I came across a very useful channel on YouTube this week: Wikitongues, which is a collection of videos of people speaking many different languages, including many lesser-studied/known languages and dialects such as Gullah, Luxembourgish and K’iche’ Mayan. The videos I’ve seen so far mostly seem to involve people talking about their native languages and cultures. There are no subtitles on the videos, which would be very useful.

Their aim is to build a collection of videos in as many languages as possible. To find out how to take part I think you can contact them via their website

4 thoughts on “Wikitongues

  1. Fantastic resource! Thanks!

    I was especially interested in the Gullah video, as I’ve spent my entire life in Georgia, but have never made my way down to the Gullah-speaking areas on the coast. I’ve always wondered how familiar Gullah would sound to me as a life-long Southerner (“Southerner” and “South” in this context meaning the southeastern United States).

    What surprised me was that I would not have perceived it as a different language at all had it not appeared in a resource in which it was specifically identified as Gullah. Indeed, as I watched the video, I didn’t feel 100% certain when she was switching between Gullah and English until I finally came to a part where she explicitly stated that she was about to speak in Gullah.

    Now my question is: Do other speakers of English, from other areas, also find Gullah to be easily understood? Or has my life in the South, surrounded by the accents and dialects of the region, made it easier for me to understand Gullah than, for example, people from California or the U.K.?

    A good place to test this in the video is where she reads a passage from the bible. She introduces it (in English) at 11:48, and then starts speaking Gullah at 12:07.

  2. Awesome resource! I just want to download every single video there and listen to it!
    This is indeed a great recording resource.
    Do they professionally record people? Or do people just upload the videos to the service by themselves?

    I remember someone once talked about Rosetta Stone, criticizing it as a bad product for studying a language, but doing a great service in the the sense that it records other languages that are less common than the usual ones people study.
    I think Wikitongues would be qualified as something similar.

  3. Yah, the Gullah video was very interesting, that woman is a brilliant story-teller with a knack for language use. To Joe above, I see what you mean. My English is Australian, but generally don’t have a problem understanding Americans including from the South (depending on how marked in terms of idiosyncrasy their accent is and how fast they are speaking) and I could understand some of the Gullah, in particular from the Bible passage she read. I think there, though, she was obviously using less cultural keywords. There were other parts of the video she seemed to slip into Gullah as well and at those points I may not have understood at all.

  4. @Alexander, I am the South African ambassador for Wikitongues (also the one who spoke Afrikaans in one of the videos), so I can give you a little information. Thanks for the comment! We try and shoot most videos ourselves, but because everyone is so geographically dispersed, some of the videos have been shot by people themselves who have emailed it to us to upload. Thanks to Omniglot for this awesome post!

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