🧙 The Tolkien Forum 🧝

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Could the Balrogs speak?

Wyvern

Registered User
Joined
Nov 1, 2001
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Balrog

I have been wondering, if the Balrog has any speech abilitys, does anyone know the name of the Balrog tounge or suggestion they had their own language aside from grunts.

Wyvern
 

Grond

Morgoth's Mace
Joined
Oct 31, 2001
Messages
3,040
Reaction score
37
Location
Somewhere in a Tolkien story.
Wyvern, let me start by saying that I do not own and have not read the HoME or the UT... so my input will come only from my knowledge (or lack thereof) which comes from the Sil, Hobbit and LotR.

As far as I can find in the texts, there is no instance where a Balrog utters a word. That doesn't mean that they can't or won't. I just can't find where they did.

They must be capable of it though because Gandalf spoke of "What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me..." You get the picture. This would indicate that a challenge was made and a counter-spell was cast. Whether any of that would have been verbal is left to speculation, but I would think that a Balrog would have and did have the ability to communicate as the other creatures of Melkor did.

But that's just this humble hammer's opinion. During my stay at Angband, I was always too scared of the buggers to even open my ears while they were around.
 

Lantarion

no house
Joined
Aug 19, 2001
Messages
3,734
Reaction score
6
Location
Finland
I think the Balrog in Moria could have commanded the Orcs either with some ancient form of Morbeth (the Black Speech), or then he just used telekinesis. :) (hey, that's not impossible..)
As for his spell, I think that was purely power-tapped, meaning that he probably just lifted his arms and 'thought' the door to smithereens. On the other hand, Sauron or somebody before him (I don't know, I haven't read UT or HoME) might have created a language for the sole purpose of Balrog magic, which was perhaps equally powerful to that of many Maiar.
 

Gothmog

Lord of Balrogs
Staff member
Joined
Sep 10, 2001
Messages
1,960
Reaction score
158
Location
Cardiff, United Kingdom
Balrogs were at the start Ainur, when they came to Arda they were of the same class as the Maiar. The Valar, Maiar and other of the Ainur who came to Arda could speak. I believe that they had a language that was completely different from that of Elves or Men as they made it before the creation of even the Fathers of the Dwarves. So I think that Balrogs could speak when needed. However, in a battle the terror of such creatures could be intensified by not speaking just fighting without responding verbally. If this were the case then there would be no record of them talking as only the Orcs and others of Morgoth's army would have heard them.
 

Confusticated

Registered User
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Messages
4,439
Reaction score
5
Location
USA
I believe that they could not.

There is not case of them speaking that I know of... LotR, Sil, FoG.

Given the size and terror of them, if they could speak I imagine it would be a loud and fell voice that they would have used. Because of that I think speech, if they had it, is something we would most likely have heard about. Especially in the confrontation between Gandalf and the balrog. If it didn't speak then, when would it!?

As for the counter-spell:

It is my belief that spells work through communication of a spiritual nature, and so I believe no speech is needed to cast a spell, and that these are only spoken as it is easier to communcate with speech than without it.
 

Melko Belcha

Registered User
Joined
Mar 14, 2003
Messages
323
Reaction score
2
Location
Behind the Walls of Night
Tolkien did make this one statement in a letter to Morton Zimmerman concerning the film offer.

The Letters of JRR Tolkien.
The Balrog never speaks or makes any vocal sound at all.
This could mean that the Balrogs could never speak. But I agree with Gothmog that they had the power of speech but didn't use it in battle.

I have never seen the Balrog as a beast like creature growling and sneering. I see it more as a precision killing machine, a silent but deadly fighter. Not a creature who instills fear by brute force, but a creature that is calm and in complete control whos over all presence is enuff to drive fear into anyones hearts.

It's hard for me to describe how I actually see a Balrog and how they act, but I hope my general idea got through.
 

BlackCaptain

Vast Menace of Despair
Joined
Dec 22, 2002
Messages
2,520
Reaction score
2
It's all leadership and communication through fear. No, the Balrogs cannot, and have never talked. I'm not even sure they grunt. But in Arda, you don't have to talk to get your point across. I never talked until Gandalf stood up to me, but I still commanded tons of troops into the Pelenor Feilds. Forget how many though... Must re-read...
 

