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Old Orcish (also known by some scholars as Old Orsimeris*) is the ancient language of the Orcs, and the precursor to the language known today as Orcish or Modern Orcish. While the period of time that this language was used by the Orcs is unknown, it cannot have been any earlier than the time of the death of Chieftain Torug gro-Igron, before the first siege of Orsinium in 1E 950, nor any definite evidence to when it evolved into Modern Orcish, although it is reasonable that it could not have evolved any later than 3E 417, in which Modern Orcish was well established by the Orcs of High Rock and Hammerfell. However, seeing that there is evidence for the Old Orcish language having been largely forgotten by 2E 258, it's impossible to know precisely when this transition occurred, due to the scarcity of literature and archaeological evidence for both the ancient and the modern language.
* This name has been suggested to show the connection between the language and its ancestral and sister languages
Language Family and Genetic Relationship
Old Orcish is part of the Ehlnofex Language Family, and a direct descendant of Aldmeris. It shares this ancestor with the other elven languages: Ald Chimeris, Dunmeris, Pyandonean, Dwemeris, Falmer, Altmeris, Bosmeris, and Ayleidoon.
Unfortunately, like many of these other ancient languages, Old Orcish lacks a linguistic corpus, its literature being preserved, in a vast enough quantity for linguistic analysis, in but one known sample of poetry: "Torug ag Krazak" (translated into Cyrodilic as "Torug at the Summit"), a series of inscriptions at the tomb of Torug gro-Igron, the founder of the first Orsinium. Apart from this, little remains of this language but scattered words and phrases.
|Torug ag Krazak, Uhz
Goltragga Torug ne murimush lochan sim
|Torug at the Summit, One
Chief Torug will not allow the looters to find his remains.
|Torug ag Krazak, Uhg
Goltragga Torug dek vorkhim lorak eb norgimin sim
|Torug at the Summit, Two
Chief Torug gathered up his armored bracer and his dying body.
|Torug ag Krazak, Aht
Jur ugo sim ren tum Torug beshkar
|Torug at the Summit, Three
Then he laid Sorrow's Kiss* upon his enchanted armlet.
- * There was debate by the translator as to whether the faded letters in the original inscription contained the word "zugka", meaning "kiss", or "zugra", meaning "curse".
Old Orcish Word List
The following word list is one that has been gathered from the limited number of sources available, although those words marked with an asterisk (*), are words that scholars are doubtful or unsure of.
- Lay (as in to lie down)
- Sorrow (specifically the mountain of Sorrow)
- Place (as in "to place")
- Him, His, He*
Old Orcish Grammar
- Articles - both the definite the and indefinite a/an are omitted.
Torug dulg krazak eb Jur ugo sim ren tum beshkar / Torug climbed (the) summit and placed himself in making (a) cairn.)
- Words are used in conjunction to present concepts.
...ugo sim... / ...himself...
from ugo = he, him, his and sim = body, remains, self
- Nouns in the plural do not seem to inflect.
voshu Ornim...rohi Ornim / worthy Orc...lesser Orcs
- 3rd person personal pronouns are more than often omitted.
Goltragga Torug ne murimush lochan sim / Chief Torug will not allow looters to find (his) remains.
- When they are not omitted, they are sometimes substituted for a personal name.
Torug dulg krazak eb Jur ugo sim ren tum beshkar / Torug (he) climbed the summit and placed himself in making a cairn.
Comparing Old Orcish to Other Languages
- Magicka - magic, enchantment - cf. Aldmeris, Ayleidoon & Tamrielic Magicka
- Ne - not allow - cf. Aldmeris ne- (not)
- Ornim - Orc - cf. Aldmeris Orsimer, & Dragon Language Ogiim
- Torug at the Summit, Complete Translation
- Agra Crun
- Azrath's dialogue
- Strange Rituals of the Orsimer
A Study of Death Rites of the People of Tamriel — Chaplain Jorden, Priest of Arkay
- Lashburr Tooth-Breaker's dialogue
- Seamount Orcs' dialogue
- Vosh Rakh
- Lady Clarisse Laurent's dialogue
- Stibbons' dialogue