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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » What's the Difference (if any) between Uruks and Uruk-hai? (Page 1)
Author Topic: What's the Difference (if any) between Uruks and Uruk-hai?
Roll of Honor Thorin
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What's the difference (if any) between Uruks and Uruk-hai?

I had always thought that there were differences between the two. The Uruks seem to be generically used for the large orcs, such as mentioned here in Appendix A:

quote:
In the last years of Denethor I the race of uruks, black orcs of great strength, first appeared out of Mordor, and in 2475 they swept across Ithilien and took Osgiliath.
But the Uruk-hai is only used to describe Saruman's orcs. Hence I thought that there were differences between the Uruks and Uruk-hai.

However, I noticed that in Witch King of Angmar's post here that he thinks that they are the same.

[ 08-04-2006, 12:37 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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quote:
What's the difference (if any) between Uruks and Uruk-hai?
They are one and the same. "Hai" is a Black Speech word for "kind", "race" or "people" -- a collective noun. It also appears in Olog-hai (trolls), and Oghor-hai (Druedain). "Uruks" is basically an English-language rendering of the pure Black Speech term "Uruk-hai". So really the difference is semantical.
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Perhaps we are dealing with a couple of questions then.

1) Were Saruman's "great orcs" different from other varieties? (Such as in their tolerance of the Sun.)

2) Were the terms "Uruk-hai" and "Uruk" interchangeable?

I would guess from Silmahtar's post that question #2 would be answered "yes."

[ 08-04-2006, 02:04 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Halion
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I will just say that at least according to what I have seen on my ‘wanderings’ around on the Internet, this could actually be regarded as one of the Great Debates™, and I have always wondered why there is no thread on it in the Library Council of Minas Tirith.
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Don't pretend like you don't have an opinion, Halion. [] I know better.

Does this mean I should move this to the Library Council? The last topic I started there was five years ago. I was rewarded with a prompt reprimand and a deletion as it was already being discussed somewhere. I've never got around to opening another topic there.

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Roll of Honor Herendil
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As Halion posted, this is a much debated question, and I am strongly of the opinion that it does not make much sense to start this discussion completely from scratch, as there are good threads on this elsewhere. I recommend you to study the following threads first, and then complement (and compliment) them. Well known scholars like Michael Martinez, Conrad Dunkerson, Tar-Elenion and halfir have posted in them.

Uruks vs. Uruk-hai on TTF (47 pages)
The Uruk-Hai: NOT a crossbreed on the LOTR Fanatics Forum
The Uruk-Hai: NOT a crossbreed - 2 on the LOTR Fanatics Forum

[ 08-04-2006, 06:02 AM: Message edited by: Herendil ]

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Galin
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It might be added that Tolkien's unfinished index, now described by Hammond And Scull in their new Companion, does not appear to include the entry for Uruks -- the entry that does appear in the Unfinished Tales index. It would appear from this that the UT index entry 'Uruks' was written by Christopher Tolkien for inclusion in that book, as opposed to JRRT for possible inclusion in The Lord of the Rings.

Also, '-hai' has not been explained by Tolkien specifically (in any texts published as yet anyway). I'm not commenting on whether or not Silmahtar is correct, only that there is no specific attested gloss from JRRT himself here (in any case).

Galin

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Roll of Honor Herendil
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True, now that it seems that CT made that entry up in the UT index, it should be taken into consideration in this debate.
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Galin
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And that is not to say that Christopher Tolkien's entry is wrong necessarily, but the source is key; meaning that if the entry was intended for inclusion in The Lord of the Rings one could then claim that the meaning is all instances of Uruks in The Lord of the Rings are anglicizations for Uruk-hai (including references to Sauron's Uruks).

However in Unfinished Tales anglicized Uruks only ever refers to Saruman's Uruks (all instances do not include any references to Sauron's Uruks).

Galin

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Thingol of Doriath
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quote:
I am strongly of the opinion that it does not make much sense to start this discussion completely from scratch, as there are good threads on this elsewhere.
So... now we aren't allowed to start discussions here at MT because they have been discussed at other Tolkien sites Herendil? []
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Roll of Honor Lassë
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[] Side note - unimportant for subject of thread []

Silmah:
quote:
"Uruks" is basically an English-language rendering of the pure Black Speech term "Uruk-hai". So really the difference is semantical.
Hehe no, the difference is exactly not semantical. A semantical difference would eg. be if the same word had two different meanings []
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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Okay, I’ll get this party started. I’m not going to dwell on the Uruk / Uruk-hai meanings at this point. I’m going to argue that Saruman’s great orcs were different than other varieties.

