The 10 Oldest Languages That Are Still Spoken Today.

As of today, the world has 7111 languages according to Ethnologue. A staggering third of these languages are endangered and only spoken by very few people, 1000 speakers at best. what’s even more serious is that more than 50% of the world’s population is covered by 23 major languages.

Top 10 most spoken languages, 2019. By Ethnologue.

Languages appeared about 100.000 years ago and have been evolving ever since. Languages are always in a state of flux; some die out and some branch out and give us more languages. Exceptionally, some languages have survived long periods of time and erosion and made it to the modern world. Here are 10 of the most ancient languages that are still spoken today:

1. Hebrew:

  • Year: 10th century BCE.
  • Country: Israel.
  • Number of speakers: 9 M. 

2. Basque: 

  • Year: Unknown.
  • Country/region: Basque.
  • Number of speakers: ~750,000 people.

3. Arabic:

  • Year: 1000 BCE. 
  • Country: Countries of the Arab League
  • Number of speakers: 310 M. 

4. Tamil:

  • Year: 300 BCE.
  • Country: India and Sri Lanka.
  • Number of speakers: ~80 M. 

5. Persian/Farsi:

  • Year: 600 BCE.
  • Country: Iran.
  • Number of speakers: ~110 M. 

6. Greek:

  • Year: 1450-1350 BCE. 
  • Country: Greece. 
  • Number of speakers: 13 M. 

7. Chinese:

  • Year: 1250 BCE. 
  • Country: China and parts of Southeast Asia.
  • Number of speakers: 1.2 Billion. 

8. Lithuanian:

  • Year: 1500 AD.
  • Country: Baltic region.
  • Number of speakers: ~ 3 M. 

9. Icelandic: 

  • Year: 1100 AD. 
  • Country: Iceland.
  • Number of speakers: 358,000 people. 

10. Irish Gaelic: 

  • Year: 4 Century AD.
  • Country: Ireland. 
  • Number of speakers: 1.2 M. 

Language is the archive of history.

Ralph Waldo Emerson 

14 thoughts on “The 10 Oldest Languages That Are Still Spoken Today.”

  1. As a (UK/Spain) dual national, I am
    curious to know in what part of the world one can find the ‘Country: Basque’

    1. You can deny the existance of a Basque autonomous state but the language exists and is spoken by almost a million people and has been for longer than Spanish.

  2. Well, when you say the 10 oldest languages still spoken today, ancient Greek will no more be understood my a modern Greek speaker than an English speaker understands Mandarin.

  3. As usual the Languages mentioned are those that are associated with the ethnicity of the people contributing to the article. Indigenous western hemisphere languages are overlooked and ignored. We are all subject to the perspectives of the colonizers being presented as facts.

  4. This list is, to put it gently, nonsense. Not only does it begin with a modern reconstruction of an ancient liturgical tongue, not only does it then go on repeatedly to conflate ancient and modern versions of subsequent languages as unified languages, but then it drops in Lithuanian, which it claims to date from CE1500… This is an interesting topic that deserves far more thorough treatment, particularly on a site called Language Nerds.

  5. What about the Georgian Language? I’m sure this dates further back than some of those listed.

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  7. Arabic emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries C.E., not 1000 B.C.E.
    And to the comments about Hebrew, it’s partly true, but there are small groups of people who have kept speaking Hebrew until the present day. Certain parts of Iraq, for example.

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