15 thoughts on “Language quiz

  1. Defintely some variety of the Persian dialect continuum. The accent doesn’t sound quite like the Farsi i’m used to—especially the pronunciation of the /r/, which is more of a tap than the liquid I’m used to hearing—but I might not know quite enough of regional pronunciations in Iran itself.

    Given my impression this is slightly different from what I know of Iranian Farsi, that leaves Dari and Tajik to the northeast. I’ll hazard a guess that this is Tajik.

  2. It reminds me of Bengali but not quite – maybe something over on that side of the subcontinent?

  3. I recognise clearly Persian words such as yek ‘one’, bud ‘will (?) be’, and barâ-ye ‘for’; as well, the overall phonology seems unmistakably Persian, so it would surprise me a lot to find out this was a language from the Indic group. Perhaps another language on the Iranian side, but with Persian loans and phonology superimposed due to contact? A Kurdish language, perhaps?

  4. Iranian and Indo-Aryan are both branches of Indo-Iranian. Iranian is not a branch of Indo-Aryan.

    I don’t see any way that this could be anything other than an Iranian language. It has so many words that are clearly modern Persian (BTW, bud means ‘(he/she/it) was’). So I can only hope Simon means that it is not a *Southwestern* Iranian language, like all the others mentioned before (Persian, Dari, Tajik, Hazaragi).

    I suspect it’s a Northwestern Iranian language. The only ones I’ve ever heard (Kurdish, Gilaki, and Zazaki) all sound very similar to Persian. But I wonder why the background music in this clip sounds so Russian (at least to me)! Anyway, it’s definitely not Armenian or anything close to Bengali, and doesn’t even sound like other branches of Iranian from what I can tell.

    Perhaps it’s Gilaki? That’s my guess, for now! (Kurdish makes sense as well).

  5. Ok, I got my terminology slightly muddled – this language is not an Iranian language, though does contain many Persian loanwords. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-Iranian languages – that’s what I meant. Specifically to the Central Indo-Aryan group of languages.

  6. Usually grouped with the central Indo-Aryan languages at least – the answer is Domari, which is spoken mainly in Iran and Egypt.

    The recording comes from the GRN.

  7. I would think that the farther east one goes in India, the less likely the presence of a Persian/Farsi influence.

    But the phonology of this language places it firmly in the Persian mainstream. I would have said Farsi but for the tapped /r/ that sounds quite different from the more liquid pronunciation that is characteristic of any Farsi I have heard. I find it hard to believe this could be from anywhere but Iran itself, whatever the language. If it’s a language other than Farsi, it clearly shares so much of its phonology with Farsi that it must be a language in direct contact with and socially subordinate to Farsi.

  8. Ahhh! Of course! I forgot about the travelling language(s) of the Indo-Aryan group! Which explains the heavy influence from Farsi due to social subordination of this language…

  9. I doubt it really is Domari, though (although I haven’t decided one way or the other just yet). There is at least one case where the GRN misidentified the language. The clips on this page are supposed to be in a language called “Aranada” which Ethnologue claims is a variety of Malayalam:


    However, I speak Malayalam, and I can tell you it’s definitely not a variety of that. Anybody who knows Hindi can understand a lot of what they’re saying in those clips. This would not have been possible if the clips really were in a variety of Malayalam.

  10. OK, after looking around a little, I am now somewhat more convinced that it really may be Domari. I’m positive, though, that it’s some Iranian variety of Domari. I’m a bit surprised to see that it is (or may be) *that* heavily influenced by Persian over there. The variety spoken in Jerusalem, which Yaron Matras has studied, does not seem to have as much influence from Arabic/Hebrew (although to me, it sounds a lot like Arabic anyway).

    I’m vaguely familiar with Domari, actually. I’m in Romani Studies, and I’ve been curious about Domari for a while, but the only variety I had ever come across was the Jerusalem one. It sounds nothing like this, but that’s probably due to different linguistic influences rather than anything else.

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