Saturday September 22, 2018

World’s oldest Languages: 10 spoken in world today

Over the years, languages have taken up many forms diverging from different roots. These ten languages have survived the threat of extinction and are still spoken around the world today.

0
//
293
10 oldest languages
One of the 10 oldest languages: The Torah is the holy book for the Jews. It is written in Hebrew, the Jewish language. Wikimedia
Republish
Reprint

June 7, 2017: 

Lingual identity is a part of community’s identity. Over the centuries of societal evolution, languages have evolved too. The languages that were born many years ago have provided the basis for some of the contemporary languages that we see today. However, these 10 of the world’s oldest languages still live today. 

Lithuanian

Lithuanian is the oldest surviving Indo-European Language. It is related to Sanskrit, Latin, and Ancient Greek. Around 4 million people in the world today speak Lithuanian. It was added to the official languages of the European Union in 2004. 

Oldest Lithuanian Book. Wikimedia

Farsi

Farsi is the name given to the Persian language in Iran and is the official language of the country. It is primarily spoken in Iran and Afghanistan. 

Farsi Alphabets. Wikimedia

Icelandic

About three and a half million people are estimated to speak the Icelandic language today. It’s spoken in Iceland and in Northern Ireland. It was named the official language of Iceland only in 2011! The language is so historically old that words had to be introduced by the language purists. Icelandic did not have the word for ‘computer’, so the people came up with one.

Extract of Icelandic language. Wikimedia

Finnish

Along with Swedish, Finnish is the official language of Finland. Around 7 million people in the world speak Finnish. The language emerged in written form only in the 16th century!

The first page of Abckiria (1543), the first book written in the Finnish language. Wikimedia

Georgian

Georgian is the biggest Kartvelian language. It is the official language of Georgia. So about 4 million people in Georgia speak the language and an additional 5 hundred thousand abroad. It is the only Caucasian language with an ancient literary tradition.

Georgian Language. Wikimedia Commons.

Basque

A mystery to the linguistics, Basque is spoken by Basque people in France and Spain. There is evidence that it existed long before the birth of romantic languages- before the Romans brought with themselves Latin to the European land. 

Location between France and Spain where Basque langue exists. Wikimedia Commons.

Hebrew

The Jewish language fell out of common usage back in 400 CE, but the Zionist movement popularized the language once again. While the Jews in Western Europe continued to speak the European language that prevailed on land, the Eastern European Jews sought a Jewish homeland in Israel and began using the Hebrew to establish Jewish solidarity. 

Tamil

There is compelling evidence that Jewish language Hebrew is in fact derived from Tamil. It was the Asura language of the Babylonians. Many African languages are derived from Tamil as well. Because of its antiquity, it is was declared a classical language by UNESCO. The official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore is spoken by 78 million people worldwide. 

Ancient Tamil Script – Tanjore Bragadeeshwara temple. Wikimedia Commons.

Macedonian

The Macedonian language dates further back than the origin of the Slavic languages. It shares the same dialectic continuum as Bulgarian. It is the official language of the Republic of Macedonia. 

Macedonian Language. Wikimedia Commons.

Irish Gaelic

Gaelic (called Gaeilge) is the official language of Ireland. It is called Irish Gaelic to differentiate it from Scottish Gaelic. It was used by the Celtics. The study of language is compulsory for school children. 

Advertisement in Irish Gaelic. Wikimedia

Though there exist many other languages that are counted amongst the oldest in the world- The two most popular and oldest being Sanskrit and Latin, from which contemporary languages have emerged, but the number of people still using this language is substantially small. Back in 2001, Sanskrit was estimated to be spoken by 15,000 people as their native language. The influence of Latin is also seen in various other languages (and fields) but as such the language is not spoken today.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Facebook Adds A New Language, Inupiaq From North of Alaska

Translator Muriel Hopson said finding the right translation ultimately could require two or three Inupiaq words.

0
Facebook
Facebook dating app now in testing phase. Pixabay

Britt’Nee Brower grew up in a largely Inupiat Eskimo town in Alaska’s far north, but English was the only language spoken at home.

Today, she knows a smattering of Inupiaq from childhood language classes at the school in the community of Utqiagvik. Brower even published an Inupiaq coloring book last year featuring the names of common animals of the region. But she hopes to someday speak fluently by practicing her ancestral language in a daily, modern setting.

