List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (2023)

You may sometimes wonder about the number of languages existing in the world. You may also have heard about dead languages. Do you have a list of dead languages in mind and the reasons behind their death?

What will I learn?

  • 1 List Of Dead Languages – Top 8 Dead Languages
    • 1.1 1. Latin – First On The List Of Dead Languages:
      • 1.1.1 When Did Latin Die?
      • 1.1.2 Importance Of Learning Latin:
    • 1.2 2. Ancient Greek – Second On The List Of Dead Languages:
      • 1.2.1 When Did Ancient Greek Die?
      • 1.2.2 Importance Of Learning Ancient Greek:
    • 1.3 3. Sanskrit – Third On The List Of Dead Languages:
      • 1.3.1 When Did Sanskrit Die?
      • 1.3.2 Importance Of Learning Sanskrit:
    • 1.4 4. Coptic – Fourth On The List Of Dead Languages:
      • 1.4.1 When Did Coptic Die?
      • 1.4.2 Importance Of Learning Coptic:
    • 1.5 5. Akkadian – Fifth On The List Of Dead Languages:
      • 1.5.1 When Did Akkadian Die?
      • 1.5.2 Importance Of Learning Akkadian:
    • 1.6 6. Biblical Hebrew – Sixth On The List Of Dead Languages:
      • 1.6.1 When Did Biblical Hebrew Die?
      • 1.6.2 Importance Of Learning Biblical Hebrew:
    • 1.7 7. Old Norse – Seventh On The List Of Dead Languages:
      • 1.7.1 When Did Old Norse Die?
      • 1.7.2 Importance Of Learning Old Norse:
    • 1.8 8. Mandan – Eighth On The List Of Dead Language:
  • 2 Dead Languages Vs. Extinct Languages
  • 3 Significance Of Learning A Dead Language
    • 3.1 1. Insight Into The History:
    • 3.2 2. Enhanced Memory:
    • 3.3 3. Improves Mental Health:
    • 3.4 4. Ability To Read Different Books:
    • 3.5 5. Academic And Professional Advantages:
    • 3.6 6. Differentiation From Others:
  • 4 Bottom Line:

The Linguistic Society of America states that there are 6,909 languages on the planet. Sounds cool, No? Now, you may think that you only know about a few. What about the rest?

This stream of thought might be the cause you’ve landed here. It is also possible that you’re fascinated by dead languages and want to know more about them.

List Of Dead Languages – Top 8 Dead Languages

Hundreds of dead and extinct languages are there that we can add to this list. Some of them are even those people don’t know about.

In this article, we will discuss eight of them. So, let’s get in into the article to have more information about this list of dead languages.

1. Latin – First On The List Of Dead Languages:

Without Latin, any list of the dead languages is bad research for sure. Does Latin no longer exist? Yes, it’s correct. It is also the most well-known dead tongue.

Latin continues to have a significant role in modern life. 60% of most English terms come from Latin. Latin is also used to classify animals and medicinal words.

The language spread across Europe and into Africa’s western Mediterranean regions.

It was the Roman Empire’s primary language. It had an impact on the Italian, French, and Portuguese. Latin is still used as a school motto in some countries.

Another significant aspect is that many terminologies used in conversations belong to Latin. Carpe diem, which has a meaning of “seize the day,” is an example. A variety of mugs and t-shirts have this statement written on them.

Memento mori, meaning “remember, you must die,” is another one. You may be aware of the term memento. “Mori” is a Latin word used for death.List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (1)

The only country that uses the Latin language as its official language is the Vatican. That’s why there are a lot of Holy Scriptures written in the Latin language.

When Did Latin Die?

Latin started dying in the 6th century. It all began with the decline of the Roman Empire.

Latin’s death is also due to its complicated grammar and crucial word meaning. Most people find it difficult to learn due to this reason.

Importance Of Learning Latin:

Latin is the language of top medical books. Furthermore, the culture of Rome is also exciting and fascinating.

If you want to explore foreign cultures, particularly Roman, you must study Latin. The majority of medical terminology belongs to Latin.

As a result, knowing Latin can assist you in becoming a medical interpreter. Learning Latin will also make learning Italian, French, and Portuguese much easier.

2. Ancient Greek – Second On The List Of Dead Languages:

Ancient Greek used to be Aristotle’s, Homer’s, and Socrates’ native tongue. It is an intellectual language. Since its revival, it’s been the topic of academic research.

Traditional scholars still use this language. Several scientific terms belong to this language, as Latin is.List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (2)

Ancient Greek is no more the national language of Greece. Modern Greek is now Greece’s national language.

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Because of its influence on modern society, it is a popular topic. It is even taught as a subject in major institutions. It has contributed several words to the English language.

When Did Ancient Greek Die?

From the ninth century BCE to the sixth century, the ancient Greeks ruled Europe. This Greek language’s death is unique because it did not truly die.

