Old Orcish is the ancient language of the Orcs, and most likely the precursor to the language known as Orcish. While it is unknown when the langage first developed, it cannot have been any later than the time of the rule of King Torug gro-Igron, before the first siege of Orsinium in 1E 950; nor is there 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, by the time of which modern Orcish was well established by the Orcs of High Rock and Hammerfell. Seeing that there is evidence for the Old Orcish language having been largely forgotten by 2E 583, it's impossible to know precisely when this transition occurred, due to the scarcity of information about both the ancient and the modern language.
Language Family and Genetic Relationship
Old Orcish is part of the Ehlnofex Language Family, and most likely a descendant of Aldmeris. It shares this ancestry with the other elven languages: Ald Chimeris, Dunmeris, Dwemeris, Falmer, Altmeris, Bosmeris, and Ayleidoon.
Like many 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
Torug gesh Glushun Zugka* ugo magicka lorish
|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 the translations marked with an asterisk (*), are largely speculative.
- Lay (as in to lie down)
- Sorrow (specifically the mountain of Sorrow)
- Place (as in "to place")
- Him, His, He*
Old Orcish Grammar
- Neither definite nor indefinite articles are used.
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 often omitted.
Goltragga Torug ne rohi Ornim lochan norgim krazak / Chief Torug will allow no lesser Orcs to find interment above [him].
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
- Events of Daggerfall
- Kharsthun's dialogue in ESO
- Torug at the Summit, Complete Translation
- Agra Crun
- Azrath's dialogue in ESO
- Strange Rituals of the Orsimer — Chaplain Jorden, Priest of Arkay
- Lashburr Tooth-Breaker's dialogue in ESO
- Ashaka's dialogue in ESO
- Seamount Orcs' dialogue in ESO
- Vosh Rakh
- Lady Clarisse Laurent's dialogue in ESO
- Stibbons' dialogue in ESO