Mystery language

Here’s a recording of a mystery language. Any ideas what it is?

This language is written with both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, though not at the same time.

20 thoughts on “Mystery language

  1. Longtime reader, first time responder. 🙂

    Easy answer I suppose would be Serbian as I know that is written in both and the BBC serbian audio seems similar, but I can’t be 100% certain as I have not yet started to study any of the slavic languages.

  2. OK, recent reader, first tiem responder. 🙂

    Ditto on the first comment as my guess without even hearing it, “Serbo-Croatian” to be more specific, since the Serbian flavor is written in Cyrillic and the Croatian flavor in Latin. And, especially the first thing heard, it has a distinctly slavic sound. Though I haven’t studied them, it sounds consistent with what I’ve seen in various Southern Slavic (i.e., Yugoslavian) history books…

    I’ll leave it to the dudes with the guns (unfortunately force often trumps) to decide whether the two flavors are really the same language or not. Nationalist opinions (if not linguistic ones) differ on that score…

  3. Fellow! don’t forget, Belarussian, is another Slavic language which can be also be written with Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. Me too didn’t hear the quiz. I will do it now.

  4. Can it also be written with Arabic? A few Turkic languages use all three scripts (Azeri, Tatar, Uygher).

    I don’t recognize the language, can it be a non-Slavonic language such as Chechen (a Caucasian language)?

  5. I think it is a Slavic language, since I heard a lot of fricatives, and the fact that there was music in the background.

  6. If Slavic, I think the only two Slavic languages using both scripts are Serbian and Belarusian. Votic (Finno-Ugaritic) uses both, but I’m unfamiliar with its sounds.

  7. Yes, my guess would have been Serbian-Croatian as well.
    Does anyone else find the political uses of the different alphabets between Serbia and Croatia for the same language interesting? I find it fascinating. I wonder if there are other examples of it, of languages being used for political purposes.

    I can think of others being imposed, such as the Latin alphabet being imposed on the Vietnamese.

  8. The Votic reference got me looking at it and hence other obscure languages in that family. Came up with an example that made me rethink what he meant in the quiz by “not at the same time.” I interpreted “not in the same text, not running together”, etc. But here’s something from Wikipedia:

    “The Khanty written language was first created after the October Revolution on the basis of the Latin script in 1930, and then with the Cyrillic alphabet (with the additional letter for /ŋ/) from 1937.”

    So depending on the time i.e., the year, it could have been one script or the other. I’d be blown away if he came up with a recording of Khanty, but then again, I’ve been impressed with the obscure stuff people come up with on this blog (without referring to Wiki as I had to do)…

  9. For some reason this doesn’t sound Slavic to me – it sounds Caucasian or something along those lines… Which language specifically, I have no clue. Avar? Chechen? Ingush?
    Or is it Ossetian (an indo-european language)? Something makes me think it must be from that area.
    Just a hunch though.

  10. Azeri is mentioned in the piece, and I’m inclined to say it is Azeri, the national language of Azerbaijan- Currently written in a new Latin orthography, but since the Soviet acquisition of the republic, it was written in Cyrillic.


  11. Additionally, I almost thought perhaps Kazakh. I’ll stick with azeri for my guess.

    (Of course, it could be Tajikh as well…)

    The sourse is from a radio service, by the sound of it.


  12. I had said it could be belarussian, before hearing it. Now that I heard many time. I am sure it is not a Slavic Language, but some language from Central Asia, as Tadjik, Turkmen (I trust in this one), Azeri, or even Uzbek, So Turkic family. Maybe dmfalk is right.

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  14. Chechen. Fascinating. I learn so much here. I particularly did not know that Belorussian used anything other than Cyrillic. I will have to expose myself to Chechen and related languages more.

  15. the recording is not very clear, nevertheless i immediately recognized the opening music as being that of rferl’s chechen-language broadcast. chechen accordion music has a very characteristic sound, quite unlike that of slavic countries.
    by the way, the hint is a bit misleading. chechen was written in latin for a very brief period during the dudayev years but it was never used for much more than street signs and billboards and disappeared almost as quickly as it came. the only official alphabet for chechen was, and still is, the cyrillic one.

  16. To respond to jdotjdot89, Hindi and Urdu the same language at a normal conversational level, and are written in different scripts, apparently for religious reasons.

    Chechen… that explains the pharyngeals.

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