Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language.

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

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

20 Responses to Language quiz

  1. joe mock says:

    Weird one. Sounds Altaic, but not anything I can recognize.

  2. William says:

    I get maybe a Baltic/Slavic sound from it, but I’m almost always wrong. The “w” sound is throwing me off. Maybe Altaic; I guess Tungusic or Mongolic.

  3. Trond Engen says:

    I agree with the posters above that it sounds like something spoken in the northern neigbourhood of China. Thinking I’d detected some, but not much, vowel harmony, I decided to go for Manchu when the music at the end made me want to go further west. That made me check Wikipedia for the name of the old Manchu diaspora in Central Asia, Xibe, and discover that there seems to be no place in Manchu for the [z] and [Z] i hear. But Mongolian is no better, and Uighur apparently has no [l]. So I’ll stick to Manchu. I prefer it over Xibe since I read that Xibe has eight vowel phonemes while Manchu has six, the same six vowels that I count.

  4. David Waugh says:

    A turkic language, possibly Turkish itself.

  5. bronz says:

    It sounds Tibetan to me. There seems to be some tonal system going on, and the vowel and consonant qualities seem to fit the profile, too.

  6. It is close to Chinese, but I don’t know why I feel it comes from Africa

  7. LAttilaD says:

    Sounds really Altaic. What about a language from the Central Asian republics, Kazakh, Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen etc.?

  8. d.m.falk says:

    It’s either Tibetan or Dzongka (Bhutanese), which are closely related.


  9. formiko says:

    This sounds African. There are many West African languages that are tonal. But which one, I can’t guess.

  10. Alex Semakin says:

    I’ve just listened to some Tibetan radio online and it sounds very similar. Lots of /ju:/, /ch/, /dj/ (sorry, don’t know how to insert proper phonemic symbols here) and soft /l/. I’ve also stumbled upon this site with Tibetan songs – very beautiful!

  11. bennie says:

    I’m 100% certain that this is one of the Tibetan languages, ie. Standard Tibetan, Kham, Dzongkha, Sherpa, Sikkimese, Ladakhi etc.

    It is NOT Altaic or Turkic.

  12. TJ says:

    I think it is Mongolian.

  13. michael farris says:

    My first thought was it sounds a little like Korean, which made me think it might be Mongolian, I was pretty sure it was SOV (from that characteristic SOV rhythm). I was happy to think it might be Manchu but something from the Tibetan group does sound more plausible. Some youtubing indicates that the sound of Tibetan is closer to Altaic kinds of languges than I remembered.

  14. fiosachd says:

    What makes a language sound ‘Altaic’? Even and Evenki – both Northern Tungusic – are about as closely related as any two ‘Altaic’ languages and yet sound completely dissimilar. Genuine question.

  15. Christopher Miller says:

    My first thought was this sounded like it might be Mongolian or a closely related language, but these comments about Tibetan seem pretty plausible to me. (Especially keeping in mind the way I mistook the Burmese sample a couple of weeks ago for Bengali! This certainly sounds like it could be a language with a restricted range of level tones, like Burmese, and as far as I know, Tibetan would fit into that category.)

  16. Simon says:

    The answer is Bhutanese / Dzongkha (རྫོང་ཁ), which is spoken in mainly in Bhutan, and also in Nepal and India.

    The recording comes from YouTube.

  17. bronz says:

    I can see why people think it sounds Altaic; I might have gone that direction if you feel there is some sense of there being vowel harmony, and some of the consonants and the [y]. But at least for Mongolic languages generically, this passage is way too sonorous, with a gross lack of consonant clusters (compared to standard Mongolian, also a lack of the velar fricative). The cadence also suggests a more monosyllabic nature (even considering this excerpt to be a very formal, perhaps stilted, performance, notice the overwhelming “care” given to almost each syllable), rather than the agglutinative system characteristic of Altaic languages; Altaic languages don’t tend to have this “bullet” rhythmic style and such clear un-schwa-ed enunciation of almost all its vowels.

  18. Christopher Miller says:

    Just a note- the YouTube link leads to the Polish video from last week, not to anything resembling Dzongkha.

  19. Simon says:

    The YouTube link goes to the Dzongkha video now.

  20. d.m.falk says:

    I usually get it wrong, and yet in a rare fit, I managed to be the first to get it right. It helps that I’ve listened to the radio service online of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service. 🙂


%d bloggers like this: