Language Endangerment

Today there are about 6,500 languages spoken worldwide and at least half of those will have fallen silent by the end of this century. In many areas of the world, globalisation creates economic, political and social pressures on people who in response give up their traditional ways of life, find new sources of income and move to cities. This causes speakers to cease speaking their traditional languages, and turn to other, typically more dominant languages to foster economic and social mobility for their children.

While throughout human history speakers have shifted to other languages, the speed of this development has increased dramatically over the past century. Each of these languages expresses the unique knowledge, history and worldview of their speaker communities, and each language is a specially evolved variation of the human capacity for language. Many of these disappearing languages have never been described or recorded and so the richness of human linguistic diversity is disappearing without a trace.

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme responds to this loss by supporting researchers to document endangered languages worldwide.

Our key objectives are
• to support the documentation of as many endangered languages as possible
• to encourage fieldwork on endangered languages
• to create a repository of resources for linguistics, the social sciences, and the language communities themselves
• to make the documentary collections freely available

What we do

We give grants to individuals like linguists, linguistic anthropologists and community members to document endangered languages and to archive and publish them open access locally and globally.


About us

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme was founded in 2002 with a donation from the Arcadia fund. We are housed at SOAS, University of London.


Our Grants

We fund world wide and individuals regardless of nationality or host institution can apply. We offer four different grant types and run one granting cycle per year opening October 15.



Since 2002 we have funded over 350 documentation projects globally. Our focus is the linguistic documentation of endangered languages and making the digital collections freely available online.





July 7, 2016

ELDP Legacy Material Grants: Pilot grant round announced
Call for applications for ELDP Legacy Material Grants.
Grants are offered to support the digitisation and archiving of legacy materials which are a rich resource for the documentation of the world’s linguistic diversity and are in danger of being lost: recordings of endangered or moribund languages in analogue format which are not part of an existing repository.

June 20-July 16, 2016

ELDP course on 'Making Language Visible: the why and how of video recording' CoLang , Institute on Collaborative Language Research, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

July 26-28, 2016

ELDP partners with KONGRES INTERNASIONAL; MASYARAKAT LINGUISTIK INDONESIA (KIMLI)2016 “MASYARAKAT LINGUISTIK INDONESIA” (MLI) at the Universitas Udayana. ELDP will run a 3 day training in languages documentation and grant writing.

August 31 - September 7, 2016

ELDP runs its annual training for ELDP grantees.

September 15, 2016

Legacy Material Grant expression of interest outcomes notified.

October 10-12, 2016

Open Access to endangered languages data workshop in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Centre and the library of the University of Cologne funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung Germany.

October 24 - November 4, 2016

Capacity Building in China: ELDP training in Documentary Linguistics
ELDP two-week fall school at Yuxi Normal University, Yunnan Province, China for local scholars and students.

Thirty students from all over China have come to Yuxi for this training in language documentation theory and practice. The team delivering the training consists of Katia Chirkova, Jeremy Collins, Sophie Mu, Ross Perlin, Felix Rau and Mandana Seyfeddinipur.

Pictures from the training can be seen in the photo gallery.

January 15, 2017

2017 grant round closes at 5pm, GMT.