard Armitage, Rumors Spy News, The Hobbit on July 12, 2012 by

Thranduil Statue

5 responses to “Spy news: Dwalin’s runes, Orcrist, Thranduil and wargs!”

  1. Istar says:

    Those axes look a lot more like hammers to me . . .

  2. Revan Kon says:

    How in the world is that the translation for Orcrist? The third rune in the second word is Nos. 45 which is ‘u’ not ‘y’. Snakes tooth doesn’t make any sense in the context of the Silmarillion. My Translation:

  3. Revan Kon says:

    Unless someone from Weta said that is the translation of Dwalin’s axes we have no idea. Tolkien specifically wrote that only 2-3 times throughout all of the world’s history did dwarves share there language with anyone, one of them being the House of Hador and Longbeard’s relationship in the Silmarillion. For that reason we only know their battle cry and the names of a few of their cities. Every thing else “Dwarvish” is 100% made up from thin air.

  4. Revan Kon says:

    Also, how in the world is that the translation for Orcrist? The third rune in the second word is Nos. 45 which is ‘u’ not ‘y’. Snakes tooth doesn’t make any sense. My Translation:

  5. Contrablast says:

    Eol is from the Silmarillion.

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