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.

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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.

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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.

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Projects

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.

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ELDP DOCUMENTATION PROJECTS

TO MAP

NEWS AND EVENTS

5-6 December 2019

International Conference on Language Technologies for All (LT4All) - UNESCO Headquarters, Paris

Over 2 days, LT4All will explore the relationship between technologies and languages from a scientific, technical, cultural, linguistic, economical and political perspective. The conference is also within the framework of UNESCO's International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 and we're pleased to share that our Director Mandana Seyfeddinpur will represent ELDP as part of the Programme Committee.

The expected audience of LT4All includes representatives of UNESCO, international bodies, national and regional governments and administrations, academia, language technology researchers, linguists, industrials, indigenous communities and language policy makers from all over the world. The attendance at the conference is on invitation and the audience will be targeted to a maximum of 400 people.

October 15, 2019

ELDP grant round will open. Information about the application process can be found here.

4-19 October, 2019

ELDP Training in Language Documentation and Grant Writing in Sao Paolo and Belém, Brazil.

14th September 2019

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will give a talk on the question of preserving endangered languages for the Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee of the Cambridge University International Model United Nations - High School Conference (CUIMUN-HS), a Model UN conference organised by Cambridge University students in September 2019.

August 28 - September 4, 2019 - ELDP Grantee Training

ELDP training session:
One week of training in language documentation theory and practice for ELDP grantees.
New ELDP grantees will be trained in theory and methods in language documentation. Eric Campbell (UCSB) and Natalia Caceres (CNRS Lyon) delivered sessions on lexicography, FLEx and mobilisation of documentary materials. Lissant Bolton (British Museum) taught a session on documenting the knowledge of material culture and introduced the new documentation funding scheme Endangered Material Knowledge Programme housed at the British Museum.