20 Rare Languages Still Spoken Today

From Universal Translation Services:


Culture is the most personal thing society came up with. It defines the people of a community and regulates their everyday life. There are many aspects of culture, but language is the most important. Figuring out humans’ first language is impossible, but we know some ancient tongues. We can also figure out which is the least spoken language. But languages die, too, even if they were quite famous at some point. Latin is a good example of this because it was a mighty tongue once, but today, it does not have a single native speaker. Experts are sure half of the seven thousand languages spoken today will become extinct within a hundred years.

Here are the top 20 most spoken languages in the world:

  1. English
  2. Mandarin
  3. Hindi
  4. Spanish
  5. French
  6. Standard Arabic
  7. Bengali
  8. Russian
  9. Portuguese
  10. Indonesian
  11. Urdu
  12. Standard German
  13. Japanese
  14. Swahili
  15. Marathi
  16. Telugu
  17. Western Punjabi
  18. Wu Chinese
  19. Tamil
  20. Turkish

What Are All the Languages in the World?

Language defines our cultural identity. More than seven thousand languages are spoken in the world. Some have less than a thousand speakers and risk becoming extinct. At the same time, others have millions of speakers. English and Mandarin are two vernaculars with over a billion speakers. Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages.

. . . .

The Rarest Language in the World

Kaixana is an unknown language because it only has one speaker left today. Kaixana has never been very popular. But it had 200 speakers in the past. However, that number has been reduced to a single digit today. Learning is a complicated task since there isn’t much known about the vocabulary.

. . . .

What is the Oldest Language Still Spoken Today?

The oldest language that is still spoken today is Tamil. It has been around for at least 5000 years. It is spoken in India by more than 60 million speakers. Other old languages that are still spoken in the world today with little changes are Greek, Hebrew, Egyptian, and Farsi. Sanskrit is another language that has been around for over 3000 years, but it is only spoken by Hindu priests nowadays.

Link to the rest at Universal Translation Services

3 thoughts on “20 Rare Languages Still Spoken Today”

  1. I find the top-20 list rather misleading and self-serving to the business interests of the OP. Contrast items 5 and 6: There’s no distinction for “French” among Canadian, Belgian, native-as-in-France, Swiss, Algerian/Moroccan, or any of the various African dialects-often-verging-on-distinct-languages (comparable to Dutch versus German). But almost nobody speaks “Standard Arabic,” which has only been around for about a century; if one added up all of just the first-language Arabics — North Africa and the Arabian peninsula up through Iraq and (historically misdrawn boundary) far-western Iran — there’s a good chance it pushes well past “French.” Then once one adds in Muslims across the world who read the Q’ran…

    But I really snorted when I saw “Indonesian” (one wonders which of several dozen possibilities the OP means… not to mention that Arabic is one of the most-common second languages in Indonesia), and that “Wu Chinese” is on the list (above Turkish) but neither “Mandarin” nor “Cantonese” is listed.

    • Mandarin is in fact listed: it’s #2. I agree that it seems odd that Cantonese isn’t. But that may only be because Cantonese speakers are disproportionately represented among the Chinese diaspora, whereas Wu speakers are mostly still found in China itself.

      ‘Indonesian’ refers to Bahasa Indonesia, which is the official language of Indonesia and its principal lingua franca, thanks to some rather heavy-handed promotion by the Indonesian government.

      • For whatever reason, my eyes glazed over for a moment (probably distraction from an incoming call while awaiting jury-duty reporting instructions…) on Mandarin. But:

        • Considering the number of speakers of other languages in the archipelago who call their language “Indonesian” — which, for the last survey I’ve seen (2007), substantially outnumbered speakers of Bahasa in aggregate — I can’t buy that.

        • The issue on Arabic stands. MSA is a “thing” only in Egypt, eastern Libya, northern Sudan, and pockets of Jordan and western Saudi Arabia. (Go ahead: Take a couple years of MSA and see how well you do in Beirut or Doha; you might do ok in Riyadh and Jidda, but you’d have no chance either 200km away from those cities or in northern Iraq.) That Egypt is the second-most-populous “Arabic-speaking nation” — ignoring, again, Arabic’s prevalence in Indonesia as a second or even first language — is rather beside the point; England is in about the same position…

        • The list purports to be about “number of speakers,” and that Cantonese speakers are not concentrated in a single location seems to have been ignored when counting them. Here in the Seattle area, and further down the coast in San Francisco and up the coast in Vancouver, many Cantonese speakers are in “not the native language” locales but still consider/treat Cantonese as their primary tongue. This is analogous to many Spanish speakers in the US who, even when citizens, may well require a translator to deal with health care, government agencies, and in court. I’d be willing to bet that there are well over 120 million speakers of Cantonese in the world, which would put them comfortably above Turkish (even considering the gastarbeiter population in Germany) and Tamil at least.

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