The Endangered Languages Project

A project to support language preservation and documentation around the world

About the Endangered Languages Project

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 language resources 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 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in coordination with the Governance Council.

This website was designed and developed with the help of Vizzuality and Exygy.

About the language information on this site

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.

The Endangered Languages Project Governance Council

This project is being guided by an active Governance Council and Advisory Committee that bring diverse perspectives, talents and commitments to the project. Membership is by invitation only. Current Governance Council members are:

  • Faith Baisden, First Languages Australia
  • Lyle Campbell, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
  • Craig Cornelius, Google, Inc.
  • Tracey Herbert, First Peoples' Cultural Council
  • Gary Holton, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
  • Veronica Grondona, Eastern Michigan University
  • Daniel Kaufman, Endangered Language Alliance
  • Mary S. Linn, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution
  • Oliver Loode, Uralic Centre for Indigenous Peoples
  • Kevin Lowe, Australian Indigenous Languages Institute
  • Emmanuel Ngué Um, Archive of Languages and Oral Resources of Africa

Current Advisory Committee members are:

  • Gregory Anderson, Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages
  • Daryl Baldwin, Myaamia Centre
  • Peter Brand, First Peoples’ Cultural Council
  • Panchanan Mohanty, University of Hyderabad
  • Susan Penfield, University of Arizona
  • Inee Slaughter, Indigenous Language Institute
  • Andrew Strack, Myaamia Centre
  • Mark Turin, World Oral Literature Project

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.

Content Guidelines

The goal of the Endangered Languages Project is to foster exchange of information related to at-risk languages. Please keep this purpose in mind when submitting content to the site. Any content deemed by moderators to be not in line with this goal may be removed.

You shall be solely responsible for your own content and the consequences of submitting it to the Endangered Languages Project. Only upload content for which you have the necessary licenses, rights, consents and permissions to publish on the site.

Please only include material that is appropriate to be shared openly online. Sacred material or other content that language speakers would not want shared should not be uploaded. If your video includes others, please make sure all speakers are properly informed and consent to the video being shared on the Internet. For reference, please review the Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association and the Code of Ethics of the Linguistic Society of America.

Most content uploaded to the Endangered Languages Project is hosted on several associated Google products or services, including YouTube, Picasa and Google Docs. Each of these services has their own product policies and content guidelines. In addition to these terms, all content submitted through other Google products or services must be in accordance with their associated terms. These include but are not limited to: a prohibition on content containing pornography, obscenity, pedophilia, bestiality or other sexually explicit material; hateful or violent content; harassing content or content that infringes another’s privacy.

The Endangered Languages Project must not be used for unlawful purposes or for promotion of dangerous and illegal activities. Advertising and use of the website and its resources for commercial purposes is not allowed.

We do not allow spamming or transmitting malware and viruses.

Submitting Comments

The Endangered Languages Project is designed to be a collaborative space for information sharing. For this reason comments and feedback are welcome on site content. When making comments on content displayed on the Endangered Languages Project site please abide by the following guidelines:

  • Keep comments readable. Use proper grammar and check your spelling. Don't use excessive capitalization and punctuation.
  • Make comments useful. Post clear, valuable, and truthful information.
  • Be polite. Don't attack others or post content that is abusive, hateful, threatening, or harassing.
  • Comments deemed to be off-topic or otherwise against these policies will be removed.
Reporting Content

If you find content you believe to be in violation of these guidelines please follow the flagging instructions to report the content for review.