Languages live as long as we speak them

There are more than 6,500 languages spoken around the world today, but many of them have very few speakers. To some of the communities that speak these languages, it’s more than just communication. It’s about holding onto their past, their ancestors and their culture.

Check out our list of some of the rarest languages still spoken today.

1.    Chamicuro 

It is spoken in Peru, but there are currently only half a dozen people who speak the language fluently. There are no children who speak Chamicuro because the region has adapted to speaking Spanish. However, those who spoke the language were able to develop a dictionary of their terms. If you ever want to know how to say a few animals in Chamicuro, use these: kawali (horse,) polyo (chicken,) pato (duck,) katujkana (monkey,) ma’nali (dog,) mishi (cat,) waka (cow.)

2.    Dumi

Spoken in small areas of Nepal with only 8 people speaking it in 2007, the language is considered to be critically endangered. Information about the Dumi language has been collected overtime, and there is a dictionary available. There are also many books written about the language’s grammar and syntax.

3.    Ongota

In 2008, the Ongota language was said to still be declining. Only 6 native speakers know and use the language, all of them are elderly. But there is actually a professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia that studies Ongota. 

4.    Paakantyi

This Australian Aboriginal language is still spoken in regions alongside the Darling River, but only by a few people. Reports vary, claiming that anywhere from 22 to 2 individuals are able to speak Paakyanti—but either way, it’s hard to argue that this language is on the verge of extinction. In an effort to avoid this fate, some schools have begun programs to attempt to reintroduce Paakantyi to a new generation.

5.    Chemehuevi

While the Chemehuevi tribe does still exist and is thriving, the amount of people who speak the language fluently is not. A 2007 study showed that only 3 people fully speak the language, all of them are adults. You may hear the language spoken in Ute, Colorado, Southern Paiute, Utah, northern Arizona, southern parts of Nevada, and in Colorado River, California. If you ever want to talk about natural things in Chemehuevi, try words such as kaiv (mountain), hucip (ocean), mahav (tree), and tittvip (ground/soil).

6.    Taushiro

Taushiro, a language of native Peru, is spoken in the region of the Tigre River, Aucayacu River, which is a tributary of the Ahuaruna River. It is known as a language isolate, which means it has no demonstrable relationship with any other language.  In 2008, a study conducted on the Taushiro language concluded that only one person speaks the language fluently. 

7.    Njerep

Having already become extinct in one country (Cameroon), Njerep, a Bantoid language, is spoken in Nigeria by only 4 individuals. According to reports from anthropologists, the youngest person who speaks the language is 60, meaning that the chances of Njerep surviving beyond this last generation are pretty slim.