Communication drives our lives and plays a huge role in a person’s development. We are able to relate to others and the world by expressing our thoughts and ideas into words. Likewise, language is an essential part of our everyday lives. The world is home to an estimated 7,000 languages but less than 100,000 people use about 90% of these languages. Some of these languages are dead and endangered but it is important to understand that despite the decrease in speakers, these languages were once the glue and foundation of a culture. The world continues to hold many unique languages. Here’s a short list of some unique languages worth knowing about.
Discovered in 2003, this almost extinct language belongs to the island of Vanuatu, a thousand miles off the coast of Northern Australia. Lemerig comprises four different dialects, a majority of it gone due to modernization and a decrease in native speakers. With more than double the vowels found in the English language, efforts to revive the Lemerig language are very low as records show that there are currently only 2 known people who can speak it fluently.
On the coast of Spain lie the mountainous surroundings of La Gomera, home to the Silbo language. What makes this particular language unique? Simple. No words – all whistle sounds. Due to La Gomera’s mountainous terrain, distance is a very common communication barrier. Thus, the use of whistling allows the members of the tribe to stay in contact with each other despite great distances. Instead of using words, however, inhabitants use different pitches to create expressions. In place of words and letters, the Silbo people use corresponding sounds and pitches to deliver their respective messages. Sounds that blend together form rhythmic patterns and when strewn together, these melodies have proven to be a possible alternative for words and sentences.
Nothing is known about the Sentinelese language. Its speakers belong to the tiny island on the Indian Ocean called North Sentinel Island. One reason foreigners have never been able to gather more information is because of the island’s aggressive and unwelcoming inhabitants. It has been reported that people from the island have attacked and shot arrows at outsiders wanting to explore it. Many language experts have suggested that Sentinelese is a variation of the Andamanese languages (based on body parts) due to the islands being in close proximity to each other.
Boasting of just 8 living speakers today, the Chamicuro language is from the mountains of Peru, South America. Modern day Chamicuros can no longer speak the language of their ancestors as it is reported that Spanish is now the mode of language of the tribe. The government of Peru has actually recognized Chamicuro as one of the country’s official languages but despite the low number of living native speakers, there have been little efforts to preserve and teach the language. Thus, it has been predicted to fade in the near future.
5. Click Languages
Click languages are very much prevalent in Africa. Tribes continue to communicate using a variety of clicking sounds that form melodies strong enough to understand and form their own words and sentences. The language will vary across tribes depending on location and practice but it is common for tribes to use clicking sounds in place of consonants, for example. There are still tribes that use Click languages presently. Some of these are Xhosa, Ndebele, Zulu, Yeyi and Bantu.
There are many more of these unique languages around the globe, and if you know of any, we would appreciate your sharing them with us.