10 Oldest Languages That Remain in Use Across the Globe

The world’s oldest languages stand as testament to the rich tapestry of human history and the evolution of communication. These ancient languages, often referred to as proto-languages, have deep roots that stretch back thousands of years, forming the linguistic bedrock upon which many modern languages are built.

Exploring the origins of language is akin to embarking on a journey through time, delving into the earliest forms of human expression. While pinpointing the absolute oldest language is a challenging task due to the lack of written records from antiquity, linguists and historians have identified several contenders based on various criteria such as archaeological evidence, comparative linguistics, and language families.

Here, HowAfrica compiled ten of the oldest languages that are still spoken in daily life around the world;

1. Tamil

Tamil is one of the world’s oldest surviving classical languages, dating back more than 2,500 years. It is still commonly spoken in Tamil Nadu, India, as well as Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia.


2. Sanskrit

Sanskrit, India’s classical language, dates back to approximately 1500 BCE. Though no longer spoken in common conversation, it is nevertheless employed ceremonially in Hindu religious rites and intellectual publications.


3. Hebrew

Hebrew, which originated in the 10th century BCE, has a rich history. It was restored in the late nineteenth century and is now Israel’s official language, with millions of people speaking it.


4. Greek

Ancient Greek evolved into Modern Greek, with roots dating back to the 9th century BCE. It remains the official language of Greece and Cyprus, with a rich literary and historical heritage.


5. Aramaic

Aramaic, which was once the Near Eastern lingua franca, originated in the 11th century BCE. It is still utilized in various religious ceremonies and localities in the Middle East.


6. Chinese

The only ancient language that has been continuously used is Chinese, which has its earliest written documents from the 1250 BCE Shang period. It has evolved into several dialects, with Mandarin being the most widely spoken.


7. Basque

The Basque language, spoken in the Basque Country bordering Spain and France, is a linguistic riddle. Its roots are uncertain, but it existed before the introduction of Indo-European languages in the region.


8. Farsi(Persian)

Farsi, or Persian, has been in use since approximately 600 BCE. It is Iran’s national language and has a strong literary legacy, including works by poets such as Rumi and Hafez.


9. Icelandic

Icelandic, which derives from Old Norse, has altered little since the ninth century. It is recognized for preserving ancient terminology and syntax, thus serving as a linguistic time capsule.


10. Lithuanian

Lithuanian is one of the earliest Indo-European languages, with written records dating from the 16th century. It retains numerous archaic characteristics that are not present in other languages.

These languages are notable not only for their age, but also for their durability. They’ve evolved to changing times while retaining their own identities, connecting speakers to their ancestors and cultural roots.

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