“Guess the Language”: quite a challenge!

If you heard a short sample of a language that you didn’t know, could you still guess which language it is?

Quite a challenge, no?

Well, in this video, you have the opportunity to see Latvian linguist Julie Maksimova face such a challenge. She has learned quite a few languages so far in her young life, but she doesn’t know any of the six spoken to her here. The best way to enjoy the video in each case is to watch and listen and then pause just before the answer is revealed. Note that she is allowed some lifelines: in three of the languages (her choice) she can ask for either a sample of the written language or a map or a fact—but once she has asked for one type of hint she can’t ask for the same type again.

I bet you won’t do as well as Julie!

I certainly didn’t.

Perhaps I would have done pretty well if the challenge had been presented in writing, but it’s much harder when you have nothing but spoken language for five of the six cases—at least for me. Give it a try!


Categories: Linguistics