Now, there are approximately 6700 “living” languages worldwide, and about 40% of them are on the verge of extinction. A language is called “dead” if not a single person left who would use this language for everyday communication. Most of the dead languages are lost forever, but there are dead languages that are more active than all living ones. They continue to exist in written form and remain the subject of active study and attention — for example, well-known Latin and ancient Greek.
In this article, we will examine why dead languages interest people and are still studied in many secondary and higher educational institutions.
The list of dead languages is not tiny: Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Coptic, Church Slavonic, Old Church Slavonic, Old Norse, Mayan, Manx, and many more. Did you know that Hebrew, now the official language of Israel, was also considered a dead language? Hebrew has not been used since the 4th century CE, it existed only in religious texts, but since the 1880th, the language gradually came back to life. Five million people now speak it.
Of course, the main reason for studying dead languages is the ancient texts, which contain unlimited knowledge about ancient states and civilizations.
Latin. Latin was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire and is still the official language of the Vatican. It is used during divine services and is also the science language – in almost any scientific term you can find a Latin or ancient Greek root.
Ancient Greek. Ancient Greek is the language of Homer, Aristotle, and Plato. The inhabitants of Hellas were the creators of many sciences and arts: sculpture, architecture, murals, ceramics, poetry, drama, and lyrics. All their works are still considered priceless creations of humankind.
Sanskrit. Sanskrit is called the Latin of the Indian world. It was the language of ancient Indian philosophy, religious texts, scholars, and the high society of India, as well as ancient Indian epic and poetry.
What is the benefit of knowing a dead language?
It can hardly be said that people learn dead languages to earn more. Only sincere interest, the desire to read original ancient texts, can push you to study a dead language. Of course, this can become a professional vocation, and it is not for nothing that many universities in the world have departments where they research and study dead languages.
Besides, dead languages are great gymnastics for the brain. Ancient languages usually have complex grammar, rich morphology, and complicated syntax. Working on such texts will make you sweat no worse than mathematical or logical tasks.
Finally, it can be an unusual hobby that brings no less pleasure than sports or playing musical instruments. You only need to choose the language you like.