Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language.

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

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This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

8 Responses to Language quiz

  1. daydreamer says:

    That’s what a Bantu language spoken Central Africa, maybe in the Congos, sounds like, doesn’t it?
    I expect it not to be Lingala, but not too different from it.

  2. Christopher Miller says:

    Ewe, southern Benin and southwestern Nigeria?

  3. Rauli says:

    Sounds similar to Swahili, so I’m going to say it’s a Bantu language, as well.

  4. Chris Miller says:

    Lots of monosyllables and what sound from the metrical structure like no more than two-syllable words.
    Two or three level tones.
    Lots of prenasalised voiced stops: [m͡b], [n͡d], [ŋ͡g].
    Stop-[r] clusters, coarticulated labiovelar stops: [k͡p] and maybe also [g͡b].
    Clearly identifiable difference between [e], [o], [u] and open [ɛ], [ɔ], [ʊ].
    Laminal/near-retroflex pronunciation of the coronals.
    Clear intervocalic glottal stops, a voiced velar fricative [ɣ] and bilabial [β] in the sequence [máʔēwɛ̀βé] near the beginning; voiced bilabial implosive stop [ɓ].

    I hear [ˈkríçcɛ̀n], which may be a loanword ‘Christian’. The only other apparent word with a closed syllable is [pà̙ˑʈɛ́l]; everything else is open syllables (but for the prenasalised halves of prenasalised stops).

    Nothing that sounds like the noun class prefixal concord system typical of Bantu languages or Gur (formerly called Voltaic) languages of Ghana and Burkina Faso.

    These are pretty good diagnostics for a Kwa or perhaps Kru (Guinea Coast) language west of Yoruba, and the [z] together with the rest really leads me to think this is probably Ewe or a very closely related language. With the apparent “Christian” loanword, this would have to be from one of the Commonwealth West African states, essentially either the western edge of Nigeria or eastern Ghana.

  5. P. says:

    Some of the word endings/suffixes remind me of Lozi/SiLozi.

  6. d.m.falk says:

    I was thinking along the same lines as Ewe/Xhosa/Yoruba, as well… I’d love to hear a radio station in this language! :)

    d.m.f.

  7. Simon says:

    The answer is Baka (Be-bayaga / Be-bayaka), an Ubangian language spoken in Cameroon and Gabon.

    The recording comes from the GRN.

  8. Chris Miller says:

    Well, zut!

    I was so convinced… But interestingly enough, the latest information (as reported in the Wikipedia article) is that Adamawa-Ubangi languages are most closely related to the Gur and Kru groups further west. I imagine a single family may have extended across that part of the savannah before an intrusion from Hausa and other Chadic languages separated the eastern and western parts of the languages that descended from that original one.