For example, imagine the name of our language was "Englishlanguage", and we had to always say "I speak Englishlanguage" or "She's a native Englishlanguage speaker". The closest I can think of is 日本語 "nihon-go" or the name for Japanese, where the "go" means "word", but this isn't exactly what I mean. I'm wondering if there is any language that contains the word for "language" or "tongue" or similar, in the native name for the language. For example, are there any cultures who name their language after themselves (e.g. "I speak LanguageoftheAngles but she speaks LanguageoftheFranks")

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    There are many such languages so the answer will simply be a long list. Aug 7, 2016 at 1:11
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    I would say that "English", meaning "English language", is just a contraction. Only if the context allows, one uses the contracted form. Aug 7, 2016 at 1:42
  • It is really the case in most if not all languages, but "language" is usually elided, although in some cases less often than in English. The languages where it is always explicitly there are those that have not a separate word but a specific suffix. However that suffix cannot stand alone, it does not mean "language" or anything else. Examples are Turkic -çe/-ça/-ce/-ca. Armenian -eren is an edge case because you can still say angleren lezu (English language) or angleren bar (English word). Aug 8, 2016 at 12:13
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    There are also Fala, Tok Pisin, Papamiento, Lingua Franca and the like. Aug 8, 2016 at 12:23
  • I don't know which answer to accept, as all of them are valid answers to the question. The main question was simply a binary one, "Do such languages exist?", and all answers give useful information relating to that.
    – Lou
    Aug 16, 2016 at 13:53

10 Answers 10


The (Equadorian) Quechua name for the language is Runa Shimi meaning "Language of the People". All of the Saami terms for the languages (e.g. North Saami, Lule Saami etc) include the word "language", such as Davvisámegiella. The Lushootseed name for the language, dxʷləšucid, means "language of the south" and contains a suffix -ucid which means "language" and "mouth" (there isn't really a separate word "language").

  • Similarly, Lushootseed is the English spelling of dxʷləšúcid, which means our language. The -ucid suffix is first person plural possessive, and the dxʷ- prefix marks a nominalization; together they combine to indicate a language. The root is ləš, which designates the Salish Sea. So dxʷləšúcid is the name for the common language in that area; there are also grammatical means to indicate dialects: qaǰət-əb 'be a Skagit (person), qqaǰətəb (with initial C- reduplication) 'speak Skagit'; duhubš-əb 'be a Snohomish (person), dduhubš-əb 'speak Snohomish'.
    – jlawler
    Aug 7, 2016 at 14:44
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    I disagree with your analysis of -ucid. The 1p possessive suffix is -čəɬ (p. 85 of the textbook if you have it) e.g. ʔalʔalčəɬ "our house". A 1pl poss. interpretation would also not make sense given pastəducid "English", dxʷləbəyʔucid "Lummi. It is true though that at least taqʷšəblu rendered "Skagit (language)" as bare sqaǰət.
    – user6726
    Aug 7, 2016 at 15:42
  • You're correct; it's not a pronoun. I was confusing it with a different morpheme. The dictionary says that dxʷ- and -ucid "constitute 'language'".
    – jlawler
    Aug 7, 2016 at 23:41
  • Also "suomenkieli" for Finnish (but they do not put -kieli on the end of all names of languages I don't think. But the Ainu do: "Ainu itak" for Ainu, "Hure sisam itak" for Russian etc). As for exonyms, in English we have the name "Western Desert Language", "British Sign Language" etc. etc. There are too many to list
    – Lorraine
    Aug 8, 2016 at 11:29

Bahasa Melayu (Malay); Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian).

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    Indonesian often refers as "Bahasa" for their language (Bahasa = language), I noticed a lot of Indonesian people think that "Bahasa" is the name for Indonesian/Bahasa Indonesia.
    – Quidam
    May 8, 2017 at 14:52

Yes, there are even endonyms like Fala that simply mean language/speech with no further qualification.

