Name the language

Here’s a recording in a mystery language.

Can you guess the language and where it’s spoken?

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This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

17 Responses to Name the language

  1. TJ says:

    Oriya? or something from the Indian subcontinent.

  2. michael farris says:

    My first guess is Sundanese (western Java). It’s been a couple of years since I was in a field methods class with it, but some of the words stand out (aya – ‘be, exist’ in the beginning, jeung ‘and’ toward the end. There’s also a prefix pang- (mostly a politive iirc), a preposition ti (from) and some lexical items that are pretty widespread in Indonesia.

    If it isn’t Sundanese. then I’m pretty sure it’s in the same general area.

  3. Petréa Mitchell says:

    South or southeast Asia… don’t feel confident guessing anything more than that.

  4. LAttilaD says:

    It contains syllabic R’s. AFAIK Sundanese and languages of the vicinity don’t use vocalic consonants. I vote for India, too, but cannot distinguish which language may it be.

  5. Christopher Miller says:

    When I first head it, it sounded like Old Malay to me. Since Dr Who’s services are probably not being enlisted for these recordings, I had to discount that possibility and thought it might be a Malayic language closely related to Indonesian/Malay, perhaps Minangkabau. Now that I’ve listened through a few more times, I suspect it could be Sundanese, even perhaps one of the Lampung languages or Madurese, or some other language in the Java-south Sumatra area. I’m pretty sure from the vocabulary I can make out – very close to Malay/Indonesian – that this is a reading of the first clause of the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here are a bunch of them, a bit of a mix of what I hear and what the closest Indonesian word is to what I hear:

    martabat alamiah – natural dignity
    hak-hak – rights
    keluarga manusia – human family
    kamardikaan – freedom cf. Malay kemerdékaan; Tagalog maharlika ‘freeman’ is also related
    kaadilan – justice
    perdamaian – peace
    di dunya – in (the) world

    Actually, I just found out online what it is…

  6. James C. says:

    An Austronesian language either from the Philippine or Indonesian subgroups. More likely Indonesian. Which one, I can’t say.

  7. Mike says:

    This language is definitely from Southeast Asia. There is a similarity to Malay and Indonesian. This language is without question within the Malayo-Polynesian language subgroup.

    There is a strong influence of Indian language here as well. It would have to be part of Southeast Asia where Indian languages freely mixed with Malayo-Polynesian languages and highly influenced the culture.

    I would rule out Philippine and Borneo due to their being less influenced by Indian language and culture. I would also rule out the Oceanic languages.

    I would also say this is from the Sunda-Sulawesi group of languages.
    Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese or Acehnese. Sundanese has my vote as well.

  8. Howie says:

    Yep, it’s Sundanese for sure.

  9. Simon says:

    The answer is Sundanese (Basa Sunda), which is spoken in Greater Sunda island and part of Java in Indonesia.

    The recording comes from Librivox.

    Here is the text and a translation:

    Dumasar ku ayana timbangan yen pangakuan kana ayana martabat alamiah katut hak-hak anu sarua ti sakumna anggota kulawarga manusa nu dasarna kamerdikaan, kaadilan jeung perdamaian di dunya.

    Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

  10. Christopher Miller says:

    I’m glad you gave this link because I was able to listen to the Bugis version there. On your UDHR page, the Bugis version’s link seems to be broken.

  11. LAttilaD says:

    Hm. Strange. Definitely I was hearing syllabic R’s in it.

  12. Christopher Miller says:

    I think you heard the syllabic trilled /r/ sounds right – I also heard them. Although that is how this speaker pronounced them, they are most likely phonetic level variants of schwa (“e pepet” in Indonesian/ Malay terminology) followed by consonantal /r/.

  13. Qcumber says:

    Some Librivox speakers have obvious problems reading the text in their supposedly mother tongue. Listen to Hindi and Pampango.

  14. LAttilaD says:

    What is a Librivox speaker, please? I’ve heard about most nations in the world, but don’t know them.

  15. LAttilaD says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Christopher, now I see what happened.

  16. Qcumber says:

    By “Librivox speakers” I naturally meant the people who read the texts recorded by Librivox. I coined this expression on “radio speaker”. :)

  17. LAttilaD says:

    Oh. :) (Really I knew it.) One cannot be sure how many little nations appear here and there. For example, some ten years ago nobody heard about the Pirese, and now they’re one of the best known nations on the Hungarian network. They came from a survey about racial hatred. They asked what would they say if their neighbors were Arab, Black colored, Chinese and so on, and they’ve added an unknown nation, the Pirese, coined just for the survey. Now everybody knows them. The next survey must use another nation. :)