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.

14 Responses to Language quiz

  1. cl says:

    Must be a language spoken in one of those Pacific Islands, i.e. somewhere in or around the Polynesian language family. In this such a quick speech, I could not detect voiced plosives.

  2. F says:

    It certainly sounds Polynesian (glottal stops, words like `aina) but I hear both l and r, which I don’t think are both present in any Polynesian language. So I’m going to guess Fijian.

  3. Trond Engen says:

    I’ll go with Pacific, for a stupid reason. Last time it was a Pacific language, there were certain passages that reminded me of Finnic, and it’s the same now. But I don’t think it can be Polynesian, since the syllable structure sounds a bit to complex and since there’s both [t] and [l] in what sounds to me as at least partly the same environment. Unless they are in free variation between vowels or something.

    Whatever the language, it sounds like a correspondent reporting foreign affairs on the radio news. So what Non-Polynesian Pacific language is large enough to have radio news with no recognizable European loans? Fijian?

  4. Trond Engen says:

    Not that stupid… I meant [r] and [l].

  5. fj says:

    I think I can hear /taŋata/ and /toru/, which are ‘man/person’ and ‘three’ in Rapa Nui, Maori, and Rarotongan. It could be one of the other East Polynesian languages that I’m not familiar with though.

  6. fj says:

    Also, I have to add that this isn’t Fijian.

  7. Petréa Mitchell says:

    It certainly got me thinking Oceanic, but it’s got a bigger consonant inventory than any Oceanic language I know much about. It’s definitely not Maori, which doesn’t have /ʃ/ or /l/.


  8. Chris Miller says:

    This must be a Polynesian language spoken by a person more used to speaking English. The basic phonology is clearly typical of a southern Polynesian language (and there are vocabulary items and the fa’a- prefix that are identifiable as Polynesian), but the intonation and phonetic realisation of /r/ and /l/ are clearly those of an L1 English speaker. I would imagine this is a language from a territory closely associated with New Zealand. Beyond that, I can’t say.

  9. fj says:

    It’s Samoan! I was initially thrown off when I heard ‘kuale’…

  10. Trond Engen says:

    I trust the referee will take the clear majority for Fijian into consideration.

  11. Simon says:

    Trond – the majority may be for Fijian, but the answer is Samoan (Gagana Samoa), an Austronesian language spoken mainly in Western Samoa and American Samoa.

    The recording comes from the Radio New Zealand International.

  12. michael farris says:

    I protest!

    If the majority says it’s Fijian then Fijian it is! What ever happened to democracy?

  13. Daydreamer says:

    Democracy is …. when decisions are taken in favor of those who do not actually need democratic structures, because they have the means to get their will anyway.
    Besides that, you’re free to take this week’s mystery language as the Samoan dialect of Fijian, hehe.

  14. Erik Kalaidzis says:

    I too, think it is Samoan but my initial impression was it might be “Taino” or Carribean or one of the Amazon languages.

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