Name the language

For this week’s quiz we have a song in a mystery language. Can you identify the language? If you can identify the singer as well, I’d be very impressed.

Clues: this was originally a Hungarian song, which was translated in English, then into the language of this recording. The title of this song is also the title of the first full-length feature film to be made in this language, which is currently only spoken by a few hundred people. This singer, who also plays the harp, sings in a number of different languages, including English.

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12 Responses to Name the language

  1. Someguy says:

    Errr…this is a long shot, but…Ingrian?

  2. Simon says:

    No, not Ingrian.

  3. Ben L. says:

    I listened before reading your clues. Seemed to be a lot of “-eth” and “gw-” so I thought first of Saxon and then the Celtic languages, maybe Welsh.

    Musically, the harp to US thinking is most associated with the Celts, although it certainly has strong traditions in many Latin American countries nd undoubtedly in Europe as well.

    The violin’s tonality/mode/scale (however you wish to think of it) is suggestive of eastern European themes with its augmented seconds. Of course, it is also the salient feature of the Arabic maqam Hijaz, which makes it figure prominently in everything from Paso Doble to “Kalinka”. Not very narrow, I’m afraid. In this case, however, I think I’ll chalk it up to the song’s Hungarian roots.

    In the bridge, the violin plays a descending riff landing on a major third, which is typical in Spanish and Mexican musics, which combined with the song’s apparently Celtic leanings perhaps suggests a language of the Franco-Spanish Celts.

    My guess, however, after “triangulating” the various influences would have to be Breton.

  4. Laci the Hun says:

    Isn’t it Manx? Is the original a Hungarian song? I dont’t recognise it

  5. Laci the Hun says:

    No It’s rather cornish. Is it a cornish song?

  6. TJ says:

    hmm well seems a dummy choice but, is it Romani? the language of gypsies?

  7. Chase Boday says:

    I’m going to take a random venture at the Saami language or something up north in Skandanavia.

  8. Chase Boday says:

    PS: sorry, I forgot to add, once the answer is revealed, can you say where you got the song from, it was incredibly beautiful, and I would like very much to try and find similar music.

  9. Simon says:

    Laci got it – the language is Cornish.

    The song is called Hwerow Hweg (Bitter Sweet) and is the theme tune of a film by the same name. It comes from the album ‘Rachel – Both Sides / O’r Ddwy Ochr’, which is available here. The singer is Rachel Heffer, who also sings in Welsh, English and Manx.

  10. Someguy says:

    I thought there were quite a few more people speaking Cornish than just “a few hundred”. ;)

  11. Simon says:

    Well, there are three or four hundred fluent speakers, and about 3,500 people with some knowledge of the language.

  12. Chase Boday says:

    Thanks for the info! I look forward to getting some of the CD’s on that site.