The language, although not difficult for non-orcs to learn and master, is harsh on the vocal cords and prolonged speaking of the language can leave a speaker hoarse for many days. Orcs naturally do not suffer from this problem and the language suits their vocal cord evolution and prominent dental arrangement.
In combat, orders are not given in the full orc tongue. Like the hobgoblins, the orcs have developed a Battle Tongue, though the orc version only consists of abbreviated words, growls, grunts, and hisses. The language has little syntax and orders are kept deliberately simple, being along the lines of “attack left” or “he’s mine”. More complex instructions (e.g. “move over the ridge on the left, fire two volleys of arrows into their flank, and then charge”) remain rooted in the standard language and are generally given at the start of a battle before the noise makes issuing them all but impossible. Drums are used to issue orders for large-scale troop movements once battle has commenced, with Battle Tongue being restricted to small units.
No full vocabulary of the language exists and many war chieftains teach their own version, making it a diverse tongue even amongst members of the same tribe. Non-orcs may believe they have become fairly proficient at understanding the language, but will often find themselves at a loss if they encounter warriors of a different warband.
Numbering combines two concepts; that of simple numerical basis, such as ‘one’ or ‘ten’ and also slightly more abstract terms of military units. Orcs only have numbers from one to ten. There is no concept of units, tens, hundreds and so on that the other major races use with regularity and unless an orc has had much contact with other races he lacks any concept of them. If an orc needs a number larger than ten he refers to it in military units.
For example, while an orc may say ‘there were eight cavalry troops’, if there were one hundred present the words would be ‘there were four urárugna (great gang) worth of cavalry’, a number roughly equal to one hundred. Far from giving an exact count, any orc roughly knows what four urárugna worth of warriors looks like and no further explanation is necessary. The same system applies to other objects, such as sides of beef, barrels of ale, or swords being produced in the workshops. Such a system leads to numerical inaccuracies but is close enough for orcs to overlook the odd item being too few or too many. Such details are not worthy of their time.