Name the language

Here’s a recording 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.

14 Responses to Name the language

  1. KTamas says:

    I’ll go with Indonesian, or possibly Malaysian, since they are kinda close to each other.

  2. Daydreamer says:

    Despite the misleading quality of the words “Uganda” and “african” I still think it’s a Bantu language from Central or Eastern Africa.

  3. Chris Miller says:

    Kinyarwanda or Kirundi (or possibly a closely related language across the border in Congo DR.). They’re hard to tell apart. The announcer says “Équateur” in French (the name of the Congolese province bordering on Rwanda and Burundi), also Kinshasa with a French pronunciation.

    The tones have the sing-song contours (i.e. not flat and level on each vowel) that are typical of Kinyarwanda or Kirundi (sliding up or down in anticipation of a high or low tone on the next syllable), and near the end of the recording I hear “…bgaayo…”, where the [g] is the way /w/ is pronounced after non-velar consonants ([k] in some cases, e.g. Rwanda is [rtkwaanda]). Shona also does something similar with /w/ after another consonant: one Zimbabwean politician a while back went by the name Edison Zvobgo.

  4. stormboy says:

    Lingala? Only because I thought I heard ‘Kinshasa’ mentioned (and it sounds like it might be a Bantu language).

  5. stormboy says:

    Not convinced now I listen a second time!

  6. Petréa Mitchell says:

    I don’t think it’s Indonesian. I’m at a loss to guess what it really is, though.

  7. Will says:


  8. xarxa says:

    luganda? only cos uganda was mentioned, tbh

  9. Halabund says:

    Simon, if you’re recording from an internet radio station, could you please record directly from the sound card (on Windows the setting is in the recording part of Volume Control) instead of recording through a speaker and microphone, which really decreases sound quality?

  10. formiko says:

    I would have guessed Lingala initially, but it’s too sing-songy. I’m going to take a WILD guess and say Efik (Ibibio) wich is spoken in SE Nigeria

  11. Simon says:

    The language is Kirundi (íkiRǔndi), which is spoken mainly in Burundi

    The recording comes from BBC World Service.

  12. Halabund says:

    Apparently BBC Great Lakes broadcasts both in Kinyarwanda or Kirundi. Are those actually separate languages (according to WP they’re mutually intelligible), and if so, how could one tell them apart (decide which one the radio is broadcasting)?

  13. Christopher Miller says:


    There’s some basic but good information about the relationship and differences between the two standards here:

  14. Simon says:

    Good point, Halabund – so the language could be either Kirundi or Kinyarwanda. I don’t know enough about either of them to be able to tell them apart.

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