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 support the documentation and preservation of endangered languages through granting, training and outreach activities. The collections compiled through our funding are freely accessible at the Endangered Languages Archive SOAS University of London.


About us

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme was founded in 2002 with a donation from the Arcadia fund to SOAS University of London and has funded over 450 language documentation projects globally so far.


Our Grants

We provide grants world wide for the documentation of endangered languages. Individuals regardless of nationality or host institution can apply to our programme. We offer four different grant types and run one granting cycle per year opening 15th October each year.



Our focus is the linguistic documentation of endangered languages and making the digital collections freely available online. In addition we support capacity building through training in London and in country.





12 May 2019

2 x Postdoctoral positions available: language documentation, language archiving, linked methods, language typology.

Deadline: 12 May 2019

Pending on final approval by the Ministery of Education and Research (BMFB), the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) in Berlin invites applications for two three year postdoc position in the areas of language documentation, language typology, language archiving and linked methods, for a project on the development of criteria and standards for the curation of annotated audiovisual language data.

These positions are in collaboration with ELDP and partners at the Universität Hamburg, the Universität zu Köln, the Institut für Deutsche Sprache (Mannheim).

More information on the positions can be found on Linguist List:

1) Postdoc position - 100%

2) Postdoc position - 50%

July 4-5, 2019

LAPI 2019 - Endangered Languages and Language Varities in the Iberian Peninsula. The Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation (CIDLeS), with SWLI and the project FRONTESPO, invites scholars working on minority and endangered languages in the Iberian Peninsula to join us at the 2nd International Symposium on Endangered languages and language varieties in the Iberian Peninsula. Registration is open until June 10.

Call for abstracts: The deadline for abstract submission is March 31, 2019.

April 14-23, 2019

ELDP and Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University have jointly organised the "International Workshop on the Documentation of Endangered Languages and Cultures" with special reference to Jharkhand. The workshop will take place at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University campus, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.

April 6-7, 2019

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will be running a workshop on Iranian languages in the diaspora with Don Stilo. This is in collaboration with Daniel Kaufman and the Endangered Language Alliance.

April 5, 2019

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will present a lecture at New York University entitled "When gestures talk: multimodality and the negotiated nature of language use".