Let’s face it, even one of these 6 easiest dead languages to learn will require many hours of dedication and hard work, but for most, it will result in an extremely pleasing and fulfilling experience.
A dead language is a dialect or tongue that holds no current native speakers, and is usually spoken only by those who chose to learn it, on top of their native language. The main reason for a language to become dead -with noted exceptions – is when, through sociocultural processes like conquests or migrations, the speakers of such languages gradually replace their own with a new one, leaving their native language in disuse until it finally fades away.
An interesting exception happens when, through genocide or natural catastrophes, every native speaker of a language is wiped out, causing it to disappear completely.
There are many reasons why a person could choose to invest his or her time, learning a dead language. For scholars and academics, it’s a way of reaching original texts, and skipping the many subjective interpretations that translators must make to decode an ancient text into English. For many people, it’s a way of getting in touch with their roots and origins; and it could also be the answer for romantics wishing to experience the way of communication of a society, at a certain time period. As it’s known by philologists and ethnolinguistics, languages say a lot about civilization, and dead ones are a must-know for anyone wanting to immerse his or herself into an extinct one.
Of course, any learning process can be easier for some than for others, but since this list is intended for English speakers, we chose our ranking criteria based on two main guidelines: Each language’s similarity to English, and its popularity. The first one is quite obvious. In the learning of any language, the closer it gets to one’s mother tongue, the easier it gets. That’s why we had a look at the history of the English language which is very well summed up in this article by Rice University. As for popularity goes, we’re following the assumption that, the more widely spread a language is, the more studied and taught it is, the easier its learning shall be, since you will find a lot more resources and teaching techniques than with those of a more obscure nature. For that we checked out which are the main languages being taught at the classical, linguistics, and Asian studies departments of some of the world’s most prestigious universities, such as Brown, Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford. We also had a look at which of these dead languages are supported by Unicode.
If you think these 6 easiest languages to learn are not for you, or if you’re not ready to take the challenge, you’re welcome to check out our previous list easiest second languages to learn for English speakers, where we do a similar experiment but focus only on currently spoken languages.