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.


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 July 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.





ELDP 2025 Grant Round is now open – 19 June 2024

The ELDP grant round for 2025 is now open. Information about grant types and application process can be found here. Visit our project pages for the types of projects we have funded and the Endangered Language Archive for the resulting digital collections.

Webinar training on ELAN - 26 April 2024

We're happy to announce that on April 26 at 4pm CET Kelsey Neely will be conducting another online training on ELAN. Register here.

Webinar training on ELAN & ELAN-FLEx - 4 April 2024

On April 4 at 4pm CET join Kelsey Neely for an online training on ELAN and the ELAN-FLEx workflow. Register here.

Talk: Ancestral Voices in Dialogue: Decolonially Reflecting on Language Discrimination in Pankow - 19 March 2024

Join the event aiming to connect the promotion of indigenous languages with the fight against racism in Berlin, including a talk by Kelsey Neely on the importance of promoting and vitalizing endangered, indigenous, and minoritized languages.

Find more information here.

Panel discussion: Sprache, Diskriminierung und die Zukunft gefährdeter Sprachen - 14 March 2024

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will be participating in an online panel discussion on the importance of supporting and promoting minoritized and endangered languages.

Learn more and register here.