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.





Disrupting Digital Monolingualism 2020 online workshop - 16 June 2020

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will give an online key note titled 'If it's not written it did not happen: The written bias in the digital world' Disrupting Digital Monolingualism is hosted by the Language Acts & Worldmaking project and will take place online on 16 & 17 June 2020.

2020 Grant round cancelled due to COVID-19 - 20 March 2020

In light of the current COVID-19 crisis, and after many consultations and careful consideration, ELDP has decided to cancel the 2020 grant round. Given the global developments and required restrictions, ELDP will not be able to support any work that involves fieldwork or any other kind of travel and face to face interaction for the coming year. This was a very difficult decision and ELDP is monitoring the developing situation closely, and will be adapting its activities accordingly.

Please get in touch with us at if you have any questions.

Minority Languages in the Digital Age Conference at Alfried Krupp Institute - 11 December 2020

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will give a public key note lecture titled 'Minderheitssprachen und das Internet: Segen und Fluch zugleich' (Minority languages and the internet: a blessing and a curse) at the conference Minority Languages in the Digital Age. Usage, Maintenance and Teaching hosted at the Alfried Krupp Institute for Advanced Study in Greifswald, Germany, on 11 & 12 December 2020.

Virtual Language Fest - 21 February 2020

ELDP, ELAR, and SOAS World Languages Institute host a Virtual Language Fest in celebration of Mother Language Day on 21 February 2020.

Grant round closes - 15 January 2020

The ELDP grant round is now closed. Notification of results will be by 15th June 2020. The next grant round will open on 15 October 2020.