which is the oldest language in the world?
- TaivoLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
Debonair Gal is mostly right (the comment about French and Latin is a little confusing the way it is worded).
Most of the answers here are, at best, naive and ill-informed, and, at worst, well...... you know.
All spoken languages today are equally old. All languages are constantly changing over time (even those languages called "conservative" are only conservative in some parts of their grammar and not conservative in others). No spoken language today is identical to the spoken language of 500 years ago.
The oldest writing is about 5500 years old. There is currently an arm-wrestle going on as to whether the oldest is Egyptian or Sumerian. The dates are so close, however, that we can just say they are about equally old. Chinese writing (about 3500 years old), Aramaic writing (about 3000 years old), Geez (NOT the same as Amharic) writing (about 1000 years old), Greek writing (about 3500 years old), and Canaanite writing (the ancestor language of Hebrew) (about 3500 years old) are all younger than this.
To correct some silly errors in previous answers: the Modern Hebrew language is NOT the same as Biblical Hebrew. Modern Hebrew was reconstructed from medieval Hebrew pronunciations and grammar, not the biblical texts. Biblical Hebrew represents a language that was descended from Canaanite and went extinct about 500 BCE. The oldest Phoenician texts (another language descended from Canaanite) are older than the oldest Hebrew texts. Arabic is NOT the same language today as it was in the 8th century. Modern Standard Arabic is neither the language of the Koran nor anyone's native language. All Arabic speakers learn Modern Standard Arabic as a second language--their native language is one of the dozen or so varieties of spoken Arabic that are different enough from each other to be mutually unintelligible. The oldest Arabic writing is about 2000 years old. Modern Chinese writing is different than the spoken languages. The Old Chinese language (about 3000 years ago) continued to evolve until today there are 6-10 different languages that ill-informed people lump together in the single label of "Chinese". And I'm surprised that some ill-informed Indian nationalist hasn't written in to claim the prize for Sanskrit (the oldest records of which are only about 2500 years old).Source(s): I am a Linguistics professor
- brian777999Lv 61 decade ago
Do you mean the oldest language still in use today ?
Or the oldest known language that has ever existed ?
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Two parts in my answer :
1) No , debonair girl is not right at all.
When someone says French and Latin are the same language, she can't be absolutely right. They have a common ancestry but so have all the indo european language.
2) a)The oldest dead (not spoken anymore) language is unknown. Caveman grunt is a good guess.
b) The oldest language of which we have a knowledge is probably sumerian.
c) the oldest language still spoken today with a continuity is probably chinese (5000 years old). But it is not the same language as today.
d) The oldest language still spoken today without too much differences with the current language is certainly hebrew. It has been reconstructed from the Bible.
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- Anonymous6 years ago
Tamil is the oldest spoken and written language in this world?one of the evidence (tolkappiam) and tamil is the mother language to all language "Alex collier" talking like this
- Anonymous1 decade ago
If by "oldest" you mean "earliest attested written form", then it's probably Sumerian cuneiform.
If you mean "most conservative", that is "preserving features that other related languages have lost", or "changing slowly" - this is a good question, but it might be impossible to answer with certainty. Some languages mentioned as being conservative are:
Icelandic, Lithuanian, Sardinian (particularly the Logudorese dialect), Georgian, Welsh, Basque, Faroese, Greek, Romance "isolated local varieties in southern Italy or in the Alpine region", and "some Australian languages"
But the term "oldest" doesn't mean much, because all modern languages are equally old. For instance, Latin is not older than French, because Latin and French are the same language. We have simply given different labels to different stages of the language. We can't pinpoint an exact moment when one "language" turns into another.
- Abu AhmadLv 51 decade ago
The oldest living language that has not changed a lot is definitely Arabic. Today's school kids in Arab countries learn literature that was composed many centuries ago without problems. In fact, some scholars assume that "semitic" languages like Aramaic and Hebrew have been derived from Arabic.
Aramaic today is almost a dead language. Outside the academic realm, there is nobody who knows it except 3 small villages in Syria who speak a dialect derived from Aramaic.
The Hebrew of today is very much different from ancient Hebrew. For a long time it was almost extinct, used only in academic and religious environment. When it was "revived" in our age, it had to borrow a lot from other languages, which made it very far from what it was before.
Latin cannot be considered by any means the oldest language, neither Irish of course!
- BoriLv 51 decade ago
Some of the oldest are- the Illyric(first language spoken in Europe and the Balkans, the language was the first kind of today's Albanian),Greek( Greek became a very spoken language in the south of the Balkan peninsula by the Greek populations which came there),Latin(Ancient language spoken in the Apenines), Egyptian(of anciant Egypt)the tribal languges of Africa and the languages spoken by the great Asiatic poulations.
- 6 years ago
frnd! SANSKRIT is the oldest language in world. it was declaired with scholars. And you know which is the first civilization in world. So think it.
- essentiallysoloLv 71 decade ago
I don't know about the oldest spoken language, but aramaic is the oldest written language.