If we include native and non-native speakers, the most spoken language in the world is English. The English language is said to have developed over a period of over 1400 years, having originated sometime in fifth century AD. That’s quite a lot of time.
However, you will be surprised to know that there have been several languages that had existed even before English language. To get a better understanding of the world of languages, let’s take a look at some of the oldest languages in the world.
Eblaite language – Dating back to around 2400 BC, Eblaite language was once widely used by people in Syria. The name is derived from the ancient city of Ebla, which now comprises modern western Syria. Much of the evidence about the language was found in Ebla in the form of cuneiform tablets.
Akkadian language – This language dates back to around 2400 BC. It was widely used in ancient Mesopotamia, although the language has become extinct now. The written form of the language was in cuneiform script and several records are available of the same. The written records cover a wide range of topics such as political and military events, mythological stories, scientific works and legal notes.
Canaanite languages – Written records of Canaanite languages date back to around 2400 BC. Canaanite languages are among the languages that made use of alphabets. These languages were used by people in Canaan and Levant regions, which in today’s context will include countries such as Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, and Iraq.
Sumerian language – This could be just as old as Egyptian language. However, as per verifiable records, Sumerian language dates back to around 2600 BC. It was the primary language of ancient Sumer, one of the oldest human civilizations. The oldest written records of Sumerian language are in logographic symbols that were carved into wet clay with the help of a wedge-shaped stylus.
Egyptian language – The oldest available evidence of a written sentence in Egyptian language dates back to around 2690 BC. This makes it the oldest language in the world based on available evidence. The Egyptian language is part of the Afro-asiatic language family. Some of the key typological features of Egyptian language include the use of three vowel system (a, i, u) and a range of emphatic consonants.
The world of languages can be quite exciting for folks who have an interest in it. The above information is based on evidence that is available and has been verified by language experts. It is possible that some languages had existed even before that. Archeologists have found various other written material, but these are not listed, as they comprise of undeciphered text.
So, the history of languages could actually be much older than the evidence suggests. There’s also the subject of languages that were only spoken and not written. These spoken languages were much older, anywhere between 50,000 years to two million years old.