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Black Speech _-hai_: group-plural or something else?

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  • William Cloud Hicklin
    It would seem to me that the most sensible interpretation of Appendix F on Black Speech/Orkish is that the suffix _-hai_ is a group-plural, analagous to S.
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 17 8:34 AM
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      It would seem to me that the most sensible interpretation of Appendix F on Black Speech/Orkish is that the suffix _-hai_ is a group-plural, analagous to S. _-hoth_: e.g. _Uruk-hai_ = 'the host of the (soldier-)Orcs.'

      But some writers have suggested that it has some other signification; this position is usually
      advanced in connection with the idea that "_Uruk-hai_" is applicable solely to Saruman's hybrids, not to Uruks as a whole. By analogy with _Olog-hai_, I suppose, it could be read as some sort of intensifier i.e. 'super-Orcs, super-Trolls.'

      To anyone's knowledge, did JRRT have anything more to say on this than appears in App F and its drafts?

      -- William Hicklin

      [In the newly-published _Parma Eldalamberon_ 17, containing Tolkien's own notes on "Words, Phrases & Passages in _The Lord of the Rings_", we find (p. 12) Tolkien's gloss: "_Uruk-hai_ 'Orc-folk'". This shows that (at least at the time Tolkien made this gloss) _-hai_ was indeed a collective term meaning 'folk', not an intensifier. CFH]
    • Jerome Colburn
      The use of _-hai_ as a group-plural is further evidenced, and the hypothesis that _Uruk-hai_ is applicable only to Saruman s hybrids contradicted, by the
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 18 9:17 PM
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        The use of _-hai_ as a group-plural is further evidenced, and the hypothesis that "'_Uruk-hai_' is applicable only to Saruman's hybrids contradicted, by the occurrence of "Uruk-hai" in a non-Isengarder context in LR:925: "First they say it's a great Elf in bright armour, then it's a sort of small dwarf-man, then it must be a pack of rebel Uruk-hai; or maybe it's all the lot together" -- referring to the orc soldier's superiors' confused view of the killing of the Orcs and the escape of the prisoner at Cirith Ungol -- a view that must derive from the only surviving witness they knew of, Shagrat, for whom the "pack" would refer to Gorbag's company.

        (Note that in the old Ballantine three-volume paperback edition "Urukhai" is not hyphenated; there's a hyphen in the 2004 edition, but the term also happens to fall at a line break.)

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