Language quiz

Here’s a recording in the 11 official languages of South Africa.

Can you identify which language is which and what order they come in?

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

15 Responses to Language quiz

  1. Andrew says:

    “Can you identify which language is which and what order they come in?”


    lol…I wish, but no, not a chance 😀

  2. Daydreamer says:

    With that nagging music in the background I couldn’t even identify Vuvuzelish, let alone English and Afrikaans… double lol

  3. Christopher Miller says:

    1?, North Sotho, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Zulu, Tswana?, Venda, Ndebele?, ?, English, Sotho

    Kind of hard to tell the Sotho languages apart, though the one with lots of [x] sounds seems likely to be Tswana. The doubled [ll] sound in the last sample sounds like Sotho: I don’t think the other Sotho languages have that.

  4. TJ says:

    this quiz reminds me of my physics exams .. ugh

  5. Simon says:

    Maybe this was a bit too hard.

    The languages are: Tsonga (xiTsonga), Tswana (Setswana), Zulu (isiZulu), Afrikaans, Xhosa (isiXhosa), Sotho (seSotho), Venda (Tshivenḓa), Ndebele (isiNdebele), Swazi (siSwati), English and Sepedi, and come in that order.

    Daydreamer – strangely Vuvuzelish or maybe isiVuvuzela is not one of them.

    The recording comes from BBC Mundo.

  6. Christopher Miller says:

    Well, at least I could tell Nguni group (Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele) and Sotho group (Sotho, Tswana, Sepedi/North Sotho) languages apart and could tell Venda was different enough from the others! But I completely missed Swazi and Tsonga was all vuvuzela’d out at the beginning…

  7. TJ says:

    I always get frustrated by the term “Xhosa”.
    The “Xh” here is ponounced in what way? I remember I’ve seen something about Xhosa and they write in Arabic letters? I remember too that they write Xhosa as “حوس”, with first letter is the Arabic hard-glottal-fricative (hope it’s right that way). Do they really say it as it is in Arabic, and latinized as “Xh”?

  8. dreaminjosh says:

    I thought the “Xh” in “Xhosa” was realized as some sort of click.

  9. prase says:

    TJ: It is indeed a click (lateral, aspirated). Wikipedia has even a recording:

  10. TJ says:

    Thanks for the link prase. But, still not so clear. Is she saying something like “Posa” (i.e. Xhosa)?

  11. William says:

    That is fascinating. From an American (E.g., unknowledgeable about foreign nations)standpoint, I never figured that white South Africans spoke the indigenous languages of the region. I always believed that those languages were spoken only by the black South Africans.

    It is truly amazing the changes that have come about in South Africa!

    By the way, was the speaker of Zulu (the child) a native speaker? I noticed he spoke slower than everyone else, but he could have been nervous, etc.

  12. Christopher Miller says:

    No, the child doing the Zulu is not a native speaker. His pronunciation is what made me think this was Xhosa and then conclude the actual Xhosa recording must therefore be Zulu.

  13. Christopher Miller says:

    (Sorry to split this into three comments, but the filter thinks my comment is “spammy” and won’t let me submit the whole thing in one piece!)

    In Zulu, unaspirated /k/ in initial position and between vowels is pronounced as a very light approximant implosive [g] sound. You get something similar in English in a very informal pronunciation of “okay”. He was pronouncing all his /k/s as [k], which is the Xhosa pronunciation. He also doesn’t get any of the tones. Zulu with correct tones sounds a lot like the Xhosa segment.

  14. Christopher Miller says:

    In fact, the two “languages” are basically variant dialect groups of a single Nguni language: a Xhosa friend of mine in Washington DC used to insist on that, and there is very little that distinguishes them from each other apart from distinct phonology and lexical items. Just like British, North American, South African, Australian or New Zealand English.

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