Prior to the Tower of Babel event known as the “confusion of tongues” (confusio linguarum), religious scholars and historians believe that the world only spoke one language. Whether this is true or not is not known for certain, but what linguists are sure of is the fact that thousands of languages have come into existence ever since the creation of that first language. Quite a few of those languages have been lost to time for one reason or another and are now only found in legends; on the other hand, there are some languages that have survived for millennia and are still be used today in different parts of the world today. As a result, we’ve compiled this oldest languages in the world list ranked from oldest to the youngest of the world’s oldest languages.
01 Sanskrit \ 5000 years old
Not only the oldest language in India, but also thought to be the world’s oldest language, Sanskrit is the millennia-old Indian language stop being commonly used around 600 B.C but has survived until today as a liturgical language and is found in the sacred writings of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In fact, the first written record of Sanskrit was found to be written somewhere around 5,000 years ago and can be found in the collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns known as the Rigveda. Some research has also suggested that Sanskrit help in forming many European languages. It is also still one of India’s official languages today.
02 Tamil \ 5000 years old
Spoken by 78 million people, Tamil is the oldest living language in the world, and an official language of India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, Tamil is the only ancient language that has survived all the way to the modern world. Tamil, part of the Dravidian family of languages, is the most widely spoken language in the state of Tamil Nadu where inscriptions dating back to 3rd century B.C have been found.
03 Egyptian \ 5000 years old
Egypt is widely known to be one of the world’s oldest civilizations, the oldest indigenous language of is Egyptian Coptic. records written in Egyptian Coptic date back to nearly 5,000 years, and in fact, some 3,200 years later, Egyptian Coptic was still the most widely spoken language in Egypt, It was not until the late 17th century A.D. post-Muslim invasion that it was replaced by Egyptian Arabic. You can still find Egyptian Coptic fluently spoken by a handful of Egyptians today, though it’s primarily used as the liturgical language of the Coptic Church in Egypt.
04 Lithuanian \ 5000 years old
Modern German, Italian and English were born out of Lithuanian, a language that’s part of the group of the Indo-European languages closely related to Sanskrit, Latin and Ancient Greek. What’s more is the language has far better kept its original sounds and grammar rules than any of the other languages on our list. Protected by special institutions and linguistic laws, Lithuanian is the official language of the Republic of Lithuania and, in turn, one of the official languages of the European Union.
05 Hebrew \ 3000 years old
Losing common usage around 400 A.D., Hebrew is still in use around the world today as a Jewish liturgical language. It saw resurgence again with Zionism’s rise in the 19th and 20th centuries and became the official language of Israel in 1948. Even though there’s quite a big difference from the Biblical version, native speakers of can Hebrew fully understand the Hebrew writing of the ancient texts.
06 Greek \ 2900 years old
First spoken in Greece and what is now a part of modern Turkey, Greek is still spoken by more than 15 million people, mostly in Greece and Cyprus (though there are some Greek speaking communities in other countries such as the United States and Australia). For over 3,000 years Greek has an uninterrupted history of being used as a written language, a history that is divided into three stages – Ancient Greek, Medieval Greek and Modern Greek – which is longer than any other Indo-European language spoken today.
07 Farsi \ 2500 years old
The direct descendent of Old Persian, Farsi is the language spoken by the people of modern day Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan. What we know today as Modern Persian came about around 800 A.D., and it has changed very little since. Modern speakers of Farsi could pick up a piece of writing from 1,110 years ago and read it more easily than an English speaker could read the English texts of Shakespeare’s time, for example.
08 Basque \ 2200 years old
Only a few people living in Spain and France speak Basque – a language that is related to neither French nor Spanish, nor any other language in the world for that matter. Though linguists have studied Basque for hundreds of years, they’re still unsure until now about where exactly the language came from. One thing’s for sure, however – it’s been around much longer than the any of Europe’s Romance languages, and has survived through centuries in its own little part of the world.
09 Irish Gaelic \ 1500 years old
Whether you call it Irish Gaelic, Gaelic, Erse, or simply Irish, the language has 2,029,642 speakers around the world. Originating from Bronze Age Celtic, Gaelic has a literary tradition that can be traced back to the Ogham stones of the 5th and 6th century A.D. In addition, Irish Gaelic is related to Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish and Breton languages.
10 Arabic \ 1500 years old
Often called the language of the Quran, Arabic is therefore also considered a sacred language that emerged at first emerged sometimes between the 1st to 4th centuries A.D., and is spoken by about 260 million people. Arabic has many dialects and is the origin of languages like Urdu and Malay. Some of our favorite English words like sugar, algebra, alcohol and emir come from the Arabic language.
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