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.





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 is scheduled from 14-23 April 2019 at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University campus, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.

May 22-24, 2019

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will be representing ELDP and ELAR as a plenary speaker at the International Conference on Minority Languages (ICML XVII). The conference will take place in Ljouwert/ Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, from 22-24 May 2019. More information can be found here.

November 14-16, 2018

The SOAS World Languages Institute (UK), Mercator Research Centre, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation and the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) cordially invite scholars, community organisations and community members to join the International Conference on BIG Cities, Small LANGUAGES that will take place in Berlin, Germany, November 14-16 2018, at the ZAS in Berlin, Germany.

October 19-20, 2018

International Symposium of Endangered Iranian Languages
Right after our Fall School in Berlin, ELDP will be present at ISEIL2018. The theme will be "Language Islands and Language Contact in Iran", allowing for rich and concentrated dialogues to take place among scholars coming from different disciplinary backgrounds. Visit the ISEIL website for more information.

October 10-17, 2018

Training in Language Documentation with a focus on the MENA region, Berlin, Germany
ELDP, in collaboration with Zentrum fuer Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, will deliver a week-long programme on theory and methods on modern language documentation in the Middle East and Northern Africa. More information: here