Tok Pisin, Papiamento, Lingua Franca etc are other examples.

(Tok in Tok Pisin is from English talk. Papia in Papiamento is from papear (to chat). lingua in Lingua Franca is from lingua (language, tongue).)

There is also the Turkic suffix -ce/-ca/-çe/-ça, which is used explicitly for languages but cannot stand alone.

Affectionately Yiddish is often referred to as מאַמע־לשון (mother tongue), if you search you can also find German dialects and languages referred to with Muttersprache, Mottersproch, Muddasprach, Muttersprak etc.

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    Like Fala (which can also be used to refer to some other languages/languages' dialects on the peninsula), Asturian is also known as llingua Aug 8, 2016 at 19:58
  • Could you explain the roots, in papamiento, etc? Lingua franca can be many languages, but that's true that one language bears this name, it's confusing, because one never knows if people refers as a group of languages, or as the pidgin.
    – Quidam
    May 8, 2017 at 14:58
  • @Quidam Updated May 8, 2017 at 17:42
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    @A.M.Bittlingmayer Toki Pona
    – Mitch
    May 8, 2017 at 20:24
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    A similar suffix is Irish -(a)is, which is also used exclusively to form names of languages, corresponding to -(e)ach used to form generic national adjectives (e.g., turcach ‘Turkish [generic adjective]’, turcais_ ‘Turkish language’). Jun 6, 2017 at 8:06

Chinese language, 漢語 han4 yü3. Literally means "Han [Chinese] language". The Vietnamese name for the Vietnamese language, Tiếng Việt (㗂越), also means "Viet language" literally.


In Lithuanian, the name of a language is the genitve plural of its speaker + the word "language": eg. lietuvių kalba 'Lithuanian language(lit. language of the lithuanians)', anglų kalba 'English language', kinų kalba 'Chinese language'. However, the word "kalba" maybe omitted if the context allows.

In sentences like "I speak XXX language", the forms above are not used, they use an adverb instead. For instance, Aš kalbu lietuviškai 'I speak Lithuanian(lit. I speak in the lithuanians' way)'


An example from an Australian Aboriginal language is Murriny-patha, which might be glossed as language good.

Also referring to language families but not languages, we have examples like Langue d'oc vs Langue d'oïl (referring to the language groups' respective words for "yes").

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    Brazilian native language nheengatu is also "good language". They should be friends. Aug 9, 2017 at 16:37

Classical Nahuatl speakers refer to their language as Nahuatlahtolli, "Nahuatl language", from Nahuatl + tlahtolli. However they add tlahtolli to any other language, so "I speak English and German" is translated Nitlahtoa Inglatlahtolli ihuan Teutontlahtolli. In modern Nahuatl tlahtolli may be omitted: Nitlahtoa zan tepitzin Nahuatl, "I only speak a little Nahuatl".


The Sumerian language is known in Sumerian as eme-gir15, which means "native tongue" (Foxvog, Daniel A., Introduction to Sumerian Grammar. 2016 January 4, p. 21).

The Japanese language is known natively as 日本語 ("Nihongo"), which literally means "sun rise language", or, more loosely, "language of the rising sun".

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    More like "language of Sun-Origin", where Sun-Origin is a singular proper noun and the name of the country. (that is, it's [[nihon]go] not [[ni][hon][go]]). Aug 9, 2017 at 16:39

The native name for Latin is Lingua Latina "Latin language". The adjective latinus is not only used for the Latin language, but also for people and things coming from the region of Latium (where the Latin language was originally spoken).

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    Isn't this equally true for English, though?
    – user14745
    May 12, 2017 at 1:20

Sanskrit : Refined (speech)

The Sanskrit verbal adjective sáṃskṛta- may be translated as "refined, elaborated" As a term for refined or elaborated speech, the adjective appears in Epic and Classical Sanskrit in the Manusmṛti and the Mahabharata.

from Wikipedia

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