Top 4 Oldest Languages in the World
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
As long as humans have existed, language has been the primal tool of communication. Slowly evolving from rudimentary signs to complex grammar, language has surely evolved a long way. Today, over 7000 languages are spoken across the world. All of the languages belong to several different families and all originate from thousands of years ago. Even though researchers have still not determined the language which can be surely labeled as the oldest language, there are a handful of languages that are narrowed down to be the oldest languages in the world.
The oldest written manuscript found is from the 8th Millenia BC. The writing is in a cuneiform script and was discovered in Mesopotamia. Based on the current research, the purpose of the writing was the concern of the Sumerians for their afterlife.
For centuries, humans relied on basis primitive signals and gestured in order to communicate with each other. The form of structured language that is observed today was only written around 10,000 years ago. The best way to measure a language’s age according to leading linguists is to evaluate the first written use in texts.
Since there are a number of languages that are more than thousands of years old, quite a few languages can be included in the list of the oldest languages. Some of the languages are extinct while others are only used for specific purposes. Here are the oldest languages in the world.
In this other article we will talk about the languages that are about to become extinct.
Latin is one of the oldest languages in the world. One of the oldest versions of the Latin script is found from 75 BC. There are also manuscripts which suggest that Old Latin was in use even before that. Many of wars in the future saw the conquers in the Italian Peninsula speaking Latin. Latin was rapidly propagated by the Roman empire choosing it to be the formal language. Latin lies as the core of many of the world languages today. Among the notable ones include French, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese, Romanian and many other languages. A major influence of Latin can even be found in modern-day English with a number of words being present. Latin is still actively being used and learnt by millions of people across the globe. It is still the official language of the holy Vatican and is actively being propagated in the field of education.
Sanskrit is also one of the oldest languages in the world. It is widely believed to be influential in the creation of hundreds of other modern-day languages. The language originated from the Indian area of Tamil and is estimated to be 4,000 years old. Some estimates even go as far as to suggest that the language is up to 6,000 years old. The language lies at the core of several of the most important literature and music in India. The language is the official language in the Subcontinent and despite its use being limited, it is still widely used in official documentation. The language is believed in the region to be the language of the Gods. The major rules of the language were used in the construction of the major languages in computing. The language combined complex vibrations and is used in different meditations across the world.
Egyptian Coptic was the language used in the Egypt of the past. At the time, Egypt was one of the biggest civilizations in the world. With a history spanning back thousands of years, Egypt is widely agreed to be the oldest civilizations in the world. The language was the most spoken language in Egypt until the 17th Century when it was replaced with Arabic after the Muslim invasion. The language is estimated to be up to 5000 years old with its first use being traced back to 3400 BC. The language is still used as a literary language amongst Egyptian Coptic churches. The language has only a few native speakers left but it is truly one of the world’s most ancient languages.
Commonly known as the holy language of the Jews, Hebrew is also one of the oldest languages in the world. The language lost usage amongst common folk around 400 CE and today is only used as a literature-oriented language for Jewish people around the world. The language had a major revival in the 19th, 20th century. The language is slightly different from its ancient biblical version but it is still one of the biggest religious languages in the world.
Even though there is no consensus present on the oldest language in the world, one thing can widely be agreed that these languages are all globally important and must be presented as a global cultural heritage so they do not go extinct across the globe.