Last 3 plays: trinity_enigma (12/12), Guest 195 (12/12), KingLouie6 (10/12).
RomanshSámiBretonCatalanFrisianBasqueSardinianKarelianSorbianGrikoOccitanCornish* Drag / drop or click on the choices above to move them to the answer list.
1. 1992 Olympics
2. Jai alai
4. Hens and pasties
5. Does not come in a tin
7. Sounds like a love story
8. It's all that to me!
9. Not from the former Yugoslavia
10. Jean Sibelius
11. Santa Claus
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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
Of all the minority languages spoken in Europe, Catalan (Catalŕ) is the one with the largest number of speakers: over 9 million, both as a first and a second language. Catalan is the official language of the tiny sovereign nation of Andorra, and has official status in three of Spain's autonomous communities: Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and the Valencian Community (where it is called Valencian). It is also spoken in some areas of eastern Spain, in the French Pyrenees, and the town of Alghero in north-western Sardinia. Most native speakers of Catalan are bilingual, and use both Catalan and Spanish, French or Italian in their everyday life.
Catalan is a Western Romance language, closely related to Occitan and Franco-Provençal, languages spoken in southern France. Like all Romance languages, it evolved from Vulgar Latin in the Middle Ages. Grammatically, Catalan resembles other Western Romance languages, forming the plural by adding an "-s" at the end of nouns or adjectives. However, in other respects it differs markedly from either Spanish or Portuguese, and bears similarities to Italian in terms of both phonology and vocabulary.
The 1992 Summer Olympics took place in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia.
Spoken in a region (named Basque Country, or Euskal Herria) that straddles the border between Spain and France in the north-western Pyrenees, Basque (Euskara) is a language that predates the arrival of the Indo-Europeans in the European continent. Unrelated to any other language in the world (in spite of repeated attempts to link it with other languages, such as those spoken in the Caucasus), Basque may well be one of the oldest languages still in use - if not the oldest. In Spain's Basque Autonomous Community, Basque shares official status with Spanish; in France, however, it has no official recognition. As is the case of most other minority languages in Europe, very few speakers of Basque are monolingual. The current number of Basque speakers amounts to about 750,000 people, mainly in the Spanish part of Basque Country.
Not surprisingly, Basque is very different not only from French and Spanish, but also from most of the languages spoken in Europe. Besides a number of phonetic peculiarities, its grammar and syntax also have features of exceeding complexity - such as a large number of case endings for nouns, somewhat similar to those of Uralic languages such as Hungarian and Finnish. On the other hand, much of the modern Basque vocabulary consists of borrowings from Latin, French, and Spanish.
The name of the game of jai alai means "merry festival" in Basque.
Breton (Brezhoneg) is a Celtic language of the Brittonic group, which also includes Welsh and Cornish; Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx belong to the Goidelic group. It is also the only Celtic language still spoken in continental Europe. Speakers of Breton are mainly concentrated in Lower Brittany, the western part of the Brittany peninsula. Because of the sharp decline in the number of Breton speakers since the mid-20th century (from about 1 million to about 200,000 in the first decade of the 21st century), it has been classified by UNESCO as severely endangered. The lack of any official recognition of minority languages by the French government does not help matters. There have been, however, attempts at reviving the language, in particular by offering primary and secondary instruction in Breton to school-age children in institutions known as Diwan schools.
Breton has a rather complex phonology and grammar, with features that are shared by other Celtic languages, but differ from both Romance and Germanic languages. A distinctive feature of Breton is its word order, which in many cases places the verb at the beginning of a sentence. However, unlike the Celtic languages of the British Isles, in which English loanwords are relatively rare, the Breton vocabulary has borrowed extensively from French.
The popular French comic book series "Asterix" is set in a village in Armorica, the region of Gaul that included Brittany.
A member of the Brittonic branch of the Celtic language family - thus closely related to Breton and Welsh - Cornish (Kernowek) was the main language spoken in the county of Cornwall in southwestern England from the Middle Ages to the end of the 18th century, when it finally died out. However, it shares the distinction of having been revived in the 20th century with a handful of other minority languages (Manx, spoken on the Isle of Man, being another) - though the number of speakers remains quite low, and its status is classified by UNESCO as critically endangered. It is estimated that about 500 people have some degree of fluency in Cornish, and an increasing number of the population of Cornwall are learning it as a second language. In 2002, Cornish was officially recognized as a minority language by the UK government.
A major success for the campaign for the revival of Cornish was the introduction of the Standard Written Form, which now provides schools and other public institutions with a universally acceptable orthography. Cornish also has a high percentage of words of Celtic origin as opposed to loanwords from English, Latin or French. Many Cornish words are closely connected to the culture of Cornwall, such as the terms related to fishing and mining.
