What Are The Oldest Languages Still Spoken [Top 50+ List]

If you’re wondering what is the oldest language still spoken, this article highlights all the common oldest spoken languages in the world for you. Although a few of the oldest languages are becoming endangered, the majority are active and spoken by the majority of the world.

Hebrew is among the oldest languages spoken today by over 9 million people, with about 6 million being native speakers. Greek, Chinese, Arabic, Tamil, and Sanskrit are the oldest languages still spoken today. Do you know that the majority of the oldest languages like Tunica and Yana developed into the different languages we speak today and became extinct?

To know all the 20 oldest languages spoken in the world plus the other 50 languages believed to be over 2000 years, keep reading.

Top 20 Oldest Spoken Languages in the World

According to Ethnology, there are approximately 7168 languages spoken in the world today. All the native languages spoken today have different dates of origin. While some are spoken by less than 1,000 natives, others are fluently spoken by over a billion people.

When localizing your business, it’s important to consider the number of native speakers that depend on each language and how widely each is spoken.

What are the oldest languages still spoken? Before we go into the details, here is a quick navigation for you.

1Tamil5000 years
2Ancient Greek  5000 years
3Chinese Traditional5000 years
4Egyptian Language 4000 years
5Hebrew4000 years
6Aramaic 4000 years
7Sanskrit 3523 years
8Chinese    3272 years
9Icelandic   3123 years
10Basque     3023 years
11Greek        3000 years
12Arabic     2500 years
13Farsi          2500 years
14Sindhi Language2500 years
15Italic Language 2523 years 
16Irish Gaelic  2500 years
17Portuguese  2323 years 
18Georgian     2224 years
19Korean Language 2028 years
20Vietnamese Language 700 years

1.     Tamil

Years: Over 5000 years

Country of Origin: India

Number of speakers: 89.7 million

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu uses Tamil as its native language. Tamil is among the oldest spoken languages in the world and by a large group of people spread across many countries. Tamil dates back to over 5000 years ago and is largely spoken by the Tamil people.

As of today, the Tamil language is spoken by a total of 89.7 million people with 84.12 million being native speakers. You’ll other Tamil speakers in Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malaysia, and Fiji.  

2.  Ancient Greek

greek language

Years: 5000 years

Country of Origin: Greece

Number of speakers: 5,000

Ancient Greek spans 34 centuries and is part of the Indo-European language family. Ancient Greece has been around since the 3rd millennium BC (5000 years). According to the Independent UK, there are around 5,000 people who still speak Ancient Greek today.

A small group of people found around the Black Sea coast in the northeastern part of Turkey are the only people who speak Ancient Greek. It has thus been classified as an extinct language. 

3.     Egyptian Language

Year: 4000 years

Country of Origin: Egypt

Number of speakers: Unknown

Although some quarters say the Egyptian language is extinct, some institutes of higher learning like the University of Chicago do teach the ancient Egyptian language. This language has been around for over 4000 years. Even after undergoing several stages of development, there are still a few people who can speak fluently and write ancient Egyptian.

Ancient Egyptian was spoken by the Egyptians. After several developments, Egyptians now speak Arabic and their old language has been left to a few academicians.

4.     Hebrew 

Years: 3000 – 4000 years

Country of Origin: Israel

Number of speakers: 9.2 million

Hebrew dates back to the Bronze Age and has been flourishing in Israel. It’s among the semantic languages that were used in the land of Canaan in the 2nd century BC (3000-4000 years). Hebrew is today spoken by about 9 million people in the world with 6.2 million being native speakers.

The largest group of Hebrew speakers is found in Israel. You’ll find other Hebrew speakers in Palestine around West Bank, and Gaza Strip and in the United States. They further spread to the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada.

5.     Aramaic

aramaic language

Years: 4000 years

Country of Origin: Syria

Number of speakers: 600,000 speakers

Jesus spoke the Aramaic language and despite the number of past centuries, it’s still being spoken in countries like North America, Iraq, Australia, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. Aramaic has been in existence for over 4000 years and is spoken by about 600,000 people. The majority of these speakers are found in Syrian villages.

6. Sanskrit 

sanskrit language

Years: 3523 years

Country of Origin: India

Number of speakers: 24,821 native speakers

Sanskrit dates back to 1500 BCE which is 3523 years from today. Despite this long period of existence, Sanskrit is still spoken today by the Indians. In the Indian constitution, Sanskrit is listed among the modern Indian languages. It’s also used by scholars in the USA and Germany.

