The Oldest Language

The Oldest Language

What Is The Oldest Language? By oldest, I mean out of the thousands of
languages spoken around the world today, which one has been spoken for the longest time? This is a minefield of a topic and most linguists
I talked to do not want to touch this subject with a ten-foot pole, for a lot of reasons. Foremost because it’s a massive waste of time. But fret not, I’m no linguist. And I have no shame rising to the top of the
badlinguistics subreddit which I have a feeling is going to happen anyway. So since there are way too many complications
to answering this problem and because languages have been around for way too long of a time,
even beyond the dawn of civilisations, it is never going to be easy to answer. Unless you have a time machine it will all
come down to your criteria and personal opinion. It’s safe to say that languages change all
the time, if you think about it, the language you spoke 10 years ago is probably not the
language speak today, this question assumes a certain continuity to a language. So looking for the natural language that is
spoken in its exact form for the longest time, it would be a pointless exercise. Furthermore, if you accept the out of ‘Africa
theory’ that all humans moved out of the east African Savannah you could certainly argue
that all existing languages could be traced back to these ancestral forms. But that’s not what we are after, as we are
interested in the modern forms of these languages. So this is actually one of the bigger complications
of answering this question, we assume that if you trace back a language long enough you
could draw a line and say that at this point, this language is not intelligible and at this
point it becomes the modern version of that language that we now understand. But it is not that simple. Let’s take English as an example for convenience’s
sake. Before the current versions of modern English,
we have what is called as Middle English which roughly follows the late middle ages until
the invention of the printing press in the late 15th century. Modern English starts its formation since
then with a lot of changes in pronunciation and grammar. To most of us, Middle English is unintelligible
without any training. Listen to this clip of MIT professor Arthur
Bahr reading a short excerpt of Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight
in Middle English& . English becomes much more
intelligible to us when Shakespeare comes around 200years later from that reading. And
as I mentioned before The Gutenberg printer has a lot to do with that. So although where these lines are about intelligibility
are quite subjective, by and large, we can categorise languages to certain periods and
sub-periods according to their changes and significant transitions. So this is why you also see old English or
late-medieval English as periods or sub-periods of English. So if you had a hope that English was in the
running for the oldest surviving language you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Let’s look at Latin for a contrast. Originating in the area known as Latium around
central Italy which is where Rome and the Roman Empire would grow to be, Latin had a
lot of influence on the growth and the spread of western civilisation. This is one of the reasons why it is known
to be a Classical language. But you probably also heard that Latin is
a dead language. Now, what makes Latin ‘dead’ and English alive
is its active native speakers and its usage in day to day life. Latin, as far as we know is not used in day
to day context by the average citizens of Italy. But the Vatican City could be thought as an
exception. But not because Latin is the lingua franca
of the state. Due to practicality Italian is actually used
as the official language of the Vatican City since 2014. The prominence of Latin in the Holy See is
because Latin is also a ‘sacred language’ also known as a liturgical language, a sacred
language is a language used in religious contexts explaining the prime reason why it survived
through the ages despite falling out of favour as a communal language. The same could be said about the ancient Pali
language of India which perhaps has been around for longer, at least since the time of Gautama
Siddhartha also known as Buddha who lived around 26th Century BCE but has been kept
alive by Buddhist monks keeping the teachings of Buddha up to this day. What should be noted here is that a dead language
is different to an extinct language. And it’s an important distinction. It is a language that is no longer in use
today. It is a language that nobody effectively speaks
anymore. Like this Siouan (Su-an) language Mandan that
went extinct with its last Native American speaker Dr Edwin Benson’s demise in 2016. Or the Badeshi, a language only spoken by
these three men in the foothills of a remote mountain Valley in the Gilgit Balistan region
in Pakistan. As you would have guessed, Badeshi will become
a dead language after these three speakers of the language as in each example there won’t
be any active speakers or written usage of the language making it ‘extinct’ as oppose
to a ‘dead language’. So many think that this is also the case with
the language of Sanskrit. There are many parallels that could be drawn
between Sanskrit and Latin. First of all, Sanskrit is also one of the
important liturgical languages, mainly to Hinduism. It was also the language of the upper class
and had great influence over most of the current South Asian languages and even as far as South
East Asian Languages. Arguably Sanskrit kicked off the whole study
of linguistic history. And it holds a very important place in the
study of Indo-European studies as the body of Sanskrit literature is one of the richest
due to its usage in many Vedic and philosophical texts as well as poetry and drama in the ancient
Indian literature. So the ancient Vedic Sanskrit could be placed
between 18th- 12th Century BC. The most important aspect of Sanskrit is its
methods of memorization, exceptional complexity, rigour, and fidelity of grammar laid out by
the ancient philologist and scholar Pāṇini, somewhere between the 6th and 2th century
BC. Pāṇini’s work still forms the basis for many
modern linguistic theories and his work on morphology is compared to the work of Turing’s
machine in the 20th century, due to its complexity and detail. So if we go by the -earlier- Pāṇini’s treatise
which is a significant turning point for classical Sanskrit, we can put Sanskrit at around the
6th century BC on the spectrum. Now of course the so called ‘common period’
of Sanskrit albeit being slightly different, does not change much due to the rigorous work
by Pāṇini. Which is only a little help to answering our
