Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language.

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

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

15 Responses to Language quiz

  1. cl says:

    Sounds like a Southeast Asian language, perhaps a Filipino or eastern Indonesian ethnic language.

  2. Eee says:

    Sounds Philippine but not quite. If it’s Austronesian then “tao” means “person”. Other than that, I’m not hearing many words I recognize. From the few words that I think I can identify as verbs, I think it’s verb medial, which would put it in Indonesia/New Guinea rather than Taiwan/Philippines? I’ll go out on a limb and guess Tukangbesi.

  3. Daydreamer says:

    I’d go further North to mainland Southeast Asia and tend towards a Mon-Khmer language spoken in Indochina.

  4. Trond Engen says:

    South-East Asian, obviously. My nine-year-old daughter says it sounds Indonesian, and I agree, but since I don’t recognise any of the few words I know, it’s not likely to be Bahasa Indonesia or a close kin of it. So I’ll just guess some variety of Dayak.

    (I even thought of picking a Formosan language, but couldn’t find one with the right phonology.)

    (But I’m probably wrong. My wife’s reaction was “like Vietnamese, but not quite”, and she pinned Vietnamese.)

  5. d.m.falk says:



  6. Eee says:

    I’m wondering if I should change my guess to a Formosan language. Choosing one would be no more than a guess.

  7. Jim M. says:

    I speak some Indonesian, and it’s not that or one of its close relatives. It sounds potentially tonal, so I am going to guess Lao.

  8. Daniel says:

    I also recognized a similarity to Vietnamese, but I don’t think it’s tonal.
    Probably in the Mon-Khmer family.

  9. Daydreamer says:

    So what about Sedang, a Mon-Khmer language spoken in Vietnam?

  10. Eee says:

    The more comments I read the more I change my mind. I still think it’s Austronesian, and a Chamic language would fit best with all the Mon-Khmer influence. Since dmf said Cham already, I will say Jarai.

  11. Simon says:

    Here’s a clue – this language is spoken in the Philippines.

  12. Trond Engen says:

    So, what language of the Philippines has /f/ (in what I can’t discern as a loan)? Ibanag?

  13. Simon says:

    The answer is Tboli (aka T’boli, Tagabili, Tiboli), a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by about 95,000 people in South Cotabato Province in south west Mindanao in the Philippines.

    The recording comes from the Global Recordings Network.

  14. Trond Engen says:

    Ouch. I wanted to go to Mindanao, but that /f/ drove me up north.

  15. Eee says:

    Dang, I was closest when I went to Sulawesi for my first guess.

    @Trond: From the sparse sources of words I can find, it looks like there has been some shifting of /p/ to /f/ in Tboli. Looks like it’s also happened in some other southern Philippine languages. I have never heard it in any of the widely spoken ones, or any up north.

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