The history of human speech is as old and intricate as our species itself. Throughout the span of history, we've used thousands and thousands of languages, some stranger than others (though "strange" is really a matter of perspective, if you come to think of it). Here are 7 weird languages you've probably never heard of before.
1. Silbo Gomero – the Whistling Language
Spoken in the Canary Islands, Silbo Gomero may be one of the strangest languages in the world – and one of the most beautiful. Its "alphabet" consists of just four consonants and two vowels, the language being articulated solely by whistling. Silbo Gomero is difficult to learn, requiring not only precision, but also strength. However, it does come with a great advantage! You can have a chat with someone almost a mile away from you without having to phone them, as the whistles can be heard from great distances without distortion.
2. Rachasap – the Royal Language
Rachasap is a special language used in Thailand when speaking about or to royalty. Most of the Rachasap words are of Cambodian origin, and many have come from Sanskrit and Pali through the Buddhist religion. What's interesting is that, while almost all locals know about Rachasap, few of them are actually able to speak it correctly. However, you can hear it on TV or radio almost every day, whenever there is news or a program about the Royal Family.
3. !Xoo – the Clicking Language
Spoken in Botswana and Namibia by approximately 3,000 natives, !Xoo (or Taa) is known for the huge number of phonemes it has – most probably the largest in the world. Some linguists have counted 164 different consonants, out of which at least 111 are clicking sounds!
4. Rotokas – the Simplest Language in the World
In spite of having a fierce competitor – Piraha - most scholars agree that Rotokas holds the title of Simplest Language. An East Papuan language, Rotokas is known for its incredibly small phonemic inventory (only 12 phonemes). Having no tonal variations, its alphabet is considered to have only 12 letters! Another interesting fact is that there aren't any nasal phonemes, such as the sound you make when pronouncing the letter "N". It's not that they can't make nasal sounds, because they can – they just don't. Or they do just to make fun of foreigners.
5. Anal – the Language with an Unfortunate Name
I will try to refrain from making any jokes here. So, let's get started with the facts. Anal language speakers can be found in Myanmar and Manipur, India. How the language came to be named this way is not clear, some saying that the name derives from the Meetei word "anan" (which means "clean"), while others believe its origin lies in the surname of R.D. Angnal.
6. Taushiro – an Almost Extinct Language Isolate
Taushiro, or Pinche, is a language of Native Peru used in the Tigre River area. Scholars consider it a language isolate, meaning that it has no demonstrable genealogical relationships with any other languages. Unfortunately, Taushiro is nearly extinct – a 2008 study concluded that there's only one person in this world that still speaks it fluently.
7. Tuyuca – the Language Dominated by Noun Modifiers
Probably one of the most difficult languages in the world, Tuyuca can be heard in the Brazilian Amazon and Colombia, spoken by an ethnic group of no more than 1,000 people. While most languages have few noun modifiers – such as feminine or masculine – Tuyuca is believed to boast up to 140 of them, which makes it a real pain to learn.
Which one of these tongues would you like to learn and why? Do you know of any other strange or rare languages that are worth mentioning?