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Uruks vs. Hai

What do Orcs look like?

  • Orcs look similar to ugly Men/Hobbits

    Votes: 9 56.3%
  • Orcs look obviously different from all of the proper children of Illuvatar

    Votes: 7 43.8%

  • Total voters
    16

aragil

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Ha-ha, an old joke about my theory that 'hai' means 'men'.
So here's a question I've had for a long time, and now the 'Worst plot-hole' thread has prompted to ask my fellow board members their opinions: What do Orcs look like?
They are usually accompanied by descriptions of excess body hair, long arms, slanty-eyes, and fangy-teeth. But could they still look like humans with these same characteristics? The Uruks are large black Orcs, but there are humans with black skin. Gollum was a Hobbit, but he had fangy-teeth. Do Orcs look like ugly humans, or do they look like an obviously different species?
Here's my opinion- Orcs look fairly similar to the good folk, you have to look fairly close to tell the difference. My evidence:
1) Eomer almost mistakes Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli for Orcs
2) Aragorn and Merry and Pippin are all worried that the Eomer and the horsemen will mistake M&P for Orcs during the battle at the eaves of Fangorn.
3) Treebeard says he would have taken M&P to be orcs if he hadn't first heard their voices.
4) Frodo and Sam wear Orc clothing in the hopes of being mistaken for Orcs. Perhaps a wild gamble, but it works when the Durthang Uruks confuse the Hobbit duo for some lowly snaga.
 
H

Harad

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Orcs, humans, elves, and hobbits are bipedal organisms with the same count of eyes, ears, arms, nose, etc. At a distance, at night, or by trees, they can't be distiguished. Even the crook-leg Grishnakh the Great could be mistaken for a Western Wrangler at dusk around the campfire.

The reason people are avoiding this thread is they are afraid it has something to do with the frightening "U vs. U-H."
 

aragil

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U v U-h can't be that scary, can it?
And what do you think about the face? Vaguely humanish, very humanish, totally non-humanish? I think most people are thrown off by the description of fangs, but Bela Lugosi had fangs. Of course, he looked at best vaguely humanish.
I'm trying to think of all the descriptions:
Body type: Hairy, crook-legged, long-armed
Faces: Leering, squint-eyed, slant-eyed
Color: Swart, Sallow, and outright Black

IMO all of these could be descriptors for humans, which makes me think that orcs have much more similar facial features then we might believe based on illustrations, etc.
 
H

Harad

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I agree with you. Orcs werent Elves or Men, but they were the immoral equivalent. At a distance, until you saw the makeup, who knew?

Could you tell Elves from Men, except in close-up? Hobbits from (little) Men?

Now Balrogs...
 

Arvedui

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But keep in mind that orcs were made in mockery of the elves, so I believe that it would be easy to maske that mistake from a distance.
 

Turgon

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Doesn't Tolkien say that orcs did look like men? The ugliest kind of the Mongol race or something? One of those things Tolkien fans avoid as it is something the 'Tolkien is Racist' people bring up all the time? Sounds vaguely familiar...
 

Gothmog

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From Letter 210
Why does Z put beaks and feathers on Orcs!? (Orcs is not a form of Auks.) The Orcs are definitely stated to be corruptions of the 'human' form seen in Elves and Men. They are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.
This is Tolkien's description of Orcs.

In this description it can be seen that he does not equate Orcs with Mongol-types but uses an image from which to work.
 

Ithrynluin

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aragil said:
Here's my opinion- Orcs look fairly similar to the good folk, you have to look fairly close to tell the difference. My evidence:
1) Eomer almost mistakes Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli for Orcs
2) Aragorn and Merry and Pippin are all worried that the Eomer and the horsemen will mistake M&P for Orcs during the battle at the eaves of Fangorn.
3) Treebeard says he would have taken M&P to be orcs if he hadn't first heard their voices.
These may be due more to the fact that Treebeard and the riders of Rohan expected to come by orcs rather than any other races because of recent affairs, rather than to those individuals actually resembling orcs in some way.

