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.





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.

BSA Equity, diversity and inclusion conference: Identity, belonging and connectedness - 28 September 2021

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will be one of the panelists at the Boarding Schools' Association Equity, diversity and inclusion conference where the themes identity, belonging and connectedness will be discussed across a range of sectors and settings.

SILBERSALZ Science & Media Festival - 17-18 September 2021

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will speak at the Silbersalz Science & Media Festival 2021 conference in Halle about Kusunda - The Art of Using Interactive VR to Engage the Audience together with Gayatri Parameswaran. She will also be part of the panel discussion What IS the Art of Science Communication?

ELDP Remote Fieldwork workshop series - 13-17 September 2021

ELDP will host a series of online workshops on remote linguistic fieldwork 13-17 September 2021. Please register for the workshop series via this link. More information about the individual workshops is available here. Drop-in sessions for potential applicants will take place after the workshops on the 13th and 15th.

FieldLing - International School in Linguistic Fieldwork 2021 - 6 September 2021

Mandana Seyfeddinipur will teach a class on 'Fieldwork in times of COVID' at FieldLing2021 in Paris, France.