question. But this is where things get a bit interesting,
or complicated. If Sanskrit is a dead language, why am I wasting
your time with it right? The
problem is Sanskrit is sort of making a comeback. In the 2011 national census of Nepal, 1,669
people reported that they use Sanskrit as their first language. Sanskrit has been declared as one of the official
languages in the state of Uttarakhand in India and it has been seeing a resurgence in speakers
due to religious and nationalistic movements. And the Indian national census reported 14135
Sanskrit speakers of Sanskrit in the country and the numbers are steadily growing. Which arguably put Sanskrit in the running
for this title, and that is of course if you disregard the hiatus in the middle. That brings us to another important sacred
and classical language with a similar story; which is Hebrew. Hebrew also completed a full revival as Sanskrit
is currently undergoing today. It is well and alive today within the Jewish
communities and in the state of Israel. Hebrew, fell out of favour and became a dead
language after the medieval period and was was kept alive by the rabbis and academic
pursuants. However, Hebrew was revived as the Zionist
movement picked up steam in the 19th century and finally went on to become the official
state language of Israel in 1948. However, if you only studied biblical Hebrew,
you would remain almost unintelligible to an Israeli today just as in the case of English
and old English due to a many natural changes happened to the lexicons of Jewish people
living in different parts of the world, and having picked up a lot of borrowed words from
other languages and many of the words have been evolved having evolved from its ancestral version that is based on
the biblical Hebrew. Although it should be noted that there are
some who argue that these two essentially are the same language. Even if we agree with these arguments biblical
Hebrew does not come into the play around, well, the Bible. But the oldest available scripts of Hebrew
dates to the 10th century BC. But the few linguists I spoke to and many
on Quora seem to agree that the two versions have drifted too far to be intelligible without
any training. Also, biblical Hebrew texts don’t have the
same luxury of an intense grammatical treatise that Sanskrit enjoyed, which in this (Hebrew) case, rules being steadily
established over time. Okay, now that we are across that minefield,
let’s move on.The other main contenders for the running that we usually encounter are
Chinese, Persian, Coptic, Greek and Tamil. Out of these, Coptic language or the ancient
Egyptian language is much older than any of the other languages and is been used in the
same way as Latin is been used as a religious language, but only by a handful of people. Coptic could be traced back as far as 3000-5000years
in recorded history but it is no longer used as a native or first language. And obviously had transformed into a completely
different language. The survival of the language through the ages,
however, is very remarkable. Modern Chinese Dialects, Iranian and Greek
although are very old and continuous, are significantly different from their ancestral
forms to their modern versions. For example, Mycenaean Greek, which is the
oldest of the three languages, dates back to around 17th Century BCE. And actually, the oldest written text of any
surviving language belongs to Greek, dating back to 15th Century BCE, written using a
writing system known as ‘Linear B’ predating the Modern Greek alphabet. So obviously, for some linguists and even
some of you viewers, therefore choosing Greek as the oldest language might make the most sense. As some people would argue that using the
oldest known written text as the criteria would make more sense than pursuing something
as intangible as intelligibility. Going by that rule no other language even
comes close to Greek with Pali-Prakrit texts appearing in Buddhist Asoka Pillars in the
3rd century BC, Dravidian literature and the dead Sea Scrolls roughly around the same time. This brings us to the last language in this
list, which is Tamil. The case with Tamil is also unsurprisingly
a bit murky. But no less interesting. Tamil is a Dravidian language of the Indian
Sub-continent. Unlike Sanskrit which was developed by the
migrating Indo-Europeans, Dravidians were the indigenous peoples of the sub-continent. If you looked up this question online on forums
there’s a heated debate among people about Tamil being the oldest continuous language. Since you already have a much better grasp
on the context and criteria of the other languages we spoke about, let’s look at Tamil from the
same lenses. Tamil is a living language, there is no doubt
about that, it is one of the official languages of Singapore & Sri Lanka and some Southern
States of India, respectively. Also there are more than 70million native
speakers around the world with many dialects. The ancient Tamil literature known as Sangam
literature can be traced back to about 3rd century BCE. But this is where things start to become debatable. First of all Dravidian Languages being indigenous
to the sub-continent are definitely older than that. Although all other languages we discussed
are probably older than what’s mentioned, Tamil throws in one more complication. One of the cradles of human civilisation the
Indus Valley civilisation is often argued to be a Dravidian society. Indus Valley civilisation can be traced back
to at least 3300BCE. Now, this is where all the arguments centre
around. Tamil being a Dravidian language, perhaps
could be continuously traced back to this time, if in fact, the Indus valley civilisation
was definitely Dravidian. To which there is some strong evidence. But the problems we explored with Middle English
and Modern English does not exclude the Tamil Language. In fact, many of the Southern Indian Languages
such as Malayalam also evolved from the same proto-Dravidian language. And sure enough, the Sangam literature will
not be mutually intelligible to an average Tamil speaker today. The language has also gone through a lot of
Sanskritisation borrowing vocabulary, grammar and literary styles from Sanskrit, although
resisting it more than other languages in the subcontinent. So I wish if there was a straightforward answer
to this question. But the simple fact is there isn’t. And I should warn my viewers and accept the
fact that most of the information I’ve given here are debated by academics… So this video might not stand up to scrutiny
in the future. And I’m sure there are probably errors I made
and things I missed. Please note them down with any other information
you want to add on the comment section and let me and others know. I’ll see ya next time.