Cornish hens are a breed of game chicken, while Cornish pasties are traditional, handheld meat pies.
While the majority of the regional languages spoken on the Italian territory are usually referred to as dialects (which implies loss of prestige), Sardinian (Sardu or Limba Sarda) is considered a separate language rather than a dialect of Italian. It is also the closest to Latin of all extant Romance languages, and also the most conservative - owing to its peculiar situation as the language spoken on a island, isolated from the rest of the European mainland. Though, like other minority languages, Sardinian was subjected to prolonged efforts at eradication in favour of standard Italian - particularly under the Fascist regime - in 1999 it finally obtained official recognition by the Italian government, together with other 11 minority languages. However, UNESCO has classified Sardinian as "definitely endangered", as younger people rarely learn the language at home, and most of the people who use Sardinian in their everyday life reside in sparsely populated rural and mountain communities. The number of native speakers of Sardinian was estimated to be around 1.3 million people in 2017.
Within the Romance language family, Sardinian with its three dialects belongs to its own group, as it is not closely related to any other language. Like Western Romance languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and French, Sardinian forms the plural by adding "-s" at the end of words (while Italian and Romanian change the final vowel). Verb conjugations also often resemble their Latin counterparts. Many surnames, given names and toponyms (place names) in Sardinia derive from the Sardinian language, even if their original form has been altered.
Sardines (which are generally sold tinned) are named after the island of Sardinia.
Those with some knowledge of European medieval history will be familiar with the alternative names of Occitan - Provençal and "langue d'oc" (lenga d'ňc). The latter is often mentioned as the southern counterpart of "langue d'oďl", the ancestor of modern French, spoken in the northern half of France; the names come from the words used to say "yes" in these languages. More than a single language, Occitan is a group of dialects spoken in Southern France, the Principality of Monaco, and some neighbouring regions of Italy and Spain. A member of the Western branch of the Romance language family, Occitan is closely related to Catalan, and the two languages are mutually intelligible. Like other minority languages, Occitan does not have any official status in France, while it is protected in Italy. Though spoken in a densely populated geographical area, Occitan is estimated to have around 800,000 native speakers, almost none of whom are monolingual. As is the case with most European minority languages, these numbers are dwindling, and the language is classified as severely endangered.
Because of its many dialects and the differences between them, Occitan has no single standard written form. The zenith of its status as one of Europe's premier cultural languages was the in 12th century, when Occitan was the vehicle for the poetry of the troubadours, and the mother tongue of influential figures such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of France and England, and her sons Richard I and John. In the 19th century, thanks to the efforts of poet Frédéric Mistral, winner of the 1904 Nobel Prize in Literature, Occitan enjoyed a revival - which, sadly, did not last long into the 20th century.
Romansh has been one of the four official languages of Switzerland - together with German, French, and Italian - since 1938. However, it has a much smaller number of speakers than the other three languages, and it is barely found outside the canton of Grisons (Graubünden), in eastern Switzerland - though in the past it used to be much more widespread. As its name indicates, it is a Romance language of the Western branch, often grouped with Friulian and Ladin (both spoken in north-eastern Italy) as the Rhaeto-Romance languages. According to some recent statistics, Romansh is spoken as a main language by about 40,000 people, while about 60,000 use it regularly. All in all, even if the Romansh-speaking areas are shrinking, the language is not in danger of disappearing in the near future, as its use in the school system ensures its continuing survival.
Developed from Vulgar Latin in the early Middle Ages, Romansh is strongly influenced by German, both grammatically and lexically, and also by the dialects of the areas of northern Lombardy that border Grisons to the south. In spite of the small number of speakers, Romansh is fragmented in a number of dialects that are not always mutually intelligible.
Italiot Greek is the name given by linguists to two varieties of Modern Greek spoken in two different areas of Southern Italy. Griko is spoken in nine small towns in the Salento peninsula (the "heel" of the boot) of the Italian region of Apulia. Another, much smaller community of Italiot Greek speakers (no more than 2000) consists of nine villages on the outskirts of the city of Reggio Calabria, in southern Calabria: this variant is called Greko or Grecanico. Some scholars believe Italiot Greek to be rooted in the language spoken in the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia as far back as the 8th century BC. Another theory posits that Griko and Grecanico descend from the Medieval Greek spoken during the Byzantine era. Officially recognized by the Italian government as a minority language in 1999, Italiot Greek numbers about 20,000 native speakers, and up to 50,000 second-language speakers. However, since most of these speakers are older adults, and very few younger people if any have any knowledge of it, the language is classified by UNESCO as severely endangered.
Griko is at least in part mutually intelligible with Standard Modern Greek, and its grammatical structure (which includes three genders and four cases) is also similar. It is, however, written in the Latin alphabet; its vocabulary contains various archaic forms, and has also been influenced by Italian and local Italic dialects.
