We often take language for granted. We don’t think about it so much, where it came from and how it became our main method of communication. Just because languages faded out, it does not mean they never existed and were not prevalent at the time. There are many dead languages that you’ve probably never heard of. Here are the 5 coolest ones.
Akkadian is the language of ancient Mesopotamia and existed from around 2800 BCE to 500 CE. It uses that same alphabet as Sumerian, a cuneiform one. Many ancient texts were written in Akkadian such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. The grammar of Akkadian is close to classical Arabic. Although today no one speaks it anymore, anyone that can make out those minuscule wedges is pretty impressive and has impeccable eyesight and patience.
Biblical Hebrew was used from 900 CE to 70 CE. The Hebrew Bible which is also referred to as the Old Testament is written in biblical Hebrew. However, it has been rewritten in an ancient Greek translation and is known as the Septuagint. Biblical Hebrew has many aspects similar to modern Hebrew such as most of its alphabet.
Coptic was spoken between 100 CE to 1600 CE. It is found within the Christian church literature early on. The legendary Gnostic gospels which are found in the Nag Hammadi library also contain Coptic writing. What’s so cool about it is that its a somewhat combination of Egyptian and Greek, taking Egyptian language and using the Greek alphabet for writing. Today however people now speak Arabic instead.
Aramaic was spoken between 700 BCE to 600 CE. Although it is no longer spoken, it can be read in the Second Temple Israel. It is commonly known as the language spoken by Jesus, as many parts of the Talmud are written in Aramaic. The biblical writings of Ezra and Daniel are also written in Aramaic. It is rather similar to Biblical Hebrew, so if you want to learn both you’ve got an advantage.
Middle English was used from 1200 to 1470 CE. It can be read today in Wycliffe’s Bible, Chaucer and A Gest of Robyn Hode, one of the first version of Robin Hood. It is actually where modern English all began.