100 thoughts on “The Oldest Language

  1. I totally agree all the explanations in the content and the facts is really valid… Sanskrit is the oldest language on Earth.

  2. கல் தோன்றி மண் தோன்றா காலத்தில் முன் தோன்றி , மூத்த குடியினரால் பேசப்பட்ட மொழி தமிழாம்.
    "கண்ணுத்ற் பெருங்கடவுளும் கழகமோடமர்ந்து பண்ணுதற்தெறிந்தாய்ந்த இப்பசுந்தமிழ் தேனை , இம்மண்ணிடைச்சில இலக்கணவரம்பிலா மொழிபோல் எண்ணிடைப் பட கிடந்ததாய் எண்ணவும் படுமோ "

  3. loose payae, what a shit load of mis information. From the accent we can definetely determine u r from North India. No wonder u dont accept tamil as the oldest language. Thats ok. Can u explain then what language was that PROTO DRAVIDIAN . Is it a human or a animal language. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PROTO DRAVIDIAN ITS TAMIL.

  4. you have to read tolkaappiyam which is the oldest grammar book of the world, maybe we dont have vedas, but the gramattical book of sanskrit latterly arrived .they are the culprits who copy us actually. before that they dont have grammer. it means the worlds first proper language must be tamil

  5. வாத்து-Goose, வாத்துக்கள்-Geese; தாரா-Duck,தாராகுஞ்சு-Duckling,வாத்துகுஞ்சு-Gosling

  6. Sanskrit only borrowed vocabulary and grammar from Tamil language , every language on earth are derived form Tamil language so don't soap Tamil with a baby sanskrit

  7. "Tamil or Tamizh (தமிழ்)"has been proved beyond doubt to be oldest surviving classical language in the world…
    Archaeological, historical, literary, geographical and oceanographical studies exist to prove it. Research and history are more important than belief .

