11 thoughts on “Language Quiz

  1. 70% of quizzes sound either like Navajo or Persian to me. This one sounds like Persian.

  2. Definitely Northeast Caucasian; sounds a lot like Persian at first, but then the lateral affricates and fricatives start showing up, also ejectives.

    Which one of the one or two dozen that retain all these laterals, I have no idea.

  3. Within the Northeast Caucasian family, especially the Didoic family from Dagestan has voiceless lateral fricatives and lateral alveolar affricates, apart from the widespread ejectives. Also the Avar-Andic branch has it. So it must be one of those. I guess a language spoken by more than 1000 people (hence more chance of a recording): Tsez, Bezhta or Khwarsi.

  4. With the lateral fricatives, lateral affricates, uvulars, and ejectives, along with the Arabic word for “news” ([xabar]) and for both “Adam” and “Eve” (something like [adam] and [hawa]), I first thought of Mehri. But having seen the other responses, plus considering how few Semitic-type roots/words I’m hearing here, plus the fact that there are also uvulars (not common in the Modern South Arabian languages), plus what sounds like suffixation on both conjuncts to presumably mean “Adam and Eve” (something like [adam-tɬ’ajn hawa-tɬ’ajn] at 0:05), I’m more convinced that it’s a Caucasian language with borrowings from Arabic.

    A quick search on PHOIBLE for Caucasian languages that have lateral fricatives/affricates lists Andi, Avar, Bats, Godoberi, Hunzib, Karata, and the Tsezic languages (Tsez, Hinukh, Bezhta, Khwarshi). These languages all also have ejectives and uvulars (which are very common in the region). Speakers of many of these languages are generally Muslim, and thus more likely to have Arabic borrowings for Biblical names.

    The Tsezic languages are specifically described in their Wikipedia entry as having rounded allophones of the dorsal fricatives (e.g. [χʷ]), which I think I hear at 0:21 (something like [χʷɪl]), so if I go with that, this helps me narrow things down. My guess would be Tsez.

  5. The last language was Ubangi which had been featured before so I wonder if this one isn’t Tsez since that is the present one featured. It does have a Persian sound to it and since it is spoken in Daghestan that might be why I think so. I hear something that sounds like clicks but I am sure it isn’t Khoisan language.

  6. I found the recording, and it is indeed Tsez. But what makes it different from Bezhta or Khwarsi purely on a 30 second sample, I have no idea. Anyone?

  7. @Alex Van Rel: Indeed – probably nothing that we non-experts / non-speakers would be able to identify! My guess of Tsez (as opposed to the other Tsezic languages) was just based on its higher number of speakers, nothing technical.

  8. I just compared a Bezhta recording with the Tsez sample, and when you listen to the language it seems a lot more different than when you just look at the phonology chart. Bezhta seems more of a crossover between Russian and Arabic (makes no linguistic sense, I know, just a feel), whilst Tsez sounds a bit “softer” and makes a lot more use of the voiceless lateral fricative. I didn’t find a Khwarsi sample.

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