There are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world. On the other hand, historians believe that 31,000 languages have existed throughout history, meaning the forgotten/extinct languages are way more numerous than the ones we currently have. This is, however, unsurprising, considering thousands of communities and empires have died out with time. Even though it’s unfortunate for a tribe to go extinct/forgotten, all we can do is try to commemorate these forgotten dialects and preserve existing texts. Here are some of the most popular forgotten languages.

1. Aramaic

Christians believe Aramaic is the language Jesus Christ spoke while spreading the gospel. It originated from the country of Aram and was the most popular language in the Middle East; it was used by many communities. Aramaic replaced a language called Akkadian (also discussed in this piece). It was more complex than Akkadian and lasted for centuries. The Assyrians spoke this language even after fighting with the Aram.

2. Akkadian

If you are a historian, you must be familiar with the city of Akkad in Mesopotamia. It is one of the most ancient civilizations in history, with a unique language called Akkadian. Akkadian is a Semitic language and was written in cuneiform. Over time, archeologists have discovered and preserved texts written in Akkadian. Unfortunately, Akkadian died in 8 BC.

3. Sanskrit

Sanskrit is considered the oldest language in the world, so it is not surprising that it is listed as one of the forgotten dialects. Although it was last spoken in 600 BC, Sanskrit is still regarded highly, especially in India, where it is believed to have been used to write Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhist scriptures. Some medical texts and most modern European & Asian languages have a strong connection to Sanskrit.

4. Classic Hebrew

The original Bible language is classic Hebrew – it was prevalent from 1000 BCE to 400 CE. Sometimes called Biblical Hebrew, classic Hebrew began fading when the tower of Jerusalem was destroyed. Despite the numerous attempts by rabbis worldwide to preserve the language, it was eventually forgotten.

It is believed that the last time anyone spoke classic Hebrew was during the holocaust when most rabbis lost their lives. As time went by, the Jews switched to modern Hebrew. Biblical scholars, however, have to learn Classic Hebrew if they want to read older Biblical texts.

5. Anglo-Saxon (Old English)

An Old English inscription

The English we speak today is very different from Old English. They significantly differ, especially in grammar, gender pronouns, and adjectives. Often referred to as Old English, Anglo-Saxon had a less fixed word order and was primarily spoken in Wales and Germany. When Anglo-Saxon was forgotten in the 1100s, Middle English took over and evolved into modern English.

6. Old High German

Old High German is the first version of the current German language; it started from around 500 to 700 AD. The dialect was very popular at the time – different locations had different variations. For instance, the language spoken in Austria differed slightly from that spoken in Bavarian; one used to speak Upper High German. Although its popularity dwindled from 1050 AD, Old High German was used to write religious and historical texts that are available to date.

7. Ancient Greek

While Greek is still being spoken, Ancient Greek is a long-forgotten language. Like Old High German, Ancient Greek is the first version of the Greek language; it was used by famous individuals like Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates.

As such, anyone who wants to understand the works of the great men must learn ancient Greek. It shares many similarities with Latin because they were spoken simultaneously in the Mediterranean countries.

8. Coptic

Coptic was the official language of ancient Egyptians, dating back around 2,000 years. It was written using the Greek alphabet and brought a lot of Greek influence to Egypt. However, it was replaced with Arabic, thanks to the stronger Muslim influence from the Middle East.

Despite its Islamic solid influence, historians and linguistics believe that Coptic was initially a Christian-based language. It was used to spread the Christian faith and promote trade.

9. Old Norse

If you are a fan of Vikings, then you must have heard about Old Norse as it was their official language. However, it wasn’t only used by the Vikings; the empire spread the language to many parts of Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Everywhere the Vikings invaded, they left traces of Old Norse.

Over time, linguists have found a close association between Old Norse and Aramaic. While it makes the list of forgotten languages, there are still traces of Old Norse, especially in how people from Norway, Iceland, and Denmark pronounce and use their words.

10. Hunnic

Hunnic language was spoken by a barbarian community known as the Huns, famous for weakening the Roman Empire. The language’s vocabulary was limited to three nouns and never appeared in written text. Anyone who didn’t understand it had to rely on third-party accounts. Historians believe the Hunnic language may have been assimilated into modern-day Indo-European and Turkic.

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General Knowledge, History,

Last Update: April 24, 2024