14 thoughts on “Language quiz

  1. I want those nasals to be East Asian. Also, I don’t recognize any western loans. But then, there are repeated sequences that make me think of agglutination. A Formosan language? After a cursory glance through the phonology section of Wikipedia’s article on Formosan languages I land on Puyuma.

    But I’ve been off by half the earth for a long time now, so this probably isn’t worth much.

  2. It’s a native (North) American language, and it sounds like it’s from a sermon before an audience. My first impression was Navajo, but I think it’s some other related language.

    Speaking of, local language Yurok may be introduced as a high-school language course here in Eureka, California this fall.


  3. You know what, my first language is Malayalam, and at first, I thought maybe this was an Indian language! I heard “onga” a lot (which reminded me of a language called Onge, but it’s definitely not that language), and I even heard what sounded like “pakshe” mispronounced (that’s the Malayalam word for ‘but’)!

    Anyway, it doesn’t look like it’s an Inuit language. I have my doubts about Iroquoian, too, because I’m pretty sure I heard at least one retroflex fricative, and it doesn’t look like Iroquoian languages have that. I’m not even sure about Athabaskan, but then what could it be?

  4. In that case, I think it’s either Cherokee or some Muskogean language (probably either Choctaw or Seminole) and is also spoken in Oklahoma (and possibly elsewhere in the US). So I guess I was wrong about that retroflex fricative, because it looks like none of those languages have it.

  5. Vijay John got closest – the answer is Mikasuki (a.k.a. Miccosukee / Hitchiti-Mikasuki) a Muskogean language spoken in southern Florida by about 500 people.

    The recording comes from the GRN

  6. Mikasuki, Seminole and Creek are names of tribes. Mikasuki and Creek are also the names of languages. The Seminole speak either Mikasuki or Creek. As far as I can discover, Seminole is not a language.

  7. Wikipedia uses “Seminole” and even “Creek-Seminole” as synonyms for Creek. The article on Creek itself is entitled “Muscogee language,” yet another term for the same language. The ISO code for this language is “mus.” However, it does not seem to use “Seminole” as a synonym for Mikasuki.

    GRN similarly uses “Seminole” to mean Creek. If you take a look at the main page for “Seminole,” you will see that it lists the ISO Language Name as “Muskogee” with the same code “mus” that is used for Creek. (The Ethnologue entry on Muskogee also lists “Creek” as an alternative name).

    However, GRN specifically claims that it does NOT have any recordings in Mikasuki. (I tried to include links in this post, but I got a message saying that it looked spammy).

  8. Hi Simon,

    I am a student of both languages and I can verify that this is in fact the Muscogee Creek Language, sometimes called the Creek Seminole language, or even just “Seminole” by some people in an informal way.
    That is not, though, the Hitchiti-Mikasuki language, sometimes called “Mikasuki Seminole”, or just “Miccosukee” or just “Seminole” by some tribal members in Florida–again in an informal way.
    The mix-up happens regularly among non-tribal members, even as high as the Smithsonian (I had to clarify that some Creek (Muscogee) language recordings were accidentally categorized as “Mikasuki Seminole”).

    The terminology is confusing, but this recording is very much the Muscogee Creek language, not Hitchiti-Mikasuki / Miccosukee / Elaponke.

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