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Frequently Asked Questions...

In ancient times how did people know other languages?

Im not talking about being taught but the original bilinguals, did they just work it out?

Best Answer...


1. If someone lived in a border area, he would learn the language of people with whom he traded.
2. Usually the neighboring people had similar languages that had a lot of common terms. A German could understand a Dutchman or Flemish man, especially 1,000 years ago. Most of the Indian languages in the Eastern U.S. were Algonquin, with similarities that would allow people from different tribes to communicate.
3. In ancient times educated men usually learned Greek.
4. Soldiers serving in the Roman Empire might learn the language of the countries they occupied. And the occupied peoples likely would learn Latin. In the Middle Ages, when Charlemagne made France the most powerful kingdom in Europe, French became the "Lingua Franca" the common tongue of Western Europe.
5. Churchmen all over Europe knew Latin.
6. Churchmen all over the East knew Greek.
7. Islam spread Arabic.
8. In Biblical times in Judea, people spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and probably knew enough Latin to get by.
Just some thoughts.
9. Jews living in England, France, Spain, Italy, North Africa, the Middle East and India all would have known Hebrew and Aramaic so as to be able to trade with each other.