Learn Ancient and Rare Languages in New Online Courses

Tribalingual - rarest languages courses

Have you ever wanted to talk to locals in the ancient language of Gangte? Now you can! Tribalingual is running a series of online language courses for students wishing to learn rare languages and help preserve ancient cultures. The last native speakers of a number of ancient and rare languages have been recruited to help deliver content for the courses, which will be taught via video link. Languages available to study include Ainu, a Japanese dialect, Greko, a ancient form of Greek, and Buryat, a Mongolian dialect. Would you like to study one of the world’s rarest languages?


Rare Language Courses from Tribalingual

Students who sign up to one of the Tribalingual rare language courses will be helping to keep the ancient languages alive. This is because the last native speakers will be able to pass on their languages via the video streaming service Skype.

Languages offered by the programme range from rare to almost extinct. There are 15,000 speakers of Gangte, a Chinese-Tibetan language, who mainly reside in North-East India, while the language of the Incan empire Quechua is still spoken by around 10 million people.

Other languages offered in the series are much rarer, such as Ainu, a Japanese dialect used fluently by only 12 people on the island of Hokkaido. The Australian Aboriginal language Mara is rarer still with just two native speakers.

Villagers from the Japanese island of Hokkaido, where the dialect of Ainu is spoken

Preserving Cultures Online

Speakers of these ancient languages have agreed to talk to students over Skype as part of the rare languages programme by Tribalingual.

Tribalingual is a language-learning company set up by Inky Gibbens, a sociolinguist whose grandparents spoke Buryat, a Mongolian dialect considered as endangered.

Gibbens was inspired to set up the company to help keep her own family’s dialect alive and to help preserve other rare languages and cultures.


The Rarest Languages in the World 

There are 2,465 languages classed by the United Nations as endangered.

It can be difficult to find native speakers of ancient languages because they tend to be elderly, living in remote places and unfamiliar with technology.

Although the language programme is intended for Skype, Tribalingual is also planning some 4-week courses that are entirely offline.

These will enable students to go to a place to learn with native speakers, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a last survivor of the ancient language of Kihunde has offered to give talks.

Endangered Languages and Cultures

Other language courses being planned include courses for Sakha, a language from Siberia, Yoruba, a Nigerian language, and Torwali, a dialect of northwest Pakistan. There are also plans to include a course in Ijibwe, which is a dialect spoken in parts of Canada.

The 10-week course in Buryat, a dialect of Mongolian, will not only teach students how to make sentences, but also how to avoid cultural faux pas.

For example, students will learn which hand to use to take a drink and which foot should be used to step inside a house. Getting these things wrong could cause great offence!


Examples of phrases from rare languages

Here are some examples of words and phrases from some of the world’s rarest languages:


Haprapcup – February (“the month in which birds come out and sing“)


Seppatni – Monday (“work starting day”)

Chibai – hello (“handshake”)


Apostrofi – an exchange of professional services given according to ability not cost


Egduutei – an irresistible urge to squeeze something or someone that is too cute


Would you like to learn a rare language?

Would you be interested in taking an online language course to learn one of the rarest languages in the world?

Do you speak a rare language or dialect or know anyone that does?

Do you think it is important to preserve ancient and rare languages? If so, why?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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