1) Saruman’s great orcs could alone withstand the Sun.

quote:
”But what are we going to do at sunrise?” said some of the Northerners.
“Go on running,” said Ugluk.

The Uruk-hai, Lord of the Rings

quote:
”It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman’s Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it.”
Treebeard, Lord of the Rings

quote:
”But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun,” said Gamling.
Helm’s Deep, Lord of the Rings

2) Saruman’s great orcs had different methods, manners, and customs.

quote:
And Aragorn looked on the slain, and he said: “Here lie many that are not folk of Mordor. Some are from the North, from the Misty Mountains, if I know anything of Orcs and their kinds. And here are others strange to me. Their gear is not after the manner of Orcs at all!”
The Departure of Boromir, Lord of the Rings

3) Saruman’s great orcs had greater power and strength than other varieties.

quote:
Then suddenly, without warning, Ugluk sprang forwards, and with two swift strokes swept the heads off two of his opponents. Grishnakh stepped aside and vanished into the shadows. The others gave way…
The Uruk-hai, Lord of the Rings

quote:
Hour after hour they ran… Either because they were quicker and hardier, or because of some plan of Grishnakh’s, the Isengards gradually passed through the Orcs of Mordor.
The Uruk-hai, Lord of the Rings

4) Saruman’s great orcs had greater intelligence than other varieties.

quote:
But at the moment Ugluk was not engaged in sport. He needed speed and had to humour unwilling followers.
The Uruk-hai, Lord of the Rings

quote:
[T]he Orcs wasted many arrows shooting at the fires, until Ugluk stopped them.
The Uruk-hai, Lord of the Rings

quote:
…snarled Ugluk”…You’re as bad as the other rabble: the maggots and the apes of Lugburz. No good trying to charge with them. They’d just squeal and bolt, and there are more than enough of these filthy horse-boys to mop up our lot on the flat.”
The Uruk-hai, Lord of the Rings

5) Saruman’s great orcs were the result of a mixing of orcs and men.

quote:
”[Saruman] has been doing something to [Orcs]; something dangerous. For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men… I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men?”
Treebeard, Lord of the Rings
Note, however, that this is only Treebeard’s opinion.

quote:
”But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun,” said Gamling.
Helm’s Deep, Lord of the Rings
Note: Gamling could know about Saruman’s great orcs resistance to the Sun from personal observation, but I imagine that the statement about breeding is opinion, such as Treebeard’s.

quote:
It became clear in time that undoubted Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits; and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing new breeds, often larger and more cunning. There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men treacherous and vile.
Text X, Myths Transformed, Morgoth’s Ring
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Roll of Honor Herendil
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Thingol:

In my opinion it is smarter, especially in this case, to add to the already existing threads. I do not think that you have much hope of managing to come up with something that has not been covered in them. Why try to re-invent such a big wheel? Your discussion will most likely end up being inferior to the already existing ones, and thus there will be a greater risk that you will come to the wrong conclusions.

[ 08-05-2006, 08:30 AM: Message edited by: Herendil ]

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Rumil
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I always assumed that Uruk was just a shortened version of Uruk-hai?!?!
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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:

But the Uruk-hai is only used to describe Saruman's orcs.

Actually:

quote:
They went two or three miles further, and the orc-hold was hidden from sight behind them; but they had hardly begun to breathe more freely again when harsh and loud they heard orc-voices. Quickly they slunk out of sight behind a brown and stunted bush. The voices drew nearer. Presently two orcs came into view. One was clad in ragged brown and was armed with a bow of horn; it was of a small breed, black-skinned, with wide and snuffling nostrils: evidently a tracker of some kind. The other was a big fighting-orc, like those of Shagrat’s company, bearing the token of the Eye. He also had a bow at his back and carried a short broad-headed spear. As usual they were quarrelling, and being of different breeds they used the Common Speech after their fashion.
Hardly twenty paces from where the hobbits lurked the small orc stopped. ‘Nar!’ it snarled. ‘I’m going home.’ It pointed across the valley to the orc-hold. ‘No good wearing my nose out on stones any more. There’s not a trace left, I say. I’ve lost the scent through giving way to you. It went up into the hills, not along the valley, I tell you.’
‘Not much use are you, you little snufflers?’ said the big orc. ‘I reckon eyes are better than your snotty noses.’
‘Then what have you seen with them?’ snarled the other. ‘Garn! You don’t even know what you’re looking for.’
‘Whose blame’s that?’ said the soldier. ‘Not mine. That comes from Higher Up. 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.’

