The Least Spoken Languages In The World

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Some of the least spoken languages in the world are already on the brink of extinction and they are not necessarily in countries that you would expect. Many of the Sami languages of northern Europe were once widely spoken, but many do not have an official written version and unfortunately this has ultimately led to their dramatic decline in the last 100 years.


There will inevitably come a point very soon when there are no more family members to pass the traditional spoken word to and unless outside intervention is sought they will become extinct. As there are so few native speakers of the least popular languages in the world, it is very hard for someone to learn them without spending a considerable amount of time with these native speakers. There is no easy way other than direct one to one tuition if you intend to learn one of the rarest languages on the planet.


Votic is only spoken by 20 people in the villages of Krakolye and Luzhitsy in the Kingisepp district of Russia. It is similar in construction to Estonian, to the extent that some linguists claim that it is essentially an Estonian dialect and not a separate language at all. By the 19th century the popularity of Votic began to decline and locals started to pick up Russian instead, which soon became their language of choice.


Pite Sami is one of the four remaining Sami languages that is spoken and not written down, making it almost impossible to learn. The only way it can be learnt is by direct contact with someone from the Arjeplog municipality of northern Sweden where the language originates. The language spread from the Swedish / Norwegian border and is also known as Arjeplog Sami. There are only about 20 people on the Swedish side of the border by the Pite River who still speak Pite Sami.


Ume Sami originated in the same general area of Sweden and Norway but is spoken along the Ume River to the north of Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur. The number of Ume Sami speakers has dwindled to ten.


Another language on the verge of extinction is Aboriginal Kayardild with approximately ten fluent speakers remaining. Kayardild is native to Bentinck Island, Sweers Island and north-west Queensland in Australia and is part of the Tangkic group of languages.


Ter Sami was traditionally spoken in the north east of the Kola Peninsula in Russia where the total population of the six villages was recorded as being just 450 in the 19th century. This year, the number of Ter Sami speakers has dropped to two elders from a population of 100, making it the least spoken language in the world. This decline was accelerated in the 1930s when Soviet law banned the language from homes and schools, making everyone learn Russian and consequently they spoke it as their first language. Ter Sami will effectively die out as a spoken language as the opportunity to learn it from one of the two remaining speakers is exceptionally difficult.

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The Least Spoken Languages In The World

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This article was published on 2010/09/22