Modern Greek replaced it. Harry Porter, a fantastic novel, is also in the ancient language. It hasn’t lost any of its charms.

Importance Of Learning Ancient Greek:

Learning the Ancient Greek language will assist you in learning modern languages. These Languages include Crimean or Modern Greek.

Furthermore, this language assists in understanding the philosophy of Plato, Socrates, and Alexander. Ancient Greek is the origin of many modern sciences and tech-related terminologies.

If you want to work in these fields, learning this language will be fun to learn more about your field.

Most importantly, our favorite Harry Porter also has a translation in ancient Greek.

3. Sanskrit – Third On The List Of Dead Languages:

Sanskrit is the world’s oldest language. Around 600 B.C., it died. But, this didn’t invalidate the language’s ongoing influence on the current world.

Many people claim that Sanskrit isn’t, in fact, a dead language. In Nepal, approximately 1,600 people claim that Sanskrit is their first language. So, Sanskrit isn’t completely dead yet.

It is currently an official language in India. One of the main reasons is that many historical scriptures are in the Sanskrit language. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism are some of them.List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (3)

Sanskrit was once the language of the elite class such as Brahmins. Due to the caste system, ordinary people were not permitted to use the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit is the divine language of India.

The fame of Sanskrit does not end there. There are many philosophical works written about it. Thus, this dead language has become a popular subject of study for so many students.

Indeed, Vedas was a popular Sanskrit-language philosopher. He was an expert in both medical and spiritual philosophies.

When Did Sanskrit Die?

First and foremost, Sanskrit has not died completely. It is still used in some cases. Several Muslim kings replaced Sanskrit with Arabic.

After the containment of Muslims, the British took control of India. Then, English substituted Sanskrit. Several rulers attempted to use their own language and replaced Sanskrit.

So, this is the most significant reason for Sanskrit’s death. Another issue is that Sanskrit is tough to read and comprehend.

To read Sanskrit, one should be well aware of the language. It requires a significant time to learn due to its complexity.

Importance Of Learning Sanskrit:

Sanskrit is Indian mythology’s most fantastic tale language. It is the language of spiritual writings.

Vedas can provide important information if you study Sanskrit. Vedas also teaches spiritual philosophy, medical theory, and many other things.

Sanskrit can be pretty useful if you want to learn other languages. These include Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, or Punjabi.

4. Coptic – Fourth On The List Of Dead Languages:

Coptic is the Ancient Egyptian language based on the Greek alphabet. Till the 17th century, it was widely spoken.

It was, in fact, the last era of the Ancient Egyptian language. Then Arabic took its place.

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It was to be the first Christian language. Demotic, Greek, Hieratic, and Hieroglyphics make up this language.List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (4)

Years ago, scholars used to treat it as a holy language. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria uses it. Several hundred people are still fluent in the language.

When Did Coptic Die?

Arabic took the place of Coptic. Scholars, on the other hand, didn’t accept it. Coptic, however, began to die out in the mid of the 7th century.

The Arabs conquered Egypt. Then, a more than 15 hundred-year-old language began to die.

Importance Of Learning Coptic:

Coptic is a mash-up of several different languages. So, learning Coptic allows you to pick up Hieroglyphics, Greek, Hieratic, and Demotic.

Furthermore, Coptic is the earliest known Christian language. If you want to study more about Christian culture, you should learn Coptic.

5. Akkadian – Fifth On The List Of Dead Languages:

Akkad had been a city in Mesopotamia. It was the origin of Akkadian. It’s the first recognized Semitic language.List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (5)

It had a cuneiform writing style. Akkadian was a language spoken by Babylonians, Mesopotamians, and Chaldeans.

When Did Akkadian Die?

Akkadian died out due to its failure to adapt over time. Between 2800 BCE and 500 CE, Mesopotamia spoke the Akkadian language.

After that, Aramaic replaced Akkadian. The Akkadian language was closely linked to Aramaic. Furthermore, Aramaic was a more easy language to speak than Akkadian.

Moreover, this language hasn’t evolved significantly in a long time. People gradually began to adapt to Aramaic and left Akkadian with time.

Importance Of Learning Akkadian:

If one wants to study Cuneiform, it is necessary to learn the Akkadian language.

To learn about Mesopotamia’s ancient history, you need to know Akkadian. If you want to understand Cuneiform, you must first master Akkadian.

6. Biblical Hebrew – Sixth On The List Of Dead Languages:

Don’t mix Modern Hebrew with Biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew isn’t the same as Modern Hebrew.

Biblical Hebrew is still in use. It was the Israelites’ official language. It is, though, mandatory in Israel’s various public schools.

Modern Hebrew took the place of Biblical Hebrew. Some biblical features are still present in Modern Hebrew.List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (6)

Modern Hebrew has 100,000 words. In comparison, Biblical Hebrew had only 8,000 words. Biblical Hebrew is much easier to learn than other dead languages.

