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9 Oldest Languages Still Spoken in the World Today

Content 9 oldest languages still spoken in the world today

Whether you want to know how old is Sanskrit when modern languages took shape, or how they’ve changed over the centuries, you’ve come to the right place. To give you plenty of food for thought we’re going to take a look at 9 of the oldest languages that are still spoken today, and introduce you to a little bit of their history.

  1. Hebrew

Hebrew has a rightful claim to being the world's oldest language — dating back at least 3000 years. It’s primarily spoken in Israel and is one of the most difficult languages to learn for non-native speakers. The written texts are displayed in museums across the world, and it’s a language that’s loved by its speakers for its expressiveness. 

  1. Basque

How old is the Latin language I hear you ask? Perhaps only a little older than Basque, but because of its mysterious origins, we’ll never quite know the true history of this ancient language. It’s spoken on the Spanish-French border and you’ll often hear it if you venture up into the Pyrenees. This part of the world is very much independent, both culturally and economically, from the major European powers it finds itself between. Something which would go a long way to explaining how it has managed to maintain its own language for so long. 

  1. Tamil

It’s the only classical language that’s survived from antiquity, and it’s still going strong thanks to the 70 million native speakers who use it as their mother tongue. India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia are home to the majority of Tamil speakers. It has seen something of a resurgence in recent years with nationalists promoting it so that it remains strong with the next generation. 

  1. Lithuanian

This is one of the oldest languages in Europe and is thought to date back to the 16th century. It’s been relatively unchanged since that time, something which is unusual in the grand scheme of things. This is why it makes its way onto this list, and it’s the reason to celebrate the unique cultural identity of this corner of Europe. 

  1. Farsi

If you don’t know this term, you’ll certainly know its predecessor: Persian. It came into being more than 2500 years ago, and its modern usage began as long ago as 800 AD. It’s a language that’s been at the heart of many of the world’s greatest cultural and spiritual events, and one which is set to endure for many centuries to come. 

  1. Icelandic

Icelandic may not be the oldest living language, but it has a well-deserved reputation as the hardest language to learn. The sheer size of the alphabet and the nuances of the sounds make this an ancient language unlike any other. A true challenge for any budding linguist or wordsmith who wants to put themselves to the ultimate language test. 

  1. Macedonian 

The language of Alexander the Great is alive and well, and it’s one you need to know about when you want to figure out which is the oldest language in the world. It dates back more than 2400 years and is believed to have originally been founded on the linguistic principles of ancient Greek. You will rarely hear it spoken outside of the borders of modern-day Macedonia, but inside it’s the first language of virtually everyone you’ll meet. More than 2 million Macedonians speak it, and it’s had a unique influence on their cultural identity for centuries now. 

  1. Irish Gaelic

This is a language that dates back some 2600 years, and far predates the arrival of Latin on the neighboring shores. An interesting point is that it’s still widely spoken by over a million Irish, and is widely taught in schools at the primary school level. This means it has become embedded in Irish mainstream culture once again since the Republic of Ireland gained independence from Britain. 

  1. Chinese

Chinese has a number of different dialects, and it has to be in the running if you want to figure out what was the first spoken language. With its origins dating back over 6000 years, many scholars cite it as the oldest language in the world.