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.





December 16-22, 2017

Call for applications: Training in Language Documentation Technique, Oaxaca, Mexico
ELDP, in collaboration with Roberto Zavala (Ciesas) and Michael Swanton (UNAM), is running a one week long training for local researchers, students and language documenters in Oaxaca, Mexico.

October 8-9, 2017

Video shooting and editing for language documenters
Anna Sowa and Remy Sowa from Chouette Film together with Mandana Seyfeddinipur will be running a two day workshop about video shooting techniques and video editing of footage for language documentation practitioners.

September 6-13, 2017

ELDP training session:
One week of training in language documentation theory and practice for ELDP grantees.
Trainers include Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Vera Ferreira, Martha Tsutsui & Bill Parker.

July 17-28, 2017

Capacity Building in Africa
ELDP is participating in NSF funded summer school in Documentary Linguistics in Ghana led by Felix Ameka and James Essegby.

June 6-10, 2017

Language Acquisition in Africa
Mandana Seyfeddinipur is participating in the international workshop 'Multilingual Language Acquisition in Africa' at Leiden University, The Netherlands.