From sounds that literally damage your vocal cords to a language that’s entirely whistled, these are 5 of the strangest, quirkiest languages in the world.
The Piraha Language – Brazil This one is controversial because the theory is the language doesn’t have recursion. Recursion is a linguistic property where you can add phrases into phrases, also called Nesting. This is controversial because Noam Chomsky popularized the idea that recursions are a part of what he called “universal grammar” that you find in all languages.
And then Dr. Dan Everett studied the Piraha people of the Amazon rain forest in the 1970, first as a missionary and later just to research their language.
And in a paper in 2005, he claimed that the Piraha people do not use recursion, flying in the face of linguistic doctrine and shaking the very foundations of our knowledge to the ground, making international news.
Aymara Language – Andes, South America
The Aymara language isn’t a small, tucked away language in some The reason it’s on this list is due to a little quirk that seems to be unique to the Aymara, which is the way they refer to the past and the future.
Why would they do that? The answer is a simple flip in perception, by saying that events from the past are known, meaning we can see them, they’re in front of us. Whereas the future is unknown, we can’t see it… So it’s behind us.
It’s no secret that there are languages in sub-Saharan Africa that use click sounds along with other consonant sounds, there are several of these but this one is the quintessential one.
It features 5 different click sounds and 17 accompanying ones. Also 4 vowel sounds with four varying tones.
This language is not just difficult to learn, it’s physically straining on a non-speaker because some of these clicks are next to impossible to do without a serious amount of training.
Guugu Yimithirr: Aboriginal Language, Australia
Guugu Yimithirr is an ancient language, spoken by the aboriginal people of Australia for thousands of years, specifically the Guugu Yimithirr people of Far North Queensland, in fact it was actually the first aboriginal language ever written down by James Cook in 1770 and is where the word Kangaroo comes from.
All their directions used cardinal directions. Cardinal directions being North, South, East, West, and the directions in between. They didn’t have words for left, right, front or back.
What this means is that every speaker must always know what geographic direction they are facing at all times. It’s like the language has layered the geographic directions into the fabric of their culture. You literally can’t convey information without it.
Silbo Gomero: Spain
La Gomera is an island, specifically the smallest of the Spanish Canary Islands just northwest of Africa. And on that tiny island is a language that’s not spoken anywhere else called Silbo Gomero, and it holds the top spot on this list for one simple reason. It’s spoken with whistles.
It’s literally like a whistled version of Spanish featuring two whistled vowels and four consonants.