19 thoughts on “Name the language

  1. This one’s pretty tough. It sounds like a non-tonal or minimally tonal Tibeto-Burman language probably spoken somewhere in far North-East India or Nepal.

    A really wild guess –> Magar spoken in central Nepal. (I’m probably way off)

  2. Pretty sure it’s South East Asian, but I can’t hear tones, so it’s probably in the area of the Himalayas.

  3. My first thought was of Asian origin, too, but listening to it, I’m inclined to say it’s a native American language, with some tonal characteristics. There are a few glottal stops.

    I really can’t guess any closer than that.


  4. Sounds like something between Japanese, Turkish and Basque, but I am sure it is neither of those. If it was more tonal, I would guess Shanghainese. But it is not, so I guess that it is reconstructed archaic Chinese.

  5. That is totally not Japanese. Dunno about Ainu, though I’d expect to hear a Japanese loanword or two if it were, and I didn’t.

  6. I’ll guess either Oromo or something from southern Sudan (in honor of their indepence).

  7. I’ll say that my first impression was that it sounded like a cross between Tibeto-Burman, Afro-Asiatic and Algongkin. Interested in seeing what it actually is.

  8. I remember missing the target with half a world last time the language was East-African. This time I’d probably have ended up suggesting Tungusic, even if I would have expected more transparent loanwords.

    Now, with guidance: No ejectives that I can hear (but how would I know?). Contrastive vowel length and some mild tonality. I’ll say something different: Maay.

  9. I too thought it sounded vaguely like Japanese although of course it’s not it. It sounded like a native North American language as well. Don’t know much about African languages so I’m not going to guess anything.

  10. Doesn’t sound like Amharic to me, so I’m guessing it’s Tigrinya. The phonemes and cadences certainly remind me of the Ethiopian music I’ve heard.

  11. Weird, sounds Germanic actually. The Dutch and Germans did colonize parts of Africa so I suppose that’s possible, we’ll see…


  12. There are definitely ejectives in there, but it certainly doesn’t have the word structure typical of Ethiopian Semitic languages nor the mid vowels that are so prevalent in those languages. All I can guess is that it must be a non-Semitic Afroasiatic language, either Cushitic or Omotic.

  13. I have no idea. It’s fascinating how much it sounds like Japanese, even though I know that it is most definitely nothing close to Japanese. I would never have guessed it was an African language.

  14. TJ is right – the answer is Bench (bèntʂ nòn), a.k.a. Gimira, an Omotic language spoken in southern Ethiopia.

    The recording was sent in by Jinx LeRai.

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