Language quiz

Here’s a recording of part of a news report in a mystery language.

Do you know or can you guess which language it’s in and where it’s spoken?

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

16 Responses to Language quiz

  1. peter j. franke says:

    Something between (West)Arabic and Portuguese, with some Dutch-like sounds woven in it… I have no idea, but I guess it is a language spoken at Africa’s west coast in a former Portuguese colony?

  2. TJ says:

    I can’t really decide myself, but the description of Peter J. Franke might fit into Zenzibar (or Zenjibar, which is now Tanzania or part of Tanzania I think?). I don’t know if it was a portuguese colony, but it was for sure an Omani colony and there are some naval connection between Oman and Portugal in history, so it might fit that area in the eastern coast of Africa.

  3. prase says:

    Is it really a news report? Rather sounds like a fairy tale.

  4. Dirk Bakker says:

    That is an intriguing set of phonemes there! Especially the uvular plosives and lateral fricatives are noteworthy. While Arabic does have the former, I wouldn’t know of any of its dialects that has the latter. Maybe some Berber language? That would account for the rather large consonant clusters and scarcity of vowels I seem to hear.

  5. michael farris says:

    Just on general impressionistic grounds I’m going to say very Northeast (as in north of China) Asian or maybe something inuit.

  6. Arakun says:

    I believe I’m hearing a lot of [ɬ] and [q] – possibly some [ɣ] and [ʁ] as well. Is it Inuktitut or some other Eskimo-Aleut language?

  7. Dirk Bakker says:

    Michael and Arakun, I think you’re on to something there! Aleut and Inuktitut both have the [ɬ], [q], [ɣ] and [ʁ], so that would make perfect sense.

  8. Lilian says:

    Some asian language?
    I know is not portuguese!

  9. Henry says:

    I vote for Inuktitut also, both for the [ɬ], [q] that others have referenced and for the the frequency of the [q] at the end of words. But I’m also hearing a lot of glottals, which Eskimo languages do no really have, but it could be an artifact of the recording..

  10. Ryan says:


  11. Will says:

    Is it a Salish language? I thought I heard rounded uvulars…

  12. Istien says:

    Sounds like some garbled Japanese dialect to me. Kunigami, perhaps?

  13. Christopher Miller says:

    I would say a western Eskimo (or possibly Aleut) language such as Innuinuktun or Inupiaq. It’s not any eastern Arctic Inuktitut dialect, but it sounds very similar. The voiceless lateral fricative and the uvular fricatives and [q] plus what sounds like a three vowel (a, i, u) system with lowering in the environment of uvulars, as well as the geminates, pretty well convince me this is what it must be.

  14. Jim Morrison says:

    Going to go for Ainu.

  15. JW says:

    At first I thought Berber, but I am inclined to agree with Christopher…it sounds a bit like Greenlandic/Kalaallisut…?

  16. Simon says:

    The language is indeed Greenlandic (kalaallisut) which is spoken mainly in Greenland, and also in Denmark.

    The recording comes from KNR Radio Oqaatsit.

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