They do say the more languages you manage to master, the easier it gets to learn more – but we think having multilingual skills is one of the most respectful attributes to have. It comes in pretty handy when you’re visiting other countries, too.
In total, there’s thought to be around 7,000 languages currently spoken worldwide. However, experts now suggest that almost half of these spoken languages could become extinct by the end of the 21st century. Here’s a look at some of the rarest languages that are unique, special, but unfortunately dying out.
The mysterious language of Callahuya is estimated to be spoken by only 200 ‘male healers’ – the name translates into “the language of the people, the family”. For centuries, ‘Callahuya’ was used in the secret practice of healing rituals in the regional areas surrounding Lake Titicaca on the Peru-Bolivia border. However, in 2019, the generational teaching of the spiritual language is said to be scarce.
The language of Ainu is said to be spoken by only around 10 people who live across the Japenese islands of Hokkaido, Tsushima, and Kuril. It’s an ancient language that first originated from the indigenous people of Japan, and its name comes from the word “isolate”, meaning it has no correlation with any other language on earth. There’s concerns that only 10 people can speak it fluently, but thankfully, a Tsishiman man has recently opened up an Ainu school to teach others.
Jedek is thought to be spoken by only 280 people living in the Malaysian Peninsula, where the most common language spoken is Jahai. It’s been only recently that anthropologists have realized that some people in local villages have been speaking a different set of words to the original Jahai language. Villagers live very remotely side-by-side, so slight alterations of certain words and sentences have occurred over time.
It’s believed that only around 1,000 people know how to speak the language of Koro. The discovery of Koro was also only recent, with language experts noticing in 2008 that the Koro Aka tribe spoke a separate language to other local villages living alongside them who spoke Aka. This was when a differentiation was made between Aka and Koro. The difference between Aka and Koro has since been described as so distinct that it’s like comparing English to Japanese.
Astonishingly, there’s only 2 single individuals in the entire world who have identified as native speakers of Patwin. It’s an ancient native language to indigneous people of America, and although around 170 out of 300 indigenous languages are still spoken today, Patwin is unfortunately very close to being extinct.
Although there’s still over 13,000 people estimated to speak Ladino fluently, experts are still very much concerned about its future. The language is predominantly heard in Israel, where it’s also known as Juedo-Spanish. Why? Well, Ladino is the spoken and written language of the Jewish origin in Spain, coming from when Jews were forced to flee Spain and adapt their language to several different countries across Europe.
So do you see yourself as a bit of polyglot? If so, remember that there are over 7,000 languages for you to choose from. So why not choose one of these ancient languages that are in desperate need of revival? Better you than us.