YayGollum

Conscience of TTF
Joined
Dec 3, 2001
Messages
5,538
Reaction score
6
Location
Columbia, South Carolina, the United States of Nor
This is just craziness. I don't see why someone would think that balrogs can't talk. just because there's not an example of it? They don't show up that often. The description sounds pretty scary to me. How often did Tolkien's dragons jump into battle and start talking tough? Not too often. They were big and scary and that was enough. Too bad there never was a chance for some balrog to try calmly talking things out. :rolleyes:
 

Ithrynluin

seeker of solace
Staff member
Joined
Apr 27, 2002
Messages
4,623
Reaction score
11
I hardly think that powerful creatures such as Balrogs, who are Maiar, are not able to produce speech. Rather, I think the case with Balrogs is that they choose not to speak most of the time, or perhaps even all of the time. They may have been speaking with Morgoth, though they may have used some sort of telepathy for the exchange of thought.
 

Gothmog

Lord of Balrogs
Staff member
Joined
Sep 10, 2001
Messages
1,960
Reaction score
158
Location
Cardiff, United Kingdom
The only time there is any mention of sound coming from the Balrog of Moria is at the point where it fell.

With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished.
There is no other mention in the book about the Balrog making any other vocal sound. I still think that Balrogs could speak but simply did not do so.
 

Illuvatar

The One
Joined
Dec 28, 2003
Messages
43
Reaction score
0
Location
C.A
All of this speculation is kind of moot, because it isn't that there was an absence of talking in all of the parts where balrogs appear, it was that they never had a need to talk. Therefore, we cannot prove it one way or another by their absence or presence of speech. For myself, I think that they probably used some form of telepathy, but again, there's no proof for that.
 

Helcaraxë

The Grinding Ice
Joined
May 20, 2003
Messages
397
Reaction score
0
Location
North of the Sundering Seas
I agree. The Balrogs were Ainur; I would be very surprised if they had all the tremendous power we know they possess and yet could not speak. Not hearing them speak in any of the books is probably due to:

a. A literary device on Tolkien's part to make them seem more menacing

or

b. no need to speak; i.e. mental communication. See Tolkien's Osanwë Kenta essay; good reading.
 

Hammersmith

Irresistible Ork Child
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
477
Reaction score
3
Location
An afternoon's ramble from Buckland
Gothmog said:
The only time there is any mention of sound coming from the Balrog of Moria is at the point where it fell.



There is no other mention in the book about the Balrog making any other vocal sound. I still think that Balrogs could speak but simply did not do so.
Strange. I don't have the books to hand...but I could have sworn Gandalf mentions that the Balrog laughed at him through the door before the opening/shutting spell rigamarole. :confused:
 

Thorondor_

Registered User
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
1,126
Reaction score
0
Hm, there is no such refference (FotR, The bridge of Khazad-dum):
- As I stood there I could hear orc-voices on the other side: at any moment I thought they would burst it open. I could not hear what was said; they seemed to be talking in their own hideous language. All I caught was ghash that is "fire". Then something came into the chamber – I felt it through the door, and the orcs themselves were afraid and fell silent. It laid hold of the iron ring, and then it perceived me and my spell.
- What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command. That proved too great a strain. The door burst in pieces. Something dark as a cloud was blocking out all the light inside, and I was thrown backwards down the stairs. All the wall gave way, and the roof of the chamber as well, I think
 

Firawyn

Verbatim et litteratim.
Joined
Mar 18, 2003
Messages
2,319
Reaction score
27
Location
Pennsylvania
Just a thought: As far as I know, the only Belrog ever named was Gothmog (please correct me if I'm wrong, I've only read LotR, The Hobbit, and UT, and parts of the Sil).

Anyway, so why would a group of people name themselves, or at least their leader, if they couldn't address, or refer to him (or her?:p ) The purpose of a name is to distinguish one from another, wi?


So on that note, I vote 'yes' Belrogs could talk.:cool:
 

Thread suggestions

Top