And I think it is true enough that many people, myself included, have been put off by the hostility and bickering that transpired in the U. vs. U-h thread in the past.
 

Turgon

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Wasn't trying to be controvertial at all - just half-remembered the quote.

But, I'm not sure what you mean about the thread Ithers, it will take some re-reading, but from what I remember of it, something was never noticed in the debate. Being a lazy fellow, I read many threads and just don't have the energy to post... something to do with fading no doubt. But what do you think was wrong with the debate? I would be interested to hear?
 

Gothmog

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Wasn't trying to be controvertial at all - just half-remembered the quote.
Did not think you were. I just couldn't resist sticking in my (not at all) humble opinion of his description ;)
 

Arvedui

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Turgon said:
Wasn't trying to be controvertial at all - just half-remembered the quote.

But, I'm not sure what you mean about the thread Ithers, it will take some re-reading, but from what I remember of it, something was never noticed in the debate. Being a lazy fellow, I read many threads and just don't have the energy to post... something to do with fading no doubt. But what do you think was wrong with the debate? I would be interested to hear?
In my opinion, there wasn't too much hostility in the discussion. My biggest issue against joing in the fray is that it is simply just too much of it. But if one takes the time to read it, one can see that a lot of thinking and studying has taken place. It is not one of those threads were just adding a couple of lines seems fitting.:)
 

Wraithguard

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Allow me to go ahead and clear this up.

Uruk is a greater breed of orc that is little more than a combination of Man and Orc. "Hai" is a word of the Black Speach meaning "Folk". In other words when the term Uruk-hai is used it is referring to the Uruks as a whole. The same goes for Olog-hai, or "troll folk".
 

Gothmog

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Actually Uruks are not combinations of Orcs and Men

From Appendix F
Orcs and the Black Speech. Orc is the form of the name that other races had for this foul people as it was in the language of Rohan. In Sindarin it was orch. related, no doubt, was the word uruk of the Black Speech, though this was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time issued from Mordor and Isengard. The lesser kinds were called, especially by the Uruk-hai, snaga 'slave'.
So the Uruk was simply used to refer to the stronger soldier-orcs while these nice 'Hai' refered to the weaker orcs as Snaga. ;)
 

Walter

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I am relieved to learn that the issue Uruks vs. Uruk-hai is settled now. I never quite understood why all these learned people made such a fuss over it in the other thread.

We should have settled it with a poll in the first place.... :D
 

Wraithguard

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The word uruk that occurs in the Black Speech, devised (it is said) by Sauron to serve as a lingua franca for his subjects, was probably borrowed by him from the Elvish tongues of earlier times. Uruk may be similar to Quenya urco, orco or Sindarin orch, but it is identical to the ancient Elvish form *uruk (variants *urku, *uruku, whence Q urco, and *urkô, whence perhaps S orch). But how could Sauron know Primitive Quendian? Was he the one who took care of the Elves Morgoth captured at Cuiviénen, and perhaps even responsible for the "genetic engineering" that transformed them into Orcs? As a Maia, he would easily have interpreted their tongue. To the first Elves, Morgoth and his servants would be *urukî or "horrors", for the original meaning of the word was that vague and general, and Sauron may have delighted in telling the captured Elves that they were to become *urukî themselves. In his mind, the word evidently stuck.

That would be my take on the word "Uruk".
 

Thorondor_

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Sauron may have delighted in telling the captured Elves that they were to become *urukî themselves.
I don't think so (Quendi and Eldar, HoME 11):
The form in adunaic urku, urkhu may be direct from quenya or sindarin; and this form underlies the words for orc in the languages of men of the north-west in the second and third ages.The orcs themselves adopted it, for the fact that it referred to terror and detestation delighted them. The word uruk that occurs in the black speech, devised (it is said) by Sauron to serve as a lingua franca for his subjects, was probably borrowed by him from the elvish tongues of earlier times. It referred, however, specially to the trained and disciplined orcs of the regiments of Mordor. Lesser breeds seem to have been called snaga
 

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