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Unanswered Questions: What was the first language?

People have done extensive research to find the answer but as of 2022 A.D., this question remains unanswered: What was the first language?

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐧 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐡?

This is one of those questions that will likely never be answered, no matter how much we search for the truth. Sumerian and Egyptian seem to have been the earliest written language “systems”. However, in my mind, when people started writing their language for the first time doesn’t really mean that language is the oldest. Also, one has to consider the possibility that certain languages may not have survived throughout the ages. This means we can only study the languages that we know are still in existence or that we can find archaeological evidence of as proof of its existence.

What are the oldest languages on earth? According to this article, ancient languages which people still use are Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Greek.

7 Oldest Languages in the World | Oldest.org According to this article, the oldest languages are Archaic Chinese, Mycenaean Greek, Hittite, Elamite, Akkadian, Sumerian, and Egyptian.

10 Oldest Languages In The World Still Spoken — Busuu Blog According to this article, these are the oldest languages:

  1. Egyptian (2690 BC — Present)
  2. Sanskrit (1500 BC — Present)
  3. Greek (1450 BC — Present)
  4. Chinese (1250 — Present)
  5. Aramaic (1100 BC — Present)
  6. Hebrew (1000 BC–200 CE, 1800 — Present)
  7. Farsi (522 BC — Present)
  8. Tamil (300 BC — Present)
  9. Korean (no later than 57 BC — Present)
  10. Italian (as a descendent of Latin, 100 BC — Present)

Bonus: Arabic (roughly 100 CE — Present)

(???) I have no idea why Arabic is listed as a “Bonus”. (???)

** Just my observation: It’s interesting that there is rarely a mention of the myriad languages spoken by African peoples, yet many people refer to Africa as “the cradle of civilization”. Also interesting is that there is rarely a mention of the languages spoken by “indigenous peoples” who were already living in established communities on lands that many explorers take credit for “discovering”.

Of course, if you believe the Biblical account of Babel, then you would conclude based on that belief that … the oldest language is whatever language the people were speaking before God confused them. This question will never be answered referring to this account because the Bible does not state what that “one universal language” that everyone was speaking was BEFORE and the Bible also does not list the various languages people began speaking AFTER.

“𝘛𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘉𝘢𝘣𝘦𝘭, 𝘪𝘯 𝘣𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘳 (𝘉𝘢𝘣𝘺𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘢) 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘦𝘭𝘶𝘨𝘦. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘎𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘴 11:1–9, 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘦 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘴.” Encyclopedia Brittanica

According to Jewish tradition, the language spoken BEFORE the Tower of Babel incident is the “Adamic language” which was said to be pure Hebrew. From Adamic or the language of the Garden of Eden until the Tower of Babel: the confusion of tongues and the earliest dialects attested | Indo-European.eu

“𝘐𝘯 1493, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘸𝘰 𝘯𝘦𝘸𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘯 𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘴𝘰𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘐𝘯𝘤𝘩𝘬𝘦𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘢 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘧 𝘮𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯. 𝘏𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘪𝘮 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦 (𝘪𝘧 𝘢𝘯𝘺) 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘤𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘥, 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘯𝘰 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘪𝘯𝘱𝘶𝘵, 𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘵 𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘣𝘦, 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘦, 𝘎𝘰𝘥-𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥.” The King of Scotland’s Peculiar Language Experiment | Mental Floss

The King of Scotland was not the only person to carry out language deprivation experiments. There were others. However, none of these experiments were successful in discovering “the first language”. The children either grew up mute or they died.

One person who should given honorable mention for the study of language acquisition is “𝘓𝘪𝘭𝘢 𝘎𝘭𝘦𝘪𝘵𝘮𝘢𝘯, 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘱𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘪𝘯 𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘨𝘰 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘵 …” It’s complicated to explain and yet during their first year of life, children seem to acquire language speaking skills easily, simply and quite naturally.

Lila Gleitman, Who Showed How Children Learn Language, Dies at 91 — The New York Times

As of today (2022), there are about 6500 spoken languages in this world. But nobody knows which was the first.

*** Just thinking. 🤔🤔🤔🤔

Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share?

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