  8. I think to look deeper one must consider linguistical evidences too….As a Learner I find too many solid evidences regarding the existence of the so called lemuria and Tamil literature itself speaks about its age which is surprising…

  9. The aryan and Dravidian theory is bogus, and many archeological evidences have been discovered to destroy this markcist theory, which was created to devide indians, as devide and rule have been britisher's prime moto, so most of your research is invalid. Also both sanskrit and tamil are Indian origin, both actively being used since their origin. I would suggest you to go deeper in this subject.
    You can follow David Frawley, his work will help you alot in this context.

  10. Watch this video , then you may know which language is lodest one,
    Here I'm saying "தமிழ்" (TAMIL) is the oldest language,

  11. Its not correct…. tamil is most oldest language in the world…. 😘if u want check it… தமிழ் மொழி அல்ல உயிர் ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  12. there are less Evidences to prove that tamil is Oldest,Only reason for world isnt accepting this truth, a continent called kumari kandam which sleeping in the Indian Ocean, tamil was first spoken there first before 10000 years ago….yes 10000 yrs ago. But if Excavate that place the Whole history will change, today sumerian civilization is considered as a oldest. The real truth sleeping under the ocean a great civilization once lived there before 10000 yrs ago called kumari kandam or Lemurian Continent. Kumari kandam is mentioned in the tamil literature called tholkappiyam. (Sorry for That English)

  13. Tamil didn't borrow anything from sanskrit..
    It's sanskrit which got from Tamil like tholkapiam (Tamil grammar epic)
    Before which sanskrit didn't have grammar
    Sanskritisation happened not much as in Malayalam Telugu or Kannada…
    But a small amount of enough to kill..
    * poison-sanskrit

  14. Tamil is the first language in the world and first GRAMMER LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD, THERE IS 64 ARTS INTHE TAMIL


  16. Only language that can boast that its words in almost all language. Not sanskrit Not hebrew Not any african language. NONE!. Only tamil words in every language. here is one to ponder…Marsupial. Marsupial is tamil word. And its not in any tamil country and not in tamil spoken words. How come.. go do research.

  17. Tamil words spoken in Koreans and cameroonians. Half the english words are tamil. You linguist have no fucking clue. I was shocked when korean started speaking in a train in toronto. I was dumbfounded. tamil is only one language that can boast that its words in every damn language including africans. No another fucking imposter language like sanskrit can boast that. It almost looks like linguists do not like that answer so they artificially creating things as they go.

  18. All indian languages are older than Sanskrit. The first trace of sanskrit in archeology is 2nd century. Tamil is as old as 10 000 years.

  19. I do not accept the out of Africa theory in 200,000 BC mainly because i know about the Heidelberg man @ 700,000 Bc &Peking man @ 625 BC . Sanskrit is among he oldest when dealing with Europeans , Tamil with the decedents of the Indigo race .

  20. Extra notes ;
    Sanskrit should not be considered as language reasons why ;

    1. It is not used for certain communication purposes such as speaking

    2. The so called oldest rig Veda itself was not directly understandable , it was later analysed by its neighbouring languages such as Pali , devakarini.

    3.there is no evidence are found like a Sanskrit speaking kings and Kingdoms exists .

    4. Sanskrit speaking mens don't let theirs women's to learn Sanskrit , by considering Sanskrit as god's language so the women's who age attained ( puberty) should not learn it , it is believed that it will make god's angry .

  21. அநீதியைத் தட்டிக் கேட்பவன் அவ்வளவுதான் says:


  22. …….some one coined a hoax story about oldlanguages …in India* since then
    Tamil people are posessngly obsessed to prove Tamil , is oldest

    It's not any way' ….. Any native African languages are older than any oldest languages on this planet"
    Still Tamil people are adamant that they " curse every other people
    If u don't agree with them…..

