Language quiz

Here’s a recording of part of a story in a mystery language.

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

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

16 Responses to Language quiz

  1. michael farris says:

    On the basis of the sound, something Italic. From you’re new heder: Friulan.

  2. Jurčík says:

    Sounds like Romance language. It´s a dialect of Portuguese?

  3. Jurčík says:

    Sounds like Romance language. It´s a dialect of Portuguese or French?

  4. Christopher Miller says:

    This is definitely a Southern Italian regional dialect (chistu, chistu with retroflex /d/ ofr questo, quello, among other things). Which it might be: Neapolitan, Sicilian, or some other one, I can’t tell from what little I know of these varieties.

    The story is (the beginning of) the parable of the prodigal son from the Bible. When I realised this, I thought at first that this must be Corsican because this story was famously used in the 18th century survey of language varieties spoken across France that was part of the preparation to assimilate all the various language communities to French. But the masculine singular definite article in Corsican is ‘u’, whereas the speaker here says “lu più cioano deli due frateddi andese unde lu babbu” for “il più giovane degli due fratelli and(-?) (?) il bappo” (the youngest of the two brothers went to his father).

    I wonder if this story (since it just happens to be the one used here to illustrate a regional speech variety in Italy) might have been borrowed for a similar survey in the newly constituted Italian Republic. (They borrowed the design of their flag among other things.)

  5. LandTortoise says:

    Would this be Sard? As spoken in Sardinia. It reminds me of some Sard music I have.

  6. Christopher Miller says:

    It might be Gallurese, a transitional variety between Corsican and Sard proper, that is spoken in the northwest of the island. It definitely isn’t any of the Sard dialects proper, though: so, sa, sus, sas for definite articles, -s for plurals, [ke], [ki], [ge], [gi] instead of the palatalised versions found in all other branches of Romance…

  7. Nick says:

    It has the the ‘dd’ of Sicilian or Calabrian or Pugliese. It doesn’t sound exactly like the Sicilian I’m used to, but I’m 95% sure its one of those 3.

  8. Christopher Miller says:

    Oops — I see an important typo in my first comment. It should read “chistu, chiddu with retroflex /d/ for questo, quello”.

  9. Rauli says:

    A close relative or a dialect of Italian?

  10. Trond Engen says:

    I was planning to throw in something South Italian and hope for a lucky shot, but there’s nothing left for me. So I’ll go for something I don’t even know if exists: Pantellerian.

  11. Simon says:

    The answer is sardinian (sardu), from Tempio Pausania in northern Sardinia, though I’m not sure what you call this dialect – probably Gallurese, as Christopher suggested.

    The recording comes from Vivaldi – ivaio Acustico delle Lingue e dei Dialetti d’Italia.

    Here’s an Italian version of the story:

    Parabola del figliol prodigo
    Un anno fa mio nonno, che ieri ha compiuto ottant’anni, raccontò a me e a mia sorella questa storia:

    C’era una volta in un piccolo villaggio un uomo, il quale aveva due figlioli. Un giorno il più giovane dei due fratelli andò da suo padre e gli disse: “Babbo, voglio avere tutto quello che mi tocca. Datemi quello che è mio.” Il vecchio, che voleva molto bene (forse anche troppo!) ai suoi figlioli, fece ciò che quello chiedeva a lui. Pochi giorni dopo il giovanotto prese tutto il suo denaro e se ne andò. In una lontana città visse allegramente, ubriacandosi assieme ad alcuni amici e ballando con delle donnacce. Così in poche settimane furono spesi tutti i denari; ed egli restò senza niente.

  12. bronz says:

    It seems like the first sentence of the second paragraph was taken out in the recording. But interesting stuff! Love the contrast between the dialect and standard Italian.

    Interesting that the preterite/imperfect 3sg is -(e)se (I wonder if either there is no tense differentiation between the preterite and imperfect, or more likely in the dialect they use the tenses differently? The standard Italian we see here certainly uses both. Or am I not hearing right?).

  13. Simon says:

    bronz – I’ve added that missing sentence to the recording now.

  14. Christopher Miller says:

    Yes, according to what I see on the site linked to, this is Gallurese. If you click on the other locations on the map, you can hear how the language becomes suddenly more obviously un-Italian as you go south. (And then there’s the Catalan in Alghero/l’Alguer and Ligurian in Calasetta.)

    This Wikipedia article ( gives a good short overview of the language varieties spoken in Corsica, and there is a very good map on the right that shows where what variety is spoken on the island.

  15. Christopher Miller says:

    …uh, I meant to say the language varieties spoken in Sardinia. Sorry for the silly slip-up!

  16. Jose says:

    Interesting… In the first place I would have said a Northern dialect, it sounded closer to standard Italian to me.

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