Are you interested in learning some of the world’s most bizarre languages? If you are you’ve come to the right place!
Language is a funny subject; did you know there are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world today? And to get a little more into it; did you know that there are around 6,000 languages that are spoken by less than one hundred thousand people each? This is amazing! Just to think that over 500 million people in the world just speak English I was completely shocked to know this fact. So, to those of you reading this, you probably have never heard of the languages I’m about take you through:
Rotokas is a language spoken in Papua New Guinea, in the Bougainville province east of New Guinea. According to some research, Rotokas has only about 4,300 native speakers.
This language has been made famous around the globe for having the smallest alphabet on earth, counting with only 12 letters: 7 consonants and 5 vocals. And also for not having any nasal phonemes!
Fun fact: Rotokas does have more than one dialect and in some of them they do use nasal sounds, the Central Rotokas dialect doesn’t. Although Central Rotokas dialect speakers CAN surely make nasal sounds they mostly do it sarcastically, to make fun of foreigners’ attempts to speak Rotokas.
Pirahã is an indigenous language spoken by an isolated tribe called Pirahã in Amazonas, Brazil. It’s only spoken by 200 people and it’s said to be the most simple language in the world for supposedly not having any numbers, nor colors, nor verbal tenses and finally nor any subordinate clauses!
They communicate with only 8 consonants and 3 vocals and they use 5 speech canals: spoken, whistled, hummed, shouted or codified in music.
Yupik language is spoken in western Alaska and northeastern Siberia and it’s originated from Eskimos, it’s spoken by around 12,000 people and it’s composed of 27 consonants and 4 vowels.
Yupik is a polysynthetic language which is basically word sentences, now what I mean by this is that they create words with such specific meanings to the point of creating one word that means a wholesentence.
This is a fun thing because, get this… “Tuntussuqatarniksaitengqiggtuq” And no I didn’t just slam my fingers across the keyboard. That is an actual word in Yupik which means “He had not yet said again that he was going to hunt reindeer.” Wild, right? None of the words in this can stand on their own, except “tuntu” which means reindeer.
Silbo Gomero is a language from La Gomera in the coast of Spain. This language could easily be the most beautiful there is because of one main reason: it’s a whistle language. This is spoken by around 22,000 people and is currently a language that is being revived as they have just reintroduced into the school curriculums. It consists of two vowels and 4 consonants
The purpose of this language was to be able to communicate through great distances as la Gomera is largely mountainous. So, you can easily hear it through the canyons on the islands as the wind carries the sound without distorting it on the contrary of yelling.
Xhosa is an official South African language; fewer than 8 million people speak it. It’s a tonal language, that is, it consists of having all those vowels and consonant sounds that we know BUT that can have different meanings depending on the way you say it, with a high or low intonation or a rising or falling one.
A distinctive feature of this language is its clicking consonants, three letters to be exact, the “c”, “x” and “q”. There isn’t a way I could effectively explain the clicks to you in writing so I found a video that will explain much better than I could how these clicks sound:
Sentineleses (Bonus language!)
The Sentineleses language is considered to world’s deadliest language and the most unusual language there is, unusual because we have no idea how this language even sounds and deadly because of the Islands strict foreign relations policy, this sounds straight out of a movie but it’s real and does exist to this day, this practice is: come near us and we’ll shoot arrows and throw spears at you… So, they’re pretty chill people if you ask me.
This is a small island in the Indian Ocean that no outsider has set foot in, and if they have well… They’re not going to tell us much about it, they’re most likely dead. The only proof we have of this tribe is aerial photos.
The only successful registered contact there is with this tribe has something to do with buckets, the exchange of colored buckets, it sounds absurd, I know, but it is what it is.