7 thoughts on “Language quiz

  1. Some weeks this becomes a Sunday quest for my whole family. This time the clues on first hearing took us in all directions. There’s what sounds like a distinct word garufiya at the end, but googling that takes us to diverse places, none of which seems to have anything to do with this language. Some words that might be Romance loans, and maybe a West African quality in the voice, made us narrow in on the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies.

    My wife and children gave up there, so now it’s up to me. I checked out some Timorese languages, but they seem to lack /g/, so back to West Africa. It’ s not Kriol, and I don’t think it’s Fulani or Mandinke. But what other languages do they speak in Guinea-Bissau? Balanta? I’m probably far, far away from the correct guess, though.

  2. The ‘Yesu Kristu-” plus suffix or following word is a sure clue that the name most likely entered the language not via a Western European language but through Greek or possibly a Slavic language, Russian being the only real expansionist language in that family. Combine this with the ejective stops and I suspect that this is an Ethiopian language. I’ll have to listen to it again to see if there are any patterns I can make out and connect with anything.

  3. “Yesu Kristoni”… “Yesuni”…

    I was looking for implosive /ɓ/ or /ɗ/, in case this might be a Chadic language like Hausa or other closely related languages in the eastern Sahara-Sahel region, but couldn’t hear any, so I think it’s likely this is an Ethiopian language. It doesn’t sound like an Ethiopian Semitic language though, so I’m guessing a Cushitic language, perhaps Oromo (Galla).

  4. I’m turning to the opposite end of Northern Africa and think that it could be Wolof, spoken in Senegambia.

  5. I don’t think if would be Wolof. No prenasalised voiced stops, no /x/. It certainly isn’t a Mandinka language – Bambara/Bamanankan, Dyula, Malinke etc., with their tones and nasal vowels. It’s very unlikely it’s from any other West African Niger-Congo language because there are no labiovelar stops (/kp/, /gb/) in the sample. It has to be from a family with ejective stops, and these are only found in the Ethiopian languages and in southern African Bantu languages. I know for certain this is not one of the latter.

    So if it is in fact an African language and my guess of major region is not way off, the only likely location I know of is Ethiopia-Eritrea or nearby on the horn or Red Sea coast.

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