The 29-year-old Anchorage woman has started to do just that with a new Inupiaq language option that recently went live on Facebook for those who employ the social media giant’s community translation tool. Launched a decade ago, the tool has allowed users to translate bookmarks, action buttons and other functions in more than 100 languages around the globe.

For now, Facebook is being translated into Inupiaq only on its website, not its app.

“I was excited,” Brower says of her first time trying the feature, still a work in progress as Inupiaq words are slowly added. “I was thinking, ‘I’m going to have to bring out my Inupiaq dictionary so I can learn.’ So I did.”

Facebook users can submit requests to translate the site’s vast interface workings — the buttons that allow users to like, comment and navigate the site — into any language through crowdsourcing. With the interface tool, it’s the Facebook users who do the translating of words and short phrases. Words are confirmed through crowd up-and-down voting.

 

facebook language
Britt’Nee Brower shows an Inupiat coloring book she published and she talks about the new Inupiat Eskimo language option now available for Facebook bookmarks, action buttons. Alaskans made the option a reality through the social media giant’s community translation tool, Anchorage, Alaska. VOA

 

Besides the Inupiaq option, Cherokee and Canada’s Inuktitut are other indigenous languages in the process of being translated, according to Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Argyres.

“It’s important to have these indigenous languages on the internet. Oftentimes they’re nowhere to be found,” she said. “So much is carried through language — tradition, culture — and so in the digital world, being able to translate from that environment is really important.”

The Inupiaq language is spoken in northern Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, about 13,500 Inupiat live in the state, with about 3,000 speaking the language.

Myles Creed, who grew up in the Inupiat community of Kotzebue, was the driving force in getting Inupiaq added. After researching ways to possibly link an external translation app with Facebook, he reached out to Grant Magdanz, a hometown friend who works as a software engineer in San Francisco. Neither one of them knew about the translation tool when Magdanz contacted Facebook in late 2016 about setting up an Inupiatun option.

Facebook opened a translation portal for the language in March 2017. It was then up to users to provide the translations through crowdsourcing.

Creed, 29, a linguistics graduate student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, is not Inupiat, and neither is Magdanz, 24. But they grew up around the language and its people and wanted to promote its use for today’s world.

“I’ve been given so much by the community I grew up in, and I want to be able to give back in some way,” said Creed, who is learning Inupiaq.

facebook language
Phrases From The Language. Flickr

Both see the Facebook option as a small step against predictions that Alaska’s Native languages are heading toward extinction under their present rate of decline.

“It has to be part of everyone’s daily life. It can’t be this separate thing,” Magdanz said. “People need the ability to speak it in any medium that they use like they would English or Spanish.”

Initially, Creed relied on volunteer translators, but that didn’t go fast enough. In January, he won a $2,000 mini-grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to hire two fluent Inupiat translators. While a language is in the process of being translated, only those who use the translation tool are able to see it.

Creed changed his translation settings last year. But it was only weeks ago that his home button finally said “Aimaagvik,” Inupiaq for home.

“I was really ecstatic,” he said.

So far, only a fraction of the vast interface is in Inupiaq. Part of the holdup is the complexity of finding exact translations, according to the Inupiaq translators who were hired with the grant money.

Take the comment button, which is still in English. There’s no one-word-fits-all in Inupiaq for “comment,” according to translator Pausauraq Jana Harcharek, who heads Inupiaq education for Alaska’s North Slope Borough. Is the word being presented in the form of a question, or a statement or an exclamatory sentence?

facebook language
An Inupiat Boy. Flickr

“Sometimes it’s so difficult to go from concepts that don’t exist in the language to arriving at a translation that communicates what that particular English word might mean,” Harcharek said.

Translator Muriel Hopson said finding the right translation ultimately could require two or three Inupiaq words.

The 58-year-old Anchorage woman grew up in the village of Wainwright, where she was raised by her grandparents. Inupiaq was spoken in the home, but it was strictly prohibited at the village school run by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Hopson said.

Also Read: AI at Facebook Improves Urdu to English Translation

She wonders if she’s among the last generation of Inupiaq speakers. But she welcomes the new Facebook option as a promising way for young people to see the value Inupiaq brings as a living language.

“Who doesn’t have a Facebook account when you’re a millennial?” she said. “It can only help.” (VOA)