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.

10 Responses to Language quiz

  1. prase says:

    Sounds like a native Czech speaker, perhaps reproducing an extinct or constructed language. Consider: no consonant not found in Czech (unless I missed something), on the other hand including the relatively rare Czech phonemes [c ɟ ɦ]. Vowels [a ɛ i~ɪ ɔ u~ʊ]. Stress predominantly, if not exclusively, word-initial.

    On the other hand, the language itself vaguely resembles Indo-Aryan languages.

  2. prase says:

    Just for fun, I just tried to transcribe the recording using Czech orthography and I had to reconsider that there were no non-Czech consonants there, it has [w] at the least and few other strange sounds, but this doesn’t necessarily falsify my “hypothesis” above – Czech speakers have usually no problems with [w] and other violations of Czech phonology could be due to lazy pronunciation, or, perhaps, correct rendition of the mystery language’s proper sounds.

    By the way, this is the resulting transcription:

    Nó aj, ný ajsrýhe. Ka nunamwo ňáwal mjihy. Ture ďa hasmáša, hýmer, hýmer, nýšawa ňáwal mjihy. Turunandy, jús wejtin i pin mjihy. Nu já jumi nukavju tutan, chwalky mjihy. Encaga, nu hangrua, nu minča, najňaša, nangára mjehy. Nó aj, nun gapu hus, ju sači čami, u hak ma armjenije nuša, wajáta sawo kerjer mjihy. Tu maj kyše dus wejdiňďa, i peniň a samdy, wa jámňáka acu mjihy.

    And the same thing using IPA:

    ˈnɔ:ˌai, nɪ:ˈʔaisrɪ:ɦɛ. ˈkaˈnʊnamwo ˈɲa:wal ˈmiɪɦɪ. ˈtʊreˌɟa ˈɦasma:ʃa, ˈɦi:mɛr, ˈɦi:mɛr, ˈnɪ:ʃawa ˈɲa:wal ˈmiɪɦɪ. ˈtʊrʊˌnandɪ, ˌju:s ˈwɛicin ˈɪpɪn ˈmiɪɦɪ. nuˈja: ˈjʊmɪ ˈnʊˌkaviu ˈtutã, ˈʍalkɪ ˈmiɪɦɪ. ˈɛntsaga, nʊˈɦaŋgrua, nʊˈmɪntɕa, ˈnaiɲaʃa, ˈnaŋga:ra ˈmiɪɦɪ. ˈnɔ:ˌai, nʊŋˈgapʊ ɦʊs, juˈsatɕi ˈtɕami, ʊˈɦakma ˈarmiɪɲiɛ ˈnʊʃa, waˈja:ta ˈsawɔ ˈkɛriɛr ˈmiɪɦɪ. Tuˈmai kyʃɛˈdʊs ˈwe:iɟiɲɟa, ɪˈpɛɲɪɲ aˈsamdɪ, waˈja:mɲa:ka ˈatsu ˈmiɪɦɪ.

  3. Roger Bowden says:

    Not european my thoughts ranged firstly from Caucasus to Northern India, but it does have an Australoid aboriginal sound which is my best guess.

  4. Dan, ad nauseam says:

    I’m not sure about this one. The presence of /ɔi/ raises questions about some of the hypotheses.

  5. Trond Engen says:

    My initial reaction was much like prase’s. Well, not specifically Czech to me, but oddly European in phonology and voice, and like it wasn’t the reader’s first language. Not much to say beyond that.

  6. daydreamer says:

    Considering such a small amount of “a”s and the lack of any retroflex sounds I’d rule out all Aboriginal languages of Australia.
    And I could resist the temptation to say it’s a Caucasian language just because the neighboring country of Armenia seems to be mentioned.
    Instead, I focus on South America, possibly a Panoan language spoken in Peru. But then, I may be completely wrong.

  7. Simon says:

    daydreamer – you’re on the right continent (South America), but the wrong country.

  8. Simon says:

    The answer is Shuar, which is also known as Chiwaro, Jibaro, Jivaro, Shuara or Xivaro, a Jivaroan language spoken in Morona-Santiago and Pastaza Provinces of Ecuador.

    The recording comes from the GRN.

  9. Attila says:

    Interesting language with this phonology. Once a Shuar speaker emailed me that the Shuar believe that their language is related to Old Hungarian. I sent him a recording of the “Halotti beszéd és könyörgés” (the oldest known longer Old Hungarian text) and he had it listened by a Shuar who found some familiar words in it like “isha”, “yamai”, “ee” and “karamakete” which mean “we”, “today”, “yes” and “goodbye” in Shuar respectively. From these, “isha” could certainly be the O.H. word “ýsa” meaning “that is” like “voilà”, but the others make no sense. But the phonology is indeed similar.

  10. Simon says:

    It’s the story of Noah, the initial [nɔ:ai] that also recurs about midway through is Noé, the Spanish form of Noah.

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