In 2022, CNBC-TV 18 reported there are only 24,821 people in India who use Sanskrit as their native language. As of today, it’s spoken in areas such as the Jhiri, Madhya Pradesh, Hosahalli, and Sasana, Odisha.

7.  Chinese

traditional chinese oldest spoken language

Years: 3272 years

Country of Origin: China

Number of speakers: 1.3 billion speakers

The Chinese language dates back to 1250 BCE and is still today spoken by 1.31 billion speakers. This makes it among the languages everyone considering translation should consider. And for businesses looking to increase their customer base in China, they should start translating their content into the Mandarin Chinese language.

It’s even listed among the six official languages in the United States. Besides being Hong Kong’s official language, it’s also spoken in China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Macao.  Other countries you’ll find large populations of Chinese speakers include the United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Canada.

Wordspath offers the best English Mandarin Chinese (Simplified) translation service online. Using Wordspath native Mandarin translators, you can tap new sales and boost your business reach across the globe by inquiring English to English-to-Mandarin translation services such as business translation, website translation, technical translation, software translation, and document translation.  

8.  Icelandic 

icelandic language

Years: 3123 years

Country of Origin: Iceland

Number of speakers: 314,440 people

Icelandic is counted as one of the oldest languages still spoken today. Though not by a huge population, you’ll find Icelandic speakers in Denmark, the United States, Canada, and New Iceland. Counting from the date the first texts were discovered, Iceland is estimated to be 3123 years old.

About 314,400 people speak the Icelandic language out of which 300,000 are from Iceland.

9.     Basque

Years: 3023 years

Country of Origin: Basque

Number of speakers: 750,000 people

The Basque language is spoken in parts of France and Spain. As an isolated language that’s probably the oldest in the world has no relation with any other language. The first manuscript with a six-word Basque inscription attests it was inscribed in the 10th century.

In the Basque Country of Spain, Basque is the official language. Out of all the Basque people, an estimated 750,000 people speak Basque.

10.     Greek 

Years: 3000 years

Country of Origin: Greece

Number of speakers: 13.5 million speakers

The Greek language has been around for over 3,000 years and is the native language of Greece. Other regions where people speak Greek include Southern Italy, Cyprus, Albania, the Black Sea Coast, and the Eastern Mediterranean. As of today, nearly 13.5 million people across the world speak the Greek language.

In terms of population besides Greece whose 99% speak Greek, the United States has about 300,000 Greek speakers, and Australia has about 240,000 Greek speakers.

11.   Sindhi Language

Years: 2500 years

Country of Origin: Pakistan

Number of speakers: 33 million people

The common areas where you’ll find Sindhi speakers include the Sindh Province of Pakistan and India. The Sindhi language is among the languages rich in culture and literature. This is courtesy of the thousands of words borrowed from other ancient languages like the Arabic language and Persian language.

There are other Sindhi first-language speakers spread across Tanzania, Kenya, Congo, the USA, the UK, South Africa, and Canada.

12.   Italic Language

Years: 2523

Country of Origin: Italy

Number of speakers: 33 million people

According to the Harvard Library, Latin language was spoken by many on the Italian Peninsula in the first millennium BC. Italic language is today spoken by over 33 million people in countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and Spain. In the Vatican City, it’s still the official language.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Italic language developed and during the early Middle Ages, Italic was a recognized language.

13.  Arabic

Years: 2500 years

Country of Origin: Egypt

Number of speakers: 372 million people

Surprisingly, there are 22 countries that claim Arabic to be their official language – 19 being African countries. With over 372 million Arabic speakers spread across 22 countries, it’s a language worth investing in. Historians have shown that the Arabic language has been in use for 2,500 years.

As the modern Arabic language becomes more simplified, you should expect more speakers to join this language both in Africa and Asia.

arabic language translation

14.   Farsi 

Years: 2500 years

Country of Origin: Iran

Number of speakers: 112 million people

The first Farsi language was attested between 522 and 486 BCE. This translates to 2500 years ago. It’s a language widely spoken in Iran, Afghanistan as Dari, and in Tajikistan where is popularly known as Tajik. Farsi is Iran’s official language and is also widely spoken in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, and Iraq.

While approximately 62 million people are Farsi native speakers, 50 million more people use it as their second language.  

15.     Irish Gaelic 

Years: 2500 years

Country of Origin: Ireland

Number of speakers: 1.761 million people

Although Irish Gaelic is attested to have originated on the shores of Mainland Europe 2500 years ago, it’s still recognized as an official language in the Republic of Ireland. There are other smaller groups of Irish Gaelic speakers in Wales, Scotland, and Isle of Man.

