Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language.

Can you guess the language and where it was spoken?

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This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

13 Responses to Language quiz

  1. Podolsky says:

    Akkadian. Evidently an ancient text read by a professional artist.
    I could, I believe, translate it, but it’d take some time.

  2. Kevin says:

    No idea. But it does strike me as a reading in some (to the speaker) foreign language by a person whose first language is almost certainly British English.

  3. Daydreamer says:

    No surprise that today’s mystery language is not the speaker’s first language, when Simon asked where it WAS spoken. ;)

  4. Christopher Miller says:

    Indeed, it seems to me that the native language of the speaker (segmental sounds and intonation) is likely Irish English and not the language being spoken here.

    I also think it is likely Akkadian. It is heavy on a, i and u (with the occasionally e sound) and the syllable structure is very Semitic-sounding. There are enough words that sound like cognates to Arabic or Hebrew words, such as ummishu (his mother?), ummiya (my mother?), elishu (his god), ahabbub (I love – some derived verb form?), anaaku (I/me?), axiya (my brother?) among others, and several words that sound like first (a-) and second (ta-) person imperfective verbs. WIth the -u endings especially and the -shu that corresponds to proto-Semitic -shu (him/his) and Arabic-hu, I suspect this likely is Akkadian.

  5. joe mock says:

    I agree: Akkadian. Add to the above clues the -m endings (mimation?)

  6. formiko says:

    There were not enough words spoken. And since I know almost nothing about dead languages, I’m going to take an educated guess: Sumerian..spoken by a British woman. :)

  7. TJ says:

    Could it be a verse from Enuma Elish or Gilgamish?
    I think there is a mention of Uruk in here. I’d say it’s more like Sumerian, was spoken in Mesopotamia and probably on the costs of the gulf down to Dalmon (Bahrain).

  8. Chris Miller says:

    Since there is so much here that *sounds* like Semitic morphology and basic vocabulary, so much so that I can almost figure out some of what is being said (or so it seems to me), I feel pretty sure this is likely Akkadian (Old Babylonian). Sumerian was an unrelated language that has been linked (correctly or not, I have no idea) to the Dravidian languages. I wouldn’t expect to be able to understand anything in Sumerian, yet here I keep hearing things that seem unmistakably Semitic to me.

  9. fiosachd says:

    *eli-shu, I suspect, is ‘upon him’, rather than ‘his god’.

  10. Christopher Miller says:

    To fiosachd-

    Well taken, I think you’re closer than my original guess. That would be related to Arabic عليه or اِليه (‘alayhi/’ilayhi). (Unfortunately, the yaa’ ligatures aren’t coming out right on my computer…)

  11. Simon says:

    The recording is part of the Epic of Gilgamesh in Akkadian / Old Babylonian and comes from this site.

    Akkadian was spoken in Assyria and Babylonia until about the first century AD.

  12. fiosachd says:

    [i-]ti-lam-ma i-ta-mar šá-ni-tam
    [it-bi] i-ta-wa-a-am a-na um-mi-šú
    um-mi a-ta-mar šá-ni-tam
    i-na su-ḳi-im
    šá Uruk ri-bi-tim
    ḫa-aṣ-ṣi-nu na-di-i-ma
    e-li-šú pa-aḫ-ru
    ḫa-aṣ-ṣi-nu-um-ma šá-ni bu-nu-šú
    a-mur-šú-ma aḫ-ta-du a-na-ku
    a-ra-am-šú-ma ki-ma áš-šá-tim
    a-ḫa-ab-bu-ub el-šú
    el-ki-šú-ma áš-ta-ka-an-šú
    a-na a-ḫi-ia

  13. Mike says:

    This is a very interesting language. I immediately thought it was from central Asia. With the “kh” and “h” sounds of the Semitic languages, I then thought the language had to be from the Middle East area. The words ending in “ani” led me to consider that there was a relation to Farsi and languages around the Caucasus or Persia. The trilled “r” is stronger than in Arabic. The very prevalent and heightened “sh” sound moves things more in the eastern direction, the “sh” reminding me a lot of that encountered in Chinese. Since this is a Semitic-sounding language from the eastern part of the Middle East or central Asia and does not sound like a modern language, Akkadian would be a strong possibility.