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Exotic Languages You Haven’t Heard Of

Whenever you travel, wherever you travel, one major issue that we face is the language barrier. The language in which the localites communicate seems so much alien to us. There are places where people do not understand English. And we literally feel English is the most common, difficult and a must language on this entire planet, which is just a sheer assumption. English is not at all a difficult language to learn or to pick up. In fact, it is one of the most simplest language to understand and communicate in. There are a list of such languages which are exotic in their own way and which we haven’t heard of at all. Scroll down to know a few:

1. Chamicuro

Chamicuro is such a rare language that it has only eight native speakers living today! It is an official language in Peru, South America, (where the remaining Chamicuro people – who number between 10 and 20) live. The only speakers of the language are adults and their children speak only Spanish. Despite this, there is a dictionary for the language. At this point in time there is little hope that the language will survive into the future.

Image Courtesy : travelsquatters.blogspot.com
Image Courtesy : travelsquatters.blogspot.com

2. Basque

Spoken along the border of France and Spain by over 600,000 people, Basque is puzzling to linguists because it is a language isolate (that is, it appears to have no living relatives) surrounded by Indo-European languages. Some conclude that it is the last surviving language of a nearly extinct language family that was native to the area before the Indo-European languages were transported there. The language’s writing system is Latin based.

 

Image Courtesy : Listosphere
Image Courtesy : Listosphere

3. Frisian

I challenge you to ask people which language they think is most closely related to English. The answers will probably vary by region, with many Americans probably suggesting Spanish since it is the second language of the U.S. with obvious similarities to English. Others may say German, since English is, after all, part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family. What you wouldn’t expect is someone to say “Frisian” for the main reason that not many people in English-speaking countries know about its existence. But it is in fact the closest living relative of the English language (unless you count Scots, which many do, but many consider it to be a dialect of English). Frisian and English are both West Germanic languages (as are Yiddish and standard German).

Speakers of Frisian are in fact Dutch people living in the Netherlands and Germany. While mutually unintelligible, samples of Frisian text will show the reader that they do indeed look/sound very similar, such as in the phrase “Brea, bûter en griene tsiis is goes Ingelsk en goes Frysk” (in English, “Rye bread, butter and green cheese is good English and good Fries”).

Image Courtesy : germaniccognatesinenglishjournal.blogspot.com
Image Courtesy : germaniccognatesinenglishjournal.blogspot.com

4. Faroese

A North Germanic (Scandinavian) language closely related to Icelandic, Faroese is spoken by the people on the Faroe islands (Denmark). Spoken Icelandic and Faroese are not mutually intelligible but are very similar, yet Faroese gets the short end of the stick because it only has some 45,000 speakers (compared with the 230,000+ speakers of Icelandic). Both languages are well known for being very conservative and it is often stated that speakers of the two languages can easily read Old Norse documents.

Image Courtesy : Omniglot
Image Courtesy : Omniglot

5. Sarsi

Also known as Sarcee, this language is interesting to me because it is spoken by the Tsuu T’ina tribe of Native Americans. It’s interesting how far languages can travel and develop into new languages, because although the Tsuu T’ina people live in southern Canada, the Sarsi language is in fact related to the Navajo language spoken by Native Americans in the southern U.S. Sarsi only has 50 speakers left according to the Ethnologue, which means it will die out soon. Most speakers are old and very few children are acquiring it as their first language. No writing system is mentioned on either the Ethnologue or Wikipedia page for the language, which is consistent with the fact that Aboriginal culture and history is transmitted orally and not written down.

Image Courtesy : Omniglot
Image Courtesy : Omniglot

6. Tok Pisin

Despite its small size, the islands that make up Papua New Guinea are very dense linguistically speaking, with over 800 languages being spoken and making it the most linguistically diverse place in the world. Of these languages, only three are recognized as official state languages with Tok Pisin, an English-based creole, being one of them. With phrases such as “gras bilong few” (grass belonging to the face, or “beard”) it sounds almost childish to English speakers, yet it is spoken by most of the people, including those that speak the other minority languages.

Image Courtesy : YouTube
Image Courtesy : YouTube

When faced with the question of how many languages there are currently spoken in the world, most people will guess a mere few hundred, maybe up to a thousand. However, the Ethnologue lists nearly 7,000 languages (although this number is flexible due to the often difficult task of differentiating between a language and a dialect – it is not often clear where the line is drawn. Furthermore, a language becomes extinct approximately every two weeks). Above listed are 6 languages that are (or were) significant in some way that are not very well-known by the general public. Now, if someone do not know English, do not make fun of them. Because if we decide your knowledge according to these languages, you are far more than illiterate.

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