Languages have rich histories and cultures as they emerged as forms of communication. Communication is thought to have originated in pre-historic times when man could only convey his ideas by actions, sounds and pictures.
Theories suggest that the need for verbal communication arose because men formed group to hunt , creating the need to communicate.
|10th CENTURY BC||Aramaic|
|10th CENTURY BC||Hebrew|
|7th CENTURY BC||Latin|
|LATE 5th CENTURY||Armenian|
Sounds are believed to be the precursors of spoken language, and pictures to be the forerunners of written forms of languages as we know them today. Languages evolved from grunts and sounds of ancient man to today’s more sophisticated words and phrases.
There are about 6000 languages that exist today. Researches continuously search for proof for the earliest existing language.
Languages and their origin
Oldest Languages Still in Existence
Tamil language is more than 5000 years old with vast and varied literature. This language is also considered as one of the longest surviving classical languagesof the world. There were 1,863 news papers published in Tamil .
Sanskrit is the classical language of India dating back to 2690 BC. Sanskrit is still one of the official languages of India though its use in the vernacular is limited. Mattur and Hosahalli in the Southern state of Karnataka are two of the few scattered villages across the vast Indian Subcontinent where this language is still used colloquially. However, it continues to be used by Vedic teachers and Hindu scholars, known as Brahmins. The earliest written form of this language is the Rig Veda, penned circa 3000 BCE.
Researchers believe that Sanskrit , which heavily influenced many European languages originated from Tamil. Sanskrit has the privilege of being known as the mother of all European languages and has thus made its claim to fame for eternity.
Egyptian is the oldest known language of Egypt which origins from the Afro-Asiatic language family. Tomb walls bearing autobiographical writings of the old Egyptians dating back to2600-2000 BC has been found. Today Egyptian survives as the liturgical languages of the Coptic Church.
The Greek language has a long and rich history which makes it as one of the oldest of the European languages. Greek is mostly spoken in Greece, Albania, Cyprus by roughly 15 million people.
The earliest written evidence of the Greek language dates back to 1450 BC (5000 Years old). Greek accounts for a sizeable portion of the ancient literatures it has contributed to many literatures such as New Testament of the Bible, the Illiad, the Odyssey.
English today contains as many as 100000 words that were borrowed from Greek. There are at least 14 documented dialects of this language.
In linguistic terms, the word ‘Chinese’ actually refers to a group of languages of Sino-Tibetan origin. The standard form – Mandarin – is the official language of China and is spoken by more than 1.4 billion people – by far the largest number of speakers of an ancient language.
The first written records of Chinese language dates back to 3000 years to 1200 BC. Although scholars tend to date its origin to circa 2000 BCE, many strongly believe that it is at least 10,000 years old – putting it at circa 8,000 BCE and making it one of the oldest languages known to man.
Modern Aramaic in its various dialects are spoken in modern day Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and many other western countries.
Research has shown that large parts of Hebrew and Arabic languages are borrowed from the Aramaic language. Documents between the Armenian city states dating back to 10th century BC prove that this is one of the oldest languages.
It is an ancient Semitic language , grouped under Afro-Asiatic languages and the official language of Israel. Early it was used as a sacred language so it was also called as “holy language”. It is 3000 years old.
It is one of the most influential languages in West Asian culture and continues to be both spoken and written by more than 7 million people in in Israel.
The Old Testament in the Bible has been written in Hebrew, as have several other key documents discovered subsequently.
The language dates back to 600 BC, spoken by 65 million people living on the peninsula and its islands as well as 5.5 million Koreans in other parts of the world .
The fact that all Koreans speak and write the same language, has been a crucial factor in their
strong national integrity.
It is an Indo- European language spoken by the Armenian. This language dates back to the 5th century Bible translations as its oldest surviving text. It is the mother tongue for more than 5 million people.
This language dates back to 75 BC. All the Roman languages are descended from Latin and many words based on Latin are found in other modern languages such as English. It gained its importance when it became the official language of the Roman Empire.
Although it is considered a “dead” language in that it is only spoken in the Vactican, there are innumerable words that have made their way into fields of study such as zoology and botany; in fact, 70% of all books written before the year 1501 – collectively called ‘incunabula’ – have been written in Latin.
Today Latin is taught in higher education courses and still endures.