Language Game

If you need to procrastinate but still want to (pretend that you) do something of educational value, I recommend the “Great Language Game”. You listen to short clips and have to identify the language of the recording. At first you must choose between two different languages, but as the game progresses you get offered up to six choices, making it harder to get it right merely by luck. You get 50 points for each correct answer and the game is over after three mistakes.

Great Language GameTry it! It only takes a couple of minutes.

My score was 750 points, putting me in the top 10% according to the current statistics.

Some of the choices were really simple for me, like the one between German (my mother tongue) and Yiddish, or picking Italian, a language I am currently learning in anticipation of my move to Italy next month. Also, Slavic languages were easy to identify if all the other choices were non-Slavic. Because it sounded very much like a Romance language, I was able to identify Romanian, although I had never heard it before.

With other languages, I was just lucky in guessing them right.

Lastly, my travelling helped. Living in the Baltics, I could easily identify Latvian, and thanks to having lived in Malta I could confidently tell what was Maltese.

My three mistakes? I confused Khmer with Tagalog, Sinhalese with Thai and Welsh with Scottish Gaelic.

(Hat tip to Crooked Timber, where I found the link to the “Great Language Game”.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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12 Responses to Language Game

  1. Kliedesys says:

    My final score is 750.

  2. Kliedesys says:

    I failed N. Ndebele, Amharic, Nepali, but those were borderline suspects and too quick decisions and I should have scored higher.

  3. Marinela says:

    starts off easy and gets progressively harder: 950 points.

  4. Kavita Joshi says:

    nice way to pass time..

  5. This is a nice opportunity to say that I do not know how I got linked with you but I have gelesen your messages in English und auf Deutsch. Like you, I reached 15 (750) having failed Danish (which I read fluently!) and Welsh (if it had been in writing I would have got it) and Swahili ( I possess a Teach yourself Swahili book). Second time 500, third time 750 again. If they showed the faces of the speakers it would be easier! As you will see from my cryptcracker and collesseum sites I deal in inscriptions and texts, and can recognize by sight but not so well by hearing. Vielen Dank.

  6. Kyra says:

    I haven’t tried out the game yet, but this post topic does make me wonder, does this ability to identify and discriminate between languages depend more on life experience (i.e. exposure to various languages) or an inherent ability (i.e. an “ear” for languages)?

    Back in college, one of my Linguistics professors had each of the students, on the first day, say a variety of phrases. He was able to identify our regional accents not just generally (we were all American so by “general accent” I mean for example New York, Bostonian, Midwest, etc.) but he was able to guess our hometowns practically by neighborhood. Just by my saying a few phrases, he guessed that I was a native of a Philadelphia suburb. He also guessed the specific hometown neighborhood of a Bostonian classmate. We were all appropriately amazed. fice

    It makes me wonder, what is the best indicator (or rather, the best chance) of success in learning a new language? Is it:
    1) exposure in youth, prior to age five?
    2) total immersion, i.e living where the language is spoken?
    3) a mere “talent” for learning languages, if such a thing exists?

  7. Kavita Joshi says:

    Hey have you been? long time havn’t heard from you.

  8. Polyglossia says:

    Hey, 4 attempts so far : 1/ 750 2/ 950 3/1000 4/1250
    Now I read somewhere the best score was 15050 !!! I doubt it very much since obviously, you only have 78 languages, so…. I did the maths : 78×50= 3900 ! :) But, god!!! This is so addictive!! I love it!! Last try, I failed because…. of Kurdish!!! Damned! I knew I had to learn Kurdish! :)

    • Very impressive scores! And yes, Kurdish is a useful language. There is a Kurdish diaspora almost everywhere. And hopefully one day they will have a state of their own where we can then go and practice Kurdish.

  9. It’s sad that this game has shut down now. :-(

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