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.





Call for ELDP capacity building training: Yunnan Fall School 2016

Call for application for ELDP two-week fall school in documentary linguistics for local scholars and students at Yuxi University.

March 27- April 3, 2016

Spring School in Documentary Linguistics, organised by ELDP and CIDLES, Alcanena, Portugal

May 4, 2016

Launch of the SOAS World Languages Institute. Speaker will be Stephen C. Levinson from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

June 15, 2016

ELDP grant round results will be announced.

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

August 29- September 3, 2016

Fall School: Quantification with Qualification: Corpus Creation and Exploration of Language Data, organised by ELDP and CIDLES, Minde Portugal

August 31 - September 7, 2016

ELDP runs its annual training for ELDP grantees.

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 University in documentary linguistics for local scholars and students.
more information & application form