Mystery language

Today we have a recording of a mystery language sent in by Mats Attnäs.

This a message Mats got on his answering machine a few years ago in a language he hasn’t been able to identify. He thinks it might be one of the languages spoken in India.

Can you help?

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

20 Responses to Mystery language

  1. AR says:

    First, it sounds Indo-Aryan, not Dravidian. It sounds a bit similar to Hindi but it clearly isn’t. I heard the word Gujarati word chhe (is) a couple of times so I think it is Gujarati. The Farsi greeting Khoda Hafiz at the end indicates that the speaker is muslim.

  2. TJ says:

    In fact, I think the term “Khoda Hafiz” is not necessarily for muslims, but as far as I know that people in Persia and the surroundings used to greet with this word, although that Khoda is just a translation a general word for God , but not Allah exactly, because they still say the word Allah anyway in other places. So generally I think the word “Khoda” and also this greeting was adopted by speakers in this area without really thinking it is part of Islam, but it is something (could be even ancient long time ago before Islam) that they used to say in everyday life!
    The meaning of Hafiz is “protector” (and yes it is close to the Arabic word for the same meaning). I believe the same greeting is used by zoroastrians in Iran as well as jews in Iran just because it is now a part of the language! 🙂

  3. Satyarthi Aiyar says:

    I tend to agree with AR on this. In the South Asian context, this (closing) phrase ‘Khoda Hafiz’, I think, is used almost exclusively by Muslim-speakers concentrated in Pakistan/Northern India when departing company or ending a conversation. Please correct me if I am mistaken…

  4. Mats says:

    I had the impression he was giving a phone number, but if it’s Gujarati then I’m probably wrong, since I can’t make out any of the numbers from in the recording (except maybe chha).

  5. Mike says:

    Could it be Telugu? I thought he said “padi” which is 10 when it seemed he was saying his phone number. A thought.

  6. BG says:

    Isn’t hafiz someone who has memorized the entire Qu’ran. Maybe the chhe AR mentioned is actually chha (six), although is unlikely.

  7. TJ says:

    BG: yep that’s another meaning in the literature of Quran in fact.
    But in the sentence “Khoda Hafiz” means “god is protector” or “god protects you” … almost same as Adios! (A + Dios ? )
    generally the word Hafiz comes from the stem: H F Z
    which stands for mostly “to save” … thus it can come along with the meaning of “to save something in mind/to memorize” and also “to save someone/ to shelter/ to protect” ^_^

  8. AR says:

    Isn’t Khoda a Farsi word though?

    Anyway, I think it is northwest Indian but I am not sure

  9. TJ says:

    it is Farsi …. but also other languages around Iran got the same word …. they are related 🙂

  10. Josh says:

    I’m so intrigued by the fact that nobody knows what language this is- it’s a REAL mystery language. I wonder if anyone will ever figure it out.

  11. TJ says:

    Well, I have a problem with my sound stuff here but anyway from the comments, maybe I can say it is only Farsi and thats it! ….. or Tajik, or Azeri (they are close, and I heard for some time ago they were considered like dialects of the same language!). In Iran itself there are many dialects but the major are 4 as I heard, and the official one that is taught usually is the dialect of Tehran. Some people here who have persian roots, speak a variety of persian that even people in Iran wouldn’t be able to understand. A friend of mine told me that this is the dialect of villagers there in some areas in the north, and people that mainly speak the Tehrani dialect won’t understand it easily! Khoda Hafiz is merged together in this dialect of villagers to become Khodafis (or Khodafiz), and there are lot of other merged words, that’s why people in Iran don’t understand much of the dialect of people of persian roots that live here!
    I think we have kind of the same situation between people speaking german and people speaking dutch, where dutch-speaking people would understand german people easily but the opposite is hard for german-speaking people! This is what I’ve been told, true?

  12. Ben says:

    Woah woah woah, first off, Azeri is most certainly NOT related to Persian. Azeri (or Azerbaijani) is very closely related to Turkish (often mutually intelligible – Turks I know describe the difference as between British and American English, but I think it’s a little more than that). Tajik, on the other hand, along with the Dari spoken in Afghanistan (but not the Dari referred to by Zoroastrians, confusingly enough) ARE so close to Persian that they are often referred to as the same tongue. Kurdish is also closely related to Persian, but it is not mutually intelligible (as Dari and Tajik often are).

    This recording, however, I am quite sure is something Indo-Aryan. I hear retroflex consonants, as well as दस (das) at the end of the phone number, meaning ’10’. Also, the speaker says मेरा (meraa) meaning ‘my’ (telephone number). This is definitely Hindi, but I’m not sure if other Indo-Aryan languages also share this word. I’ve sent the file off to my friend who’s a native Gujarati speaker. She also speaks good Hindi and Panjabi and some passible Bengali, so she might be able to figure something out.


  13. Daydreamer says:

    @ Ben

    I wonder if a Hindu would use the Muslim greeting “khoda hafiz”. Maybe it makes more sense to search for the language not in India but across the border in Pakistan. So, what about Sindhi , Kashmiri and the like?

  14. Josh says:

    I kept hearing english in there- could that be part of the reason why no one seems to be able to identify this language precisely? I’m sure there are words for “phone number” and “thank you” in all the languages you guys mentionned.

  15. Daydreamer says:

    There may be several reasons for using Englisch expressions along with words in the native language (e.g. indicating a certain social status).
    But what strikes me most is that our mystery language seems not to have a proper name for the number 0, as the caller giving his phone number clearly utters “zero” (at 11 seconds of the recording).

  16. d.m.falk says:

    A proper noun- a place name- is mentioned– California. I believe this caller is speaking Urdu (essentially Hindi with Islamic terminology and far more Farsi loanwords than that found in Hindi) and is a caller from California, possibly from what some here call “central” California. There is a large, and growing, Hindi/Urdu/Punjabi population in the SF and Monterey bay areas.


  17. Geetanjali says:

    This is definitely Urdu. Let me add my two pence to what he is trying to say although I could be wrong:) with my little knowledge of the language

    I think he is saying one can reach him at that telephone no in Italy? and that he arranges tourist trips and one can meet him for that. His accent is definitely Indian Muslim It is very common in India( probably pakistan as well) to mix both English and Indian language words. So it’s not very surprising that he is using many Englisih words.

  18. Daydreamer says:

    Now it’s time to ask Mats Attnäs, where he was living at the time his answering machine recorded the message. In Sweden, as his name suggests? The fact that the caller didn’t give the international prefix beginning with double 0 in the phone number indicates, at least, that he made a domestic call.

  19. Mats says:

    Yes, I was living in Sweden back when I got that message, not that I see how that would help us. He may have just dialed a zero too much and made an international call by accident. All I know is that the message wasn’t for me.

  20. Pinki says:

    hi friends …. i’m from Gujarat State of INDIA
    it’s an indian language but not telugu/urdu
    it’s from state of Rajasthan of INDIA
    in my country so many langs are there
    sorry i can’t assure you…but only in Rajasthan
    there are Marwari, Mewari, Dhundhari, Mewati and Harauti languages…. but it’s definitely from Rajasthan…….

    me too can’t understand fully
    but he was in italy, wanted to meet somebody
    and so leaving message …..informing his no.
    and in last he said, khudahafiz bcoz he may be
    muslim from Rajasthan/Marwad.

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