--ROTK, "The Land of Shadow"

I find it difficult to believe, that Sauron's orcs would suspect Saruman's orcs of rebellion-- in Mordor of all places... particularly when Saruman's orcs were all dead.
Rather, the term "Uruk-hai" referred here obviously, to those in Mordor, with regard to the tower being raided, the prisoner taken, and hundreds of orcs killed.

[ 08-06-2006, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Imbëar
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Uruk and Uruk-hai rely upon the root-term, uruki, which (originally) referred to 'terrors' of diverse kind.

When it comes to Saruman's Orcs, there is every indication that he'd been 'richening' the blood of Orcs with the blood of Men, or 'leaning out' the blood of Men with the blood of Orcs.

Yes, this registered 'new' meaning to the name of 'terror' - both in origin and ability.

However, we must again recognize that there is nothing 'new' under the sun. The fact that Orcs and Men were biologically compatible indicates a shared or common origin.

So, yes, there were differences between Orcs; however, the respective names 'Uruk' and 'Uruk-hai' do not precisely or exclusively point to these differences.


Imbëar

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
When it comes to Saruman's Orcs, there is every indication that he'd been 'richening' the blood of Orcs with the blood of Men,
Those were half-orcs:

quote:
When they reached The Green Dragon, the last house on the Hobbiton side, now lifeless and with broken windows, they were disturbed to see half a dozen large ill-favoured Men lounging against the inn-wall; they were squint-eyed and sallow-faced.
‘Like that friend of Bill Ferny’s at Bree,’ said Sam.
‘Like many that I saw at Isengard,’ muttered Merry.

Imbëar:
quote:
or 'leaning out' the blood of Men with the blood of Orcs.
Why bother? Orcs "bred like flies," as it was written; if you wanted pure orcs, it would be much easier just to kill the men and replace them with orcs.


More likely that half-orcs were simply passable as men, while being more apt to his service.
But they were not confused with uruk-hai; perhaps they were bred from the uruk-hai with female human captives, but that's all.

[ 08-06-2006, 05:59 PM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Tuor
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I believe Herendil has left out our own Cian.

Uruk-Hai posted 11-07-2002 01:12 PM

Please ignore my "contribution" to that thread. I was still in the "Is Tolkien a racist" mode and bickering with Wuss AKA Citizen 2612 mode.

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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WiKi, didn't you see my quote from Morgoth's Ring? The "breeding program" didn't stop after simply mating a Man and an Orc. It created "both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men treacherous and vile." Men with orcish strains, or orcs with mannish strains.

For instance, I could imagine the spy at Bree to have 3 human grandparents and 1 orc grandparent. Ugluk may have been the opposite: 75% orc and 25% man, for example.

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Galin
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In The Lord of the Rings we find Saruman's man-high, goblin-faced soldiers that Aragorn calls 'half-orcs' (saying that there were many at Helm's Deep). Compare half-orc with the terms Tolkien uses in Morgoth's Ring, where each term is half one thing, and half the other.

It's quite possible that the MR quote refers to kinds of Half-orcs (the term Uruk-hai is not used in any case).

Galin

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Regarding the Uruk / Uruk-hai question, I'm 90% convinced that they are one and the same. I started a long drawn out post last night to refute the "rebel Uruk-hai" quote from The Land of Shadow. But I kept thinking of flaws in my arguments so I'm going to concede that point. Uruk = Uruk-hai. []

However, I am still convinced that Saruman's great orcs, by whatever name we call them, were fundamentally different from Mordor's great orcs or other "lesser breeds" in the Mountains. My five points from the previous post have basically gone unchallenged so far. (Although I seem to remember a very good post with a different view, but it was deleted for some reason. [] I wonder where it went. [] )

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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I can only say that Ugluk and the orcs at Helm's Deep, were referred to as "the Uruk-hai."
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Galin
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Thorin, I deleted my earlier post because I wasn't sure I was going to get back to this any time soon, but here's a new version.

Looking at the chapter The Uruk-hai: some of the larger bolder Northerners appear to run with the Isengarders under the Sun (as others have noted) and the Mordorian Orcs run very well under the Sun in any case. Actually, even the Northerners arguably run better than some Men might! After running 'hour after hour' the Isengarders gradually passed through the Orcs of Mordor, then after this 'soon' they were gaining also on the Northerners ahead -- earlier derided as 'half-trained' mountain-maggots by Ugluk, right after the remarks about running under the Sun. In the Battles of the Fords of Isen (Unfinished Tales) Saruman has Dunlendings, Orcish wolfriders, followed by two battalions of Uruks '...the fierce Uruks, heavily armed but trained to move at great speed for many miles.'

