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. Trond Engen says:

    A Munda language? But which one? Would you pick Ho the week after Ha? I’ll say that!

  2. Chris Miller says:

    And of course, next week will have to be devoted to Hehe (Kihehe)…

    I could tell this was clearly a language in the Indian phonological Sprachbund, but as clearly not an Indo-Aryan language. I don’t know enough of Dravidian languages, and even less about Munda ones, to guess any farther than that.

  3. Daydreamer says:

    At least, it’s definitely not Hu spoken in Southern Yünnan. 🙂

    What makes me worry, are three words which don’t seem to fit to the rest of the text: Latin “Deu” (obviously for God), “persist”inao? (which made also Latin and an Indonesian language spring to my mind) and “abuntulo”? (with stress on the prepenultimate syllable).

    Hmmm, hmmm …

  4. Vijay John says:

    I’m almost certain this is something spoken in Andhra Pradesh. Or at least something that sounds a lot like Telugu (but isn’t). dEvuDu is ‘God’ in nominative case in Telugu. And it’s about the creation and Adam and Eve (or “Havvaa”).

  5. Vijay John says:

    OK, now I know which language it is. It’s Kupiya.

  6. TJ says:

    Interesting … in Arabic, Eve is Hawwá’ [حواء]

  7. Trond Engen says:

    What sort of language is that? GRN doesn’t classify languages but lists the alternative names Kupia and Valmiki. Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know it under any name. Ethnologue (Kupia) says it’s an Indo-Aryan language. I wouldn’t have guessed! It also seems to say that there’s an indigenous tribe named Valmiki, different from speakers of the language named Valmiki, so this could be a case of partial language shift in a dispersed ethnic minority. Are there Munda substrate features in the language?

  8. Vijay John says:

    Trond, it’s basically Oriya as spoken in Andhra Pradesh, with lots of Telugu in it. That’s the impression I got from Ethnologue, anyway. I doubt it has any more Munda features than Oriya (or Telugu, which I guess has even fewer such features).

    TJ, the word for “Eve” no doubt comes from a Semitic language, either Arabic or Syriac. I’m sure that word is pretty widespread in India (or at least in South India), because “Havva” is also the word for ‘Eve’ in my (first) language, Malayalam (as well as in Telugu).

  9. Trond Engen says:

    Vijay: Thanks. I hoped you’d give me a straw to defend my choice, but the sad truth is that it’s plain ignorance on my part. I guessed Munda because it didn’t sound IA to me, and the word endings seemed different from my impression of Dravidian languages.

  10. Vijay John says:

    Well, at least you got to the right country on one of those rare occasions when even Chris turned out to be “spectacularly wrong”! And there is indeed at least one Munda language spoken nearby (plus lots more next door in Orissa). Plus you’re not the only person I’ve seen trying to find a Munda substrate in other Indo-Iranian languages. (I’m pretty sure I once read an article in French where the author attempted to find a Munda substrate in Romani, and in fact, just this week, my advisor told his students that the word Beng ‘Devil’ is of Munda origin. I’m not sure whether that’s really true or not).

    I’ll agree that some of the word endings were probably more IA than Dravidian, but I think word endings are quite variable from one Dravidian language to the next. For instance, Telugu has tons of words ending in [u] (including the name of the language itself!), but Malayalam and Tamil don’t have that so very often (though they have plenty of words ending in a high back unrounded vowel). I suspect even Kannada doesn’t have so many word-final [u]’s, even though it has apparently been in close contact with Telugu for a long time. And with languages like Brahui, well, you get a lot of phonological influence from Indo-Iranian languages, so you have words ending with [x] and such!

  11. Simon says:

    As Vijay said, the answer is Kupiya, a language spoken in Andhra Pradesh and Vishakhapatnam in India.

  12. Vijay John says:

    LOL, Vishakhapatnam is in Andhra Pradesh! It’s spoken in the districts of Vishakhapatnam and East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh.

  13. TJ says:

    Just somehow unrelated question here:

    When Indian words are transliterated into Latin letters, does “KH” stand for “x” or like “CH” in Scottish and German?
    Or does it stand for aspirated “k” (i.e. K followed by H) like K’h?

  14. Simon says:

    TJ – in the transliteration of Indian languages letters followed by h are usually aspirated.

  15. Jose says:

    I would have said it’s Afrikaans, but it seems I am wrong. It’s not even from Africa but from India, right? I guess I have to work more on my listening skills 😉
    Regards, nice audio

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