Exploring the World's Oldest Languages

Humans are social animals and they cannot live alone. To live with the people around us, we need to communicate our feelings, emotions, ideas, and information. This resulted in the evolution of languages. As per Ethnologue, there are 7097 languages spoken around the globe and these languages came into over a long period of 100,000 years.

Languages depict the culture of various nations. Many nations preserve their languages to save their culture and traditions. Many languages survived and evolved with time but some languages have gone extinct. 

Let’s have a look at World’s oldest languages.

Languages Date of Evolution Country Native Speakers
Hebrew 10th century BCE Israel 5 million
Basque

 

N/A France, Spain, Basque 750,000
Farsi/ Persian 600 BCE Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan  110 million
Greek 1450-1350 BCE Greece 13 million
Chinese 1250 BCE Southeast Asia and China 1.2 billion
Egyptian 3400 BC, The Middle East, North America, and Egypt N/A
Sanskrit

 

2000 BC Uttarakhand, India N/A
Tamil 3000 BCE Srilanka and India 70 million
Lithuanian N/A Republic of Lithuania 3 million
Aramaic 450 BC Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Iran 5 Million

Hebrew

Hebrew is the oldest language that came into existence in 600 BC. Hebrew scripts were discovered 3000 years ago. It is a Semitic language. People stopped using this language between 200 and 400 CE but this language revived in the 19th century with the rise of Zionism. Today, Hebrew is the official language of Israel and it is spoken by 5 million native speakers.

Basque

Basque is the pre-Indo European language that is not much used today. The exact origin of this language is not known by scientists. It is estimated that the origin of this language is dated back to prehistoric Europe. This language is spoken by the inhabitants of France, Spain, and Basque. It is known as the oldest language in Western Europe.

Farsi/Persian

Farsi/Persian is the oldest language of the Achaemenid Empire and it is widely spoken in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. This language originated in 800 CE and it is still used today with little variations. Persian is called Tajik in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and Dari in Afghanistan. It has impacted other languages like Urdu. Many words in Urdu are taken from the Persian language.

Greek

Greek is considered one of the oldest languages that are spoken in Europe. It came into existence in 1450 BC. It is the official language of Cyprus, Greece and the European Union. The Greek language has a great history as of Indo- European language spanning over 34 centuries. The Greek alphabet originated from the scripts that were used by Phoenicians and by the time they became part of Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic and Gothic systems of writing. The Greek symbols have historic value and they are widely used in physics, mathematics, and other scientific fields. 

Chinese

The Chinese language is from the language family known as the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. 16 percent of the world population, which is approximately 1.2 billion, speaks the Chinese language as their first language. These people are located in 37 countries. The old Chinese records are found in 1200 BCE from the Shang dynasty but some believe it is from Yangshao culture. The oldest written Chinese scripts were found in 5000-4000 BCE that includes poetry from Yangshao and they are included in the Guinness world record for the oldest written language. It is the most spoken language of the world and it is the official language of the United Nations, Singapore, Taiwan, and China. Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese are two important dialects of the Chinese language that are spoken in China.

Egyptian

Egyptian is the oldest language of the world with a history of 4700 years. Around 2600 BC to 2000 BC, Autobiographical writings were found on the walls of Egyptian tombs that proves that Egyptian is the oldest language. The calligraphic Egyptian scripts were found 600 years back. Today, the Egyptian language is used as Coptic Church’s language.

Sanskrit

Sanskrit is an old Indo-European classical language of South Asia. Some people say that it originated from Tamil that is 4000 years old language and some say that it is 6,000 years old. It is primarily used in classics in India. Sanskrit is an official language of the Indian Peninsula. The Sanskrit language was introduced in 2000 BC and it is considered as a God’s language. The fundamentals of the language are used in the architect of the computer. It comprises 49 letters and is mainly used in Northern Himalayan. Vibes of the Sanskrit language are very powerful and they are used in the process of meditation in Hindu temples.

Tamil

Tamil is the oldest classical language and its history is 5000 years old. It is believed that Tamil originated in 2500 BC and showed its appearance in 3000 BC. It is the official language of two countries Singapore and Sri Lanka, moreover, it is also the official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu and it is also spoken as a minority language in South Africa, Mauritius, and Malaysia. 

Lithuanian

Lithuanian is the Indo-European language and it resulted in the birth of different new languages like Italian, English, and German. This old language is associated with Sanskrit, ancient Greek, and Latin and possesses the grammar rules that are much better than its counterparts. It is the official language of the European Union and the Republic of Lithuania. It is the oldest language but it is preserved by linguistic laws and special institutions.

Aramaic

Aramaic language is from the family of the Indo-European family. The oldest script of this language was found in the 5th century in the Bible but the language showed its presence in 450 B.Ths. language is native to 5 million people. People who are residing in Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Iran speak Aramaic widely.

Wrapping Up

Old languages preserve the rich civilization and inheritance of countries. We cannot preserve these languages by learning all of them but we can secure their existence if we keep translated scripts of old languages with us.

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