    In srilanka .. In Singapore… In Africa
    British bought these tamilis to slavery"

  23. I think sankrit and tamil came into existence in same peroid😇,By archeological proofs,Tamil is older but we can't say that tamil is older by thease proofs,Sanskrit and Tamil existed long back!

    So stop fighting,Feel proud because the oldest languages sanskrit and tamil originated fron our INDIA😍!I'm feeling proud to say that My mother tounge 'MALAYALAM' derived from tamil and sanskrit❤😇

  24. ದ್ರಾವಿಡ ಮೂಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾರತ ಉದಯಿಸಿದರೂ, ತಮಿಳು ಮೊದಲ ಭಾಷೆಯೇ ಸರಿ, ನಂತರದಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷೆ ಬರುವುದಾದರೂ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಸ್ಪಷ್ಟ ಹಾಗೂ ಸುಶ್ರಾವ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಮಾತನಾಡಬಲ್ಲ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಯಾವ ಭಾಷೆಯನ್ನ ಬೇಕಾದರೂ ಉಚ್ಛರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ, ಮಾತನಾಡಬಲ್ಲ, ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷೆಯ ಸುಲಲಿತವಾಗಿ ಬಳಸಬಲ್ಲ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯ ಮುಖಕ್ಕೆ ಉತ್ತಮ ವ್ಯಾಯಾಮ ನೀಡಬಲ್ಲದಲ್ಲದೆ, ನುಡಿದಂತೆ ಬರೆಯಬಲ್ಲ, ಬರೆದಂತೆಯೇ ನುಡಿಯಬಲ್ಲ , ವೈಜ್ಞಾನಿಕ ಹಿನ್ನೆಲೆಯ ಭಾಷೆಯೆಂಬುದು, ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ಇದರ ಲಿಪಿಗೆ ಗಿನ್ನೀಸ್ ದಾಖಲೆಯ ಪಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಸೇರಿದ್ದು #ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ ರ ಹೆಮ್ಮೆಯೇ ಸರಿ, .. ಇನ್ನು ಉತ್ತಮವಾಗಿ ಬಳಸಿ.. ಮುಂದಿನ ಪೀಳಿಗೆಗೆ ಸುಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಷಾ ಬಳುವಳಿ ನೀಡುವುದು ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರ ಬಹುಜನ್ಮ ಕರ್ತವ್ಯವಾಗಿದೆ 🤗😍😘💚🙏🌱🌳🌿🌍

  25. Tamil is 1st Language in the world but white people can distribute English into world.. Why India people didn't never distribute Tamil language to others countries? You'll sleeping? Useless India.. India people no point to proud your language if your own country never give importance that..

  26. The oldest language comes from Thracians – Thracia now modern BULGARIA.The are first inhibitors in the world.Before Mesopotamia ,Egypt and Greeks. And by the way Cyrillic is poor Bulgaria alphabet is not base on Greek alphabet is the other way around.

  27. Before gays u post videos make sure to not mislead the viewers.Thracians are mysterious and unexplored for many political geopolitical …..reasons.Now Bulgaria is archeological epicenter.Artifacts are overweight build up new turn of global history.

  28. DNA code is the oldest language in the world, as old as life itself, the most living language of all, even if its letters are invisible & its words are buried deep in the cells of our bodies

  29. I do have found most of the ANSWERS you alwasy ask and not even your academic scholars know it. Please see THE ORIGIN OF ALL:

  30. The oldest language of the world is somewhere from black Africa, belonging to the new reseach. The experts of languages said that the oldest language, not in writing, could be from the region of Senegal, Congo, Niger, … I'm not very sure about the African regions. I'm still waiting for their public report.

  31. Will you please remove the background music from your video !! Why do we have to listen to what you say and at the same time to that irritating noise?

  32. I am a Tamilan from tamilnadu. Done call us dravidians we are proud and brave rulers of the world called TAMILAN.

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