9 thoughts on “Language quiz

  1. It’s like Taiwanese but I think not Taiwanese, because the copula appears to be ‘hai’ rather than ‘xi’. So maybe something further south.

  2. Well, I’m pretty sure this is one of the southern Sinitic languages, but which one…

    I don’t think it’s Cantonese, with the fully voiced initials e.g. [b], and what sounds like ‘jongnyin’ (forget the tones’ could plausiby be equivalent to Mandarin ‘zhongren’ (Chinese person). If that guess is right, then finding out which language uses ‘nyin’ would help.

  3. I’d go for Hakka or one of the Gan dialects spoken in Jiangxi and Hunan provinces.

    But it’s definitely not Cantonese!

  4. Phonologically, it’s not too far removed from Mandarin, but there are differences.

  5. @ Christopher Miller: it’s not likely that this recording which mentions God and Jesus also contains the word for ‘Chinese person’. And correct that it is not Cantonese.

  6. I agree, definitely something from southeastern China.

    @Christopher Miller: I’ve never heard anybody say “zhongren”. A Chinese person would be zhōngguórén or huárén.

  7. Good point, Chris Waugh. I’m working from only a sketchy knowledge of Mandarin in the first place.

    Alan Shaw – do tell! Not obvious to someone who doesn’t know the terms in this language, but guessing from your hint, I imagine that ‘Yasu’ must mean ‘Jesus’. I would take it that ‘siongsan’ (again, abstracting from tones) may be the equivalent of Mandarin ‘xiangshen’ or Sino-Japanese sensei = ‘teacher’ or ‘rabbi’.

  8. The answer is Hakka (客家话/客家話), a variety of Chinese spoken in south east China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and among overseas Chinese communities.

    The recording comes from the GRN.

  9. “Chung-ngìn” / “chung3-ngin5” in Hakka Pha̍k-fa-sṳ (Phak8-fa3-sü3, with numbers going 阴 then 阳), which does correspond to “zhòngrén” (notice the tones), is 眾人 / 众人 in Chinese characters. Quite a common word in Chinese versions of the Bible.

    I’m interested to know where the fully voiced [b] can be found…

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