What exactly is a language? To put it simply, it is a system of communication that is used by humans. To date, there are roughly 6 500 languages spoken in the world. Each and every one of them represents the diversity of people and cultures. Unfortunately, due to various factors, there are many languages throughout the world that are either dying or are classified as extinct. Let’s take a closer look at which languages these are…
While the language of Latin has predominantly influenced many of the modern languages millions of people speak today, sadly it is no longer spoken. Latin words prolifically feature in so many languages that we know and use today, however, nowadays it is widely considered a dead language. This means that even though the language is used in specific contexts and is still the official language of Vatican City, there are no native speakers. One of the main reasons why Latin is a dead language is due to the fact that it is incredibly complex.
Karaim is a language that originated in Lithuania, remote parts of Poland, Crimea, and Ukraine. It is also believed that this language is a Turkic language with Hebrew influences and is somewhat similar to Yiddish as well. The Lithuanian dialects of the Karaim language are unique to the town of Trakai. A small community has lived here since the 14th century. Like many Eastern European languages and dialects, Karaim began to die out after the dispersal of people following the Soviet regime. Although Karaim is considered to be slowly dying, there are many people who argue that there is a chance that this ancient language may survive. Today, it is said that there are only roughly 100 native Karaim speakers.
Yagán is an indigenous language of the South American country and is spoken by the Yaghan people. Today, there is only one native speaker left in the world, which explains exactly why it is said to be a dead language. However, even though this is the case, there are many people both in Argentina and Chile that are familiar with the language, but they are not fluent or regular speakers like the indigenous Yaghan people were. It is presumed that the government of Chile has plans to reestablish the language back into the community.
Tolowa is a language that was spoken by Native Americans. The area that featured these languages scatters over California and Oregon. It is listed as critically endangered with just one elderly speaker in 2001 so for all intents and purposes, Tolowa is indeed a dead language. Nevertheless, Tolowa has an adapted version, named Siletz Dee-ni, which is widely used across parts of the Native American reservation. Several books have been published about it along with some notes on the language and its alphabet.
Irish Gaelic is a Celtic language that is currently spoken by roughly has over 40,000 native speakers. There are several communities in Ireland, called Gaeltachts, where Irish is still spoken as the primary language. Governmental efforts have been in place for many years requiring Irish students to learn the Irish language and encouraging it to be spoken. Regardless of these attempts, this language is slowly dying and may soon become extinct.