Also noting training in general: 'It [the word uruk] referred, however, specially to the trained and disciplined Orcs of the regiments of Mordor.' JRRT Quendi And Eldar, WJ

Treebeard

'For the Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!'

Treebeard being a character in the tale 'wonders' here, he questions what is going on, but he doesn't know what Saruman has really done. Some 'Half-orcs' could look enough like Orcs to be confusing in my opinion. On half-orcs...

'And there were battalions of Men, too. (...) Most of them were ordinary men, rather tall and dark-haired, and grim but not particularly evil-looking. But there were some others that were horrible: man-high but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed. Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree; only he was not so obviously orc-like as most of these were.

'I thought of him too,' said Aragorn. 'We had many of these half-orcs to deal with at Helm's Deep.'
Flotsam And Jetsam


Gamling

'But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun,' said Gamling.'

'Half-orcs' and 'goblin-men'. Maybe Gamling means that the 'Goblin-men' are the Uruk-hai, and surely Readers know that the Uruk-hai will not quail at the Sun, though the Uruk-hai are referred to as Goblin-soldiers earlier, and Orcs, not specifically as 'Goblin-men'. I think there are two kinds of half-orcs in any case, more mannish types used as spies and more goblinish types.

Aragorn

Just before Aragorn speaks Legolas finds arrows '...longer in the shaft that such arrows as Orcs were accustomed to use.'

And Aragorn looked on the slain, and he said: 'Here lie many that are not folk of Mordor. Some are from the North, from the Misty Mountains, if I know anything of Orcs and their kinds. And here are others strange to me. Their gear is not after the manner of Orcs at all!'

Tolkien does describe the Orcs but I think Aragorn's emphasis can easily be the gear -- Aragorn immediately explaining why these Orcs are strange to him (note the ! following the gear). Tolkien's following description notes that these Orcs did not have scimitars 'usual with Orcs', had bows like the bows of Men, and a strange device on shield.

The gear might imply some 'mannish connection' about these Orcs, but 'greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, thick legs, large hands' doesn't necessarily have me thinking only the blood of Men could produce these traits. The Isengarders may have been big and strong and better trained than other Orcs appearing in The Uruk-hai, but don't forget the 'huge' Orc-chieftain in Moria for example, almost 'man-high' with a swart face. This Orc-chieftain might have given Ugluk all he could handle in my opinion.

Perhaps these Orcs are using the gear of Men, Men that other Isengarders will soon boast they had...

...eaten! Galin

[ 08-09-2006, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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The Witch-King of Angmar
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quote:
This Orc-chieftain might have given Ugluk all he could handle in my opinion.

I think he could have killed Ugluk easily; consider that he bumps Boromir to the ground, and ducks under Aragorn's swipe "like a snake" in order to stab Frodo with his spear.
Meanwhile Ugluk and all the orcs with him, fled from Boromir after he killed over 20 of them, and only defeated him by Ugluk's commanding the Uruk-hain to shoot at Boromir from a safe distance; as he tells the other orcs, "we are the fighting Uruk-hai; we slew the great warrior [Boromir]."
So the "huge orc-chieftain" was probably much stronger and faster than Ugluk-- but not in the sun.
It goes without saying that men were better soldiers than orcs-- any orcs-- by a factor of probably 10:1 in combat... and more than 20:1 against someone like Boromir, who was only killed by orc-archers (like Isildur, from whom they fled even after shooting him). Éomer likewise killed Ugluk one-on-one in sword-combat, without getting a scratch himself.
Therefore Saruman would breed men and orcs in order to make orcs who were better fighters than ordinary orcs (those who looked like orcs), as well as spies (those who looked more like men), but who were more apt to his service than men. Men only served Saruman because of the lies he told them (like that Théoden burned captives alive), while orcs didn't care-- they just lived to murder and pillage.

[ 08-08-2006, 10:40 PM: Message edited by: The Witch-King of Angmar ]

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Galin
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And he (the huge Orc-chieftain) could have been quite dangerous under the Sun as well.

Noting again that a few of the larger bolder Northerners appear to run with the Isengarders (under the Sun), and the Mordorian Orcs run very well under the Sun too -- it was not known if they allowed themselves to be gradually passed by the Isengarders (after hours of running in any case) instead of maybe being less hardy by comparison.

I think the boasting of the Uruk-hai tends to give them a larger seeming edge regarding the Sun, but these Orcs of the Red Eye do well in my opinion (as far as Sun tolerance).

Galin

[ 08-09-2006, 09:23 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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