Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and English are used the most in today’s society. But, what are the least spoken languages in the world? The Endangered Language Alliance is working to preserve many of these rarely used languages, and we listed them for you below.
Many Caribbean languages were created by meshing native languages with English, Dutch, Spanish, and lesser-known African languages. Explorers from Europe and Africa settled on these beautiful islands and brought their languages with them. African slaves were forced to come to the islands too. The ELA works to preserve one specific language called Garifuna, which has an interesting backstory. They report that it was spoken by West African slaves that were shipwrecked on St. Vincent island. There are also languages like Patwa and Bajan. They incorporate a handful of European languages with indigenous ones.
Loke, Sherpa, Machad, and Sunwar are just a few of these least spoken languages. Some are so rare, by spell check is asking me to change them! These languages are used in Nepal, China, Bhutan, and India. Another research collective called Himalayan Languages Project tries to track down these language speakers to save the languages through complete comprehensive grammars. They believe many Himalayan languages will be extinct in a few years. Sometimes it takes months to track down anyone who speaks these rare languages.
The ELA believes 6 to 8 percent of the Meso-American population speaks an indigenous language. They list oppression, civil war, migration, and jobs as reasons they are disappearing. Amuzgo, Mixe, Purhekpecha, and Zapotec are some of the native languages in this area of the world. There’s also a lot of different variations of more known native languages like Mixtec. Mixtec is spoken by a lot of people in Western Mexico.
Less than 2% of anyone in Ireland speaks Irish outside of school. Welsh and Scottish are experiencing similar circumstances. Thankfully, these languages are growing once again because they are now taught in local schools. They are considered a second language to a lot of their speakers though.
Wakhi is considered one of the most endangered Iranic languages. The Central Asia language is not well documented, so the ELA is working to change that. Political, religious, and social reasons are behind their decline. Many dialects are also disappearing because of these reasons.
The Middle East does not have a ton of language diversity, but there are a few. Neo-Mandaic and Neo-Aramaic are two rarely used languages from this area. Some Jewish people from this area also speak Judeo-Median and Judeo-Arabic. The ELA is contacting recent immigrants and refugees that live in the United States to document their native tongue.
Abzakh, Kabardian, Bzedukh, and Maykop are a few of these languages. Southern Russia is where you will find most of their speakers. Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and the United States also have a tiny percentage too. There is one village that primarily speaks Abzakh. That is in Hakurinohabl, Turkey.
The standard Italian language is becoming increasingly popular, and is spoken by 63 million people. We are talking about the 31 vulnerable and endangered languages in the country. Sicilian, Venetian, and Friulian are some of them. Many of these speakers’ descendants are learning Italian or even English instead of their indigenous languages.
Africa has an insane amount of languages on its continent. ELA reports it has between 2,000 and 3,000 of them. Beria and Masalit are scarcely used languages spoken in the Darfur area. Darfur is a region in South Sudan. Many indigenous language speakers are in refugee camps or have evacuated the area due to war and violence. Languages have a history of disappearing when that happens, as the speakers start to speak languages in the areas they end up in.
Hebrew and Aramaic are holy languages, which means they are used primarily for prayer and study for Jewish people. Jewish languages are deeply rooted in religion and culture, instead of a specific place. Yiddish and Ladino are also examples of Jewish languages that are not used a lot but are still around. Many others are already extinct.
Online lessons for kids: dinolingo.com