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The Oldest Languages that Shaped Modern World
The Oldest Languages that Shaped Modern World
Content oldest language in the world

Thousands of languages existed and still exist nowadays. Some of them become extinct with the pace of time. Fortunately, there are many widespread ancient languages that people still can enjoy learning and using. Determining what is the oldest language in the world can be very interesting but scientists claim that we can only reconstruct such language using linguistic reconstruction methods. In this case, Proto-Indo-European language can be treated as the oldest one in the world but it is a hypothetical construct having practical value for scholars only. Most people are interested in ancient languages that can be learned and used rather than in common ancestor language that has no written record.

Some Oldest Languages In The World Still In Use

The rich history behind each culture is worth getting acquainted with apart from learning languages themselves. That is why hiring the best professional translation services is a good idea as only professionals can ensure that translated texts are fully appropriate for specific cultural context. They will implement all the peculiarities of the target language. Here are some languages that are in wide use for thousands of years:

Egyptian

It is considered the oldest written language or at least one of them since it dates back to approximately 3000 BC. Even though Egyptian civilization changed significantly due to various historical events, there are still people who can speak its early version that is also treated as liturgical by Coptic Orthodox. Ancient Egyptians would be proud knowing how much information survived all these centuries. Old scriptures allowed modern linguists to reconstruct many components with a high degree of certainty.

Sanskrit

When it comes to the question “what modern language has been in use the longest?”, the answer will always include Sanskrit as this language is still rather widely used in Southeast and Central Asia regions and is included in the list of the official languages in some Indian states. The impact of this language on the development of culture, religion, and philosophy began approximately 4000 years ago. Sanskrit was treated as a common language in contemporary India, is also associated with elites and high culture. Modern linguists use Sanskrit to reconstruct proto-languages.

Tamil

Being used in such countries as Singapore and Sri Lanka along with some parts of India, Tamil is recognized as the oldest known language that is still official and used by regular people since other ancient languages have limited spheres of usage. First mentions about the written records are approximately 2000 years old. Tamil is also notable because its currently used version maintains a significant resemblance to a classic version in many linguistic systems. There are considerably large minority groups who speak Tamil in other countries.

Arabic

A significant part of the world's population is Arabic language speakers, both native and those who learn it as a second language. Approximately 500 million people know and use it, including more than 310 million native speakers, which also increases the demand for Arabic document translation services as the Middle East region developed a significant influence on the entire world in such spheres as business, economy, culture, and religion. Even though Arabic is less than 2000 years old, it became a sacred language for all Muslims as the Quran is written in Quranic Arabic.

Chinese

It will not be an exaggeration to state that one-fifth of the entire world’s population nowadays speaks some dialect of the Chinese language either as a primary or secondary language. Researchers report that more than 1.2 billion people treated Chinese as their first language at the beginning of the 21st century. This number has grown since that time. The earliest accounts of written forms in Old Chinese can be traced back to the 13th century BC, which means Chinese has a confirmed place among the first languages in the world. Apart from Standard, also known as Mandarin Chinese, there are many other dialect groups such as Wu, Jin, Hakka, Huizhou, and others, depending on regions of the country.

Latin

Being one of the world’s oldest languages that tremendously contributed to the development of European civilization, Latin now becomes rather obsolete, and it survives only because of traditional application in scholarly, medical, and religious spheres of life. This formal language has become a medieval lingua franca and the language of science, which was the result of its widespread use during previous centuries throughout all territories of the Roman empire. It is still the official language in Vatican City and sacred language for the Catholics. Written records of Old Latin are dated back to the 7th or 6th century BC. Its influence can be observed in almost all European languages in terms of grammar, vocabulary, and phonetics.

Greek

Another language that shaped European culture as we know it today is Greek that, unlike any other language of the same Indo-European origin, has a long and uninterrupted history of written use for over 3500 years. It is associated with classical literature, science, and philosophy. It was widespread in the Mediterranean region during the Classical antiquity era along with Latin, became the official language in the Byzantine Empire, and currently is official in Greece and Cyprus. While it is no longer used so widely, its significant impact can be traced in other languages of the Western world. Numerous internationally-used terms have Greek origin.

Church Slavonic

It is not just liturgical language as one may think based on the name but the ancient language and predecessor that significantly influenced all three groups of modern Slavic languages starting from the 9th century AD until they developed as separate languages in approximately the 12th century AD. It was widely used in territories where modern Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Russia, and some other Slavic countries now exist. It is still utilized in religious practices. Scholars also use texts written in this language for comparative analyses trying to determine how Proto-Indo-European language should have looked like.

Hebrew

Speaking of religious influence, the ancient Biblical texts were written in Hebrew which is the unique example of a 3000-year old language that almost ceased its existence but was successfully revived as a commonly used language during the Zionism movement. This is the “holy language” of the Land of Israel, and not only Jews but also Christian theologists and linguists learn it today. Although it is hard to say what was the first language Holy Scriptures were written in, early Christians were definitely of Jewish descent.

Farsi

Also commonly referred to as Persian, Farsi went through a long way of development starting from the 6th century BC when the first Old Persian original texts and inscriptions appeared. It was widely popularized and used within the Parthian Empire, the Sasanian Empire, the Achaemenid Empire, and other different empires in Western, Eastern, and Central Asia during different periods. Currently, it is the official language in the same region and such countries as Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. It has a considerable history of use with cultural and religious purposes.

Is It Important What Is The Oldest Spoken Language?

Each language has its own history of development and the very fact that we know about them, apply in different spheres of life, and study their linguistic and historical peculiarities makes all these languages very special and equally important. When you check reviews at IsAccurate to hire an expert and get your text translated into the target language, you may not think that this language most probably has connections to many of the above mentioned ancient languages, even if it is just one borrowed term. But these connections exist and one common thing between all these oldest languages in the world is that they do exist and are being used, even if in specific fields only. As long as there are people who know a certain language, it is not important what is the oldest one. Apparently, the oldest protolanguage ceased existence centuries ago which was proved by multiple linguistic reconstructions.

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