The hint is a reference to the well-known saying, "It's all Greek to me".
Not to be confused with Serbian (which is a South Slavic language), Sorbian (Serbska) refers to two West Slavic languages - known as Wendish or Upper Sorbian, and Lusatian or Lower Sorbian - spoken in Lusatia, a historical region of Central Europe now split between Germany and Poland. A thriving language in the southern part of eastern Germany for much of the Middle Ages, Sorbian is now spoken by around 30,000 people in the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg - Upper Sorbian having considerably more speakers than Lower Sorbian. Though recognized and protected as minority languages in Germany, and also recognized as second official languages in the regions where they are spoken, the two varieties of Sorbian have suffered from loss of prestige and the encroachment of German, and are now classified as definitely endangered by UNESCO - as children very rarely learn them at home.
Closely related to Polish, Czech and Slovak, Sorbian has a number of grammatical cases (seven in Upper Sorbian, six in Lower Sorbian). However, it also has a peculiarity that is exceedingly rare in living Indo-European languages: the dual number for nouns, pronouns, adjectives and verbs, which existed in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit.
Karelian (Karielan kieli) is a Uralic language, spoken in the Republic of Karelia, in north-western Russia. Nowadays it is widely considered a separate language rather than a dialect of Finnish, to which it is closely related. As is the case of other minority languages, Karelian does not have a single standard form, but rather a number of dialects. It is spoken as a native language by about 9,000 people in Russia, and about 11,000 in Finland: however, the number of those who have even a superficial knowledge of Karelian is estimated to be considerably higher. In the Republic of Karelia, the language has official status as a minority language, as does in Finland; the Karelian speakers in Tver Oblast (northwest of Moscow) enjoy a form of cultural autonomy that allows the use of the language in schools and in the media. In spite of that, very few younger people nowadays speak Karelian, which is classified by UNESCO as definitely endangered.
All varieties of Karelian are written in the Latin alphabet. Many of the language's features are similar to those of Finnish, though there are differences in phonology, orthography, grammar and vocabulary. Other related languages spoken in north-western European Russia are Ingrian (which is nearly extinct) and Veps (which has the largest number of grammatical cases - 23 - of any Finnic language).
One of the best-known works by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius is the "Karelia Suite".
Sámi (also spelled Saami) is a group of languages of the Uralic family spoken by the Sámi people who inhabit the northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and extreme north-western Russia - a cultural region referred to as Sápmi (Lapland in English). The exonyms Lappish, Lappic and Lapp are now considered derogatory, and thus to be avoided. At present, there are nine living Sámi languages: the one with the most native speakers (an estimated 15,000-25,000, about 75% of all Sámi speakers) is Northern Sámi, spoken in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The second-largest group is Lule Sámi of Norway and Sweden, with about 1,500 speakers. Some of the other languages (in particularly Ume and Pite Sámi) are nearly extinct, and a few more have already died out. In the past, however, Sámi languages were spoken in a much larger area of Fennoscandia. While Sámi is recognized as a minority language in Norway, Sweden and Finland, it has no official status in Russia
Though related to the Finnic branch of the Uralic family, Sámi languages have enough peculiarities to form their own branch. They are written in the Latin alphabet, with the exception of Kildin Sámi (spoken in Russia), which is written in the Cyrillic script: in both cases, a number of additional characters are used. Like all Uralic languages, Sámi languages are agglutinative (forming words by stringing morphemes together) and highly inflected, though with fewer grammatical cases than Finnish or Estonian.
One of the traditional homes of Santa Claus is in Finnish Lapland.
A member of the West Germanic branch, Frisian is the only Germanic language (or, more accurately, group of languages) included in this quiz. It is spoken by an estimated 500,000 people in an area shared by the Netherlands and Germany on the coast of the North Sea, including the archipelago known as Frisian Islands. West Frisian (Frysk), spoken mainly in the Dutch province of Friesland (where it enjoys official status), is by far the one with most speakers. North Frisian (Fräisch) is spoken in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, while Saterland Frisian (Fräisk) is now restricted to a municipality in the state of Lower Saxony. As the three groups of Frisian languages are not mutually intelligible, they are believed by many linguists to be separate languages rather than dialects of a single language. Though considered vulnerable, West Frisian is still in relatively good shape, with an increasing number of people learning it. North and Saterland Frisian, on the other hand, are seriously endangered, in spite of being recognized and protected as minority languages in Germany.
Frisian also has the distinction of being the closest living relative to English and Scots - even though modern Frisian is considerably influenced by Dutch. Old Frisian, however, was remarkably similar to Old English, and the two language were probably mutually intelligible. Like English and Dutch, the modern Frisian languages have lost their case system.
The black-and-white cows known as Holstein Friesian also originated in Friesland.