Name the language

Here’s a recording in a mystery language.

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

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

19 Responses to Name the language

  1. bennie says:

    This one’s pretty tough. It sounds like a non-tonal or minimally tonal Tibeto-Burman language probably spoken somewhere in far North-East India or Nepal.

    A really wild guess –> Magar spoken in central Nepal. (I’m probably way off)

  2. Riccardo says:

    Pretty sure it’s South East Asian, but I can’t hear tones, so it’s probably in the area of the Himalayas.

  3. xarxa says:

    i think it mite be amharic?

  4. TJ says:

    It’s weird …. sounds like Japanese to me! Well, I didn’t learn Japanese anyway.
    I might guess … Ainu?

  5. d.m.falk says:

    My first thought was of Asian origin, too, but listening to it, I’m inclined to say it’s a native American language, with some tonal characteristics. There are a few glottal stops.

    I really can’t guess any closer than that.


  6. prase says:

    Sounds like something between Japanese, Turkish and Basque, but I am sure it is neither of those. If it was more tonal, I would guess Shanghainese. But it is not, so I guess that it is reconstructed archaic Chinese.

  7. Petréa Mitchell says:

    That is totally not Japanese. Dunno about Ainu, though I’d expect to hear a Japanese loanword or two if it were, and I didn’t.

  8. Simon says:

    xarxa has got the closest so far. It’s spoken in East Africa.

  9. michael farris says:

    I’ll guess either Oromo or something from southern Sudan (in honor of their indepence).

  10. michael farris says:

    I’ll say that my first impression was that it sounded like a cross between Tibeto-Burman, Afro-Asiatic and Algongkin. Interested in seeing what it actually is.

  11. Trond Engen says:

    I remember missing the target with half a world last time the language was East-African. This time I’d probably have ended up suggesting Tungusic, even if I would have expected more transparent loanwords.

    Now, with guidance: No ejectives that I can hear (but how would I know?). Contrastive vowel length and some mild tonality. I’ll say something different: Maay.

  12. Rauli says:

    I too thought it sounded vaguely like Japanese although of course it’s not it. It sounded like a native North American language as well. Don’t know much about African languages so I’m not going to guess anything.

  13. P. says:

    Doesn’t sound like Amharic to me, so I’m guessing it’s Tigrinya. The phonemes and cadences certainly remind me of the Ethiopian music I’ve heard.

  14. Andrew says:

    Weird, sounds Germanic actually. The Dutch and Germans did colonize parts of Africa so I suppose that’s possible, we’ll see…


  15. Christopher Miller says:

    There are definitely ejectives in there, but it certainly doesn’t have the word structure typical of Ethiopian Semitic languages nor the mid vowels that are so prevalent in those languages. All I can guess is that it must be a non-Semitic Afroasiatic language, either Cushitic or Omotic.

  16. pennifer says:

    I have no idea. It’s fascinating how much it sounds like Japanese, even though I know that it is most definitely nothing close to Japanese. I would never have guessed it was an African language.

  17. TJ says:

    East Africa?
    then I would guess the newest additions. Bench.

  18. Simon says:

    TJ is right – the answer is Bench (bèntʂ nòn), a.k.a. Gimira, an Omotic language spoken in southern Ethiopia.

    The recording was sent in by Jinx LeRai.

  19. TJ says:

    1-0 for TJ 🙂

    check tomorrow and it will be 1-11 for not-TJ lol 🙂

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