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 Grantee Training - 8 - 15 June 2022

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 in Berlin.

American Friends of SOAS webinar on Endangered Languages Documentation - 28 October 2021

The American Friends of SOAS webinar 'A conversation on endangered languages and their documentation' with Felix Ameka, Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Azeb Amha, Ida Sodoke Assem, and Kenneth Bodua-Mango will take place on 28 October 2021. Registration is free.

Job Opportunity at ELDP - 25 October 2021

ELDP is seeking a Capacity Development Officer to run and further develop its global training programme in modern digital language documentation for junior researchers, language communities, and documenters. The successful candidate will design and implement multilingual training programmes and create teaching materials for various digital platforms and social media. The place of employment is Berlin. Apply by 25 October 2021.

Grant round closes - 15 October 2021

The ELDP grant round is now closed. Notification of results will be by 15th April 2022. The next grant round will open on 15 July 2022.

The 2nd International Virtual Seminar on Endangered Language and Linguistics - 25 October 2021

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will give the keynote at the 2nd International Virtual Seminar on Endangered Language and Linguistics 2021 with the theme "Collaborative Research on Endangered Language Documentation in Indonesia". The conference is organised by the Universitas Sumatera Utara and will be held virtually in Medan, North Sumatra, on Monday, 25 October 2021.