Language quiz

Here’s a short conversation in a mystery language. Do you know or can you guess which language it is? Any ideas what the conversation’s about?

Conversation in a mystery language

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18 Responses to Language quiz

  1. roni says:

    It looks like Nepali because some of the sentences end in “ho”
    And I’ve forgotten most of the alphabet, but I see a “Hari Rama” and some other stuff… a religious conversation?

  2. JRice says:

    Well, I know the script is Devanāgarī… but, if it’s Hindi, I don’t recognize any of what’s being said, other than “ek”, which begins the last two lines (and means “a” or “one” in Hindi).

    Man, I miss Hindi. …Well, more truthfully, I miss Devanāgarī. ;) Such a beautiful and sensible writing system.

  3. JRice says:

    No-no, more is coming to me. The “ho” roni is seeing is Hindi for you are (familiar). ..I wasn’t recognizing it, since I didn’t spend much time on the familiar. The very first word is, if I remember (and I could be totally wrong), “tumel”, which is similar to “tum”, which is the familiar version of “you”.

    You would only use that case with someone either lower in status than you, or someone intimate. …So perhaps it’s a conversation between lovers?

  4. JRice says:

    I take that back. I just checked my Hindi book, and I can say with certainty that this isn’t Hindi, and what I thought was “tumel” is actually quite different and almost certainly not a closed-class item.

    So… I’m lost again. :) Other than “ek”.

    (And I must be missing something, but I see neither hare nor rama in that quote…)

  5. Wolfgang Kandagawa says:

    The language in discussion is, without a doubt, Nepali. Behold a transliteration:

    -Ṭʰamel ṭolmā cīj pāīncʰa?
    -Pāīdaina.
    -Ṭʰamelmā ko pāīncʰa ta?
    -Cāmal, tarkārī, pʰalpʰul, tʰaŋkā ra aru mālsamān pāīncʰa.
    -Pakkā ho?
    -Pakkā ho.
    -Cīj kahā̃ pāīncʰa ta?
    -Ḍerī pʰārma ra tyuroḍmā pāīncʰa?
    -Ek kiloko kati parcʰa?
    -Ek kiloko 136 rupiyā̃ parcʰa.

  6. Wolfgang Kandagawa says:

    Pardon my error – the antepenultimate line of my previous post should read ‘Ḍerī pʰārma ra tyuroḍmā pāīncʰa’.

  7. Simon says:

    Here’s a clue: ठमेल टोल (Ṭʰamel ṭol) is the name of a place.

  8. Ben says:

    Well, I recognized some words here and there, but not many, assuring me it’s not Hindi. It didn’t appear to be Marathi either. Konkani was a thought, but then when Simon mentioned that Thamel Tol was a place, I figured out it was talking about Kathmandu. Definitely not Nepal Bhasa (I think) because it seems too Indo-European for that.

    So I’m guessing it’s one of the Nepali Indo-Aryan languages. Maybe Nepali, Bhojpuri, or Maithli.

    -Ben

  9. michael farris says:

    Before looking at anybody else I guessed Nepali because ….. well just because. It really didn’t look like Hindi (except for a few words) and of the other languages written in Devanegari it didn’t look like Marathi (though I have no idea of what Marathi is like, I was just sure it isn’t like this).

  10. mamculuna says:

    It looks like Tibetan, but not quite.

  11. Helena says:

    I have no idea, but I am curious now…

  12. peter j. franke says:

    I vote for Nepali.

  13. Ken Gonzales says:

    Oooohhh, the ubiquitous vertical line on top …

  14. Helena says:

    Hi

    I am a linguist/translator from Portugal and I have just started my own language blog.
    It’s mostly in Portuguese, but readers who aren’t native are also welcome to leave their comments or messages in English, German, Spanish, French or Russian.
    I would like to get to know more language blogs from Portugal, since most of the ones I’ve found so far are from Brazil.
    If you have a Portuguese language blog, or if you know about any language blog in Portuguese, just let me know.
    I am especially interested in interpreting related blogs, since I am now starting to study it …

    Thanks and sorry for using your comment box for this.

  15. AR says:

    Clearly not hindi.
    Must be Nepali because the to be verb is conjugated as “हो ho”. also many verbs end in “छ cha” or “न्छ ncha” (which if i’m not mistaken is a progressive aspect marker). this kind of ending is also shared in the languages derived from the magadhi prakrit (such as the bihari languages, bengali, oriya, and assamese).
    based on the writing system, it could be a bihari language but bihari languages don’t use copulas that use “ha, hai, ho, he, hi” that much.
    Nepali is a Pahari language, connected to both the sauraseni (parent of hindi, gujarati, punjabi, bhili, rajasthani languages) and magadhi prakrits, so it makes sense, showing characteristics of both.

  16. Podolsky says:

    As far as I know, only Nepali has ra as “and”

  17. Simon says:

    The language is Nepali and the text comes from Nepali: A Beginner’s Primer.

    The dialogue concerns a quest for cheese – here’s a translation:

    A: Is cheese available in Thamel Tol?
    B: No, it’s not.
    A: What is available in Thamel then?
    B: Rice, vegetables, fruit, thankas and other goods.
    A: Really?
    B: Really.
    A: Where is cheese available then?
    B: It’s available at the Dairy Farm and on New Road.
    A: How much does a kilo cost?
    B: It costs 160 rupees.

  18. Wolfgang Kandagawa says:

    Dad-blasted typos!