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.





Grant round closes - 15 October 2022

The ELDP grant round is now closed. Notification of results will be by 15th April 2023. The next grant round will open on 15 July 2023.

DELAMAN Award - 1 October 2022

Nominations for the DELAMAN Award 2023 are now open. The DELAMAN Award recognises and honours early-career documenters who have done outstanding documentary work in creating a rich multimedia documentary collection of a particular language that is endangered or no longer spoken. The deadline is 1 October 2022. More information on the nomination here.

Glottobank grant round closes - 15 September 2022

The application round for Glottobank grants offered by ELDP and the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is now closed.

ELDP drop-in sessions for potential applicants

ELDP opened its 2023 grant round in July. For those interested in applying, ELDP is offering several drop-in sessions before the application deadline on 15 October 2022. The sessions will take place online on 20 and 21 September 2022.

Joint Call for Applications: ELDP & DLCE

ELDP and the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology are collaborating to document linguistic diversity with an initiative focusing on contributing data from languages of Latin America and Oceania to the Glottobank project.

The deadline for submitting an application is the 15th Septemeber 2022.