According to the Irish Times, the number of people who can speak the Irish Gaelic language is approximately 1,761,420.

16.     Portuguese

Years: 2323 years

Country of Origin: Western Iberian Peninsula

Number of speakers: 260 million people

Would you love to connect with all the 260 million Portuguese-speaking people? There are many Portuguese Translation Service providers that can help you reach Portuguese speakers spread across different countries in this world.

Portuguese became an official language in the 3rd century BC and is currently spoken across the world in countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Brazil, Angola, and Portugal. Brazil accounts for 211.2 million people out of a total of 260 million Portuguese speakers.

17. Georgian 

georgian language

Years: 2224 years

Country of Origin: Georgia

Number of speakers: 5.2 million people

Despite dating back to 5AD, the Georgian language is actively used today in the Georgian Orthodox church and is still the main language used within the South Caucasian family. Sources indicate the first Georgian alphabets were scripted in the third century BC.

Georgian language is popularly spoken in the Georgian country whose population is estimated to be about 5 million people. Nearly 5.2 million people speak the Georgian language. 

18.     Korean Language

Years:  2080 years

Country of Origin: Korea

Number of speakers: 82 million people

The 2,080 years come with a deep-rooted culture and many language dialects hard for many to accurately translate. Equally, the Korean language which has 82 million speakers if taken advantage of can bring onboard a large customer base. So, linking with a competent Korean Translation Service only takes a few days to tap the investment potential hidden within the Korean language.

Korean is among the oldest spoken languages still spoken in the world with about 79.3 million people speaking it as their mother tongue and 51.58 being native speakers. The development of the Korean language is estimated to date back to 57 BC.

Currently, the average number of Korean speakers is 82 million speakers across the world. 

19.   Vietnamese Language

Years:  700 years

Country of Origin: Vietnam

Number of speakers: 82 million people

Although Vietnamese isn’t as old as Arabic and Tamil, its first inscription dates back to the 3 century AD. Following the mass population that uses Vietnamese as their language of communication, it’s a language worth using when localization to grow your business.

There are an estimated 91 million Vietnamese speakers in the world. Besides Vietnam, there are Vietnamese speakers in the USA, Philippines, India, and China.

20.     Lithuanian Language

Years: 498 years

Country of Origin: Greece

Number of speakers: 3 million speakers

Lithuanian language which belongs to the Lithuanian people and is also spoken by the Latvians as their mother tongue has been spoken since 1525. As of 2023, there are about 3 million people around the world who speak the Lithuanian language. Other countries with Lithuanian speakers are Belarus, Latvia, and the Baltic.

More 48 Old Languages Still Spoken Today   

The oldest languages in the world are today documented as the ancestors of some of the old spoken languages listed below. Burmese for example originated from the Prono – Sino -Tibetan which existed more than 4500 years ago and later split into Lolo-Bumerse and evolved to the now-spoken Burmese. Equally, Eastern Punjabi, Gujarati, and Sinhala owe their origin to the old Indo-Aryan family language.

Here are 48 common old languages still spoken today you can learn.

12Dinka36Mauritian Creole
22Hindi Hausa46Western Punjabi

FAQs about The Oldest Spoken Languages 

1. How Many Languages Are Spoken in the World Today? 

Although the exact number of languages spoken in the world today keeps changing, the current known spoken languages are 7,168. As more new languages develop, other existing spoken languages are becoming dead or extinct.

2. Is Latin Still Spoken

The Latin language is still spoken by few people. Listening to these Latino Podcasts, you’ll find there are people who can write and read in Latin. The Latin language developed into Romance languages and there’s no native Latin speaker today. It’s not a dead language as many claim.

3. Is Tamil the Oldest Language in the World 

Most surveys validate Tamil as the oldest language in the world. It existed even before Sanskrit which is among the oldest languages. It existed 5,000 years ago. Other old languages that are counted as Tamil contenders include Arabic and Hebrew.

With the only traceable inscriptions dating back to 3,000 years ago, Tamil language roots can be traced back to 5,000 years. The roots are based on the Tamil-Malayan which is believed to be from the Dravidian family.


While it’s difficult to exactly state what is the oldest language still spoken today, we can confidently say Tamil, Arabic, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Egyptian, and Hebrew are the oldest spoken languages in the world. Other languages developed from extinct languages like the Latin language and are today among the common old languages spoken by millions of people.

Catalan Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian are some of the languages that evolved from other languages. 

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