Humanity today is facing a massive extinction: languages are disappearing at an unprecedented pace. And when that happens, a unique vision of the world is lost. With every language that dies we lose an enormous cultural heritage; the understanding of how humans relate to the world around us; scientific, medical and botanical knowledge; and most importantly, we lose the expression of communities’ humor, love and life. In short, we lose the testimony of centuries of life.
Languages are entities that are alive and in constant flux, and their extinction is not new; however, the pace at which languages are disappearing today has no precedent and is alarming. Over 40 percent of the world’s approximate 7,000 languages are at risk of disappearing. But today we have tools and technology at our fingertips that could become a game changer.
The Endangered Languages Project puts technology at the service of the organizations and individuals working to confront the language endangerment by documenting, preserving and teaching them. Through this website, users can not only access the most up to date and comprehensive information on endangered languages as well as samples being provided by partners, but also play an active role in putting their languages online by submitting information or samples in the form of text, audio or video files. In addition, users will be able to share best practices and case studies through a knowledge sharing section and through joining relevant Google Groups.
Google oversaw the development and launch of this project with the long term goal for it to be led by true experts in the field of language preservation. As such, oversight of the project transitioned to First Peoples' Cultural Council and the Institute for Language Information and Technology at Eastern Michigan University. The project is now managed by First Peoples' Cultural Council and the Endangered Languages Catalogue/Endangered Languages Project (ELCat/ELP) team at Eastern Michigan University in coordination with the Governance Council.
The languages included in this project and the information displayed about them are provided by the Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat), produced by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Eastern Michigan University, with funding provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Grants #1058096 and #1057725) and the Luce Foundation, and supported by a team of global experts.
ELCat is being shared through this site so that feedback from language communities and scholars worldwide can be incorporated to update the world’s knowledge about its most at-risk languages. This means that the languages included on this site and the information presented about them is intended to change over time.
This site is designed to enable you to contribute to the project directly. Although we will not be able to respond to all inquiries and are not accepting requests for funding, you can propose significant collaboration opportunities by completing this form, or apply to become a moderator of flagged content through this form.
This project is being guided by an active Governance Council and Advisory Committee that bring diverse perspectives, talents and commitments to the project. Membership will be by invitation only. Current Governance Council members are:
Current Advisory Committee members are: