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10 Oldest Languages in the World That Survived Till Now

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Our world has existed for more years than any of us can comprehend. During that time, a huge variety of languages appeared. Many of them died or were lost, to a point where we can only guess what they entailed and which populations spoke them. But some of them lived on. If you wonder what is the oldest language in the world’s history, then we have an answer for you. It’s Tamil, ancient yet still spoken. It has many other neighbors, and we’ll be glad to tell you about them, as well as share more details about the historical and modern role of Tamil. Today, there are 6,500 languages in use, but more than 2,000 have very few speakers, at times less than 1,000. Let’s find out which of them are the oldest and how they’ve managed to survive after all these centuries.

Oldest Languages in the World and Their Historical Value

Languages are some of the most craved commodities at the moment. People are stubbornly breaching foreign borders, building relationships with the representatives of different countries. Very few of them are capable of speaking many languages at once, so they look for services of the best translation companies to help them. But even those who have no interest in international contacts are often curious about the linguistic history of the world. Let us present a list of ten ancient languages that continue to thrive. Many of them don’t exist in their original form any longer, but they are still recognizable from before.

Tamil

This language has been documented to be spoken as far as during the third century BC, meaning that it’s about 5000 years old. It’s undoubtedly the oldest language, which makes the fact of its modern relevance even more surprising. In 2015, it was still used by 75 million people, and it is a huge number that signifies its popularity. It is spoken officially in Sri Lanka, Singapore, as well as India, but many other populations eagerly learn it because of its value, particularly as literature and art in Tamil help create a very real bridge between the past and modernity. In fact, more than 55% of ancient inscriptions located on the Indian territory are in this oldest known language and can still be interpreted and understood.

Chinese

The age of Chinese exceeds 3000 years. The first indications of this old language appeared on special oracle bones. There are many more creations that preserved old forms of its symbols, from artifacts to literature and art in general. There are several kinds of Chinese, such as Old, Middle, and Classical ones. A simplified version emerged in more modern times, and currently, more than a billion people speak it as their mother tongue. Chinese has many dialects, and it can be seen as the oldest written language on the continent. It’s also viewed as very complex because of its different structure, so if you’re planning to communicate with people from China, be sure to select the best Chinese translation services provider. TranslationReport could help you choose the best translation sites as it indicates which firms are trustworthy after a thorough evaluation.

Egyptian

This one of the world's oldest language has been known to exist for a little more than 2500 years (or more than 3000 in accordance with some resources). Ancient Egypt was a huge and powerful empire, and instead of dying out during the following years, it started undergoing a long process represented by multiple transformations. There were Old, Middle, and Late Egyptian, and then it grew into Demotic and Coptic variations. The latter is still applied by some people, but unfortunately, very few of them are left at this point. Egyptian language is close to dying out entirely, though it’s impossible to predict what is going to happen in the nearest future. For all we know, it could see a new birth and start flourishing anew.

Lithuanian

If you ever thought about what modern language has been in use the longest and is the oldest, you might be stunned to learn that Lithuanian is a strong contender. Some scholars believe that in its original form, it existed for more than 3000 years, borrowing many its words and rules from the very first ancient languages. An older form slowly transformed into a newer one, so at this moment, Lithuanian is spoken widely in the EU. Among its neighbors, Lithuanian is regarded as the most traditional since it preserved many Proto-Indo-European features. Funnily, it was one of the reasons why Thomas Harris decided to make his famous character Hannibal Lecter a Lithuanian, someone who’s very thorough about cultural norms and who appreciates older traditions.

Sanskrit

Similar to other in our list of the oldest languages in the world, this one is older than 3000 years, which makes it among the first languages to have been spoken. It emerged on the Indian subcontinent, and most philosophical and religious works in India were written in it. Sanskrit is tightly related to Hinduism, which is why it continues to thrive in some small communities even at our times. Other than that, though, its use has mostly remained in the past, but numerous scholars promote an idea centering on its revival because of a unique value it possesses.

Greek

This is an Indo-European language that is about 3000 years old, and it played a huge role in development in Christianity as well as literature. Some of the most well-known works like Odyssey were created in Greek. 13.4 million people speak it now.

Hebrew

If you ask someone, “What was the first language?”, you might often hear Hebrew in response. Not surprising, considering it’s originated among the Jews and is closely tied with the language in which the Bible itself has been written. Hebrew has also existed for approximately 3000 years, and after being revived several times, it’s now used by about 9 million individuals.

Latin

This language takes a unique place since despite being one of the oldest, it isn’t really spoken today. At the same time, Latin thrives in a world of academics, and medical as well as religious sectors apply it in a variety of other ways. Latin is older than 2000 years, and it has multiple forms that range from Old, Classical, Vulgar, Medieval, to Renaissance, New, as well as contemporary ones. It was born in Latium, a western Italy region, and lots of modern languages have borrowed vocabulary or its derivations from it.

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Basque

If you ask yourself, “What is the oldest spoken language in European countries?”, you might be amazed to find out that it’s Basque. It’s older than 2000 years, and what makes it unique is a mystery surrounding its emergence. It was spoken in the Pyrenees, a mountain range that sits between such countries as Spain and France, but considering how unrelated it is to these languages, it’s unclear where it even came from. Its popularity didn’t diminish much, and there are almost a million individuals who still speak it.

Arabic

It’s about 1500 years old, and it falls into the Syro-Arabia group. Quran has been written in Arabic, which gives this old language a unique god-like shade, with many people considering it sacred. It is still used by more than 300 million individuals, with approximately 30 diverse dialects existing. Its relevance cannot be overestimated since many Arab regions are taking over our world, which facilitates an exchange of culture and boosts international businesses. The language itself is rather complex, so if you might need professional Arabic translation services to make contact with its speakers.

Learn More About The Language You Speak

Now that you’ve learned everything about our oldest language and other mother tongues that survived till now, you likely appreciate their existence to a bigger extent. Our planet is fascinating, and it preserved many things that have appeared more than a millennia ago. We can still speak and understand each other in a way that even ancient civilizations would find familiar. The past feels real when you’re aware of this bridge linking you together. Start looking into the history of your own language to find out what kind of development it underwent and deepen your knowledge even more — there is no such thing as enough when it comes to history!