It is predicted that about 90% of the languages spoken currently will be extinct by the year 2050 and that one dies out every 14 days. Several languages once spoken by enormous populations centuries ago have transformed into several other languages and are now considered dead. Let’s have a look at five of the major ones.
This ancient language developed around 300 C.E and was spoken in Egypt until at least the late 17th century. It is considered the final stage of the ancient Egyptian language and is written using the Greek alphabet and a couple of Demotic signs. Coptic was much easier to learn in comparison to other ancient Egyptian writing systems such as Hieratic, Hieroglyphic and demotic scripts. Still used as a religious language, it isn’t a native language anymore. The Coptic language died out between 1000 C.E and 1500 C.E. This was largely due to the Arab conquest on Egypt 1300 years ago. After which Coptic was eventually replaced by Arabic.
Atilla the Hun is quite well heard of, but how much do we know about the language spoken by the Scourge of God? Apparently, not much. The language wasn’t put into writing and only a few words have survived. What survived was mainly place names, tribal names and personal names. This left a confusion over the ethnic associates of the Huns.
Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire and was heavily used in the 1900s for international communication. It isn’t extinct; however, Latin is considered a dead language. Although It is used in some specific contexts it is not commonly spoken by native speakers anymore. There are more than one reasons for this, one of them being the fall of the Roman Empire. Latin didn’t particularly die but changed into numerous other languages, the most common ones being Italian, Romanian, French, Portuguese and Spanish which mainly happened due to the complexity of the Latin language.
Old Norse, a North Germanic language used for 200 years between 1150 to 1350 was spoken by the Vikings or Norsemen. It also was the language in which most of the primary sources of our current knowledge of the Norse Mythology was written in, such as the skaldic poems, Eddas, and the Icelandic sagas. Like most ancient dead languages, it transformed into other more regionally specific languages. By the early modern era, Old Norse gave birth to Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese and Danish.
Similar to modern Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew is a lot more difficult to learn and is the old form of modern Hebrew used to write the Old Testament of the Bible. It was spoken in ancient Israel and evolved during the Roman period due to the Jewish Diaspora when the Roman Empire exiled Jews to various countries. Hebrew then experienced a revival in the 19th century and is now what is known as Modern Hebrew.