When Did Biblical Hebrew Die?

After the fall of the Jerusalem Temple, Biblical Hebrew died out. Then, after Holocaust, it lost the hope of ever being active again.

During WW2, the majority of the Religious scholars died. After that, the 8,000-word language evolved into Modern Hebrew.

Importance Of Learning Biblical Hebrew:

Biblical Hebrew has had a significant influence on Modern Hebrew. Israel has the world’s fastest-growing economy in high-tech.

You can seek a job as a Hebrew translator if you master Biblical Hebrew. Furthermore, if you want to study in the Mid-East, you’ll need to know Hebrew.

7. Old Norse – Seventh On The List Of Dead Languages:

Vikings were the most traditionally famous people in the world. They used to speak Old Norse between the ninth and thirteenth centuries.

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Old Norse used to be the most used European language in the tenth century.List Of Dead Languages - Top 8 | HigherLanguage (7)

Several Old Norse words, like a knife, cake, and berserk, are still used in modern English. Both of the languages relate to the Germanic family. There are similarities between them.

Their impact is evident in words like husband, which is based on hus and bondi. Another example is Thursday, which got its name from Thor’s day.

When Did Old Norse Die?

Death of Old Norse was akin to the death of the Aramaic language. Many of its ancestors became Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish, Faroese, and Danish.

In this way, People stopped learning and speaking Old Norse. This resulted in the death of the Old Norse.

Importance Of Learning Old Norse:

You may want to learn Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese, or Danish. Learning Old Norse will give you an advantage.

It is evident that Old Norse has a relation with these languages. If someone wants to learn any of these languages, Old Norse can be a big help.

8. Mandan – Eighth On The List Of Dead Language:

Mandan is a Siouan language. People of North Dakota used to speak this language. It was one of 3 languages that died in 2016 after the death of Dr. Edwin Benson.

Madan is currently taught at school. The North Dakota Heritage Center has an extensive collection for it. Nuptare and Nuetare are the two primary dialects.

Only Nuptare persisted into the twentieth century. The latter went out of use. Mandan shares certain similarities with Welsh.

Prince Maximilian compiled a list of Welsh and Mandan words in the 1830s. But the legitimacy of these sources is still debatable.

Dead Languages Vs. Extinct Languages

Sometimes, people confuse Dead languages with extinct languages. Thus, it is worth giving a moment to understand the difference between the two.

Dead languages are no longer spoken by a community’s native speakers. But they are still used in some other situations.

They offer limited applications to specific contexts. Applications are among individuals, academics, or in rare circumstances. It is like the use of the Latin language in Vatican City.

On the other hand, extinct languages are the ones that are not in use anymore and have no speakers.

Significance Of Learning A Dead Language

Why do you need to learn a language that is no longer spoken? Is there a point in learning a language that you cannot use to communicate with others?

Yes, there are several reasons how learning any dead language can be helpful to you:

1. Insight Into The History:

Learning any dead language provides an insight into the culture and history. Modern languages do not provide that.

It helps to revive ancient traditions. Learning dead languages keeps you closer to the old terms of the bygone era.

2. Enhanced Memory:

Learning a dead language can help you in learning other languages like Esperanto. They include Ancient Greek and Latin.

It’s a proven fact that learning languages help the brain to develop a learning habit. This also helps to improve memory.

3. Improves Mental Health:

You can get all the mental skills that you wish to gain by learning any other language. No matter, it’s modern or not.

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Learning and practicing the dead languages keeps your mind engaged in healthy activities. It reduces several mental disorders also.

4. Ability To Read Different Books:

You will be able to read ancient scriptures in their native languages. These were actually written with the intention to read them in their original forms.

There are many books and novels written in languages that are dead now. Learning a dead language will help the readers to explore these books and stories.

5. Academic And Professional Advantages:

Knowledge of dead languages offers you academic and professional advantages. They allow you to excel in your career.

There are many companies that prefer candidates who can speak more than one language. So, learning these languages can help you grab the opportunity.

6. Differentiation From Others:

Being able to speak different languages differentiates you from others. Speaking a dead language is even more effective than any modern language.

Knowledge of dead languages also boosts your confidence. It makes you feel different since few people do it.

Bottom Line:

There is a long list of dead languages that used to exist in the world. It is essential to know the basic difference between the dead and extinct languages.

This article has provided a list of the most commonly known dead languages. They include Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Biblical Hebrew, Coptic, Old Norse, Akkadian, etc.

There are different reasons behind the death of each dead language. Some died due to the difficulty. Some died because of the rulers in different times. But these languages didn’t lose their significance.

Learning dead languages is still in trend. People love to learn dead languages due to several reasons and advantages.

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Sylvia Simpson

I've always loved learning and teaching languages. I started my career as a teacher in Madrid, Spain, where I taught business professionals. I then moved to Brussels, Belgium, where I worked with international affairs students and interns who were working with the European Union.

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