Interesting (if simplistic) Economist article on the search for the world’s hardest language causes consternation, in-fighting, and bickering over at Metafilter, but also produces some really neat personal anecdotes as well as recorded examples of the !Xóõ dialect:

spoken by just a few thousand, mostly in Botswana, has a blistering array of unusual sounds. Its vowels include plain, pharyngealised, strident and breathy, and they carry four tones. It has five basic clicks and 17 accompanying ones. The leading expert on the !Xóõ, Tony Traill, developed a lump on his larynx from learning to make their sounds. Further research showed that adult !Xóõ-speakers had the same lump (children had not developed it yet).


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